NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 10, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 10, 2020

Game recaps, Oilers re-sign Nurse, Brock Boeser sidelined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets tallied five unanswered goals to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2. Kyle Connor led the way with two goals and an assist for the Jets (63 points), who moved into the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference. With 58 points, the Blackhawks are four points out of the final Western wild-card spot.

Kyle Connor scored twice to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks (Photo via NHL Images)

Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each scored for the Colorado Avalanche in a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. The Avs (70 points) picked up their fourth straight win and moved within three points of the first-place St. Louis Blues in the Central Division. With 58 points, the Wild are four points out of a playoff spot in the West.

Andreas Athanasiou scored twice as the last-overall Detroit Red Wings upset the first-overall Boston Bruins 3-1, snapping the latter’s six-game winning streak. Jonathan Bernier made 39 saves for the win. It’s the Wing’s second victory in their last 12 games.

Three first-period goals enabled the Anaheim Ducks to hang on for a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Ducks backup Ryan Miller made 31 saves.

New York Rangers rookie goalie Ilya Shesterkin kicked out 42 shot backstopping his club over the Los Angeles Kings 4-1.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers signed defenseman Darnell Nurse to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $5.6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nurse, 25, is in the final season of a two-year, $6.4-million contract. He was slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. This deal provides a nice raise for Nurse, who’s become an invaluable part of the Oilers’ defense corps. It also pushes the Oilers’ salary-cap payroll for 2020-21 to over $68 million invested in 13 players.

Nurse’s new contract takes him up to his eligibility age (27) for unrestricted free agency. It appears Oilers management is buying time by having him agree to an affordable short-term contract with the potential for a more lucrative deal two years from now. Given his value to the Oilers, I expect they’ll attempt to re-sign him to a longer-term extension in the summer of 2021.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser will be sidelined at least two games with an undisclosed injury.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights center William Karlsson hopes to return to action on Tuesday. He’s been sidelined by a broken finger since Jan. 14.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon received a two-game suspension from the NHL department of player safety for checking Arizona Coyotes center Derek Stepan in the head on Saturday.

SPORTSNET: Details have emerged over Saturday’s report indicating the International Olympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation are willing to address NHL issues to get players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics. They’re willing to address insurance and travel costs, as well as marketing opportunities.

Chris Johnston said Olympic participation is an important issue for NHLPA membership in collective bargaining talks with the NHL. He suggests this recent news of contact between the IOC and IIHF with the league could lead to progress in CBA talks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league makes lots of noise over how the team owners don’t like take a three-week Olympic break in their schedule. The reality, however, is they had no real issue with it as long as the travel and insurance costs (an estimated $20 million) for the players were covered by the IOC and IIHF. A cut of the marketing revenue would also be enticing.

If the league agrees to these proposals, it could (as Johnston suggests) lead to a new CBA getting hammered out before its current expiration in September 2022.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 9, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 9, 2020

Patrik Laine’s hat trick power the Jets over the Senators, Ilya Kovalchuk comes through again for the Canadiens, Claude Giroux reached 800 career points, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Patrik Laine tallied a hat trick and Kyle Connor picked up four points as the Winnipeg Jets downed the Ottawa Senators 5-2. Laine moved past Sidney Crosby with the seventh-most goals (133) scored by a player before the age of 22. With 61 points, the Jets passed the Arizona Coyotes into the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Patrik Laine’s hat trick powered the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images).

Speaking of the Coyotes, they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Boston Bruins. While they also have 61 points, the Jets hold a game in hand. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made 29 saves to extend his home points streak to a team-record 18 games. Charlie Coyle scored twice and Patrice Bergeron had a three-point game. The Bruins (80 points) hold a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals in the overall standings. Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta was scratched before the game with a lower-body injury.

Two third-period goals by Leon Draisaitl lifted the Edmonton Oilers over the Nashville Predators 3-2. The Oilers had a scare when captain Connor McDavid suffered a bruised knee in the second period, but he returned to play over five minutes in the third. Draisaitl (85 points) holds a four-point lead over McDavid for top spot in the NHL scoring race. The Oilers (64 points) moved within a point of the Vancouver Canucks for first place in the Pacific Division, while the Predators (59 points) remain two points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth.

The Montreal Canadiens edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on an overtime goal by Ilya Kovalchuk. Marco Scandella scored the tying goal late in the third period. John Tavares tallied for the Leafs. Kovalchuk leads the Habs with three game-winning goals, with two of those in overtime. Montreal winger Jonathan Drouin returned to action for the first time since suffering a wrist injury on Nov. 15. The Canadiens (61 points) are five points behind the Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division.

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy extended his franchise-record points streak to 18 games with a 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders. Brayden Point had a goal and an assist for the Bolts, who’ve won six straight and remain five points behind the Bruins in the Eastern Conference standings. The Lightning also revealed defenseman Ryan McDonagh will be sidelined for two weeks with a lower-body injury.

Kris Letang had a goal and an assist and Tristan Jarry kicked out 33 shots as the Pittsburgh Penguins hung on for a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers. The Penguins (73 points) sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division.

New Jersey Devils netminder Mackenzie Blackwood picked up his second straight shutout to blank the Los Angeles Kings 3-0. Nikita Gusev, Blake Coleman, and Kyle Palmieri were the goal scorers. The Kings have dropped nine of their last 10 contests.

Claude Giroux picked up three points, including his 800th career point, as the Philadelphia Flyers thumped the Washington Capitals 7-2. Sean Couturier tallied two goals for the Flyers, while Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin remains two goals away from 700 career goals. The Flyers (67 points) sit just outside the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Third-period goals by Nazem Kadri and Nathan MacKinnon gave the Colorado Avalanche a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, ending Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins’ winning streak at eight games. The Jackets (69 points) sit third in the Metropolitan Division.

Dallas Stars winger Roope Hintz scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in a 3-2 overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues. The Stars sit third in the Central Division with 67 points. Dallas winger Alexander Radulov missed the game with an upper-body injury.

The Calgary Flames snapped a three-game losing skid by thrashing the Vancouver Canucks 6-2. Christian Dube had a goal and two assists and Milan Lucic had a goal and an assist for the Flames (62 points), who cling to the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference. Canucks winger Brock Boeser left the game with an apparent arm injury and could be sidelined for a little while.

Shootout goals by Andrei Svechnikov and Justin Williams gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 6-5 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Jake Gardiner picked up three assists for the Hurricanes, who hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 67 points. The Golden Knights (64 points) sit third in the Pacific Division.

IN OTHER NEWS…

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues will retired Chris Pronger’s No. 44 next season. The date has yet to be announced. Pronger had his best seasons with the Blues, spending nine years in St. Louis. Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015, Pronger won the Hart and Norris Trophies with the Blues in 2000.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes organization may face $5 million in fines if found guilty of allegations involving physical fitness testing of draft prospects.

TSN: The International Olympic Committee engaged with the NHL last week. It’s unclear if they offered enough to sway the league into allowing its players to participate in future Winter Olympics.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 8, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – February 8, 2020

Are the Avalanche pursuing Jets winger Kyle Connor? Could the Leafs use a loophole to free up salary-cap space for the trade deadline? What’s the latest on Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Ilya Kovalchuk? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ARE THE AVALANCHE INTERESTED IN KYLE CONNOR?

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre cites a “well-connected source” claiming teams are calling the Jets about winger Kyle Connor. The Jets need a top-tier defenseman, and McIntyre notes it takes talent to land talent. He said Colorado Avalanche prospect defenseman Bo Byram is the main name linked to Connor, along with a couple other small pieces. The Avs already have a potential franchise blueliner in Cale Makar, and their window of opportunity to win the Cup is wide open.

Could the Winnipeg Jets move Kyle Connor for a top-two defenseman? (Photo via NHL Images)

McIntyre doubts the Jets will move Connor, who leads them with 25 goals on the season. he also doesn’t think they’re actively shopping the 23-year-old winger. Still, he suggests trading “a highly coveted asset for a major piece to help in the present might make some sense.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I supposed the Avalanche could have interest in Connor. Heck, who wouldn’t? However, they’ve already got a top-line left winger in Gabriel Landeskog, while Valeri Nichushkin is showing promise in the second-line role. They’ve also been linked to guys like Chris Kreider and Tyler Toffoli, who would be more affordable acquisitions than Connor. Most of the trade chatter regarding the Avs of late concerns their goaltending.

Byram is a promising young defenseman who could one day blossom into a top-pairing player, but he’s yet to play a single NHL game. He’s not the top-two rearguard the Jets desperately need right away. Unless the Avs are offering up Makar (and they aren’t), or Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has decided to start rebuilding rather than push for a playoff spot, I don’t see Connor heading to Colorado – or anywhere else – anytime soon.

COULD A LOOPHOLE PROVIDE CAP RELIEF FOR THE LEAFS?

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports on the possibility of the Toronto Maple Leafs using the “Patrick Kane loophole” to free up around $9 million in salary-cap space at the trade deadline. He took note of recent comments by Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas suggesting any trade-deadline activity on his part could depend upon how long defenseman Morgan Rielly remains sidelined with a broken foot.

If Rielly, Cody Ceci, and Ilya Mikheyev remain on long-term injured reserve for the rest of the regular season. the Leafs can use the savings to acquire players at the trade deadline. The trio could return for the playoffs without the Leafs shedding salary because there’s no salary cap in the postseason.

It would be similar to what the Chicago Blackhawks did in 2015 with winger Patrick Kane. With Kane placed on LTIR from mid-February to the end of the regular-season schedule, they used the cap savings to Kimmo Timonen and Antoine Vermette, who helped the Hawks win the Stanley Cup later that spring.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s nothing in the CBA that prevents teams from employing this tactic. If a player has suffered an injury serious enough to sideline them until the playoffs, a team is allowed to place him on LTIR and use the cap savings to their advantage before the trade deadline.

The Leafs aren’t the only club that can go this route. The St. Louis Blues, for example, currently have winger Vladimir Taranseko (shoulder surgery) on LTIR. He’s not expected to return until the playoffs, ensuring they’ll have over $5 million in deadline cap space to bolster their roster if they choose.

LATEST ON THORTON AND MARLEAU

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt recently cited NBC Sports hockey analyst Keith Jones weighing in on possible moves by the San Jose Sharks. He believes there’s a likelihood Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau get traded soon, suggesting Tampa Bay as a good destination for Thornton. He also felt Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon will be on the move before the Feb. 24 trade deadline, with the Leafs and Florida Panthers as potential suitors.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently suggested the Lightning, Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights and Boston Bruins as potential landing spots for Thornton. He felt the Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks, and Washington Capitals could use Marleau’s services.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton’s no-movement clause makes him the most difficult to move, though he’d probably draw more interest. I think GM Doug Wilson will leave it up to Thornton and Marleau to decide if they’re willing to move to a contender for the remainder of the season.

UPDATES ON THE CANADIENS

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels reports the Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, and Edmonton Oilers have varying degrees of interest in Montreal Canadiens winger Ilya Kovalchuk. Engels also speculates the Florida Panthers could come calling if they swap winger Mike Hoffman for a defenseman. He believes the Canadiens won’t accept less than a second-round pick or a conditional third that could turn into a second-rounder.

Engels also weighs in on recent trade speculation regarding Max Domi, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. The two sides haven’t talked contract in a while, but that doesn’t mean discussions won’t resume soon. Domi’s versatility and willingness to stay in Montreal could give him leverage.

Rumors linked the Flames, Oilers, and Pittsburgh Penguins to Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar. While Engels believes the Penguins have the assets and the biggest incentive to land the 28-year-old Tatar, it’ll take a lot to pry him away from the Canadiens.

The Carolina Hurricanes have scouted the Habs. They need blueline depth and could have Brett Kulak or Marco Scandella in their sights.

Engels also thinks the New York Islanders could have interest in Canadiens fourth-line center Nate Thompson, while Winnipeg could be a destination for Dale Weise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much will depend upon where the Canadiens are in the standings as the Feb. 24 trade deadline approaches. If they haven’t gained ground, Kovalchuk, Thompson, Weise, Scandella, and Kulak could hit the trade block.

Despite some uncertainty over Domi’s contract situation, I don’t see him going anywhere at the deadline. The same goes for Tatar, who’s thriving in Montreal and loves playing there. He’s signed through next season, so there’s no urgency to peddle him now.

LATEST ON THE ISLANDERS AND LIGHTNING

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple recently speculated the New York Islanders could use their trade deadline salary-cap space (over $16 million) to take on a bad contract from a rival club to pick up an extra asset before deadline day. The Leafs, Golden Knights, Coyotes, and Blues could be cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary to make other moves.

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith wonders if recent injuries to defenseman Ryan McDonagh and Jan Rutta push the Tampa Bay Lightning into the trade market. That could depend upon how long those two are sidelined. They could attempt to resolve the issue internally.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 1, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 1, 2020

Another milestone for Marc-Andre Fleury, hat-trick performances by James Neal, Zach Werenski, and Kyle Connor, Jake Guentzel sidelined for months, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 455th career victory as the Vegas Golden Knights downed the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. He moves into sole possession of sixth place on the all-time wins list. Jonathan Marchessault scored twice for the Golden Knights, who move atop the Pacific Division standings with 50 points.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury moves into sixth place on the NHL’s all-time wins list (Photo via NHL Images).

A hat trick by James Neal and a four-point effort by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins helped the Edmonton Oilers hold off the New York Rangers 7-5. The Oilers ran up a 6-0 lead before the Rangers made it interesting with four third-period goals. Rangers winger Artemi Panarin picked up four points. The Oilers (46 points) hold a one-point lead over the Flames for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski tallied his first career hat trick and Elvis Merzlikins picked up his first career NHL victory in a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers, spoiling former Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s return to Columbus. Earlier in the day, the Jackets announced goalie Joonas Korpisalo will be sidelined four-to-six weeks following surgery on his right knee.

Kyle Connor’s second career hat trick carried the Winnipeg Jets to a 7-4 win over the slumping Colorado Avalanche. Mark Scheifele collected four points while Blake Wheeler, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Jack Roslovic each had three-point performances. Nathan MacKinnon tallied twice for the Avs, who’s lost five of their last six games. Jets center Mathieu Perreault returned to the lineup following a six-game absence with a concussion.

Alex Killorn scored two goals as the Tampa Bay Lightning overcame a 4-1 deficit to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 6-4. Killorn and Tyler Johnson each finished with three points, as did the Sabres’ Conor Sheary. With 46 points, the Lightning move into third place in the Atlantic Division.

Patrick Kane scored twice and set up two others as the Chicago Blackhawks doused the Calgary Flames 5-3. Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner had a 41-save performance.

The St. Louis Blues’ eight-game win streak ended in a 3-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. Antti Raanta made 38 stops while Phil Kessel netted the game-winner. Earlier in the day, the Coyotes placed defenseman Aaron Ness on waivers.

The New Jersey Devils overcame a 2-0 deficit to upset the Boston Bruins 3-2 on a shootout goal by Damon Severson. Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak made 42 saves in a losing cause, but the Bruins did pick up a point to extend their streak to eight games.

New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov kicked out 38 shots (18 in the third period) as his club edged the Washington Capitals 4-3. Casey Cizikas scored twice for the Isles while Evgeny Kuznetsov tallied two goals for the Capitals.

The Toronto Maple Leafs picked up their seventh win in their last eight contests by beating the Minnesota Wild 4-1. Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and William Nylander each had a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Leafs re-signed defenseman Justin Holl to a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $2 million.

The Montreal Canadiens dropped their third straight game, falling 3-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes. They also lost winger Brendan Gallagher to a possible concussion after being accidentally kneed in the head by teammate Ben Chiarot. Hurricanes forwards Erik Haula and Teuvo Teravainen each had two points.The Habs have fallen to 12th overall in the Eastern Conference.

The Detroit Red Wings snapped a six-game losing skid by blanking the San Jose Sharks 2-0. Jonathan Bernier made 34 saves for the shutout while Tyler Bertuzzi and Filip Hronek were the goal scorers.

A four-goal first period powered the Los Angeles Kings over the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3. Jonathan Quick made 32 saves while Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe each collected two points.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel will be sidelined four-to-six months following surgery on his right shoulder after Monday’s game against the Ottawa Senators. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin was fined $5,000.00 and Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau $2,500.00 for their late-game scrum.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guentzel’s absence is a big blow to the injury-ravaged Penguins. With 20 goals and 43 points in 39 games, he had been selected to participate in the 2020 All-Star Game later this month in St. Louis. His lengthy absence could provide an opportunity for struggling Penguins winger Alex Galchenyuk, who was the subject of frequent trade speculation in recent weeks.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2019

The Avalanche re-sign Mikko Rantanen and the Jets ink Kyle Connor. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed winger Mikko Rantanen to a six-year, $55.5-million contract. Cap Friendly indicates the annual average value is $9.25 million. 

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed winger Kyle Connor to a seven-year, $50-million deal with an AAV of $7.14 million

The Colorado Avalanche re-signed winger Mikko Rantanen to a six-year deal (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And with that, the last two notable restricted free agents are finally under contract. Both players missed training camp and preseason action but are expected to rejoin their respective clubs as the curtain rises this week on the 2019-20 regular season. It’ll be interesting to see what effect their absences will have upon their early-season performance.

As for the contracts, they’re worthwhile long-term deals for the two sides. Both players get long-term security. Rantanen becomes the highest-paid player on the Avalanche on a front-loaded deal paying him $12 million annually this season and next in real salary ($34 million over the first three seasons) while Connor becomes the second-highest paid forward on the Jets. 

The Avs and Jets each get an important young player under a contract that could turn out to be a long-term bargain. Rantanen is coming off back-to-back 80-point performances while the two-way Connor netted 30-plus goals in each of the last two seasons. The 22-year-olds are core players entering their playing prime with their best seasons still to come. What looks expensive today could look cost-effective in a few years. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust suffered undisclosed injuries blocking shots in last night’s preseason loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Coach Mike Sullivan said both were being evaluated and more info could be available today. Speaking of the Sabres, Connor Sheary missed the game with a lower-body injury and remains day-to-day. 

VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks winger Brock Boeser and defenseman Oscar Fantenberg skated in practice with their teammates yesterday. Both have been sidelined by concussions since Monday. 

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny (hamstring) remains doubtful for the club’s season opener on Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL’s David Schoen reports Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch is week-to-week with an upper-body injury while Cody Eakin is day-to-day. 

THE SCORE: The Calgary Flames released Devante Smith-Pelly from his professional tryout offer. 

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs placed blueliners Ben Harpur and Jordan Schmaltz on waivers for the purpose of sending them to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. 










Are Protracted NHL RFA Negotiations The New Normal?

Are Protracted NHL RFA Negotiations The New Normal?