NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2021

The NHL finds no evidence Evander Kane bet on games, several players remain unvaccinated or partially vaccinated as training camps open plus the latest contract signings, injury updates & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NO EVIDENCE KANE BET ON GAMES, SAYS NHL

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The NHL announced Wednesday it found no evidence San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane bet on league games. The accusation was leveled by Kane’s estranged wife Anna several weeks ago, prompting the league’s investigation.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

However, the NHL is now investigating “additional unrelated allegations involving potential wrongdoing by Mr. Kane” linked to a domestic violence restraining order filed by Anna on Tuesday. The Sharks released a statement yesterday indicating the 30-year-old winger has agreed not to participate in training camp until further notice.

LATEST NHL COVID-19 NEWS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith will miss the opening week of training camp. He’ll be in quarantine until Oct. 1 after traveling to the United States to get a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccination.

Meanwhile, Oilers general manager Ken Holland said winger Josh Archibald is the only unvaccinated player in training camp. If he remains that way for the coming season, he’ll need a 14-day quarantine to participate in road games in the United States. He will be suspended without pay during that period which won’t count against the club’s salary cap. Archibald could miss 30-plus games and forfeit $600k in wages.

Oilers goaltender Alex Stalock is expected to be sidelined for the entire season due to a heart condition (myocarditis) related to his bout with COVID-19 last November. Holland said there are no plans at this time to seek another veteran goalie.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman said winger Tyler Bertuzzi is the only player on his team to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine. He’ll be unable to travel to Canada under current border restrictions which require a 14-day quarantine for unvaccinated players traveling into the country. He could forfeit $400K of his salary based on those Canadian road games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland and Yzerman indicated they aren’t going to force anyone to get vaccinated. The league’s COVID restrictions and the prospect of lost wages, however, could eventually convince Archibald and Bertuzzi to change their minds. Their stance has the potential to create a rift among teammates who could consider them a risk to their health and safety.

Most NHL players are well-conditioned athletes with good odds of avoiding the worst serious symptoms of COVID-19. Stalock’s situation, however, should serve as a warning that they’re not totally immune.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander is not yet fully vaccinated but will be when the season opens next month. “I had a couple of medical things that I had to take care of but I’ll be vaccinated by the beginning of the season.”

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Travis Hamonic was reportedly not in training camp and his absence isn’t injury-related. That led to speculation his absence was related to the league’s COVID protocols but GM Jim Benning said he’ll be in camp.

Benning also acknowledged winger Justin Bailey has tested positive for COVID-19 before crossing the Canada – US border. He’ll have to wait another 10 days before he can join his teammates in Vancouver.

Speaking of the Canucks, they signed winger Alex Chiasson to a professional tryout offer.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens forward Jesse Ylonen has changed his mind and agreed to be vaccinated.

TSN: More than a dozen infectious disease and critical care doctors are calling on the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers to drop plans to stage games in full-capacity arenas this season. The province of Alberta is reeling through an unprecedented medical crisis amid the fourth wave of COVID-19.

The Oilers issued a statement indicating fans will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to gain entry to Rogers Place. They will also insist fans wear masks when not eating or drinking.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Calgary Flames have a mandatory vaccine policy in place for fans attending their games this season.

NOTABLE CONTRACT SIGNINGS

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed defenseman Rasmus Dahlin to a three-year, $18 million contract. The annual average value is $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fair signing for both sides. Dahlin gets a significant pay raise coming off his entry-level contract while the Sabres commit to a short-term bridge deal. His signing leaves Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes and Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk as the only remaining notable restricted free agents.

THE SCORE: The Los Angeles Kings signed goaltender Cal Petersen to a three-year contract extension with an annual average value of $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petersen is the heir apparent to long-time Kings starting goalie Jonathan Quick. He took over the starter’s role last season, appearing in 35 games to Quick’s 22. The latter is signed through 2022-23 with an annual cap hit of $5.8 million.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed right wing Logan O’Connor to a three-year, $3.15 million contract extension.

