NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 20, 2021

Recaps of Tuesday’s games, Hurricanes-Predators game postpone over COVID-19 concerns, Avalanche trade Ian Cole to Minnesota, Elias Pettersson fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jack Hughes enjoyed his first two-goal game and added an assist as his New Jersey Devils held on for a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers. Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 47 saves for the win. Artemi Panarin collected two assists for the Rangers, who lost center Mika Zibanejad to an apparent upper-body injury after falling into the corner boards late in the third period.

New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes and Blackwood were the Devils’ stars in this contest. This was Hughes’ best game in his young NHL career, showing the skills that made him the first-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. An update on Zibanejad’s status could be made later today.

The Philadelphia Flyers blanked the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 thanks to a 40-save performance by goalie Brian Elliott. Kevin Hayes had a goal and an assist for the Flyers, who lost defenseman Philippe Myers and center Morgan Frost to injuries during this contest. Both are slated for MRIs today. Sabres goalie Carter Hutton didn’t return for the third period following a collision in his crease in the second period. Earlier in the day, the Sabres moved winger Kyle Okposo (undisclosed) on injured reserve. He’s yet to play a game this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big bounce-back win for the injury-depleted Flyers after getting drubbed 6-1 by the Sabres on Monday. The Sabres had plenty of opportunities to score but Elliott held them off the board.

An overtime goal by Frank Vatrano lifted the Florida Panthers over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4. Panthers’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves, the most notable stopping Patrick Kane on a penalty shot. Patric Hornqvist and Carter Verhaeghe each scored twice for the Panthers while Dominik Kubalik tallied twice for the Blackhawks, who still seek their first win of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to be a long, painful season for the Blackhawks. They’ve given up five goals in each of their first four games.

The Pittsburgh Penguins swept their two-game series with the Washington Capitals with a 5-4 overtime victory. Sidney Crosby tallied the winner in the extra frame as the Penguins overcame a 4-2 deficit. Tom Wilson scored twice for the Capitals. Penguins defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola left the game with undisclosed ailments and will be evaluated today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby collected three points in this contest and is now the Penguins’ leading scorer with five points.

Nikolaj Ehlers scored in overtime as the Winnipeg Jets overcame a 3-1 deficit to edge the Ottawa Senators 4-3. Blake Wheeler had a goal and an assist and Mark Scheifele collected two assists for the Jets. Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle missed the game with what’s been called a minor injury but he isn’t expected to be sidelined for long.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A tough loss for the Senators, who out-shot the Jets 41-28 in this game.

Tyler Bertuzzi potted an overtime winner to give the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 decision over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Wings forward Bobby Ryan scored his fourth goal in his first three games of this season, becoming the first player in franchise history to achieve that feat.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-earned victory for the rebuilding Red Wings over a Blue Jackets team whose best players have been anything but through most of the first week of their season.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon collected two assists, including his 500th career point, in a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Anze Kopitar had two helpers for the Kings. The Avs were playing without goaltender Pavel Francouz and winger Andre Burakovsky as both remain sidelined by injuries suffered during practice on Monday.

The Carolina Hurricanes-Nashville Predators game was postponed after five Hurricanes players (Warren Foegele, Jordan Martinook, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen and Jaccob Slavin) were placed in COVID-19 protocol. The rescheduled game will be played at a later date.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This probably won’t be the last game to be rescheduled during this season. The Dallas Stars had their first four games postponed and rescheduled after several players were placed in COVID-19 protocol during the final days of training camp.

HEADLINES

THE DENVER POST: Prior to the Colorado Avalanche’s game with the Los Angeles Kings, they shipped defenseman Ian Cole to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for blueliner Greg Pateryn.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild made this swap because general manager Bill Guerin was looking for an experienced stay-at-home defenseman. He also knows Cole from their days with the Pittsburgh Penguins and likes what the blueliner could bring to his roster.

The Avs, meanwhile, shed all but $800K of Cole’s $4.25 million annual average value while taking on Pateryn’s $2.25 million AAV. It allows the to put Pateryn on the taxi squad if necessary to create room for promising blueliner Bowen Byram.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson was fined $3,987.07 for slashing Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan during a game on Monday night.

NHL.COM: The league will pause the use of pucks with embedded tracking technology because of performance issues. A new supply of tracking pucks will be received soon and put into service once quality-control testing is completed.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 19, 2021

Are the Panthers thinking of pursuing Pierre-Luc Dubois? Should the Sabres target Marc-Andre Fleury? Who could be the odd-man-out on the Avalanche blueline? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE PANTHERS PURSUE DUBOIS?

