NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 20, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 20, 2023

The Blues name their new captain, the latest on Flyers forwards Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson, the Canadiens and Canucks make a trade on the eve of the start of training camps, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

STLTODAY.COM: Brayden Schenn was named as the 24th captain in St. Louis Blues history. The club made the announcement yesterday. Schenn, 32, spent the past six seasons with the Blues and was an alternate captain for the past three campaigns. He’s under contract for five more seasons.

St. Louis Blues captain Brayden Schenn (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt that anyone was surprised that Schenn got the nod for the captaincy. A durable, versatile and reliable forward, he’s reached or exceeded 50 points five times over the past six seasons. Schenn’s been in a leadership role with the Blues for several seasons so this was probably an easy choice for the club.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers general manager Daniel Briere said Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson are good to go when training camp opens on Thursday. The two veteran forwards missed all of last season due to injuries. Both players were scrimmaging with teammates prior to the start of camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s good news for the Flyers’ forward depth as they approach this season. It will also provide Briere with an opportunity to evaluate the performances of Couturier and Atkinson to determine their place and role in the club’s rebuilding process.

TSN: The Montreal Canadiens traded goaltender Casey DeSmith to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday evening in exchange for winger Tanner Pearson and a third-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins last month as part of the three-team Erik Karlsson trade, DeSmith wasn’t expected to start this season with the Canadiens.

Pearson is a veteran middle-six winger who’s in the final season of his contract and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He could become a bargaining chip for the rebuilding Habs by the March 8 trade deadline if he’s fully recovered from the hand injury that ended his 2022-23 campaign and plays well this season.

The Canucks, meanwhile, get a reliable backup for starting goalie Thatcher Demko while freeing up much-needed cap space. This move should also make them salary-cap compliant to start the season. Like Pearson, DeSmith is slated to become a UFA next July. Perhaps a solid performance will earn him a contract extension with the Canucks.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed Calen Addison to a one-year contract worth $825K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coming off his entry-level contract and an inconsistent rookie season, Addison had no leverage with the cap-strapped Wild. The 23-year-old defenseman will need a better effort in his sophomore campaign to garner a better contract next summer when he’ll have arbitration rights.

TSN: The Senators re-signed forward Egor Sokolov to a one-year, two-way contract. He’ll earn $775K at the NHL level.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators are reportedly no closer to signing restricted free-agent center Shane Pinto as they report for training camp today. It’ll be interesting to see how long these negotiations go on. The 22-year-old Pinto has also surfaced in recent trade rumors but reports out of Ottawa claim the two sides are still working toward a new contract.

TSN: cited a report in The Athletic indicating the Chicago Blackhawks will not be naming a captain for this season. The club parted ways this summer with long-time captain Jonathan Toews.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report noted that Seth Jones was keen to become the next Blackhawks captain. His performance this season could determine if he lands the role next season.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Detroit Red Wings have invited forward Artem Anisimov and goaltender Michael Hutchinson to training camp on professional tryout offers. Anisimov, 35, last played in the NHL in 2020-21 with the Ottawa Senators while the 33-year-old Hutchinson played 16 games last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2023

Could the Avalanche and Canadiens make a goaltending trade? Are the Senators any closer to re-signing Shane Pinto? What’s the latest on Phil Kessel? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the Colorado Avalanche appear to be exploring their options in the trade market seeking a potential replacement for Pavel Francouz. The 33-year-old backup goaltender is expected to miss training camp and the start of the season as he recovers from offseason adductor surgery.

Seravalli’s colleague Mike Gould suggested Casey DeSmith as an obvious trade target. He was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins by the Montreal Canadiens in last month’s three-team trade that sent Erik Karlsson to the Penguins.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Casey DeSmith (NHL Images).

Salary cap space could be an issue for the Avalanche. Gould pointed out that they are projected to start the season with $525K in long-term injury reserve space, though they might be able to add more by placing Francouz and his $2 million cap hit on LTIR. DeSmith, 32, carries an average annual value of $1.8 million.

