NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2023

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.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

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.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 26, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 26, 2023

A roundup of Monday’s preseason action, the Blue Jackets hire Mark Recchi as an assistant coach, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Calgary Flames and Seattle Kraken picked up wins in their split-squad matchups. One Flames squad got a 3-2 shootout victory while the other Kraken squad picked up a 5-3 victory.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames also lost forward Jakob Pelletier in their 5-3 defeat when he left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury after being boarded by the Kraken’s Marian Studenic, who received a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Pelletier was helped from the ice and will be evaluated today.

SEATTLE TIMES: Coachella Valley Firebirds assistant coach Jessica Campbell was behind the Kraken bench as part of the coaching staff in their 3-2 loss to the Flames.

She is the first female to coach full-time in the AHL. In this game, she became the second woman to be part of the coaching staff for an NHL contest.

Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) coach Kori Cheverie was the first as she made a guest coaching stint behind the bench for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Montreal on Sunday.

Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier (NHL Images).

In split-squad action, the New Jersey Devils doubled up the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 with Jack Hughes leading the way with a goal and two assists while Jesper Bratt collected three assists in a 6-0 drubbing of the Philadelphia Flyers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sean Couturier played his first game in over 21 months following two back surgeries. While he didn’t collect any points, the 30-year-old center won 10 of 18 faceoffs and logged over 18 minutes of ice time.

Flyers winger Cam Atkinson was expected to play in this contest but was scratched due to soreness from a lower-body injury.

The Florida Panthers also won both of their split-squad games. Oliver Ekman-Larsson picked up three assists in a 5-0 victory over the Nashville Predators while Sam Bennett had a goal and two assists in their 5-2 win over the other Predators squad.

Jakob Chychrun scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Ottawa Senators nipped the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit kicked out 26 shots to shut out the Edmonton Oilers 5-0.

Ryan Johansen scored in his debut with the Colorado Avalanche in a 3-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud left the game with an upper-body injury in the first period. He will be reevaluated today.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets hired Mark Recchi as an assistant coach as he’ll work with their forwards and coordinate their power play. The Hall-of-Famer spent six seasons as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Western Hockey League (WHL) has suspended Wenatchee Wild head coach Kevin Constantine pending an investigation into alleged violations of league rules. Constantine was a head coach with the San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils from 1993 to 2002.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 16, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 16, 2023

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby weighs in on best-on-best international tournaments, Jack Hughes believes he can be a 100-point player for the Devils, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

SPORTSNET: Sidney Crosby would welcome the return of best-on-best international tournaments involving NHL stars. “Seeing all the other countries, you look at their lineups, I mean, it’s pretty tight,” said the Pittsburgh Penguins captain. He went on the praise what he called the “incredible” level of hockey in those tournaments.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

Talk of a World Cup of Hockey tournament in 2025 would provide Crosby with the chance to play alongside Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid for the first time on Team Canada. The 36-year-old center said he’d welcome the opportunity, joking that he’d be willing to skate on McDavid’s wing. “He can carry the mail. I’ll just find the opening.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The last best-on-best international tournament featuring NHL stars was the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. A similar competition is long overdue.

At their current levels of performance, Crosby and McDavid are locks for Canada’s roster in 2025. Whether they skate on the same line remains to be seen.

THE SCORE: cited Jack Hughes telling Sportsnet’s “32 Thoughts” podcast that he sees himself as a 100-point player for the New Jersey Devils. He came within one point of doing so last season, finishing with 99 in 78 games.

I’m a competitive person, so definitely a little like, ‘Damn’, you know?” said Hughes. “I wanted that because I’m competitive.” He said he believes he can reach the 100-point plateau if he maintains his current path and continues to work at it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avoiding injury will also play a significant role in the 5’11’, 175-pound Hughes’ quest to reach 100 points. The potential to reach that level was there during an injury-shortened 2021-22 when he had 56 points in 49 games.

SPORTSNET: The NHL Players’ Association released a statement yesterday saying they’d provided an update to the league on the investigation into Columbus Blue Jackets coach Mike Babcock requesting personal photos from his players’ phones. The PA provided no further comment on the matter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Babcock defended his actions by claiming he was trying to get to know his players better and had shown them his own family photos. Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner and scoring star Johnny Gaudreau said they had no problem with it. Subsequent reports claim some younger players were uncomfortable with Babcock’s request.

The situation sparked some pundits to suggest that Babcock could lose his job over this or at least face a suspension from the league. So far, there’s no indication as to what the end result could be.

