The Dallas Stars remain sidelined by COVID-19, an update on the Canucks after they canceled yesterday’s practice, the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET: The Dallas Stars remain sidelined by a COVID-19 outbreak among six players and two staff members. The club last practiced on Wednesday. Their regular-season schedule has been revised with their season-opener now slated for Jan. 19.
Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks will resume practice today after canceling activities on Sunday as a precautionary measure due to potential COVID-19 exposure.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: COVID-19 remains a factor despite the league’s health and safety protocols. Expect more canceled practices and perhaps future game postponements over the course of this season similar to those in other major pro sports leagues in recent months.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed winger Jesper Bratt to a two-year, $5.5 million deal. The restricted free agent’s contract standoff sidelined him from the Devils’ opening week of training camp.
New Jersey Devils sign winger Jesper Bratt (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will still take some time for Bratt to join his teammates. He’s still in Sweden awaiting a work visa, after which he’ll have to quarantine for seven days after traveling to New Jersey. He’ll miss their opening two games of the season on Jan. 14 and 16 and perhaps more depending on how long it takes to get his visa sorted out.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury and could miss their season-opener on Jan. 14 against the Anaheim Ducks.
NEWSDAY: New York Islanders forward Casey Cizikas left yesterday’s practice nursing what appeared to be an injured left hand or lower-left arm.
TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed Michael Del Zotto to a one-year, two-way contract. He was attending their training camp on a tryout basis.
SPORTSNET: Free-agent defenseman Ben Hutton signed a professional tryout offer with the Anaheim Ducks.
THE SCORE: Promising prospect Tim Stuetzle had his first practice session with the Ottawa Senators yesterday. The 18-year-old center was selected third overall by the Senators in the 2020 NHL Draft.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild prospect Marco Rossi is sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury. Rossi is the Wild’s first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2020 draft.
Common question regarding waivers & Taxi Squad:
If a team acquires a player on waivers, can they loan them to the taxi squad?
The answer is no, the new team would need to put the player on waivers again, and only after clearing could the player be put on the taxi squad.
Mike Hoffman joining the Blues and two significant trades by the Senators highlights this roundup of the notable Christmas holiday weekend news in the NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports the St. Louis Blues signed free agent Mike Hoffman to a professional tryout offer. Hoffman can negotiate with other clubs while training with the Blues. However, Rutherford believes the two sides have in place a one-year deal worth between $3.5 million and $4.5 million, and they’re waiting to officially announce it because of salary-cap implications.
Mike Hoffman joins the St. Louis Blues on a professional tryout offer (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubted the Blues would sign Hoffman unless he was willing to reduce his rumored asking price of between $5.5 million and $6.5 million. He’s apparently done so to join a Stanley Cup contender.
Hoffman will provide some much-needed short-term offense with sniper Vladimir Tarasenko sidelined by offseason shoulder surgery. A solid performance could improve Hoffman’s chances of a more lucrative deal in next year’s UFA market.
Cap Friendly shows the Blues with $1.175 million in cap space with Vince Dunn to be signed. They will get cap relief by placing Alexander Steen and his $5.75 million annual average value on long-term injury reserve at the start of the season.
Rutherford points out having Hoffman on a PTO gives Blues general manager Doug Armstrong time to determine how much it’ll cost to re-sign Dunn. It could also allow time to make a cost-cutting trade, though they could also get some wiggle room if necessary by placing Tarasenko ($7.5 million AAV) on LTIR.
ARIZONA SPORTS/OTTAWA SUN: The Senators were busy in the trade market on Sunday. Their first move saw them ship a 2021 second-round draft pick (originally owned by the Columbus Blue Jackets) to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for center Derek Stepan.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good move by both clubs. The Coyotes wanted to shed some salary and the rebuilding Senators sought some short-term experience and leadership at center.
PuckPedia pointed out this deal gives the Coyotes a projected $3.7 million in salary-cap space without having to place Marian Hossa on long-term injury reserve (LTIR). They can accrue cap space to put toward this season’s trade deadline and their performance bonuses earned won’t automatically carry over into next season. That extra second-rounder will offset their lack of a third-round pick in the ’21 draft.
