NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2020

The Wild trade Eric Staal to the Sabres for Marcus Johansson, Canadiens re-sign Joel Edmundson, and the latest on Brayden Point, Johnny Boychuk, Kyle Clifford and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild traded center Eric Staal last evening to the Buffalo Sabres for center Marcus Johansson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a straightforward one-for-one swap with no salary retention by either club. Cap Friendly indicates Staal, 35, has one year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.25 million. He has a 10-team no-trade list but the Sabres reportedly weren’t on it. The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported Staal was stunned by the news.

Johansson, 29, also has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.5 million AAV. He’s a versatile forward (when healthy) who can play center or on the wing. However, he managed just 30 points in 60 games last season as a center with the Sabres. Staal netted 47 in 66 contests.

Wild general manager Bill Guerin made no secret of his intentions to shore up his depth at center. Last week, he acquired center Nick Bjugstad from the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, I don’t see the trading away Staal for Johansson as an improvement.

Staal may be older but he was more productive than Johansson, who seems better suited for the wing. Guerin’s recent re-signing of Jonas Brodin has sparked speculation he’s shopping defenseman Matt Dumba for a scoring forward, preferably a center.

The Sabres, meanwhile, are reportedly going to set an internal cap of $70 million for 2020-21. Shedding Johansson for Staal shaves $1.25 million off their payroll. He’ll play a second-line role behind Jack Eichel and perhaps help out in a leadership role.

Speaking of the Wild, StarTribune.com’s Sarah McLellan reported Guerin said it’s unlikely pending free agent center Alex Galchenyuk returns. He also declined to comment on the future of captain Mikko Koivu, who’s also a pending UFA.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Montreal Canadiens re-signed Joel Edmundson to a four-year, $14-million contract extension. The Habs acquired the 27-year-old defenseman last week from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The annual average value is $3.5 million, making Edmundson an affordable, physical addition to the Canadiens’ defense corps. The deal also comes with a 10-team no-trade list for all four seasons.

Adding Edmundson provides experienced depth on the left side of the Habs’ blue line. It’s also sparked suggestions Brett Kulak or Victor Mete could be packaged in a deal for a scoring forward. The Habs now have over $10.2 million in cap space invested in 19 players for 2020-21.

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point’s status for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final remains uncertain. Point missed the previous game with an undisclosed injury and didn’t practice yesterday. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he didn’t know if Point will be available but remains hopeful he’ll be in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning lost both games Point missed due to injury.

NEW YORK POST: The return of veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk provided a big lift for the New York Islanders in their Game 5 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday. Boychuk returned to action for the first time since being sidelined in the opening game of the qualifying round against the Florida Panthers.

TORONTO SUN: Agent Todd Reynolds said client Kyle Clifford will be testing the unrestricted free agent market. The 29-year-old left wing was acquired by the Maple Leafs in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings last February. If Clifford doesn’t re-sign with Toronto, the Kings will receive a third-round pick from the Leafs.

THE SCORE: The St. Louis Blues announced former Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery will be joining them as an assistant coach on a two-year deal. He’ll replace Marc Savard, who stepped down earlier this month.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks are expected to make interim head coach Bob Boughner their full-time bench boss.

TSN: A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against North America’s most powerful hockey leagues (including the NHL, AHL, and the Canadian junior leagues) alleging conspiracy to limit opportunities for young players. The suit was filed by Kobe Mohr, who played in the WHL from 2015 to 2020.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Former Pittsburgh Penguins president Jack Kelley died Tuesday at age 93. Kelley was the Penguins president from 1993 to 1998. He was also inducted in the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993 and the WHA Hall of Fame in 2010.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kelley’s family and friends.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 30, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 30, 2020

The latest speculation on James Neal and Kyle Clifford in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD NEAL BECOME A BUYOUT CANDIDATE?

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell suggested James Neal as the obvious contract buyout candidate for the Edmonton Oilers, either via a normal buyout or if the NHL and NHLPA agree to compliance buyouts if the salary cap is lower than projected. His age (32), production (19 goals, 31 points in 55 games), and contract length ($5.75 million annually through 2022-23) make him a no-brainer as a compliance buyout candidate.