DAILY FACEOFF: The NHL has updated its rule book for the coming season. Among the changes are the mandated wearing of helmets during warmups to anyone who joined the league since 2019 as well as clarifications on puck-in-netting and line changes on delayed offsides.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These are among the most noteworthy. Follow the link above for the complete list of changes.

TSN: It has now been confirmed that the 2023-24 NHL Trade Deadline is slated for 3 p.m. ET on Friday, March 8, 2024.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the second straight year that the trade deadline is on a Friday. I wish they would hold it on a Friday every year. It provides an extra level of buzz heading into Saturday which is almost always the busiest day of the week on the NHL calendar in terms of scheduled games.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 14, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 14, 2023

Matthew Tkachuk is ready to start the season, Josh Bailey bids farewell to the Islanders and their fans, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk has recovered from the fractured sternum suffered during the 2023 Stanley Cup Final and is looking forward to the start of training camp. “I am feeling great,” said Tkachuk.

Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s good news for the Panthers, who will be starting the season with top two defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour sidelined by offseason shoulder surgeries. Tkachuk can’t help them defensively but the two-time 100-point winger and 2023 playoff hero will be a key cog in their offensive attack.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Former long-time Islanders winger Josh Bailey bid farewell to the club and its fans in a letter posted on The Players’ Tribune.

I want to thank not just this great fan base, but the people of Long Island as a whole,” wrote Bailey. He indicated that Long Island will always be home for himself and his family.

A first-round pick (ninth overall) by the Islanders in the 2008 NHL Draft, the 33-year-old Bailey spent 15 seasons with the club. He was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in June, who bought out the final season of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent decline in Bailey’s production led to his trade and contract buyout. The unrestricted free agent faces an uncertain future as he’s yet to land with another NHL club as training camp approaches.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The paint job on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov’s new mask resembles that of former Leafs netminder Curtis Joseph.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Samsonov can channel prime “CuJo” the Leafs will be in good shape between the pipes this season.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of goaltending, the Devils brought back Keith Kinkaid on a one-year, two-way contract worth $775K at the NHL level.

ESPN.COM: The NHL is considering making changes to their digital ad boards following complaints from fans regarding technical glitches and other issues that were found distracting to ongoing play. The league considers the criticism as coming from a “vocal minority”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The ads haven’t bothered me but I have noticed some glitches at times. That’s to be expected from this type of technology and will likely be corrected over time. Some critics on social media want the ads to be removed. Judging by the league’s tone, that’s not going to happen.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes majority owner Alex Meruelo is looking to buy out the minority stake in the club from Andrew Barroway, who owns five percent of the club. Barroway took over majority ownership of the club in 2014 until Meruelo acquired the controlling interest in the club in 2019.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 11, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 11, 2023

Andrew Ladd announces his retirement plus the latest on Alexander Holtz, Devon Levi, Alexander Edler and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

DAILY FACEOFF: Andrew Ladd took to social media on Sunday to officially announce his retirement after 16 NHL seasons. In 1,001 regular-season games from 2005-06 to 2021-22, the versatile forward scored 256 goals and 294 assists for 550 points with the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets, New York Islanders and Arizona Coyotes. Ladd also had 18 points in 65 playoff games.

Former NHL winger Andrew Ladd (NHL Images).

Among Ladd’s highlights was winning the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2005-06 and the Blackhawks in 2009-10 as well as serving as captain of the Jets from 2010-11 to 2015-16. His best season came in 2014-15 with 24 goals and 38 assists for 62 points in 81 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In his prime, Ladd was a skillful winger who led by example. Knee and lower-body injuries hampered his performance in the final seasons of his career. He bounced between the Islanders and their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport from 2018-19 until traded to the Coyotes in July 2021. He missed all of last season with a knee injury.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald sees young forward Alexander Holtz as a future pillar of his club. The 21-year-old winger spent only 19 games with the Devils last season but Fitzgerald still holds the youngster in high regard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtz’s disappointing performance last season saw his name surface in trade rumors. He could resurface as a trade candidate if he continues to struggle to crack the Devils’ lineup.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Goaltender Devon Levi is looking forward to his first full NHL season after making a brief but promising debut late in the 2022-23 campaign. He sported a record of 5-2-0 in seven games with a 2.94 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.

I can’t wait to see the guys again and to go out and compete with them,” said Levi. The 21-year-old netminder is “super excited” about the coming season. “I’m just doing my best to get my game to be the best it can be and keep working on it, keep improving.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Levi’s GAA and SP were inflated when he gave up six goals in a wild 7-6 win over the Detroit Red Wings and four goals in a 6-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. However, he had a save percentage of .929 or better in four other games, giving up just two goals in each of those contests.

