NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2023
Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is sidelined by back surgery, Connor Bedard makes his preseason debut with the Blackhawks as does Erik Karlsson with the Penguins, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to miss the opening two months of the season following surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back. General manager Julien BriseBois said the injury is unrelated to those Vasilevskiy played through last season.
BriseBois indicated the club has no plans to seek an external option to replace Vasilevskiy but he didn’t rule out the possibility. Their current goaltending tandem of Jonas Johansson and Matt Tompkins possess limited NHL experience.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a major blow to the Lightning to start the season. Vasilevskiy is among the league’s elite goalies, winning the Vezina Trophy in 2019 and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2021. He was the backbone of their three consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearances from 2020 to 2022 and their back-to-back Cup wins in 2020 and 2021.
Losing Vasilevskiy could put the Lightning into an early-season hole too deep to climb out of if Johansson and Tompkins aren’t up to the task. Despite the Bolts’ intention of sticking with their current tandem, there’s plenty of speculation that BriseBois could go shopping for help. I’ll have more about that in today’s NHL Rumor Mill update.
NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard picked up two assists in his NHL preseason debut as his club beat the St. Louis Blues 2-1 in overtime. The 18-year-old center set up Andreas Athanasiou’s game-winner and finished with nine shot attempts and five shots on goal while winning 10 of 16 faceoffs and logging over 21 minutes of ice time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite his impressive performance in this game, Bedard felt that he could’ve played better. If he performs as well in regular-season play as he did in this game, the Blackhawks will have a future superstar on their hands.
Erik Karlsson made his preseason debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Acquired from the San Jose Sharks in a blockbuster trade last month, he had one shot on goal and logged over 19 minutes of ice time. Drew O’Connor tallied two goals for the Penguins.
In other preseason action:
Kiril Kaprizov scored twice as the Minnesota Wild doubled up the Colorado Avalanche 4-2.
Tyler Toffoli scored in his preseason debut with the New Jersey Devils in a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers. Toffoli was acquired by the Devils in June from the Calgary Flames.
Washington Capitals rookie Ivan Miroshnichenko collected two assists while veteran winger Tom Wilson had a goal and an assist in a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
The Seattle Kraken defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on two goals by winger Eeli Tolvanen.
TSN: Calgary Flames assistant general manager Chris Snow remains on life support while arrangements for organ donation are made, his wife Kelsie announced. Snow became unresponsive on Tuesday and went into cardiac arrest on Tuesday, resulting in a catastrophic brain injury. He’d been battling ALS since 2019.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Snow’s family.
DAILY FACEOFF: Speaking of the Flames, the club intends to keep promising goaltender Dustin Wolf in the AHL to start the season if a trade of backup Dan Vladar doesn’t materialize. GM Craig Conroy indicated that Wolf is exempt from waivers this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wolf won’t be in the AHL for long. I daresay we’ll see him join the Flames on a permanent basis at some point during this season.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers acknowledged he’s been unlucky recently when it comes to injuries. The 27-year-old winger has been frustrated over the spate of various injuries that have sidelined him over the past two years. The latest is neck spasms that have kept him out of preseason action thus far.
CBS SPORTS: Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk suffered a cut above his eye during practice on Wednesday. He required several stitches and will miss Friday’s preseason matchup with the Jets. Tkachuk is expected to be good to go for the club’s season opener next month.
SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks goaltender Spencer Martin and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Rem Pitlick and defenseman Ty Smith were the notable players placed on waivers yesterday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report also indicated Martin was the subject of some trade discussions. We’ll find out this afternoon if he ends up claimed by another team.