Could the Edmonton Oilers buy out James Neal in the off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)

Mitchell also argued Neal would be worthwhile buying out under normal circumstances. It would cost just over $1.9 million annually against the Oilers’ cap over the next six seasons. Mitchell feels Neal’s contributions can be replaced for that price. The move would also give the Oilers some additional flexibility when other clubs face cap challenges and free agents find few options on the open market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mitchell makes a compelling case for buying out Neal. Whether Oilers general manager Ken Holland shares that view remains to be seen.

LEAFS, CLIFFORD HAVE MUTUAL INTEREST IN NEW CONTRACT

SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston recently reported Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan indicated the club has a mutual interest with Kyle Clifford in working out a new contract for the 29-year-old winger. Clifford was acquired last month from the Los Angeles Kings. He’s proven to be a good fit for his new club. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Shanahan praised Clifford’s grit, toughness, and leadership.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With an annual average value of $1.6 million on his current contract, Clifford shouldn’t be an expensive signing for the Leafs. Finding sufficient salary-cap space, however, will be an issue.

The Leafs have nearly $77 million committed to 16 players for next season and will have to replace defensemen Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci when they depart via free agency later this year. If the cap remains at $81.5 million, the Leafs could be forced to make a cost-cutting trade or two to find sufficient room for Clifford and replacements for Barrie and Ceci.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2020

NHL extends self-quarantine period, asks its teams to provide available arena dates in August, and temporarily cuts employee salaries. Details and much more, including the latest on Kyle Palmieri and Kyle Clifford, in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL COVID-19 HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the NHL instructed its players and team staff to extend their period of self-quarantine to April 6. Two players to date, both Ottawa Senators, have tested positive for COVID-19.

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the league yesterday requested its 31 clubs to provide available home dates for August. That suggests the playoffs could be as late as August. McKenzie also believes the league must address the legal technicality of extending contracts that expire at the end of June and the effect on work visas for European players.

The NHL extends its self-quarantine period for its players.

Pierre LeBrun indicates the cost of maintaining ice in those buildings during the summer will be costly in terms of refrigeration and air conditioning in the arenas. He also reported the league had a conference call with general managers. Lots of questions about the “draft, combine, lottery, schedule/playoffs, free agency,” but the league has few answers at this stage.

Frank Seravalli reports the league doesn’t anticipate any meaningful insurance bailout. Facing potential revenue losses of $1 billion, the league will do whatever it takes to get back on the ice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think it’ll be another month before we get clarity over when the schedule will resume and when the playoffs will be staged, as well as determining what the off-season schedule will look like. The longer this pandemic goes on in North America, the less likely the league can return to the ice and salvage the season and the playoffs, especially when they consider it a priority to stage 2020-21 in its entirety.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston also reports the league told its teams Monday that the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics will extend the potential window for staging the Stanley Cup playoffs this summer. “The league shares a U.S. broadcast partner with the Olympics in NBC and had previously believed the playoffs had to be wrapped up before the cauldron was lit during the Opening Ceremonies.”

THE SCORE: The league is reported to have temporarily reduced the pay of its office staff by 25 percent because of the coronavirus epidemic. It’s also hoping to avoid layoffs.

SPORTSNET: The Montreal Canadiens is making temporary job cuts of its staff affecting up to 60 percent of its personnel. It has established a $6 million assistance fund to help its employees. TVA Sports reports Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin and head coach Claude Julien have agreed to give up 20 percent of their salaries in support of the club’s laid-off employees.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The company that owns the New Jersey Devils has reversed its decision to levy a 20 percent pay cut on its employees.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: TD Garden part-time workers have been laid off.

KHL.RU: The Kontinental Hockey League has cancelled the remainder of its’ 2019-20 season over coronavirus concerns.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NJ.COM: Despite the New Jersey Devils’ disappointing season, winger Kyle Palmieri remains optimistic over the club’s future. He cites promising prospects such as Ty Smith, Kevin Bahl, Daniil Misyul and recently-acquired Nolan Foote, as well as rookie center Jack Hughes. “We’re building and we’re young, and guys are going to keep getting better year by year,” Palmieri said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen whether Palmieri will be part of the Devils’ rebuild. He’s eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer.

