NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 24, 2020

Highlights from Friday’s general managers’ meeting, the latest notable free-agent signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reported the draft lottery and free agency dominated Friday’s virtual meeting of NHL general managers.

There was a lengthy discussion about tweaking the draft lottery for the second time in six years after the Detroit Red Wings, which had the worst record last season, slid to fourth overall in the 2020 Draft Lottery. There was also talk about reintroducing an interview period of 48 to 72 hours for unrestricted free agents leading up to the start of the annual free-agent period. Such changes, however, would have to be negotiated with the NHL Players’ Association.

Seravalli also reported the NHL’s target date for opening the 2020-21 season remains Jan. 1, 2021. Whenever the puck drops, it will likely be in a unique setting. The planning for that, however, must wait until the joint NHL-NHLPA committee begins its return-to-play meetings.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also reported Jan. 1 remains the target date for opening next season but there are no guarantees on that. There’s no decision yet on how many games will be played or how far into the summer the schedule could go.

There was talk about opening the season in Lake Louise, Alberta, but that won’t happen in part because of the limited sponsorship opportunities in a federal park. However, the league is still considering starting the season in a unique location.

The draft lottery discussions focused on increasing the odds for teams that finish the lowest in the standings. The Red Wings were clearly upset about ending up with the fourth-overall selection in a season where it was clear they weren’t tanking. While there’s support for the Wings’ position, the league is asking for specific proposals.

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reported NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said planning for next season will be more challenging than this summer’s return-to-play postseason.

One of the major obstacles is the Canadian government’s 14-day quarantine period for international travelers. However, there could be some flexibility there as the government is considering a pilot program to test international travelers as a means of relaxing the quarantine rule if they agree to a second test within a week.

If successful, Daly said that would make it “very, very helpful” in the league’s plans for next season. Otherwise, there’s talk the league could begin next season with four hub cities or an all-Canadian division, though Daly said he’s not committed to a specific format right now.

Russo reports the league is continuing to gather information (particularly financial) from its teams to determine what’s feasible for 31 owners who will have minimal revenue if there are no fans in attendance next season. He also suggests it’s possible the NHL could conceivably start next season at a later date if there’s a chance of getting fans in the stands at some point in late winter or early spring.

While the league still hopes for a full 82-game schedule, Russo speculates a shortened season of 48 to 60 games seems likely.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL is going to take its time to get this right. We’ll learn more details about what next season will look like in the coming weeks once the joint NHL-NHLPA committee begins their return-to-play meetings.

Based on recent media speculation, my guess is they’ll start up sometime in February aiming at 60 games played in hub cities under modified quarantine conditions. That would mean training camp begins in early-to-mid January, though the seven teams that didn’t make the cut in the 2020 return-to-play plan will have a longer training camp.

Next season could begin without fans in attendance in regional hubs. Should the pandemic fade, teams could return to playing in their home arenas and gradually allow in fans under local health and safety guidelines with season-ticket holders the priority. The playoffs will likely stretch into mid-July, ending before the 2021 Tokyo Olympics open on July 23.

The draft lottery and free-agent interview periods are secondary issues that can wait to be addressed after next season is underway. The priority will be staging as many games as is safely possible in as many arenas as possible with fans in the stands to generate revenue and ease the clubs’ financial burdens.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed defenseman Travis Dermott to a one-year contract worth $874,125.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are over the $81.5 million cap by $1.049 million with restricted free agent Joey Anderson still to sign. However, GM Kyle Dubas has suggested they could garner cap relief next season by shuttling players to the minors.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings and winger Tyler Bertuzzi are reportedly just over $1 million apart in contract negotiations. Bertuzzi seeks $4.25 million while the Wings countered with $3.15 million. His arbitration hearing is slated for Sunday.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed free-agent defenseman Nikita Nesterov to a one-year, $700K contract. Nesterov played three seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens from 2014-15 to 2016-17 before spending the past three seasons with KHL club CSKA Moscow.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed Marco Rossi to an entry-level contract. Rossi was their first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2020 NHL Draft.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators hired Todd Richards as an assistant coach. Richards spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2020

Some suggestions to help the Sharks regain their playoff contender status and Travis Dermott’s future with the Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SUGGESTED MOVE TO IMPROVE THE SHARKS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Kevin Kurz last week proposed a nine-step plan for turning the San Jose Sharks back into a playoff contender next season.

