Red Wings Will Be Better, But Still Far From Good
The NHL is planning two outdoor games at Lake Tahoe, plus the latest on Jack Eichel, Kasperi Kapanen, Andrew Shaw and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the NHL is planning to stage two outdoor games at Edgewood Tahoe Resort at Lake Tahoe, Nevada during the upcoming season. The first would see the Colorado Avalanche face off against the Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 20, followed the next day by the Philadelphia Flyers facing the Boston Bruins. Fans will not be in attendance.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman said the NHL has been scouting locations to hold “natural wilderness” outdoor-weekend games this year. Since they cannot have fans in attendance owing to COVID-19, it makes sense to take the game closer to its roots for the television audience. As Friedman suggests, if it works out they could consider making such games an annual event.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel missed the opening day of training camp to an upper-body injury suffered during offseason training. He’s listed as day-to-day. Meanwhile, Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark missed practice while quarantining due to an immigration issue. He’s expected in camp in the coming days.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres need a healthy Eichel if they hope to secure their first playoff berth in a decade. Being listed as day-to-day sounds like the injury isn’t serious. Having not seen any meaningful ice time with his teammates in nearly 10 months, the Sabres captain can’t afford to miss too much training-camp time.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen will miss the Jan. 3 start of training camp because of an immigration issue. The 24-year-old winger was acquired by the Penguins last August in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’s expected to join his new teammate partway through camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kapanen won’t have much time to get acquainted with his new teammates before the season begins. He’s reportedly still in Finland and will need a mandatory seven-day quarantine as per NHL rules and four non-positive COVID tests before he can join the Penguins in training camp.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks forwards Andrew Shaw and Zack Smith are both healthy and ready to join their teammates in training camp on Sunday. Both players missed considerable time last season with injuries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach and Alex Nylander all sidelined for months, the Blackhawks need all the help they can get up front.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser is back on the ice with his teammates after missing all but eight games last season with a herniated disc. He worked with Filip Hronek as his defense partner and also skated with the Wings’ top power-play unit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A positive first step toward returning to action for DeKeyser. The rebuilding Wings will need him as they attempt to take a big leap forward in their overall development this season.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Former Los Angeles Kings forward Trevor Lewis has joined the Jets on a professional tryout offer.
Another update on the possibility of staging neutral-site games, plus the latest on John Tavares, Danny DeKeyser and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is considering games at neutral sites without fans if the season resumes later this year. “I’d say it’s one possibility, for sure, and it’s something that has been considered and something that has been discussed,” said Daly. “It’s not our preferred result or outcome.”
Daly indicated it would be difficult for team facilities to open in 25 of the league’s 31 markets because of local coronavirus directives. He acknowledged government and health authorities control the timetable for a possible resumption of the schedule, but felt the league still has some time to work with. Asked about staging neutral site games in Europe, Daly didn’t rule it out but considered that option unrealistic.
ESPN.COM: Daly said cities and venues across North America have reached out to the league pitching themselves as neutral site locations. He admitted the league is compiling a comprehensive list, but it isn’t completed or narrowed down.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Finding suitable neutral-site locations is one thing. The logistics of staging those games in those areas is another.
Suitable accommodation, meals, and transportation for the players, as well as the staff of the respective teams and arenas, plus the security and broadcasting crews, must be provided, as well as stringent COVID-19 testing. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it could put a tremendous strain on local resources that could prove unmanageable.
SPORTSNET: Led by John Tavares, several members of the Toronto Maple Leafs donated an undisclosed amount of money to support front-line workers at two Toronto-area hospitals.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser hopes to get his NHL career back on track after missing all but eight games this season with a herniated disc.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Sidelined Flyers Philippe Myers and Nate Thompson have been cleared to resume playing whenever the league schedule resume. Winger James van Riemsdyk is expected to be cleared within one-to-two weeks.
Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder) continues to work out but hasn’t been cleared yet. Samuel Morin is expected to return from knee surgery in time for the 2020-21 season.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings re-signed defenseman Kurtis McDermid to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $875k.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes have furloughed half of their staff through June 30. The club will cover 100 percent of their health benefits during that period.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Former Kings coach Tom Webster died of brain cancer at age 71. As a player, he spent parts of five NHL seasons with the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, and California Golden Seals, as well as six productive seasons with the WHA’s New England Whalers from 1972-73 to 1977-78.
