NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2020

The 2020 NHL Draft completes its second and final day, Taylor Hall is heading to free agency, the Blue Jackets re-sign Max Domi, and much more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The 2020 NHL Draft is now history following a marathon second day in which it took over seven hours to complete rounds two through seven.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see the results for each round by clicking the above link to the NHL draft tracker. As for how long it took to go through yesterday’s rounds, the general managers and their staffs were drafting from home instead of at an arena in a host city as is usually done. That gave them a lot more time to evaluate which prospects they intended to select and to move up or down the draft order by swapping picks with other clubs.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong said Taylor Hall is heading to tomorrow’s unrestricted free agent market.

Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall is heading to free agency on Friday (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes gave up three prospects and two draft picks (including a first in this year’s draft) to acquire Hall in a trade with New Jersey last December. Hall played well for the Coyotes, with 10 goals and 27 points in 35 games, but his addition did little to significantly improve his new club. Their limited cap space made it almost impossible to re-sign him. His departure could ease the pressure from Armstrong to move captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson in a cost-cutting trade before the defenseman’s Friday deadline.

THE SCORE: One day after being acquired by the Columbus Blue Jackets from the Montreal Canadiens, Max Domi signed a two-year, $10.6 million contract with his new club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a sensible signing by the Jackets. Domi gets a raise over two-year, $6.3-million of his previous deal. The Jackets get a reasonable period of time to evaluate their new center’s performance to determine if he’ll be worth a longer-term deal.

Cap Friendly indicates this signing leaves the Jackets with just $1.725 million in cap space with first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois to re-sign. However, Dubois’ coming off his entry-level contract and could get an affordable bridge contract. The Jackets could also place Brandon Dubinsky ($5.85 million) on long-term injury reserve as a chronic wrist ailment has likely ended his playing days, providing more cap space for DuBois’ next contract.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators placed center Kyle Turris on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract. He had four years and $24 million remaining on his deal. The buyout will count as $2 million annually against the Predators’ salary cap through 2027-28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Turris’ contract turned into a costly mistake for Predators GM David Poile. Desperate to free up cap space, he had little choice but to buy out that deal following unsuccessful attempts to trade the 31-year-old center.

THE SCORE: The Vegas Golden Knights re-signed forward Chandler Stephenson to a four-year, $11 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephenson fit in well with the Golden Knights after he was acquired from the Washington Capitals last December. However, his new contract pushes Vegas’ cap payroll over the $81.5 million cap by $2.8 million. They are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason, but that will complicate any plans to be active in the upcoming free-agent market. A cost-cutting trade or two will be necessary before the start of next season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have decided to let winger Anthony Duclair become an unrestricted free agent after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. Duclair was a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and wasn’t given a qualifying offer by yesterday’s 5 pm deadline. GM Pierre Dorion declined to go into details but said Duclair chose to represent himself in contract talks. He added the club offered the winger a substantial raise over his previous salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A puzzling development. Duclair made $1.65 million on a one-year deal last season. Dorion didn’t shut the door on the winger possibly returning to Ottawa. Maybe the Senators were concerned Duclair would get more via arbitration.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed defenseman Dylan DeMelo to a four-year, $12 million contract. DeMelo was slated to become a UFA on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable signing by the Jets. DeMelo joined the Jets before the February trade deadline and quickly adapted to his new team.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers’ long contract standoff with Jesse Puljujarvi is over, re-signing the 22-year-old winger to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $1.175 million. Puljujarvi spent all of last season playing in Finland hoping to force a trade by the Oilers.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers traded center Lias Andersson to the Los Angeles Kings for the 60th pick in the 2020 NHL draft. Andersson was the seventh-overall pick in the 2017 draft but struggled to crack the Rangers lineup and spent the second half of last season playing in Sweden.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The stock of both young forwards really dropped over the past two years. There was even speculation at one point last season suggesting the two could be swapped for each other in a trade. Both players need a reset if they hope to salvage their NHL careers.

CBC: Montreal Canadiens Hall-of-Famer Guy Lafleur has undergone a second surgery to address a recurrence of lung cancer just two months following quadruple bypass surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Lafleur for a speedy and complete recovery.



NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2020

Some suggested free-agent targets for the Sharks plus a rumor linking Peter Chiarelli to the Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Kevin Kurz recently listed several potential free agents that he could see the San Jose Sharks pursuing in the off-season.

Goaltending targets could include the New York Islanders Thomas Greiss, the Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin, or the Calgary Flames’ Cam Talbot. Of the three, Talbot could be more affordable.

Could the San Jose Sharks pursue Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli in the free-agent market? (Photo via NHL Images)

Forward options include Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli, Florida Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov, and Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund. The Washington Capitals’ Radko Gudas and Winnipeg Jets’ Dylan DeMelo were among his defense targets.

Finding the right fit won’t be easy. With the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million, the Sharks have over $66 million invested in their payroll for 2020-21. Nevertheless, Kurz doesn’t expect them to sit idly by in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goaltending depth could be the priority given starter Martin Jones’ struggles and backup Aaron Dell’s expected departure via free agency. Talbot might be the cheapest option on Kurz’s list but he could also be looking for a starter’s job. If he can’t find that role, he could be amenable to another short-term backup role.

While the changing economic landscape could affect this year’s free-agent market, I doubt the Sharks could afford Toffoli or Dadonov. Granlund is a possibility as his stock declined following his trade to the Predators last year, though his play improved when John Hynes took over as head coach in January. Gudas or DeMelo could be more affordable options to shore up the blueline depth.

