NHL Rumor Mill – August 28, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 28, 2021

Could a change of agents help Jack Eichel get traded sooner? Could the Bruins or Canadiens become a destination for the Sabres captain? Which head coaches could be on the hot seat this season? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wonders what Jack Eichel’s decision to change agents could mean for the Bruins if they want to trade for the Buffalo Sabres captain. He said the Bruins are among several clubs with an interest in the 24-year-old center. Trade discussions were expected to intensify, with a source telling Murphy that there’s a hope of getting this done within the next couple of weeks.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Eichel’s new agent is Pat Brisson, who also represents high-profile stars such as Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon and Patrick Kane. He could be hoping Brisson’s cozy relationship with several NHL general managers could prove helpful in the trade market.

Murphy feels that might not help the Bruins as GM Don Sweeney had a good rapport with Eichel’s former agents. Brisson has a close relationship with Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin and Eichel was linked to the Habs at one point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll find out soon enough if Brisson can succeed where his predecessors failed in finding a suitable trade for Eichel. Maybe he can convince Sabres GM Kevyn Adams to reduce his asking price of four assets comparable to first-round picks.

Any club acquiring Eichel will have to wait for his season debut because he’s still dealing with a herniated disc in his neck. Whatever procedure he undergoes to address that issue will determine how long he’s out of action. Disc replacement surgery would apparently sideline him for several weeks while fusion surgery could keep him on the shelf for months. His $10 million annual cap hit for the next five seasons is also a sticking point.

The question is whether this trade is worth doing. Eichel is very talented when healthy but he’s now facing a procedure that could keep him out of the lineup for perhaps most of this season. There’s also the risk he might not regain his high-scoring form once he returns to play.

The Canadiens could acquire Eichel if they’re prepared to ship out around $10 million annually in the deal to accommodate his hefty contract. They’re currently over $2.2 million into long-term injury reserve territory assuming Shea Weber goes on LTIR as expected. They also have restricted free agent Jesperi Kotkaniemi to sign.

Adams could ask for at least two good young roster players like Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Alexander Romanov or Kotkaniemi as part of the return. Promising blueliner Kaiden Guhle could also be part of the asking price.

As for the Bruins, they only have $1.089 million in cap space. Landing Eichel means moving out significant cap dollars to free up sufficient space for Eichel’s contract. Maybe Sweeney can convince the Sabres to pick up some of his salary but that seems unlikely. The Bruins also don’t have a Suzuki or Caufield in their lineup to tempt the Sabres and they’re not that deep in tradeable young assets within their system.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau recently looked at five NHL head coaches on the hot seat for the coming season.

The Calgary Flames hired Darryl Sutter midway through last season. The club is at a crossroads right now. If they stumble out of the gate, perhaps general manager Brad Treliving seeks another replacement to save his job.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Treliving is going to sink or swim with Sutter. A poor start could cost the GM his job before he even has a chance to consider another coaching change.

Travis Green recently signed a contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks. However, some general managers have no problem firing a coach with term remaining on his contract. The Canucks must quickly show progress or fans will call for Green’s firing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be a decisive year for Green and GM Jim Benning. Canucks ownership have been very patient with Benning but that could run out if they’re not a contender this season.

The Chicago Blackhawks made a series of changes this offseason, which include the acquisitions of Marc-Andre Fleury and Seth Jones. Jeremy Colliton’s job could be in jeopardy if the Blackhawks fail to improve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So could Stan Bowman’s job as general manager, especially given the club’s handling of sexual abuse allegations against a former video coach a decade ago.