INJURY UPDATES

GOPHNX.com’s Craig Morgan reports Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel is sidelined two-three weeks with a foot injury suffered during offseason training.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews will miss the first part of the upcoming season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Cal Foote will be sidelined by a hand injury for the entire training camp and preseason as well as the first two-to-four weeks of the regular season.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TSN: The St. Louis Blues announced they’ve named Peter Chiarelli as their vice-president of hockey operations while Ken Hitchcock rejoins the club as a coaching consultant.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers confirmed their arena will be called the FLA Live Arena for this season. The club is looking for a new naming rights partner for 2022.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2021

Updates on Jack Eichel, Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Brady Tkachuk, Rasmus Dahlin, Johnny Gaudreau and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman believes Jack Eichel will attend Buffalo Sabres training camp but won’t pass his physical and thus won’t be cleared to play. He also believes the club will remove his captaincy.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

The 24-year-old center remains in a standoff with Sabres management regarding which medical procedure he’ll undergo for a herniated disc in his neck. Friedman heard some trade talks a couple of weeks ago but he thinks teams want to hear what the doctors say.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless a team is willing to take a chance on Eichel’s wish to undergo a disc replacement procedure (which the Sabres are against), there’s no end in sight for this impasse. One side or the other will have to bend or Eichel won’t be playing this season.

Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes and center Elias Pettersson and Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk are the four restricted free agents to watch now.

Regarding Tkachuk, Friedman believes the Senators have talked about a long-term contract but he wonders if a short-term deal is necessary to get things done. He doesn’t think they’re far apart in dollars but the Senators’ reluctance to give bonuses could be an issue. A no-trade/no-movement clause near the end of the deal could also be a sticking point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports out of Ottawa claim the Senators tabled an eight-year deal worth $8 million annually for Tkachuk. Signing bonuses are likely the main sticking point here as that’s money the player gets upfront each season.

It appears the Canucks face a bit of a stalemate with Hughes and Pettersson. It’s thought the club is thinking short-term but Friedman wonders if a six-year deal might be the solution here. There’s also pushback to rumors the Canucks might make a cost-cutting trade to free up salary for those two with Tyler Motte remaining sidelined.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Canucks with over $10.6 million cap space. They will get another $3.5 million if necessary by placing Micheal Ferland (post-concussion symptoms) on long-term injury reserve to start the season. Motte would give them another $1.225 million if he ends up on LTIR. As I noted yesterday, I doubt they’ll get Hughes and Pettersson for less than a combined $14 million.

Friedman said the Dahlin rumors are all over the map. At first, it sounded like things were going well. However, the Sabres want a short-term deal not because of anything he did or didn’t do but because of overall frustration and an unwillingness to commit to a long-term agreement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dahlin’s development in Buffalo has been hampered in part by a revolving door of coaches. A short-term deal could set the stage for a messy arbitration battle down the road.

There were teams with interest in Robert Thomas. However, Friedman thinks St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told teams he wasn’t interested in trading him.

The cone of silence has dropped on Johnny Gaudreau’s contract talks with the Calgary Flames now that training camp has started. He’s told reporters he’s not talking to them about his contract situation. Meanwhile, the club won’t be releasing any updates. The 28-year-old left winger can become an unrestricted free agent next July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will only stoke speculation over his future in Calgary, especially if the club gets off to a slow start this season.