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports there’s a theory that the reason Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito efforts to get Keith Yandle to waive his no-movement clause was to set up for a deal to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Could the Florida Panthers attempt to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Florida Panthers (NHL Images).

As the former assistant GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Zito helped draft Dubois third overall in the 2016 NHL Draft. Murphy also cites an NHL scout suggesting that’s also the reason behind the recent Aleksander Barkov rumors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Zito was trying to move Yandle I don’t believe the Jackets would’ve been interested even if the Panthers absorbed part of his $6.35 million annual average value. The Jackets’ defense corps is pretty much set, which is why they could send Markus Nutivaara to the Panthers in the offseason in a cost-cutting move. Yandle would have to be moved in a separate deal to another club to free up the cap space for Dubois’ $5 million AAV.

I don’t doubt Zito would love to acquire Dubois but I don’t see him moving Barkov to do so. If anything, I think he would envision Barkov remaining as the Panthers’ first-line center with Dubois centering the second line.

SHOULD THE SABRES TARGET FLEURY?

Murphy also cites an NHL scout suggesting the Buffalo Sabres should target Marc-Andre Fleury. “What the BLEEP are the Sabres waiting for? Get Fleury!”, the scout said. Murphy believes the Vegas Golden Knights are ready to move the 36-year-old goaltender. The Sabres could use an upgrade between the pipes but an NHL management source isn’t sure Sabres GM Kevyn Adams has looked into it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are seven million reasons why the Sabres haven’t acquired Fleury. That’s his annual average value for this season and next. He also has a modified no-trade clause and could be unwilling to accept a trade to Buffalo. Cap Friendly, meanwhile, shows the Sabres only have a projected $1.2 million in cap room right now. Fleury is an expense they can’t afford. 

COULD THE AVALANCHE MOVE A DEFENSEMAN?

THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers and Mark Kiszla discussed what the Colorado Avalanche could do to address their blue-line logjam. The Avs already possess considerable depth in talented young defensemen in Cale Makar, Devon Toews, Samuel Girard, Ryan Graves, Conor Timmins and Bowen Byram, plus they have veterans Erik Johnson and Ian Cole.

Chambers suspects Cole could sit if the young blueliners continue to impress. Kiszla wonders if GM Joe Sakic could use one of those rearguards as trade bait. Johnson’s contract ($6 million AAV, no-movement and modified no-trade clause) would be difficult to move. Chambers suggests Girard would be the most tradeable. Losing his $5 million AAV over the next seven seasons would free up cap room to add a forward or a goaltender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche GM Joe Sakic might at some point consider using one of his defensemen as trade bait to address a roster issue before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. Johnson’s contract all but ensures he won’t be going anywhere. Cale Makar is untouchable and I don’t think Sakic will move Byram or Timmins. Toews is also likely to stay put after signing a four-year deal following his acquisition from the New York Islanders last fall.

Girard, Cole and Graves could become trade candidates. However, there’s no certainty Sakic will shop any of the defensemen this season. We’ll just have to see how things unfold.

Johnson’s no-movement clause means they can’t put him on their taxi squad this season without his permission. I can see them shuttling Byram and Timmins in and out of the taxi squad in the short term. Cole is a UFA this summer but the Avs could prefer hanging onto him for this season.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 7, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 7, 2021

Recent speculation on the Penguins, Avalanche and Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe recently reported Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford believes spending money in free agency will be pivotal to keeping his club competitive two years from now.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Yohe believes the summer of 2022 could be crucial for the Penguins, as Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang will become eligible for unrestricted free agency. Malkin will be 36 by then, Letang 35. Rutherford feels it will be key to plug in one or two impact players in their mid-20s into the roster.

For now, Rutherford isn’t expected to make any immediate deals. He wants to evaluate the current roster to see what they have to offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see if the Penguins move on from aging core players like Malkin and Letang next year or retain them on more affordable, short-term contracts. If Rutherford’s intent is to make a big splash or two in the 2022 free-agent market for younger impact players, there might not be enough cap space to retain those veteran stars.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater recently reported Bowen Byram’s solid performance for Canada during the 2021 World Junior Championship have the Colorado Avalanche considering a trade to free up a roster spot for the young defenseman.