Jeff Blashill has been coach of the Detroit Red Wings for six seasons. A lack of improvement this season could cost him his job. Meanwhile, San Jose Sharks bench boss Bob Boughner could also get the ax if GM Doug Wilson decides to shake up his mediocre roster.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 13, 2021

The 2020-21 season begins today. Check out the notable NHL stories in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league yesterday revealed 27 players on nine different teams tested positive for COVID-19 between Dec. 30 and Jan. 11. Seventeen of those players were with the Dallas Stars. Most were asymptomatic and all are currently recovering without complications.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Positive tests were bound to happen with the league returning to action under its current format. The high number of Stars players sidelined by the coronavirus is a stark reminder of how quickly it can spread. This probably won’t be the only incident of community spread on an NHL team over the course of this season.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Speaking of the Stars, they returned to practice yesterday for the first time since last Wednesday. Fifteen players were missing, including defensemen Miro Heiskanen, Esa Lindell and Jamie Oleksiak and forwards Radek Faksa and Joel Kiviranta, though the club didn’t reveal if their absence was due to COVID-19 protocols or injuries.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams didn’t have to provide details of a player’s absence during training camp. They’re supposed to do so during the regular season.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner said Evander Kane will not sit out this season. The 29-year-old left-winger filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 9 with the petition containing a clause suggesting he could terminate his contract or opt-out of playing this season. However, Boughner confirmed Kane will be in the lineup for their season-opener on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He doesn’t feel the winger’s financial woes will be a distraction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s bankruptcy probably won’t be a distraction for the Sharks over the course of the season but it could be fodder for trash-talking aimed at the winger by his opponents.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle doesn’t appear to be part of the club’s plans when their season opens on Sunday. He recently skated with a second group of fringe players and wasn’t playing with a dedicated defense partner during Tuesday’s practice. It appears the club wants Yandle to waive his no-movement clause but the blueliner said he hasn’t been asked to do so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting development with the Panthers. If Yandle becomes a healthy scratch his streak of 866 consecutive games will come to an end. I’ll have more on Yandle in the Rumors section.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller and defenseman Jordie Benn missed practice yesterday. The club would neither confirm nor deny their absences are COVID-related. More details are expected today.

Meanwhile, the Canucks announced the signing of defenseman Travis Hamonic to a one-year, $1.25 million contract. The 30-year-old blueliner attended Canucks training camp on a professional tryout offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamonic is the latest of several notable unrestricted free agents forced to accept short-term contracts for less than market value because of this season’s flattened salary cap. He’ll hope a strong performance with the Canucks this season will improve his chances of a better deal in this summer’s UFA market.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed winger Marcus Foligno to a three-year, $9.3 million contract extension beginning in 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Foligno is part of the Wild’s veteran leadership core. The annual average value of his new contract is $3.1 million. Cap Friendly indicates the deal doesn’t include no-trade protection.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed head coach Jeremy Colliton to a two-year contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Colliton hasn’t enjoyed the success of his predecessor but the Blackhawks aren’t the powerhouse they once were. Management evidently sees Colliton as a key part of their current transition period as they ease more youth into their lineup.

TSN: The Ottawa Senators and Carolina Hurricanes made a minor trade yesterday, with the Senators shipping defenseman Max Lajoie to the Hurricanes for forward Clark Bishop.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins will honor Willie O’Ree by retiring his No. 22 jersey to the rafters of the TD Garden during a Feb. 18 game against the New Jersey Devils. O’Ree was the first black player in NHL history, debuting with the Bruins on Jan. 18, 1958. He played a total of 45 games with the Bruins. O’Ree was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 2018.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fitting, long-overdue tribute to a hockey trailblazer and one of the game’s finest ambassadors.










NHL Notes: Evander Kane Bankrupt, Blackhawks Extend Jeremy Colliton

NHL Notes: Evander Kane Bankrupt, Blackhawks Extend Jeremy Colliton

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 15, 2020

Players mull over the idea of performing in arenas without fans, Ryan Reaves and Evander Kane put aside their differences to help form Hockey Diversity Alliance, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE CANADIAN PRESS (via CTV News): Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and teammate Darnell Nurse, Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, and Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler are among several NHL players pondering playing in arenas without fans under the league’s return-to-play plan later this summer.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (Photo via NHL Images).