Some folks wondered why the Senators took on Stepan when (in their minds) they could’ve pursued better options. One reason is Stepan will get more playing time with the Sens than he was getting with the Coyotes. Another is he lacked no-trade protection. His actual salary is another factor. While his annual average is $6.5 million annual average value for this season (the last of his contract), his actual salary is just $2 million.
Critics feel the Senators gave up too much for Stepan by parting with a second-round pick. This, however, was a move they could afford to make. They still have two second-round picks in the ‘21 draft and could land another second-round pick if they decide to peddle Stepan at the trade deadline. Failing that, they could get a third-rounder. Some will scoff at that notion but one must never underestimate the willingness of general managers to overpay at the deadline.
OTTAWA SUN/TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Senators’ second deal saw them send the contracts of winger Marian Gaborik and goaltender Anders Nilsson to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenseman Braydon Coburn, forward Cedric Paquette, and a second-round pick in 2022.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaborik hasn’t played since 2017-18 while Nilsson is expected to miss this season with concussion symptoms. The Lightning will place their combined salaries ($7.5 million) on LTIR, allowing the club to become cap compliant when this season begins.
Like Stepan, Coburn and Paquette will provide the Senators with short-term experience and leadership. Both will be unrestricted free agents next summer, though there’s a chance the Sens could sign the 27-year-old Paquette to an extension if he plays well this season.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators also signed top prospect Tim Stuetzle yesterday to a three-year entry-level contract. He was given his release by Adler Mannheim in the German league Sunday in order to sign with the Sens.
SPECTOR’ S NOTE: This signing isn’t surprising considering how well Stuetzle’s performed for the COVID-ravaged German squad thus far in the 2021 World Junior Championship. The 18-year-old winger is expected to finish the tournament with Germany and join the Senators’ training camp following a seven-day quarantine in Ottawa.
TSN: Ilya Kovalchuk has officially signed a two-year contract with KHL club Avangard Omsk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That should bring Kovalchuk’s second tenure in the NHL to a permanent close. He’s no longer the scoring threat he once was, bouncing last season from the Los Angeles Kings to the Montreal Canadiens to the Washington Capitals.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed free-agent center Carl Soderberg to a one-year contract worth $1 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move comes after Blackhawks promising young center Kirby Dach suffered a fractured wrist last week playing for Canada at the World Juniors.
THE SCORE: The Capitals signed free-agent goaltender Craig Anderson to a professional tryout contract. This signing comes less than two weeks after Henrik Lundqvist was sidelined for the season by a heart condition.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed free-agent defenseman Slater Koekkoek to a one-year contract worth $850K.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed free-agent defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a professional tryout contract. He’ll compete for either a roster spot or a place with the Jackets’ taxi squad.
TSN: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Casey Nelson has opted out of playing the 2020-21 NHL season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deadline for player opt-outs was Dec. 27.
THE SCORE: Forward Mark Letestu announced his retirement yesterday after 11 NHL seasons. He tallied 93 goals and 210 points in 567 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Letestu in his future endeavors.
Could Kyle Palmieri be a good trade option for the Bruins? Which players should the Flames target as a potential replacement for Mark Giordano? Could the Red Wings shop Andreas Athanasiou or Jonathan Bernier? Could Ducks winger Ondrej Kase become a trade target? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
COULD THE BRUINS PURSUE PALMIERI?
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty suggests New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri would be a good trade option for the Bruins if they fail to land New York’s Chris Kreider, LA’s Tyler Toffoli, or Detroit’s Andreas Athanasiou. It remains to be seen if the Devils will shop Palmieri, who has a year remaining on his contract ($4.65-million annual average salary).
Palmieri is their leading scorer with 37 points in 50 games, including 20 goals. He’s not a big, physical forward, but would provide the offensive production the Bruins need at right wing. Other trade options could include Miles Wood or Blake Coleman.
Would New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri be a good fit with the Boston Bruins? (Photo via NHL Images)
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Palmieri might be more affordable than Kreider or Toffoli, but the Devils aren’t just going to give him away. They’ll want a return that helps them now and in the future, which means including a good, young NHL player as part of the return.