Webster went on to become head coach of the New York Rangers in 1986-87 and the Kings from 1989-90 to 1991-92. He also served as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers, Hartford Whalers, and Carolina Hurricanes, and as an amateur scout with the Calgary Flames.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Webster’s family, friends and former teammates.
Evgeni Malkin reaches a career milestone, Taylor Hall collects his first point as a Coyote, Ilya Kovalchuk becomes a free agent, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin tallied his 400th career goal as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Calgary Flames 4-1. He’s the fourth player in Penguins history to reach that milestone. Tristan Jarry made 33 saves as the Penguins picked up their third straight victory. Kris Letang and Bryan Rust also netted two points.
Taylor Hall picked up his first point with the Arizona Coyotes in a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. Hall picked up a well-earned assist on Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s game-winning goal.
Anze Kopitar’s overtime goal lifted the Los Angeles Kings over the Boston Bruins 4-3. The Bruins have dropped six of their last seven games. Earlier in the day, Kings winger Ilya Kovalchuk became an unrestricted free agent after clearing unconditional waivers, allowing the Kings to terminate his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Kovalchuk’s struggles with the Kings, there’s plenty of speculation suggesting the 36-year-old winger could end up with another NHL club. I’ll have more this morning in the Rumors section.
The Carolina Hurricanes picked up their second straight win by downing the Winnipeg Jets 6-3. Sebastian Aho and Jordan Staal each scored twice, Dougie Hamilton collected three assists, and Andrei Svechnikov tallied his second lacrosse-style goal of the season. Meanwhile, the estranged relationship between the Jets and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien took a step toward improvement as the blueliner is rehabbing his injured ankle in consultation with the club. He remains under suspension for failing to report to training camp.
Seven unanswered goals powered the Nashville Predators to an 8-3 drubbing of the New York Islanders. Calle Jarnkork and Craig Smith each had three-point performances for the Predators. Meanwhile, Islanders winger Josh Ho-Sang will report to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport after a two-month absence.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ho-Sang was told not to report to Bridgeport by Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello as the latter attempted to honor the winger’s trade request. Ho-Sang needs to play to drum up any interest from rival clubs.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews scored twice as his club held off the Buffalo Sabres 5-3. Sabres captain Jack Eichel extended his points streak to 17 games with a goal and an assist.
The Columbus Blue Jackets swept their back-to-back series against the Detroit Red Wings with a 5-3 victory. Former Wing Gustav Nyquist picked up two points. Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski returned to action for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury on Nov. 30. Jackets blueliner Ryan Murray is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Red Wings rearguard Danny DeKeyser is expected to miss the remainder of the season following back surgery on Tuesday. Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard (groin injury) was sent to their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids on a conditioning stint.
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart made 40 stops in a 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier each had a goal and an assist for the Flyers, who got a boost from Travis Konecny’s return to the lineup following a three-game absence recovering from a concussion. Ducks winger Troy Terry left the game with a knee injury in the second period.
The Tampa Bay Lightning blew a 3-1 lead but went on to edge the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on a brilliant overtime goal by Anthony Cirelli. Earlier in the day, the Senators placed defenseman Nikita Zaitsev (lower body) on injured reserve.
Carey Price kicked out 38 shots backstopping the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Tomas Tatar and Shea Weber each scored power-play goals. The Habs have won four of their last five and sit one point behind the Sabres for second place in the Atlantic Division.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves as the Vegas Golden Knights edged the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Earlier in the day, the Wild announced winger Jason Zucker is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE SCORE: Former NHLer and Colorado Eagles player Akim Aliu has accepted “a heartfelt and emotional apology” from Eagles equipment manager Tony Deynzer, who attended a team Halloween party in 2011 in blackface dressed as Aliu. Deynzer will keep his job with the club.
TWINCITIES.COM: Former NHL defenseman Scot Kleinendorst died yesterday of injuries he suffered while on the job at a paper mill in Grand Rapids. He was 59. Kleinendorst spent eight seasons in the NHL from 1982-83 to 1989-90 with the New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers, and Washington Capitals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kleinendorst’s family, friends, and former teammates.
The latest on Mikko Rantanen, the Jets re-sign Neal Pionk, the Blues re-up Oskar Sundqvist, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE DENVER POST: Don’t expect anyone to sign away Mikko Rantanen from the Colorado Avalanche with an offer sheet. With the Avs carrying plenty of salary-cap space, the 21-year-old right-winger is poised to become the club’s highest-paid player. He could earn between $8 – $10 million annually on his next contract.