Friedman believes the Edmonton Oilers aren’t done in goal. “Mike Smith will be there, but what happens around him?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not much in the short term. Mikko Koskinen and Alex Stalock will be Smith’s backups for now. Koskinen carries that $4.5 million cap hit for this season plus a 15-team no-trade list.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 21, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 21, 2021

Updates on the notable unsigned restricted free agents as training camps approach in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, Ottawa Senators left winger Brady Tkachuk and Minnesota Wild right winger Kirill Kaprizov are among the notable restricted free agents still without contracts as training camps open later this week. Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlen and St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas are also among those without contracts.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

  THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports Canucks fans probably won’t see Pettersson and Hughes when training camp begins on Thursday in Abbotsford, BC. General manager Jim Benning maintains they’re continuing to have good dialogue and hopes to get something done sooner rather than later. Kuzma wonders if bridge deals for the young stars might be palatable for both parties.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal cited sources in Pettersson’s camp saying the young center has departed Vancouver and flown to Michigan to be with Hughes. Both are close friends and represented by agents Pat Brisson and J.P. Barry. They will remain in Michigan preparing for the upcoming season while awaiting a resolution in negotiations.

It’s expected the Canucks will sign Pettersson first because Hughes isn’t eligible to receive an offer sheet. While the threat of an offer sheet is remote the club doesn’t want to take any chances. Of the two, Hughes could be the more likely to ink a long-term deal. The Canucks have up to $16 million in cap space if necessary to sign both but would ideally prefer $14.5 – $15 million.

There’s also speculation whatever Kaprizov gets with the Minnesota Wild will affect how much Pettersson receives from the Canucks. However, that’s considered remote within the industry. The Wild face a unique salary-cap crunch in the near term so inking Kaprizov to a bridge deal has little benefit for them.

The comparables for Pettersson could be the bridge deals signed by Tampa Lightning center Brayden Point ($6.75 million annual average value) and the New York Islanders Mathew Barzal ($7 million AAV).

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the lines of communication remain open between the Senators and Tkachuk but the two sides remain at a stalemate. While things can change with one phone call, it’s expected the Senators will open training camp tomorrow without the 22-year-old left winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of these players could be under contract by tomorrow morning. Then again, negotiations could drag on through the opening days of their respective camps.

The Canucks probably won’t get Pettersson and Hughes under contract for less than a combined $14 million. Pettersson could come in at $7.5 million and Hughes close to $7 million. By the sound of things, Pettersson could end up with a bridge deal.

It’s been reported the Senators have an eight-year deal worth $8 million annually on the table for Tkachuk. Maybe his representatives are pushing for $9 million or perhaps they seek a shorter term in hope of cashing in on a more lucrative deal in three or four years’ time.

Kaprizov will miss the opening week of training camp. Even if signed today, he would reportedly face a seven-day quarantine period before joining his Wild teammates. His side wants a short-term deal in order to qualify for UFA status as soon as possible while the Wild prefer between five and eight years. It’s believed he’ll eventually get a five-year deal worth an annual average value of $9 million.

Not much to report on Dahlin and Thomas. Talks are said to be ongoing between the Sabres and the 21-year-old blueliner but no word on possible contract terms. Thomas, meanwhile, took part in the Blues’ development camp sessions last week. He’s said to be seeking more than teammate Jordan Kyrou’s $2.8 million AAV on a two-year deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 21, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 21, 2021

A look at the remaining notable restricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently looked at how some of the most prominent restricted free agent situations could play out.

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

Regarding Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson and defenseman Quinn Hughes, O’Brien noted the club’s salary-cap crunch could result in bridge contracts for those two. Both are represented by agent JP Barry, who floated the possibility of Hughes getting more term and Pettersson less, perhaps something comparable to Mathew Barzal’s three-year, $21 million contract with the New York Islanders.

Citing stats via Evolving Hockey, O’Brien speculated both could come in at $12 million. In that scenario, Pettersson could get two years at just under $5 million and Hughes getting six years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Brien noted it’s a messy situation that could go down to the wire. Pat Brisson, who represents both players with Barry, remains confident deals will get down but these things take time. He and Barry have said they’re open to short- or long-term contracts for their clients.

O’Brien doesn’t see a team attempting to sign Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov to an offer sheet. However, he wonders if the one signed by teammate Sebastian Aho two years ago (five years, $8.45 million annually) could be a barometer for what Svechnikov gets.

Evolving Hockey projects a four-year deal worth $6.175 million per season for Svechnikov. O’Brien wonders if it might make sense for the winger to take less, or if the Hurricanes might bump up that annual average value to sign him to a longer-term that takes up more of his UFA years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A longer-term with a cap hit of $7 million annually could be a bit of a gamble if the 21-year-old Svechnikov doesn’t blossom into a superstar. On the other hand, it would be worth it to lock him into that kind of deal if they’re confident he’ll reach that next level.

Observing Kirill Kaprizov’s contract standoff with the Minnesota Wild, O’Brien wonders if some of the other notable RFAs might wait and see what he eventually signs for. The Wild reportedly made offers of seven and eight years worth $9 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov reportedly has a one-year, eight-figure contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow. His camp prefers a three-year deal with the Wild to bring him up to his UFA eligibility to cash in on a more lucrative deal. Wild GM Bill Guerin claims to be unconcerned about that KHL deal but indicated he’s willing to entertain mid-range deals of four to six years.

O’Brien noted there was plenty of speculation over how much Brady Tkachuk might get on his next contract with the Ottawa Senators. Mikko Rantanen’s six-year, $9.25 million AAV with the Colorado Avalanche was one suggested comparable. More conservative estimates suggest six years at over $6.46 million annually or three years at $7.7 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk is arguably the most important core player on the rebuilding Senators. I can see him getting over $7 million annually for four-to-six years.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin’s up-and-down performance and the mess that is the Sabres franchise could affect what his next deal looks like. Projections suggest a three-year, $6.5 million AAV deal, six years at $6 million per or eight years at between $8 million and $8.25 million annually. O’Brien suggests a bridge deal might be best here for a blueliner who hasn’t shown his best work yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see the bridge deal here, but it’s the Sabres, so who knows what they’ve got planned for Dahlin.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2021

A look at the status of some of this summer’s top restricted free agents in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined where things stand with some of the top restricted free agents.

Negotiations are ongoing between the Vancouver Canucks and center Elias Pettersson and defenseman Quinn Hughes. They’re both represented by agents Pat Brisson and J.P. Barry. The latter had acknowledged the Canucks’ cap issues, saying they were exploring five years or under for Pettersson and longer for Hughes.

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

Because Quinn is a 10.2(c) RFA, he’s ineligible to receive an offer sheet. Canucks general manager Jim Benning has vowed to match any offer sheet for Pettersson. Fox wondered if a bridge contract is the only solution. Both players remain committed to signing with Vancouver.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Province’s Patrick Johnston reported Friday that Brisson said there is no holdup in negotiations with the Canucks. “Our goal is to get it done,” he said, adding that sometimes “these things take time.” He also said they’re open to long or short-term contracts.

Training camps start in late September so there’s plenty of time for both sides to hammer out agreements. An offer sheet for Pettersson is a remote possibility. If it was going to happen it likely would’ve taken place soon after the free-agent market opened on July 28.

Fox noted the recent report of Kirill Kaprizov having a tentative one-year, eight-figure contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow in case negotiations with the Minnesota Wild fall through. Wild GM Bill Guerin is willing to compromise with a five- or six-year offer to the 2021 Calder Trophy winner. He cited The Athletic’s Michael Russo reporting the Wild still expect to get a deal done despite the KHL threat from the Kaprizov camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A number of observers are skeptical the KHL contract is a serious one. They point to CSKA Moscow’s limited budget for the coming season plus Kaprizov’s apparent desire to play in the NHL. This staredown might not last long as the KHL deal is supposed to begin on Sep. 1.

Brady Tkachuk would be willing to commit to a long-term deal with the Ottawa Senators if ownership is willing to spend what it takes to deliver a Stanley Cup team. Elliotte Friedman recently suggested a three-year bridge deal might be the route here.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk reportedly likes his teammates and what the Senators are building in Ottawa. Still, it’s understandable that he wants assurance from ownership to invest in building and maintaining a winner. The length of his next contract could provide an indication of where he sees his future.