SUGGESTED TRADE TARGETS FOR THE FLAMES
SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently suggested several trade targets for the Calgary Flames to consider as a possible replacement sidelined defenseman Mark Giordano. The Flames captain is listed as week-to-week with a hamstring injury.
Longer-term options included Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, Montreal’s Jeff Petry, Anaheim’s Josh Manson, and Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere. Rentals include San Jose’s Brenden Dillon, Buffalo’s Zach Bogosian, New Jersey’s Sami Vatanen, Montreal’s Marco Scandella, and Ottawa’s Ron Hainsey.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of those long-term options seem more like wishful thinking. The asking price for Dumba and Manson will be expensive, while the Habs reportedly aren’t shopping Petry. Gostisbehere could be available, but his stock has tumbled over the last two years. Of those rentals, Vatanen would be the best choice, but he could be more costly to acquire than the others.
WILL THE RED WINGS SHOP ATHANASIOU OR BERNIER?
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan believes forward Andreas Athanasiou and goaltender Jonathan Bernier could be the Detroit Red Wings’ most significant trade chips. Bernier’s played well since Dec. 12, winning seven of 12 games with a 1.97 goals-against average and .940 save percentage during that stretch. Athanasiou is struggling to score this season, making him a prime trade candidate.
Trading Bernier, who has a year remaining on his contract, would mean the Wings would have to acquire two goalies this summer via trade or free agency, as veteran Jimmy Howard is an unrestricted free agent on July 1. As for Athanasiou, the main question is whether to hang onto him in the hope his trade value increases in the summer or attempt to move him before the deadline. He’s a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keep Bernier and move Athanasiou if they get a decent offer. Finding a suitable replacement for one goalie in the off-season is difficult enough.
LATEST ON THE DUCKS
THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens reports the recently improved performance of several Anaheim Ducks players could improve their trade value. Forwards Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie, and Derek Grant have stepped up of late. Stephens also thinks defenseman Michael Del Zotto might be on the move before the deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kase has frequently surfaced in the rumor mill in recent weeks. TSN’s Travis Yost highlighted the 24-year-old winger as a productive, albeit injury-challenged performer. He probably won’t fetch the Ducks more than a second-round pick or a decent prospect. Besides, management could consider him worth retaining as part of their rebuild.
The Blackhawks trade Artem Anisimov to the Senators for Zack Smith, plus the latest free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE/OTTAWA SUN: The Chicago Blackhawks yesterday traded center Artem Anisimov to the Ottawa Senators for forward Zack Smith.
The Chicago Blackhawks traded Artem Anisimov to the Ottawa Senators for Zack Smith (Photo via NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move addresses needs for both clubs. The Senators get some offensive skill in Anisimov while Smith brings more defensive skill and toughness up front for the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks also free up an additional $1.3 million in cap space by swapping Anisimov’s $4.55-million annual average value (through 2020-21) for Smith’s $3.25 million. The Senators, meanwhile, will only pay $2 million of Anisimov’s actual salary for this season and $1.5 million in 2020-21.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vrana, 23, completed his entry-level contract and lacked arbitration rights this summer. With the Capitals squeezed for cap space, he’s doing them a favor by accepting this bridge deal. Vrana’s coming off a career-best 24-goal, 47-point performance. If he continues to improve he’ll be in line for a significant raise on his next contract.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils re-signed defenseman Connor Carrick to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $1.5 million.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-signed winger Ryan Donato to a two-year, $3.8-million contract. He netted 16 points in 22 games after being acquired from the Boston Bruins in a late-season trade.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed forward Teddy Blueger to a two-year, one-way contract worth $750K per season.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks confirmed their signing of defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a one-year, $750K contract. Blueliner Chris Wideman was inked to a one-year, two-way contract.
NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes re-signed defenseman Haydn Fleury to a one-year, $850K contract and defenseman Gustav Forsling to a one-year, two-way contract that will pay $874,125 at the NHL level.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed UFA forward Josh Archibald to a one-year, $1-million contract.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings re-signed goaltender Cal Petersen to a three-year contract worth over $858K per season. It’s a two-way deal for 2019-20 and one-way for the next two seasons.