THE SCORE: There’s mutual interest between the Toronto Maple Leafs and UFA forward Kyle Clifford in working on a contract extension. No deal is imminent as this time owing to uncertainty raised by the current pause in the league’s schedule.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $76 million invested in 16 players, the Leafs will be awaiting next season’s salary cap numbers before getting down to contract talks with free agents like Clifford.

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets have started contract extension talks with restricted free agent Vladislav Gavrikov.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 18, 2020

The NHL regular-season may be paused, but the trade and free-agent rumor mill churn on. Check out the latest on the Leafs and Sharks.

LEAFS WOULD BE AFFECTED BY FLAT SALARY CAP

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox examined the effect of the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million could affect the Toronto Maple Leafs. He wondered if pending UFA forwards Kyle Clifford and Jason Spezza would accept something near the league minimum to re-sign with the Leafs.

UFA defenseman Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci aren’t expected back. Their spots could be filled by affordable youngsters like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, but that would leave only Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin as established veterans. Fox wonders who they could add via trade or free agency and what the price would be. Re-signing RFAs like Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott, and Frederic Gauthier will also eat up valuable cap room.

A flat salary cap could force the Toronto Maple Leafs to swap a forward like Kasperi Kapanen for a defenseman (Photo via NHL Images).

A nuclear option to address their blueline needs would involve trading a top forward like William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews or John Tavares, but Fox doesn’t detect any desire from Leafs management to go that route. Instead, they could be forced to swap a middle-class forward such as Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot for a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every NHL team will be affected by a flat cap for 2020-21. Teams like the Leafs with limited cap space will feel the pinch more than others. They have over $76 million invested in 16 players next season

Clifford and Spezza probably won’t get much more than offers that are close to the league minimum from other clubs, so they could be open to staying in Toronto. Bringing in one or two veteran blueliners will cost more than the Leafs can afford right now.

If they’re unwilling to move one of their top-four forwards for a blueliner, a deal involving Kapanen, Kerfoot or Johnsson seems the only viable option. Unless they can free up the additional salary, such a move could end up being dollar-for-dollar.

LATEST SHARKS SPECULATION

THE MERCURY NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Curtis Pashelka was asked if the San Jose Sharks might move a big contract in the off-season. While general manager Doug Wilson insists he likes the core of his team, he hinted after the trade deadline that there could be a deal made in the off-season. The effect of the current health crisis upon league revenue will also affect the salary cap, which could hamper any potential deals by the Sharks unless it’s a “money-in, money-out” move.

Regarding their next head coach, Pashelka thinks they could take a long look at former Nashville Predators bench boss Peter Laviolette if they decide not to keep interim coach Bob Boughner in that role. He also thinks they could consider adding more grit to their lineup.

Asking if former Sharks Brenden Dillon or Patrick Marleau might return via free agency, early indications are Marleau will be back next season. Pashelka doesn’t see Dillon coming back after the Sharks re-signed Radim Simek to a four-year contract extension.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt reports long-time Sharks center Joe Thornton intends to return next season. “”I have years to go!” Thornton recently texted The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $66 milion committed to 13 players, the Sharks will have around $15 million to work with under an $81.5 million cap. While all their core players are under contract, upgrading their roster could prove difficult. Wilson has proven adept in the past in retooling a roster quickly through trades and free agency, but this off-season could prove challenging.

If Wilson moves a big contract, I suspect it’ll be for a return that provides immediate roster help. It won’t easy. Timo Meier is the only high-salaried Shark lacking any form of no-trade protection. Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have no-movement clauses, while Logan Couture, Brent Burns, Evander Kane and Martin Jones each have modified no-trades listing three preferred trade destinations.

Interesting that it appears Marleau could return with the Sharks next season. He’ll have to a pay cut to do so, but at this stage in his career, I don’t think that’s a concern for him. The same goes for Thornton. If they want to return to the Sharks and if Wilson wants to bring them back, it’ll be under affordable, one-year deals.

 










NHL Sense or Nonsense – Let the deals begin

NHL Sense or Nonsense – Let the deals begin

 










Reviewing This Season’s Notable Deals Before the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline

Reviewing This Season’s Notable Deals Before the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline