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 Morning Coffee Headlines – December 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 24, 2020

The 2020-21 schedule is released, Nikita Kucherov sidelined for the season, plus a roundup of the latest notable signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league released the schedule for the 2020-21 season. It begins on Jan. 13 with five games, including the Tampa Bay Lightning raising their 2020 Stanley Cup championship banner before facing off against the Chicago Blackhawks at Amalie Arena.

The other four games see the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Philadelphia Flyers, the Montreal Canadiens face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Vancouver Canucks squaring off against the Edmonton Oilers, and the St. Louis Blues tangling with the Colorado Avalanche.

The league also announced the postponement of the 2021 Stadium Series slated for Feb. 20, 2021, featuring the Carolina Hurricanes.

Hip surgery will sideline Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All timings for those games have yet to be announced. Those will likely be revealed after the locations for the Canadian games are determined.

TSN reported last night the five Canadian provinces hosting NHL teams released a letter calling for increased testing of players, staff and close contacts as well as enhancing the schedule to group game into blocks to reduce inter-jurisdictional travel. The other option is reinstating a bubble model similar to the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which the league and the NHLPA aren’t keen to implement.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov has hip surgery scheduled for next week and is expected to be sidelined for the entire regular season. The club hopes to have him back in time for the 2021 playoffs beginning in May.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a big blow to the Lightning’s scoring punch but they will receive $9.5 million in salary cap relief by placing the former Art Ross Trophy and Hart Trophy winner on long-term injury reserve. That should free up sufficient cap space to sign restricted free agent Anthony Cirelli. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t need to make a cost-cutting deal. I’ll have more about that in the Rumors section.

The Lightning also signed forwards Mathieu Joseph and Alex Volkov to short-term, one-way contracts. Joseph inked a two-year deal worth $1.475 million while Volkov inked a one-year, $700K deal.

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood to a three-year, $8.4 million contract. The annual average value is $2.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable deal for the Devils. Blackwood will be their starting goaltender entering this season. A solid performance on his part over the course of this deal will ensure more lucrative terms on his next contract.

SPORTSNET: The Nashville Predators signed forward Erik Haula to a one-year, $1.75 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This signing comes on the heels of the Predators bringing back winger Mikael Granlund. It’s a good, cost-effective depth addition. Haula has an injury history but when healthy is a speedy, versatile two-way forward with a decent scoring touch who can skate on the wing or at center.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Goaltender Ryan Miller is returning for another season with the Anaheim Ducks, inking a one-year contract worth $1 million. He’s served as their backup netminder for the past three seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. Miller and his family live in the Anaheim area and he doesn’t want to relocate at this stage of his career.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens added more experienced depth to their forward links by signing winger Michael Frolik to a one-year, $750K contract.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed center Casey Mittelstadt to a one-year contract worth just over $874K.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers inked goaltender Sam Montembault to a one-year, two-way deal.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach suffered an apparent injury to his right wrist during Canada’s 1-0 win over Russia in a tune-up game for the upcoming 2021 World Junior Championship in Edmonton. Dach left the game, underwent X-rays and is undergoing other tests to determine the severity of the injury.

Meanwhile, Blackhawks forward Alex Nylander recently underwent knee surgery and is expected to be sidelined for four-to-six months.

SPORTSNET: The Vancouver Canucks hired Jason King as their new assistant coach and Chris Higgins as their new skills and development coach.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 30, 2020

The Sabres avoid arbitration with Victor Olofsson, the Stars name Rick Bowness as a full-time coach, former Panthers GM Dale Tallon cleared of wrongdoing, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres avoided salary arbitration with Victor Olofsson by reaching an agreement on a two-year, $6.1 million contract.

Buffalo Sabres winger Victor Olofsson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Olofsson had an impressive first full NHL season, scoring 20 goals and 42 points in 54 games to become a finalist for the 2019-20 Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. This is a reasonable raise for the 25-year-old winger, who becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in 2022.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars removed the interim tag from head coach Rick Bowness’ job title as he signed a two-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise. Bowness took over behind the bench on Dec. 10 and guided the Stars to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The NHL has cleared former Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon of wrongdoing following an investigation into whether he used racially-charged language during the club’s time in the Toronto playoff bubble.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tallon was reportedly being considered for an advisory role with the Pittsburgh Penguins. This could clear the way for his new job but is being greeted with criticism by some observers.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes are renouncing the rights of 2020 fourth-round pick, Mitchell Miller, after reports emerged of his bullying and racially taunting an African-American classmate with developmental issues four years ago.

THE DENVER POST: Former Colorado Avalanche winger Colin Wilson discussed his struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as drug and alcohol abuse, in The Players’ Tribune on Thursday. The 31-year-old center also indicated hip injuries may have brought his NHL career to a close. He’s now sober, receiving therapy and back in New England preparing for the next step in his life.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson spent 11 seasons in the NHL with the Nashville Predators and the Avalanche, tallying 113 goals and 286 points in 632 games. Best wishes to him in his future endeavors.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon has an option to sell the club back to former owner Peter Karmanos. While the coronavirus is affecting the NHL’s economics, Dundon doesn’t believe it will affect his ownership of the club. “I don’t have any intention of not owning the team,” he said.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning officially announced the signings of Patrick Maroon and Luke Schenn. The pair signed new contracts with the Lightning on Oct. 9.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks have loaned center Kirby Dach to Team Canada’s roster for the 2021 World Junior Championships.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A wise decision by the Blackhawks. This will allow Dach to get in some meaningful playing time under a quarantine bubble in Edmonton as he and the Hawks await the start of the 2020-21 season.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed restricted free agent defenseman Sami Niku to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $725K.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed defenseman Colton White to a one-year, two-way contract.

TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens have been refused access to their practice facility in Brossard by public health officials. The facility is within a COVID-19 red zone.

SPORTSNET: Travis Roy, who was left paralyzed in his first college hockey game with Boston University in 1995, has died at age 45. He went on to become an advocate for spinal cord injury survivors both in and outside the sports world, raising over $9 million through the Travis Roy Foundation. He also worked in tandem with the Boston Bruins, with team president Cam Neely and former Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque among those extending condolences.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sympathies to Roy’s family, friends, and former teammates. Neely put it best when he called him “the ultimate symbol of determination and courage.”










Struggling Blackhawks Have Fascinating Future

Struggling Blackhawks Have Fascinating Future

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 31, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 31, 2019

Game recaps, Dustin Byfuglien undergoes ankle surgery, John Tavares could soon return to action, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tyler Johnson’s overtime goal gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a 7-6 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Brayden Point each collected three points. Devils winger Kyle Palmieri tallied a hat trick while teammate Jesper Bratt scored two goals. Earlier in the day, the Lightning recalled Luke Schenn, Cory Conacher, and Alexander Volkov. 

Brock Boeser’s hat trick powered the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-3 win over the LA Kings (Photo via NHL Images).

Brock Boeser’s hat trick powered the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Elias Pettersson had a goal and three assists for the Canucks, who went four-for-six on the power play. Jeff Carter tallied twice for the Kings.

Edmonton Oilers winger Leon Draisaitl scored twice and collected an assist in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had two assists and James Neal tallied his 11th goal of the season.

Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau scored two goals, including the winner in overtime, as his club overcame a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche.

The St. Louis Blues picked up their fourth win in the last five games by edging the Minnesota Wild 2-1. Alex Pietrangelo snapped a 1-1 tie in the third period. Wild winger Mats Zuccarello netted his first goal of the season.

Shea Weber had a goal and an assist and Carey Price made 33 saves to lead the Montreal Canadiens over the Arizona Coyotes 4-1.

HEADLINES

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien underwent ankle surgery last week in Minnesota and is expected to be sidelined until sometime in January. Byfuglien has been suspended by the Jets for salary-cap reasons as he was on a leave of absence mulling his future. It appears the Jets were unaware he had opted for surgery but general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff expressed his full support. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byfuglien’s surgery raised questions over why he didn’t undergo the precedure during training camp last month. Whatever the reason, his ongoing absence leaves a significant void on the blueline that the Jets have struggled to fill. The uncertainty over his future also make it difficult for Cheveldayoff to look for help via trade or free agency. 

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks blueliners Josh Manson will be sidelined five-to-ten weeks with a sprained knee.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (broken finger) could return to action as soon as Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers. 

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour (broken hand) could return to the lineup by this weekend. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks rookie Kirby Dach will remain with the Blackhawks this season. He was the third-overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft. 

TORONTO SUN: Former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Jim Gregory has died at age 83. In his 10 seasons as GM, the Leafs drafted such notables as Darryl Sittler and Lanny McDonald. He went on to become the NHL’s director of Central Scouting, executive director of hockey operations, senior vice-president of hockey operations and supervision, and chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gregory was also among the first general managers to discover European talent, the most notable being Hall-of-Fame defenseman Borje Salming. Other standouts drafted by Gregory include Rick Kehoe, Ian Turnbull, Tiger Williams, Mike Palmateer, Doug Jarvis, Randy Carlyle, and Joel Quenneville. My sincere condolences to his family, friends and associates.