Dater doubts this move would happen before February. Nevertheless, he considers Ian Cole a likely trade candidate. The veteran blueliner is eligible for UFA status this summer with a salary cap hit of $4.25 million for this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byram has considerable potential and could crack the Avs’ lineup soon. However, there’s no need to rush him. They can take their time and see how things unfold.

Cole lacks no-trade protection but moving him won’t be easy. It could involve packaging him with a sweetener to a team with sufficient cap space to take on his contract.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers have checked in with free agent Brian Boyle. They need help in the faceoff circle plus there are questions about a vacuum of veteran leadership as well as the makeup and role of the fourth line.

Brooks feels the former Ranger could address those issues but the club informed Boyle they’re taking a wait-and-see approach with their young players. Meanwhile, several other clubs have also reached out to the veteran center.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2020

Result of the NHLPA executive board vote on proposed return-to-play format is expected today, a closer look at what the proposed format could look like, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHLPA EXECUTIVE VOTES ON PROPOSED RETURN-TO-PLAY FORMAT

SPORTSNET: The National Hockey League Players’ Association executive board voted Thursday night the NHL’s proposed 24-team return-to-play tournament. The board is comprised of the 31 NHLPA player representatives. The result of the vote is expected by Friday evening.

The NHLPA executive board is voting on a 24-team return-to-play tournament format.

The top-four teams in each conference qualify for the 16-team playoffs, receiving a bye from the 16-team, best-of-five play-in series. They will, however, play a three-game round-robin against each other to determine their final seedings.

“In the Eastern Conference, the opening round will play out like this:

• 5. Pittsburgh vs. 12. Montreal (winner plays four seed)
• 6. Carolina vs. 11. Rangers (winner plays three seed)
• 7. Islanders vs. 10. Florida (winner plays two seed)
• 8. Toronto vs. 9. Columbus (winner plays one seed)

And the Western Conference opening round will play out like this:

• 5. Edmonton vs. 12. Chicago (winner plays four seed)
• 6. Nashville vs. 11. Arizona (winner plays three seed)
• 7. Vancouver vs. 10. Minnesota (winner plays two seed)
• 8. Calgary vs. 9. Winnipeg (winner plays one seed)”

“Once the play-in tournament has concluded, the playoffs will be “bracketed” — similar to what is done in the NCAA tournament — meaning any of the top-four teams in the East or West could actually end up facing the lowest remaining seed following the play-in round. For example, the No. 4 seed could face No. 12 Montreal (in the event the Canadiens pulled off an upset over No. 5 Pittsburgh) while the No. 1 seed would be left with the winner of No. 8 Toronto vs. No. 9 Columbus.”

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the 24 clubs will be determined by points percentage. “The top four in the East are Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington, and Philadelphia; in the West, it’s St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas.”

TSN:  Bob McKenzie reports the “NHLPA conference call tonight was spirited if not raucous. While exec committee voting won’t be finalized until Friday, some believe Don Fehr may already have or will get the mandate to accept NHL RTP plan but not overwhelmingly so.”

“Which is to suggest that even if there are enough votes to pass, it may still be a tough call. Emotional issue, as one might expect. We should have more clarity in the next 24 hours.”

Frank Seravalli reports the when, where, and how for the return-to-play plan and the host cities hasn’t been determined yet. NHL general managers have privately expressed frustration with bracketing the playoffs, with some suggesting the rounds should be reseeded. The top-tier clubs are complaining about clubs like Montreal and Chicago being allowed to reach the playoffs.

Developing a comprehensive COVID-19 testing plan and the logistics of staging these games in two or four host cities still has to be sorted out. The NHL and NHLPA remain hopeful of implementing Phase 2 of their return-to-play program, which would see players engage in small-group training at their respective NHL facilities, after June 1.

Darren Dreger reports the NHL is leaning toward two hub cities. The province of Alberta is putting forth a major push for Edmonton to be one of those cities. Las Vegas is thought to be the front-runner, though there’s concern over the heat there in July and August whereas the average summer temperatures in Edmonton are more comfortable.

McKenzie said several NHL GMs feel a 24-team play-in format is a made-for-TV event with Chicago and the New York Rangers being involved. There are also questions over how the outcome of this tournament could affect the draft lottery.