TVA SPORTS: Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes recently said he was okay with his club starting the season with Casey DeSmith, Samuel Montembeault and Jake Allen as his goaltenders. However, he has also said that he’s open to moving DeSmith before the start of the season if an opportunity presents itself.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeSmith has plenty of backup experience with the Pittsburgh Penguins. That could make him enticing to the Avalanche if Francouz appears to be sidelined long-term. Putting him on LTIR would cover DeSmith’s cap hit for this season.

Montreal Hockey Now’s Marc Dumont doesn’t expect DeSmith, Montembeault or Allen would fetch much of a return in the trade market. Still, Hughes might be able to get a decent draft pick or prospect from the Avs if he agreed to retain part of DeSmith’s salary.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators general manager Pierre Dorion acknowledged he still has to re-sign Shane Pinto. The 22-year-old restricted free agent has yet to reach an agreement with the club on a new contract.

Dorion remains hopeful of getting a deal in place before training camp opens next week. The two sides don’t want Pinto to miss any playing time because he’s expected to play a key role on the Senators this season.

Garrioch pointed out that the Senators are pressed for salary cap space. He believes they’ll have to shed a contract to accommodate a new deal for Pinto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pinto’s current contract situation has generated some trade speculation suggesting he could be moved if the two sides fail to hammer out an agreement. Dorion’s comments suggest that isn’t the case.


TSN’s Chris Johnston reports there’s some “percolating interest” from NHL teams on signing Phil Kessel to a contract this season. He indicates the 35-year-old forward isn’t in PTO (professional tryout offer) territory yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL’s ongoing Ironman record holder, Kessel recently said that he’s willing to accept a secondary role even if it brings his consecutive games streak to an end. That might account for the recent interest in his services.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 1, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 1, 2023

Canucks wingers Brock Boeser and Anthony Beauvillier are on the hot seat this season plus an update on Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau believes it’s within the realm of possibility that the Vancouver Canucks move on from winger Brock Boeser and Anthony Beauvillier this season. The former is signed through 2024-25 with an average annual value of $6.65 million while Beauvillier is entering the final season of his contract with an AAV of $4.15 million.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser (NHL Images).

Proteau thinks Boeser and Beauvillier could hit the trade block if the Canucks get off to another struggling start. Their contract numbers are reasonable for teams in the market for experienced, above-average help on the wing. They also lack no-trade/no-move protection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t dismiss the possibility of Boeser and/or Beauvillier getting shopped if the Canucks stumble through another season. Moving either guy, however, won’t be easy even if they play well this season.

With just six teams carrying $5 million or more in projected cap space, there aren’t many potential destinations for Boeser or Beauvillier during the first couple of months into the regular season. The market could improve by the trade deadline as teams that aren’t using LTIR can accrue cap space over the course of the season.

Tyler Myers is in the final year of his contract. The Canucks aren’t expected to re-sign the 33-year-old defenseman. His size, physicality and ability to log around 20 minutes of ice time per game could prove worthwhile to a true contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was rumored that the Canucks had a deal in place to send Myers to the San Jose Sharks after his $5 million signing bonus was paid in September. We’ll find out in due course if that’s the case.


TVA SPORTS: Raphael Doucet cited a well-placed source claiming that Jake Allen has received confirmation from Montreal Canadiens management that he will not be traded.

The 33-year-old goaltender was the subject of some trade speculation after the Canadiens acquired Casey DeSmith last month from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen’s goalie partner Sam Montembeault recently told reporters that he’d also received assurances from Canadiens GM Kent Hughes that he wouldn’t be traded.

Hughes has said he would look into trading DeSmith. Perhaps he has something lined up to flip the former Penguins netminder to another club before training camps open later this month.

NHL Rumor Mill – August 28, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – August 28, 2023

A look at questions facing some Atlantic Division teams entering 2023-24 in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: Ryan Dixon recently looked at big questions facing Atlantic Division teams as they approach the coming season.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).

Among the noteworthy questions was whether Pavel Zacha would become the Boston Bruins’ first-line center at the start of training camp. Their depth at the center position suffered a significant blow with the recent retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.

The Bruins possess enough overall roster talent to be fighting hard for a playoff berth this season. Nevertheless, if general manager Don Sweeney can swing a trade for someone like Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele, the Bruins could be in the thick of the postseason race.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Scheifele and Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm have frequently surfaced as possible Bruins trade targets. That’s because of their eligibility for unrestricted free-agent status next July.