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has a well-earned reputation for making bold moves. He could surprise us this summer, though it’ll mean shedding some salary if he intends to make a splash in the UFA market.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites colleague Jim Matheson and The Athletic’s Scott Burnside reporting speculation linking former Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli to the Arizona Coyotes as a possible replacement for now-former GM John Chayka.

Staples points out such a move would reunite Chiarelli with winger Taylor Hall, who was traded by Chiarelli to the New Jersey Devils in 2016. The only way he sees the Coyotes bringing in Chiarelli is if they have no chance of keeping Hall off the free-agent market in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, Chiarelli won a Stanley Cup in 2011 as GM of the Bruins. On the other hand, his tenure with the Oilers was considered disastrous.

The Coyotes must choose Chayka’s replacement very carefully. This is a team dogged for years by ownership instability and mismanagement. They’ve been building in recent years toward playoff contention with promising young talent. Putting the wrong person in the GM’s chair could send them spiraling again, raising questions about their long-term future in Arizona at risk.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 22, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 22, 2020

The latest Lightning and Jets speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Smith was asked several questions about how the Tampa Bay Lightning could address their salary-cap crunch for next season.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli (Photo via NHL Images).

Smith feels many teams, including the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild, would be interested in center Anthony Cirelli. He also believes there will be plenty of interest in young defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. Both are restricted free agents at season’s end.

Smith suggests the asking price for either player could be at least a strong prospect and one or more high picks. Asked if the Bolts could get a player in return like Wild defenseman Matt Dumba for Cirelli, he doesn’t see how that player’s contract  ($6 million annual average value) would fit within their limited cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cirelli or Sergachev could be shopped if Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois feels he can’t afford to keep both players. However, I believe his priority is to re-sign them and move out one or two other players to free up sufficient cap room for their new contracts.

Both are coming off entry-level contracts and lack arbitration rights. BriseBois could use that leverage to sign both to affordable short-term contracts, but one of them could sign an offer sheet with another club.

Smith feels Alex Killorn is the most likely to be shopped in the off-season. His value is high, he’s got only a few years left on his contract with an affordable $4.5 million AAV, and his limited no-trade clause provides some flexibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving Killorn will help but the Bolts could be forced to shed another salary. Speculation suggests Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, or Yanni Gourde, but they carry full no-movement clauses. Smith suggested they could deal away one of the RFAs. He felt contract buyouts would be the last resort.

Asked about what the Lightning’s threshold would be if Sergachev signed an offer sheet, Smith feels $7 million is their cutoff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Many clubs lack sufficient cap space to go the offer-sheet route this summer, but some have the cap space to make that pitch. However, that depends on Sergachev’s willingness to sign one. He could stick with the Lightning on a short-term bridge deal with the promise of greater riches down the road. The same goes for Cirelli.

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Ken Wiebe was asked if there was any word on the Winnipeg Jets re-signing Dylan DeMelo. The Jets acquired the 27-year-old defenseman in February. He’s due to become an unrestricted free agent in the off-season.

Re-signing DeMelo is likely a priority for Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. Despite the flat salary cap, he’s got more short-term flexibility to make a move or two this summer. While DeMelo could seek long-term stability, Wiebe speculates he might take a short-term deal in hope league economics improve in a few years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wiebe reported DeMelo indicated there hasn’t been much conversation regarding a new contract, but he feels he’s fit in well with the Jets and would welcome a chance to re-sign.

Most contract talks are on hold for now as teams prepare for the upcoming playoff tournament. If Cheveldayoff is interested in re-signing DeMelo, and I think he could be, those discussions will likely begin once the playoffs are over.

DeMelo’s earned $900K annually on his current contract and will be seeking a significant raise. Provided his asking price is reasonable – around $3 million annually – he could remain with the Jets.

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Winnipeg Jets

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Winnipeg Jets


NHL Trade Deadline: Lesser Deals That Could Exceed Expectations

NHL Trade Deadline: Lesser Deals That Could Exceed Expectations


Dillon to the Capitals, DeMelo to the Jets, Scandella to the Blues

Dillon to the Capitals, DeMelo to the Jets, Scandella to the Blues

The Washington Capitals acquired defenseman Brenden Dillon from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2020 draft (originally belonging to Colorado) and a conditional third-rounder in 2021. The Sharks retain half of Dillon’s $3.27 million annual average salary. If the Capitals win the 2020 Stanley Cup, the 2021 third-rounder becomes the 2020 third-rounder that originally belonged to Arizona.

The Washington Capitals acquire defenseman Brenden Dillon from the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dillon, 29, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s a big, physical rearguard logging over 19 minutes of ice time per game. He’ll bring some welcome grit to the Capitals’ blueline down the stretch and into the postseason.

The Sharks appear to be getting started on selling off their UFAs to restock their prospect pipeline. With Dillon gone, perhaps forward Melker Karlsson and goaltender Aaron Dell could be next. This move could also stoke speculation over the fates of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

The Winnipeg Jets acquired defenseman Dylan DeMelo from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a third-round pick in 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets were in the market for some experienced blueline help. DeMelo is a reliable depth rearguard carrying an affordable $900K AAV. He’s also due to become a UFA this summer. TSN’s Darren Dreger speculates Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff might not be done adding to his defense corps before deadline day.

DeMelo could be the start of another UFA selloff by the Senators. Expect the conjecture about center Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s trade status to ramp up in the coming days.

The St. Louis Blues acquired defenseman Marco Scandella from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a second-round pick in 2020 and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of teams selling off UFAs, this could be just the start for the Canadiens. Ilya Kovalchuk and Nate Thompson could be next out of Montreal before the deadline. This deal means the Habs have three second-rounders and 12 picks overall in this year’s draft.

Scandella appears to be a replacement for Jay Bouwmeester, who’s on long-term injured reserve recovering from a cardiac incident last week.