NBC SPORTS: Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson and Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal raised concerns about the players being possibly isolated from their families for weeks under the proposed format. Carlson felt a 24-team tournament sounded like a lot, while Staal spoke of the many hurdles the league faces in pulling this off. Nevertheless, both players understand the challenges and seem willing to work with the league.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ian Cole is fully supportive of whatever decision is reached to return to action. “To be honest with you, I like to keep it simple: Whatever gets us back and playing, I’m 100 percent for. Whether that’s 16 teams, 24 teams — 30 teams, 31 teams — whatever gets us back and playing I’m 100 percent on board with,” Cole said.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin dismisses concerns over how a 24-team tournament might hurt the integrity of the NHL playoffs. He cites the NHL’s long history of wild, sometimes unfair formats.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This proposed format won’t please everyone and the NHLPA executive board could come back with some recommendations to adjust it. A number of players will have legitimate concerns about ensuring their health and safety and the long separations from their families.

Nevertheless, I anticipate the PA reps will vote to approve it, with the league board of governors giving their blessing soon afterward. The league and the PA will then shift their focus toward ironing out timelines, approving hub cities, and addressing the daunting logistics in staging this tournament.

I understand the concerns regarding the fairness of the proposed tournament and the integrity of the playoffs. But if the league can pull this off, those concerns will be forgotten. Even those hockey fans taking to social media proclaiming they’ll never watch it will probably find themselves drawn toward it, especially if it involves their favorite team. 

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports an NHL source indicates the league’s intention is “to agree on a slide with the NHL Players’ Association, which would uniformly extend all contracts through the end of the 2019-20 season.” That would also apply to minor-league players on two-way contracts. The league also hopes to do the same for coaches and other team employees on expiring contracts, but “(The) dynamic is different without collective representation.” 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, player contracts that would’ve expired on June 30 will be extended to the end of the proposed return-to-play format. That could be sometime in September. 

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman speculates we probably won’t see NHL training camps open before July. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Winnipeg’s pro sports teams can reopen their training facilities under strict physical distancing guidelines. 

PUCKPEDIA: Part three of their NHL player agents’ poll examines the best way to grow league revenue, whether there will be a lockout in 2022, and more. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2019

Game recaps, three stars of the week, plus updates on Evgeni Malkin, Josh Morrissey, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Pietrangelo’s 400th career point was also the game-winning goal as the St. Louis Blues edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2. Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington made 32 saves for the win. The Leafs best scorers – Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner – were held pointless in his contest.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tallied the winning goal in a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images).

Alexandre Texier’s overtime goal gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. He and teammate Nick Foligno each had a goal and an assist.

HEADLINES

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad, Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha, and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews were the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 6, 2019.

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin threw the ceremonial first pitch in Game 4 of yesterday’s National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Nationals won 6-1 to tie the best-of-five series at two games apiece.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins centers Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad will be sidelined “longer term” due to lower-body injuries. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan expects Malkin will be out longer than Bjugstad but said his injury wasn’t season-ending.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a big blow to the Penguins depth at center. Jared McCann could shift from the left wing to cover the second-line center position. Dominik Kahun could slot into the third- or fourth-line center spot. The Penguins also called up Sam Lafferty and Andrew Agozzino.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey returned to practice yesterday after missing Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders. Blueliner Dmitry Kulikov will miss tonight’s game in Pittsburgh as he’s in Winnipeg dealing with a personal matter.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings placed Andreas Athanasiou, Frans Nielsen, Trevor Daley, and Jonathan Ericsson on injured reserve. They’ve called up forwards Evgeny Svechnikov and Ryan Kuffner, and defensemen Oliwer Kaski and Alex Biega.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers traded forward Vladislav Namestnikov to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for minor-league defenseman Nick Ebert and a 2021 fourth-round pick. The Rangers reportedly retain $750K of Namestnikov’s salary-cap hit

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a cost-cutting move by the Rangers, saving over $3 million in salary-cap space. Namestnikov is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and no longer fit into their future plans. This move brings experienced depth at center to the rebuilding Senators.

THE DENVER POST: With defenseman Ian Cole returning from injury, the Colorado Avalanche reassigned rookie blueliner Conor Timmons to the Colorado Eagles.

THE SCORE: Journeyman goaltender Michael Leighton announced his retirement after 18 season of professional hockey. He played for 21 teams during his career, mostly in the AHL. His NHL high point was backstopping the Philadelphia Flyers to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.

In 111 career NHL games with the Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, and Carolina Hurricanes, Leighton finished with a record of 37 wins, 43 losses, and 14 overtime defeats, with a 2.98 goals-against average, .900 save percentage and four shutouts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Leighton in his future endeavors.










Where Are They Now? 2006 Carolina Hurricanes

Where Are They Now? 2006 Carolina Hurricanes