NHL players are accustomed to playing in front of thousands of noisy fans, drawing energy and intensity from the crowds. That won’t be the case during the 24-team playoff tournament, as fans won’t be allowed into the two hub arenas due to COVID-19 concerns.

Nurse believes it will be a test for the players to create their own intensity. Tavares acknowledged it’ll be unlike what the players are used to, but pointed out the game between the boards remains the same.

Wheeler suggests players will have to push aside the distraction of silence and remember millions of fans will be watching them on television. McDavid, meanwhile, acknowledged it won’t be the same. “It’ll suck, but we gotta do what we gotta do.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The lack of fan noise will be a little disconcerting at first, but I expect the players will quickly adjust. As Nurse pointed out, the players will have to find other ways to create their own environment and draw sufficient motivation.

THE SCORE: Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane have a well-documented rivalry. However, the two put their differences aside to become part of the newly-formed Hockey Diversity Alliance, which seeks to eradicate racism from hockey.

I spoke to Evander and told him I want to jump in on this powerful message,” Reaves told the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Ed Graney. “We have to put aside our differences on the ice and come together for a much bigger cause.”

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said he and his staff intend to use their time leading up to the tournament in preparation to face the Edmonton Oilers, their qualifying-round opponent. They intend to work on improving their systems while ramping up their focus on the Oilers as the tournament draws near.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL coaches will have plenty of time to prepare. Late July is the earliest the tournament could begin, though early August seems the more likely time.

NJ.COM: Executives from the seven non-playoff clubs are hoping the NHL will allow them to spend some on-ice time evaluating their players during their long off-season. The New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators, and San Jose Sharks failed to qualify for the post-season tournament.

Devils interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald said those teams are hoping to get in some form of game action for their players.

Bring them in in any shape or form. It could be a mini-camp. It could be rookie camp. It could be a rookie tournament. Maybe the Eastern teams get together. Maybe there’s an appetite for all of us to somehow have some sort of mini-tournament. But there’s definitely going to be some push from us at least to be able to have the ability to work with our players in a smaller window, whatever that may look like. We all believe it’s not fair that we go nine months without being able to have contact with our players.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getting those teams together could be difficult as they’d all have to follow the same protocols as those participating in the playoff tournament. Perhaps mini-camps or rookie camps would be acceptable, though those clubs might have to pick up the costs of travel, accommodation, and COVID-19 testing.

HOKEJ.CZ: reports Dallas Stars forward Martin Hanzal is considering retirement after spending the past several seasons plagued by back injuries. He’s in the final year of his contract and spent the entire 2019-20 season on long-term injury reserve. With his contract still technically on the Stars’ books, he’ll likely wait until this season is over before making it official.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Craig Morgan reports Hanzal told him two months ago retirement was likely, but he’d wait until his contract expired to make an official decision. Morgan writes Hanzal’s back problems flare up whenever he plays hockey.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former Oiler Nail Yakupov, the first-overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, is bouncing around the KHL with the same frequency as he did during his final NHL seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I attributed Yakupov’s NHL woes to the revolving door of coaches during his four seasons with the Oilers. However, it appears his problems are much deeper than that. He has the dubious honor of being among the biggest draft busts in NHL history.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens mascot Youppi! is the first character from a Canadian-based sports team to be inducted into The Mascot Hall of Fame. He’s also the first two-sport mascot to be inducted, having joined the Canadiens in 2005 after serving with the Montreal Expos from 1979 until the MLB club was relocated in 2004. Youppi! is also the only mascot to be ejected from an MLB game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations, Youppi! One of my favorite mascots of all time.










With Babcock Fired, Which NHL Coaches Are Next on the Chopping Block?

With Babcock Fired, Which NHL Coaches Are Next on the Chopping Block?

 










Struggling Blackhawks Have Fascinating Future

Struggling Blackhawks Have Fascinating Future