Among his suggestions was finding a suitable backup goaltender to pair with starter Martin Jones. Assuming Jones isn’t traded or bought out, Kurz doesn’t believe they should bring back Aaron Dell, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He advocates signing a free-agent goalie on a one- or two-year deal to allow time for Alexei Melnichuk’s development. Former Shark Thomas Greiss could be available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Greiss has solid numbers as a career backup and could be open to a return to San Jose. He could provide help offset Jones’ inconsistent streaks. 

Should the San Jose Sharks attempt to trade Brent Burns in the off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)

Kurz also recommends Sharks general manager Doug Wilson trade Brent Burns or Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Burns has a three-team trade list while Vlasic has a full no-movement clause. Kurz feels there’s reason to believe Vlasic would accept a trade to his native Montreal or perhaps Toronto, which could be in the market for a left-shot defenseman. Burns, however, could be the more likely trade candidate as his contract provides a little more trade flexibility and he’d have more value than Vlasic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading either guy isn’t impossible, but there remain several major stumbling blocks. Both are in their thirties (Burns is 35, Vlasic 33) and their best seasons are behind them. They also carry long-term contracts with hefty annual salary-cap hits ($8 million for Burns, $7 million for Vlasic) that will be difficult for most clubs (like Toronto) to absorb. As Kurz noted, if they won’t waive their trade clauses, Wilson’s hands will be tied. At this point, I don’t either guy agreeing to a trade.

Kurz also advocated Wilson trade two of Kevin Labanc, Marcus Sorensen, and Dylan Gambrell. With the freed-up salary cap space from this move and moving Burns or Vlasic, he suggested signing a forward who can score, such as Vancouver’s Tyler Toffoli, Nashville’s Craig Smith or Mikael Granlund, or Florida’s Evgenii Dadonov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Labanc is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights while Sorensen and Gambrell are signed through next season at a combined $2.2 million. Coming off a career-high 56-point performance, Labanc bet on himself and lost last summer by agreeing to a one-year, $1-million contract. With only 33 points in 70 games this season, arbitration still won’t provide him much leverage to land a lucrative long-term deal. He could become a trade candidate if the contract talks bog down.

If Wilson can trade Burns or Vlasic, he’ll free up cap space to sign a scoring forward. Considering the obstacles in trading either blueliner, it will be quite a challenge to pull that off.

DOES LEHTONEN’S SIGNING SPELL THE END OF DERMOTT AS A LEAF?

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs’ recent signing of defenseman Mikko Lehtonen spells danger for Travis Dermott’s future as a Leaf.

Fox noted Leafs GM Kyle Dubas indicating the club needs to figure out where Lehtonen slots in on the blueline. He’s a left-shot rearguard who can play either side. While he likes playing on the right side, his strengths appear on the left.

While Dubas could trade Dermott, Fox feels the smart move is to re-sign him to a reasonable bridge deal. He’s coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. Dermott will be an affordable re-signing and has a couple of NHL seasons under his belt. If Lehtonen struggles to adjust to the NHL pace, it’ll be worthwhile to have Dermott around.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2020

Check out the latest Maple Leafs and Red Wings speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

MAPLE LEAFS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked how much it could cost the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-sign Morgan Rielly when the defenseman’s contract expires in 2022. A good comparable is the Arizona Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s eight-year, $66-million deal. Fox also suggested paying attention to whatever Boston Bruins blueliner Torey Krug gets in the coming off-season.

How much could it cost the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-sign Morgan Rielly? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox acknowledged the fallout from the pandemic could affect the salary cap by 2022, which could impact what Rielly’s next contract looks like. Then again, perhaps league revenue rebounds by that point. Given Rielly’s value to the Leafs, don’t be surprised if his agent seeks top dollar. It’s worth noting the Leafs have over $55 million invested in just seven players for 2022-23.