THE HOCKEY NEWS’ Jeff Paterson reports Alex Edler still hopes to continue his NHL career. However, the 37-year-old defenseman has yet to receive a contract offer or a professional tryout offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A 17-year NHL veteran, Edler spent the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Kings. He spent the previous 15 seasons with the Vancouver Canucks.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames recently hired long-time broadcaster Peter Loubardias as a reserve list scout. He’d spent the past 10 seasons as the color analyst for Flames games on Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 3, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 3, 2023

Check out the latest on Devils’ winger Jesper Bratt, Jets forward Gabriel Vilardi, Canucks winger Tanner Pearson and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: Jesper Bratt recently explained to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that he used the pressure of his two short-term contracts as motivation to justify that he was worthy of a long-term deal.

New Jersey Devils winger Jesper Bratt (NHL Images).

I liked going into the summer pressuring myself a little more,” said Bratt. “Okay, I have to prove myself. I gotta work harder, I gotta show them how good I am.”

The result was back-to-back 73-point campaigns for Bratt, including breaking the 30-goal plateau last season for the first time. Earlier this summer, the 25-year-old winger signed an eight-year, $63-million contract ($7.875 million average annual value).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bratt acknowledged his new challenge will be justifying his lucrative new contract. He’ll have little difficulty doing that if he remains a 30-goal, 70-plus-point winger.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets forward Gabriel Vilardi arrived in Winnipeg last week to begin preparation for training camp later this month. Acquired from the Los Angeles Kings in June as part of the Pierre-Luc Dubois, the 24-year-old Vilardi claimed to be unaware of the club’s soap opera over the past two seasons over a perceived lack of accountability and leadership among the players.

Vilardi claimed he was surprised to find out that the Jets didn’t have a captain last season. “I thought Mark Scheifele was the captain. I don’t even know. That gives you my answer,” he said, going on to say that he uses that line often.

I’m here to play hockey. That’s my job. From what I’ve seen so far, Winnipeg isn’t that bad. We’ll see the winter.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vilardi was the key piece in the four-asset return that the Jets received from the Kings for Dubois. He’s coming off a career-best performance of 24 goals and 41 points in 63 games. His performance this season could play a crucial role in the Jets’ playoff hopes for this season.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: Rob Simpson reports Canucks winger Tanner Pearson feels he’s 100 percent recovered from the hand injury that limited him to just 14 games last season. That could create a salary-cap crunch for the Canucks, who are currently some $4.4 million over the $83.5 million cap. Pearson, 31, carries a $3.25 million AAV for the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pearson was mentioned earlier this year as a potential trade candidate if he was ready to return for the start of this season. Those rumors could surface again if he is indeed good to go for 2023-24.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators and Shane Pinto aren’t close to a new contract. However, it’s hoped the restricted free agent center will be signed soon. NHL training camps open on Sept. 21.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pinto, 22, completed his entry-level contract last season. It was his first full NHL campaign and he showed promise with 20 goals and 35 points in 83 games. The Senators, however, are bumping up against the cap.

The Senators can exceed the cap by 10 percent until the start of the season when they must be cap compliant. Signing Pinto will mean clearing some cap space via demotions and/or trade.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers president Keith Jones said his club was getting close to a new contract for Morgan Frost. The 24-year-old center completed his ELC last season. He had 19 goals and 46 points in 81 games in 2022-23. “Morgan’s an important player for us in the future. That will work itself out,” said Jones.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Speaking of the Flyers, 2023 first-round pick Matvei Michkov was a healthy scratch for SKA St. Peterburg’s KHL season-opening on Saturday. Chosen seventh overall by the Flyers, the 18-year-old winger is considered one of Russia’s top hockey prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This news caused a bit of a stir yesterday on hockey Twitter..er, sorry, “X”. A scoring winger, Michkov was apparently scratched because of his defensive play.

I wouldn’t put too much stock into Michkov getting benched unless this becomes a trend over the course of this KHL season. He’s under contract with SKA St. Petersburg through 2025-26. There’s plenty of time for this kid to develop his game before joining the Flyers, provided his KHL club will let him go.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sammi Silber reports former NHL defenseman Madison Bowey has signed with KHL club Dynamo Minsk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE Bowey’s last NHL season was in 2021-22 with the Vancouver Canucks, playing two games with them and spending the rest of the season with their AHL affiliate in Abbotsford. He spent last season with the AHL’s Laval Rocket.