SEATTLE TIMES: Hall-of-Famer Ron Francis is set to become the general manager of the NHL’s Seattle expansion franchise. Francis is also the former general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The budget-conscious Hurricanes failed to reach the playoffs during Francis’ tenure. However, he brought in young players like Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Warren Foegele to Carolina and developed young talent like Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. All played key roles in the Hurricanes’ march to the 2019 Eastern Conference Final.
THE SCORE: U.S. Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan are pushing their colleagues to honor Willie O’Ree with the Congressional Gold Medal. O’Ree was the first black player in the NHL and was inducted last year into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Phil Kessel sparks a surge in Coyotes ticket sales, the latest contract signings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Coyotes’ recent acquisition of Phil Kessel sparked a 600 percent surge in tickets sales for the week following the trade compared to the same week a year ago. That included a 550 percent spike in season-ticket sale.
After acquiring Phil Kessel, the Arizona Coyotes saw a spike in ticket sales (Photo via NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been years since the Coyotes had an established sniper like Kessel. They’re hoping he’ll provide a much-needed scoring boost that propels them into the playoffs for the first time since 2012. If he does, the Coyotes can expect a healthier surge in season-ticket sales next summer.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens yesterday avoided salary arbitration with forwards Joel Armia and Artturi Lehkonen, signing each to two-year contracts. Armia’s deal is worth $5.2 million ($2.6-million annual average value) while Lehkonen’s is worth $4.8 million ($2.4 million AAV). The Habs now have over $4.84 million in cap space.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Habs still have plenty of wiggle room if they want to bolster their left-side defense or bring in another scoring forward via trade. They could also make another depth signing via free agency.
SPORTSDAY: The Dallas Stars re-signed center Jason Dickinson to a two-year, $3-million contract.
NBC SPORTS: The San Jose Sharks re-signed centers Dylan Gambrell and Antti Suomela. Gambrell got a two-year deal and Suomela one year. Each have an annual average value of $700K. Gambrell’s deal is a two-way in the first year and one-way in the second.
VANCOUVER SUN: Alex Burrows will join the Canucks’ Ring of Honour on December 3. He spent 12 seasons in Vancouver.
NBC SPORTS: Paul Holmgren is no longer the team president of the Philadelphia Flyers. He’s now a senior advisor to Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott. General manager Chuck Fletcher takes over from Holmgren as president.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers hired Tyler Wright as their new director of amateur scouting. Wright held the same position with the Detroit Red Wings. Archie Henderson was also hired to be their new director of pro scouting.
Here’s the list of today’s notable deals heading toward the 3 pm ET deadline. This list will be updated frequently throughout the day. Following the deadline, I’ll examine the day’s biggest moves in the Soapbox section.
Florida Panthers trade defenseman Chris Wideman to the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Sebastian Dea.
Winnipeg Jets trade left wing Nic Petan to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for center Par Lindholm.
Florida Panthers trade defenseman Bogdan Kiselevich to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick.
Buffalo Sabres trade defenseman Nathan Beaulieu to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a sixth-round pick.
Vancouver Canucks trade defenseman Erik Gudbranson to the Pittsburgh Penguins for winger Tanner Pearson.
Minnesota Wild trade center Matt Hendricks to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a seventh-round pick.
Anaheim Ducks traded defenseman Michael Del Zotto to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a sixth-round pick.
New Jersey Devils trade winger Marcus Johansson to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a 2019 second-round pick and a fourth-round pick in 2020.
Philadelphia Flyers trade winger Wayne Simmonds to the Nashville Predators in exchange for winger Ryan Hartman and a conditional 2020 fourth-round draft pick.
Ottawa Senators trade Matt Stone to the Vegas Golden Knights (Photo via NHL Images)
Ottawa Senators trade right wing Mark Stone to the Vegas Golden Knights for prospect defenseman Erik Brannstrom, center Oscar Lindberg, and a second-round pick in 2020.
Minnesota Wild trade forward Mikael Granlund to the Nashville Predators in exchange for winger Kevin Fiala.
Los Angeles Kings trade defenseman Oscar Fantenberg to the Calgary Flames for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2020.
New York Rangers trade defenseman Adam McQuaid to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a fourth- and a seventh-round draft pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.