Contract terms seem to be the sticking point between the Carolina Hurricanes and Andrei Svechnikov. Nevertheless, the young winger expressed confidence a deal will be done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It usually takes most of the offseason to get the top RFAs under contract, especially for those ineligible for arbitration like most on Fox’s list. Both sides are going to take as much time as they can to work toward an acceptable deal. Things will pick up when the calendar flips to September and the start of training camp approaches.

The Detroit Red Wings remain flush with cap space after signing Jakub Vrana and Tyler Bertuzzi. Fox believes defenseman Filip Hronek could get more term on his new contract than any of his teammates.

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros’ arbitration hearing is set for Aug. 18. One way or another he’ll be under contract with the Predators for the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most who file for arbitration merely use their hearing date as an artificial deadline to negotiate a new contract with their teams. Few actually go before a hearing. I’ll be surprised if things reach that point for Saros.

Negotiations are underway between the Buffalo Sabres and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. Fox suggested the safe play for both sides could be a bridge deal. With the Sabres lacking a defenseman signed beyond 2022, he wondered if they could try for a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That depends on whether young Dahlin believes the Sabres are worth sticking with through yet another rebuild.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 22, 2021

The Kraken unveil their roster, the Bruins close to re-signing Taylor Hall, the Oilers reportedly ink Mike Smith, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken finally have a full roster as they made their 30-player selections in their expansion draft yesterday. Mark Giordano, Jordan Eberle and Yanni Gourde were among the notable players chosen by the Kraken.

The Seattle Kraken officially announced their roster on July 21. (NHL.com).

Gourde will have to wait for a little way to make his debut with the Kraken after undergoing shoulder surgery this week. His recovery period is estimated to be four months.

Adam Larsson, Chris Driedger and Jamie Oleksiak were considered draft selections from the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars respectively after signing new contracts with the Kraken. The trio was slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 28 but the Kraken had a three-day window to exclusively negotiate with free agents exposed in the draft.

Larsson signed a four-year, $16 million contract. Driedger’s new deal is for three years and is worth an annual average value of $3.5 million while Oleksiak’s is for five years with a $4.6 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The unofficial Kraken roster I posted yesterday based on media links throughout the day turned out to be the official list. You can read my take on the expansion draft on Bleacher Report.

The Kraken’s home opener is slated for Oct. 23 against the Vancouver Canucks. The NHL’s full 2021-22 schedule will be released on Thursday.

No side deals emerged during the draft despite weeks of hype. General manager Ron Francis was asked if he has any trades in hand that could be unveiled when the expansion draft roster freeze is lifted at 1 pm ET today. “Probably a lot less than you guys think there might be,” he said.

In other news…

TSN: The Boston Bruins are reportedly closing in on a new deal for left wing Taylor Hall. Darren Dreger expects it’ll be a four-year contract worth close to $24 million in total.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a surprise. Most of the speculation about Hall’s negotiations with the Bruins suggested a three-to-four year contract worth around $6 million annually.

SPORTSNET: Mike Smith is reportedly returning to the Edmonton Oilers. The 39-year-old goaltender is expected to ink a two-year deal worth around $2 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a bad cap hit but it’s still a bit of a gamble to invest more than one year into a goalie who turns 40 in March. It remains to be seen who will share the netminding duties with Smith. The Oilers are reportedly shopping Mikko Koskinen. He has a year left on his deal worth $4.5 million but they can’t find any takers. There are no immediate plans to buy him out.

Speaking of the Oilers, they’ve engaged in preliminary contract talks with Tyson Barrie after losing defenseman Adam Larsson to the Kraken in the expansion draft.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres have started contract discussions with Rasmus Dahlin. The 21-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent after coming off his three-year entry-level contract.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens hired Trevor Letowski as an assistant coach. He spent the past 10 years coaching in the Ontario Hockey League, the last three as head coach of the Windsor Spitfires.