Rantanen’s next deal won’t upset linemate Nathan MacKinnon, who currently carries the club’s biggest contract. Avalanche GM Joe Sakic said it’s a different landscape compared to when MacKinnon signed his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rantanen’s earned the big raise he’ll get on his next contract. The way MacKinnon’s played over the last two seasons, he’ll eclipse Rantanen’s salary when he’s ready for his next contract in 2023, either from the Avs or another club via the unrestricted free agent market.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets avoided salary arbitration with Neal Pionk, re-signing him to a two-year, $6-million contract. The 23-year-old defenseman will earn an annual average value of $3 million. The Jets acquired Pionk last month as part of the return from the New York Rangers in the Jacob Trouba trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets have around $19.8 million in salary-cap space with RFAs Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, and Andrew Copp to re-sign. Copp had his arbitration hearing yesterday in Toronto and a decision is expected by Tuesday.
STLTODAY.COM: The Blues avoided arbitration with winger Oskar Sundqvist, re-signing him to a four-year, $11-million contract. The annual average value is $2.75 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a big raise for Sundqvist, who earned $700K on his previous contract. His two-way style played a key role in the Blues rise from the bottom of the standings to the Stanley Cup last season.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Six years after leaving Western Michigan University to join the Red Wings, defenseman Danny DeKeyser recently earned his general studies diploma. “It was a real good feeling,” said DeKeyser of walking across the stage. “I felt like I had accomplished something.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to DeKeyser for completing his studies.
WGR550.COM: The Buffalo Sabres and Evan Rodrigues are about $1.15 million apart on a new contract. “Rodrigues is asking for a deal that will pay him $2.65 million per-year, while the Sabres are hoping to get him under contract with an average annual value of $1.5 million.” Rodrigues’ arbitration hearing is slated for Tuesday in Toronto.
THE SCORE: The Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights top oddsmakers 2019-20 point projections.
Game recaps plus updates on Alex Ovechkin, Corey Crawford, Danny DeKeyser and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Sean Monahan netted his first career NHL hat trick and Michael Frolik scored in overtime as the Calgary Flames overcome 3-1 and 4-3 deficits to edge the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4. The Flyers were playing without defenseman Radko Gudas, who is awaiting a telephone hearing from the league’s department of player safety regarding his slash to the head of Winnipeg’s Mathieu Perreault.
Anthony Duclair’s overtime goal completed his hat trick as the Arizona Coyotes defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-2, giving the Coyotes their first win streak of the season.
Returning from a four-game absence, Auston Matthews scored twice as the Toronto Maple Leafs blanked the Montreal Canadiens 6-0. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen made 33 saves for the shutout.
Anders Lee scored twice while John Tavares and Josh Bailey each collected three points to give the New York Islanders their third straight win by downing the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3, snapping the latter’s five-game winning streak. Yanni Gourde scored twice for the Lightning.
Antoine Roussel had a goal and two assists while Jamie Benn and Alex Radulov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Dallas Stars to a 6-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers, snapping the Stars’ three-game losing streak. Drake Caggiula scored twice and Connor McDavid had three points for the Oilers.
Braden Holtby made 30 saves while T.J. Oshie scored and assisted on another to give the Washington Capitals a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild, ending the Wild’s four-game win streak. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin required stitches after taking a puck in the face but returned to the game.
Corey Crawford made 35 saves and Artem Anisimov potted the game winner as the Chicago Blackhawks nipped the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1. Crawford avoided injury after being shaken up in a collision with Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin.
Five goals on 11 shots in the second period lifted the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Matt Hendricks, Kyle Connor and Mathieu Perreault each had a goal and an assist for the Jets.
Craig Smith had a goal and an assist and Pekka Rinne made 29 saves in the Nashville Predators’ 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
Brayden Schenn extended his points streak to a career-high seven games with his overtime goal to give the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 decision over the Vancouver Canucks.
Darcy Kuemper kicked out 24 shots and Tyler Toffoli had a goal and an assist to give the Los Angeles Kings a 4-0 shutout over the Florida Panthers.
Jake DeBrusk scored a goal and set up another to give the Boston Bruins a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. Anton Khudobin made 36 saves for the Bruins.
Sebastian Aho scored the game winner as the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-1, handing the latter their fifth straight loss.
MLIVE.COM: Good news for the Detroit Red Wings, as defenseman Danny DeKeyser returns to action tonight against the Colorado Avalanche. DeKeyser missed the last 17 games with a fractured ankle.