Asked about a suggestion in The Athletic in which the Leafs trade goaltender Frederik Andersen and sign Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray or Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Fox isn’t sold on either guy as an upgrade over Andersen. He doesn’t expect Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas to break up his current goalie tandem in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. I expect the Leafs will return with their Andersen-Jack Campbell tandem next season. Their performances will determine their long-term futures in Toronto. Murray, by the way, is a restricted free agent. The Leafs will have to trade for him or sign him to an offer sheet.

Fox doesn’t see the Leafs acquiring another LTIR contract to free up cap space to pursue St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. However, he thinks Dubas could attempt to acquire a defenseman via trade. “Paying Ryan Kesler or Marian Hossa to not play hockey won’t help Toronto land Petro. Paying Kesler might, in theory, help Dubas acquire a Josh Manson plus a draft pick from Anaheim in exchange for Kasperi Kapanen.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas and his staff surprised observers with their wheeling and dealing last summer to free up sufficient cap space to re-sign Mitch Marner. We can’t rule out a scenario like that mentioned by Fox to bring in a defenseman, although that might not be necessary with yesterday’s signing of Mikko Lehtonen. Speaking of which…

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the addition of Lehtonen could bring some intrigue to the Leafs defense corps. On paper, his addition creates a log-jam of left-handed defensemen. O’Brien wonders if the Leafs could trade someone like Travis Dermott to balance things out on the right side.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehtonen said he’s comfortable playing either side. If he adjusts well on the right side with the Leafs, they won’t have to trade someone like Dermott for a right-handed defender.

RED WINGS

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James examined potential free-agent options to bolster the Red Wings’ defense corps. The best of the bunch is St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo, but he’d probably prefer going somewhere more competitive if he doesn’t re-sign with the Blues. It might not be possible to lure Michigan native Torey Krug away from the Boston Bruins.

Other options include Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, Carolina’s Sami Vatanen, Tampa Bay’s Kevin Shattenkirk, and Calgary’s TJ Brodie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Red Wings have over $46.2 million invested in 11 players for 2020-21. A good chunk of that cap room will be invested in re-signing key players like Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha.

Provided ownership is willing to spend toward the cap ceiling, they should have enough to make a competitive offer to one of those UFAs in the offseason. Nevertheless, the rebuilding Wings might have to overpay to entice one of those blueliners to join them.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 18, 2020

The NHL regular-season may be paused, but the trade and free-agent rumor mill churn on. Check out the latest on the Leafs and Sharks.

LEAFS WOULD BE AFFECTED BY FLAT SALARY CAP

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox examined the effect of the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million could affect the Toronto Maple Leafs. He wondered if pending UFA forwards Kyle Clifford and Jason Spezza would accept something near the league minimum to re-sign with the Leafs.

UFA defenseman Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci aren’t expected back. Their spots could be filled by affordable youngsters like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, but that would leave only Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin as established veterans. Fox wonders who they could add via trade or free agency and what the price would be. Re-signing RFAs like Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott, and Frederic Gauthier will also eat up valuable cap room.

A flat salary cap could force the Toronto Maple Leafs to swap a forward like Kasperi Kapanen for a defenseman (Photo via NHL Images).

A nuclear option to address their blueline needs would involve trading a top forward like William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews or John Tavares, but Fox doesn’t detect any desire from Leafs management to go that route. Instead, they could be forced to swap a middle-class forward such as Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot for a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every NHL team will be affected by a flat cap for 2020-21. Teams like the Leafs with limited cap space will feel the pinch more than others. They have over $76 million invested in 16 players next season

Clifford and Spezza probably won’t get much more than offers that are close to the league minimum from other clubs, so they could be open to staying in Toronto. Bringing in one or two veteran blueliners will cost more than the Leafs can afford right now.

If they’re unwilling to move one of their top-four forwards for a blueliner, a deal involving Kapanen, Kerfoot or Johnsson seems the only viable option. Unless they can free up the additional salary, such a move could end up being dollar-for-dollar.

LATEST SHARKS SPECULATION

THE MERCURY NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Curtis Pashelka was asked if the San Jose Sharks might move a big contract in the off-season. While general manager Doug Wilson insists he likes the core of his team, he hinted after the trade deadline that there could be a deal made in the off-season. The effect of the current health crisis upon league revenue will also affect the salary cap, which could hamper any potential deals by the Sharks unless it’s a “money-in, money-out” move.