The Bruins, however, lack depth in suitable trade assets. Unless they’re the only ones pursuing Scheifele and Lindholm if one or both become available in the trade market. I doubt Sweeney will win a bidding war for either guy this season.

Dixon pondered whether the Buffalo Sabres could acquire Calgary’s Noah Hanifin or another top-four defenseman like Carolina’s Brett Pesce. They’ve been linked to every defenseman in the rumor mill and would no doubt want to sign whoever they pursue to a long-term contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I still say goaltending is the biggest issue facing the Sabres but it appears they’re willing to start the season with Devon Levi, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Eric Comrie. Bolstering the blueline in front of their inexperienced netminders would be a sensible option.

Hanifin or Pesce won’t come cheaply. Both are slated to become UFAs next summer and their current clubs will set a high price in the trade market. They might not become available until the weeks leading up to the March trade deadline. By that point, the Sabres’ roster needs could change.

Dixon also mused over whether the Montreal Canadiens can find a new home for recently acquired goalie Casey DeSmith. The Canadiens already have a crowded crease with Jake Allen, Sam Montembeault and Cayden Primeau. DeSmith, 32, has a year left on his contract at an affordable $1.8 million and might tempt a club in need of goaltending depth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens GM Kent Hughes has indicated he could trade DeSmith or make other changes. Either way, Hughes assured him that he wouldn’t be heading to the minors.

The “other changes” could be peddling Primeau or Allen. Montembeault received assurances from Hughes that he was not going anywhere.

NHL Rumor Mill – August 23, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – August 23, 2023

Should the Devils pursue Connor Hellebuyck? Are the Capitals any closer to moving Evgeny Kuznetsov and Anthony Mantha? What are the Canadiens’ trade options for Casey DeSmith? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


NHL NETWORK: Mike Rupp believes the New Jersey Devils should attempt to acquire Connor Hellebuyck. The 30-year-old Winnipeg Jets goaltender appears reluctant to sign a contract extension and could seek $9 million annually on his next deal given his strong play over the past five years.

Rupp doesn’t know if the Devils would be interested in signing Hellebuyck to an expensive long-term extension. However, he has this season left on his contract and Rupp thinks the Devils would be a good fit if Hellebuyck wants to win the Stanley Cup.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (NHL Images).

Rumors have linked Hellebuyck to the Devils. Rupp believes they have the players and pieces to make an offer to the Jets, noting that goaltending is an X factor for New Jersey. Perhaps spending the season with the Devils would make Hellebuyck more receptive to staying on a slightly more affordable contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hellebuyck seems like a perfect fit for the Devils and there was talk earlier this summer claiming they had inquired into his availability. The cost of signing him to an extension was said to be the deal breaker.

The Jets thus far haven’t found a suitable offer for Hellebuyck. It appears they’ll start the season with him in the lineup and see how things go. If they’re out of playoff contention by the trade deadline perhaps a deal with the Devils or another playoff contender can be had.

Meanwhile, the Devils appear willing to enter this season with the tandem of Vitek Vanecek and Akira Schmid between the pipes. Whether they’ll stick with them for the playoffs remains to be seen.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sammi Silber reports recent trade speculation regarding Evgeny Kuznetsov and Anthony Mantha suggests both players will remain with the Washington Capitals for the time being.

Silber cited a report earlier this month from Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli indicating Kuznetsov and Mantha remain trade chips for the Capitals. However, it seems unlikely either player will be moved.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Nashville Predators looked into acquiring Kuznetsov before the free-agent market opened on July 1. However, that interest appears to have cooled in part because of their addition of Ryan O’Reilly. There’s been no indication that Mantha has drawn any serious attention in this summer’s trade market.

Kuznetsov and Mantha are coming off down seasons and both carry expensive cap hits in a summer when most teams have limited cap space. The only way their trade value improves is if the Capitals agree to retain half of their respective cap hits. Otherwise, it’ll take improvement in their performance during the coming regular season to make them more enticing in the trade market.


MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marc Dumont recently looked at possible trade destinations for Casey DeSmith. Acquired earlier this month from the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Canadiens could attempt to flip the 32-year-old backup and his $1.8 million cap hit to another club before the start of the season.