Regarding their next head coach, Pashelka thinks they could take a long look at former Nashville Predators bench boss Peter Laviolette if they decide not to keep interim coach Bob Boughner in that role. He also thinks they could consider adding more grit to their lineup.

Asking if former Sharks Brenden Dillon or Patrick Marleau might return via free agency, early indications are Marleau will be back next season. Pashelka doesn’t see Dillon coming back after the Sharks re-signed Radim Simek to a four-year contract extension.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt reports long-time Sharks center Joe Thornton intends to return next season. “”I have years to go!” Thornton recently texted The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $66 milion committed to 13 players, the Sharks will have around $15 million to work with under an $81.5 million cap. While all their core players are under contract, upgrading their roster could prove difficult. Wilson has proven adept in the past in retooling a roster quickly through trades and free agency, but this off-season could prove challenging.

If Wilson moves a big contract, I suspect it’ll be for a return that provides immediate roster help. It won’t easy. Timo Meier is the only high-salaried Shark lacking any form of no-trade protection. Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have no-movement clauses, while Logan Couture, Brent Burns, Evander Kane and Martin Jones each have modified no-trades listing three preferred trade destinations.

Interesting that it appears Marleau could return with the Sharks next season. He’ll have to a pay cut to do so, but at this stage in his career, I don’t think that’s a concern for him. The same goes for Thornton. If they want to return to the Sharks and if Wilson wants to bring them back, it’ll be under affordable, one-year deals.

 










NHL Injury Outlook: Hertl tops list of February Hurts

NHL Injury Outlook: Hertl tops list of February Hurts

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 29, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 29, 2019

Three stars of the week, Vladimir Tarasenko sidelined for five months, Evgeni Malkin hopes to return by week’s end, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: A five-goal first period powered the Vancouver Canucks to a 7-2 thrashing of the Florida Panthers, ending the latter’s eight-game points streak. J.T. Miller scored twice while Elias Pettersson and Alexander Edler each collected three assists. Panthers goaltender Sam Montembault was pulled after giving up three goals on nine shots but returned for the second period after Sergei Bobrovsky allowed two goals on six shots.

Nick Schmaltz scored in the shootout as the Arizona Coyotes overcame a 2-0 deficit to nip the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Conor Garland had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes, who’ve won six of their last seven games. Jeff Skinner had a goal and an assist for the Sabres.

HEADLINES

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand, Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi, and Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 27, 2019.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko will undergo shoulder surgery and will be sidelined for five months.

Shoulder surgery will sideline St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko for five months (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a serious blow to the Blues’ offense, robbing them of their best goal scorer. They’ll have to turn to a young forward like Robert Thomas, Sammy Blais or Robby Fabbri to fill the void.

SPORTSNET: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin hopes to return to action on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers. A lower-body injury has sidelined him for all but two games this month.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES/DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Chicago Blackhawks traded forward Brendan Perlini to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for defenseman Alec Regula.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perlini requested a trade last week after seeing limited playing time with the Blackhawks. He could provide a bit of a boost to the struggling Red Wings’ anemic offense. Regula currently skates for the OHL’s London Knights.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Adam Lowry received a two-game suspension for a dangerous hit on Calgary Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington during Saturday’s Heritage Classic game in Regina.

TSN: The Flames placed winger Tobias Rieder on waivers.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott will make his season debut tonight against the Washington Capitals. He was sidelined by offseason shoulder surgery.

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils defenseman Connor Carrick required surgery to repair a broken finger. He’ll be sidelined four-to-six weeks.

CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray will miss three-to-four weeks with a broken hand.

Dallas Stars blueliners Andrej Sekera (undisclosed injury) won’t play tonight against the Minnesota Wild.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland is day-to-day with a minor lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS: San Jose Sharks defenseman Radim Simek will join their AHL affiliate on a conditioning stint. He hasn’t played since undergoing season-ending knee surgery last March.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins assigned Joseph Blandisi and Adam Johnson to their AHL affililate.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers called up Filip Chytil and Ryan Lindgren.