Dumont suggested the Boston Bruins if they end up trading Linus Ullmark or Jeremy Swayman for a center. The Anaheim Ducks could be another option if they trade John Gibson. The St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning are possibilities if their current backups struggle. Others could be the San Jose Sharks and Columbus Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins will be sticking with their current goalie tandem for the coming season. There doesn’t appear to be a market for Gibson given his $6.4 million cap hit. Barring injuries, those other clubs are likely to start the season with their current goalies and see how things shake out.

NHL Rumor Mill – August 16, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – August 16, 2023

The Canadiens might not be done making trades after shipping Jeff Petry plus the latest on UFA winger Tomas Tatar in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marc Dumont recently cited TVA Sports’ Anthony Martineau claiming the Canadiens are “open for business” regarding their goaltending.

The Canadiens currently have Sam Montembeault, Jake Allen and Casey DeSmith on the roster. Martineau claimed they’re listening to offers in the hope of getting the biggest return for their assets.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Casey DeSmith (NHL Images).

Dumont doubted the Canadiens will get more than a very late-round draft pick or future considerations even in this summer’s tepid goalie market. Montembeault, Allen and DeSmith are far from being considered prospects.

Montembeault has put up decent NHL numbers but is far from an established starter. Allen and DeSmith have been relegated to backup roles.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I realize that the impressive trade record of Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes has made some Habs followers believe he’s going to hit a home run on almost every deal.

Hughes is very good but even he’s at the mercy of the market. If you were disappointed in the Petry return without looking at the larger picture, don’t get your hopes up that he’ll get something better for one of his three NHL goalies.

THE ATHLETIC: Arpon Basu noted the Canadiens remain over the $83.5 million salary cap for this season following their recent cost-cutting moves.

During his media availability discussing Tuesday’s Jeff Petry trade, general manager Kent Hughes hinted at more moves to come to clear up cap space without putting permanently sidelined goalie Carey Price on offseason long-term injury reserve.

Trading DeSmith could be one option. “I told Casey to be patient,” said Hughes. “The idea is not to bury him in the AHL, so we’ll continue looking at opportunities to either trade him or maybe changes a few things, but it might take some time because the goalie market doesn’t move very quickly.”

Basu also noted the Canadiens could use their six waiver-exempt players (Juraj Slafkovsky, Rafael Harvey-Pinard, Arber Xhekaj, Kaiden Guhle, Justin Barron and Jordan Harris) to send some of them to the AHL as a paper transaction to be cap compliant to start the season, then recall them once Price is placed on LTIR.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Basu points out that it’s about garnering salary-cap flexibility. He noted that the Petry trade allows the Canadiens to start the regular season with Price on their books and then place him on LTIR when the roster deadline has passed.

Basu goes on to explain that offseason LTIR means the Canadiens get locked into a cap number leaving them with zero cap space. In-season LTIR means the closer they are to the cap as possible, the more cap flexibility they’ll have once they place Price on it.


TSN: Travis Yost looked at how free agent Tomas Tatar could help an NHL club. He noted that the 32-year-old winger has been a reliable middle-six point producer, including his 20 goals and 48 points last season with the New Jersey Devils.

Yost believes a team that plays a similar up-tempo attacking style like the Devils could benefit from Tatar’s speed and scoring abilities. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets could be possible destinations. It could take training camp to open up more possibilities for Tatar.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dave Molinari noted the recent rumors linking the Penguins to Tatar. He examined whether he was worth adding to the roster.

Molinari believes the Penguins should pursue Tatar if sidelined winger Jake Guentzel is out longer than anticipated and if he’ll accept a team-friendly contract. The downside, however, is his addition would complicate their salary-cap flexibility, costing them a valuable role player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tatar recently admitted he’s had talks with the Penguins but didn’t indicate whether they’re close to a deal. Penguins GM Kyle Dubas last week said Guentzel might only miss the opening five games of the regular season. That could alleviate the need to find a short-term replacement for him.

It’s believed Tatar could be seeking a guaranteed contract longer than one season. The Penguins might only be interested in signing him to a PTO deal and see how he performs in training camp and preseason play.