Nazem Kadri’s history-making day with the Stanley Cup, a look at the Islanders’ future top blueline tandem, Hampus Lindholm’s offseason home was destroyed by fire, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
TSN: Nazem Kadri’s day with the Stanley Cup was a history-making one as he became the first Muslim to bring hockey’s holy grail to a mosque. The event took place on Saturday in Kadri’s hometown of London, Ontario.
Calgary Flames center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).
Kadri, 31, is the first Muslim player to win the Stanley Cup, doing so with the Colorado Avalanche in June. He recently signed a seven-year contract with the Calgary Flames. Kadri thanked his family and supporters. “I’m very appreciative, very privileged, and honored to be the first-ever Muslim to bring the Stanley Cup to the mosque,” he said. “It’s a big deal.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kadri played a key role in the Avalanche’s march to the Stanley Cup. He continues to be an inspiration to Muslims who wish to take up the sport of hockey.
NEW YORK POST: The duo of Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov could one day become the New York Islanders’ top defense pairing. They’ve never met as Romanov was acquired in a trade last month from the Montreal Canadiens. Both recently signed new contracts with the Isles.
“The little I know watching him play, he’s obviously a talented player,” said Dobson of Romanov. He skates really well and he’s got a physical presence out there and a high compete level.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dobson enjoyed a 51-point breakout performance last season as one of the few bright spots in an otherwise forgettable season for the Isles. Romanov is more of a physical defensive rearguard but can contribute offensively. The Isles will have a solid defense for the next several years if Dobson and Romanov gel as a blueline tandem behind the top pairing of Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech.
SPORTBLADET: Hampus Lindholm’s off-season home in Sweden was recently destroyed by fire. The Boston Bruins defenseman was not at the house when the blaze erupted and no one was hurt. Police are investigating arson but it’s believed the fire started in a side building in a battery charger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lindholm also said he was appreciative of the Bruins for reaching out and offering their help.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: After being bought out by the San Jose Sharks, Rudolfs Balcers is looking forward to joining the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Panthers. He netted a career-high 11 goals last season and believes he could’ve reached 20 with the opportunities he was given with the Sharks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Balcers could have a chance to tally 20 goals this season if he’s given the right role with the high-scoring Panthers.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Sharks, former director of scouting Doug Wilson Jr has joined the Seattle Kraken as an amateur scout.
Ryan Ellis could miss the start of the Flyers’ season, the Islanders re-sign Noah Dobson, Alexander Romanov and Kieffer Bellows, an update on David Pastrnak and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis could miss the start of the coming season. A “multilayered issue” involving the “complex of the whole pelvic region” limited him to just four games last season.
“If you’re asking me right now, I doubt it,” said Flyers head coach John Tortorella when asked if Ellis will be ready to play. They start their season on Oct. 13 against the New Jersey Devils but Tortorella didn’t think the 31-year-old defenseman will be ready when they open training camp on Sept. 21.
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis (NHL Images).
Tortorella indicated he’s had several conversations with Ellis. He said it’s been an “up and down process” for the blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ellis was acquired from the Nashville Predators last summer and was expected to skate on the right side of the Flyers’ first defense pairing alongside Ivan Provorov. His absence last season was a key factor in the club missing the 2022 playoffs.
Cap Friendly shows Ellis is signed through 2026-27 with an average annual value of $6.25 million. They’re above the $82.5 million cap by $2.53 million but will get cap relief by placing Ellis on long-term injury reserve to start the season.
This also explains why the Flyers signed Tony DeAngelo to a two-year contract last month. We’ll have to wait and see if general manager Chuck Fletcher has any other moves planned before the coming season. That could depend on how long Ellis is sidelined.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: The New York Islanders announced new contracts for restricted free agents Noah Dobson, Alexander Romanov and Kieffer Bellows.
Dobson, 22, got a three-year deal with an AAV of $4 million. The 22-year-old Romanov also got a three-year deal. His annual cap hit is $2.5 million. Bellows, 24, got a one-year, $1.2 million contract.
The trio will be restricted free agents at the end of their respective contracts. These deals leave the Islanders with $3.485 million in cap space for the upcoming season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wasn’t surprised by what Romanov and Bellows got. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently suggested that Dobson’s new contract would be a high dollar amount but it’s actually quite reasonable for a young defenseman coming off a 51-point performance.
Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello explained that he wanted to see a bit more from Dobson before committing to a long-term deal. In other words, a more lucrative contract awaits the young rearguard at the end of his current deal if he builds on last season’s breakout effort.
SPORTSNET: Lamoriello also defended what was considered to be a quiet offseason on his part. Earlier this summer, he had promised to be as active as possible to bolster the Islanders’ offense. They were linked to free agents Johnny Gaudreau and Nazem Kadri but both forwards were signed elsewhere. Lamoriello was rumored to be interested in acquiring J.T. Miller but the Vancouver Canucks aren’t in a rush to move the 29-year-old center.
Regarding trades, Lamoriello explained he wouldn’t have received in return what he would’ve had to give up to make his club a better team. He’ll continue to explore the late-summer trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s doubtful Lamoriello will find a return that will significantly improve his club’s offense heading into this season. He’s going to bet on new head coach Lane Lambert finding a way to improve the Isles’ production with the current core players. I expect young wingers Anthony Beauvillier and Oliver Wahlstrom will be placed in roles where they’ll get more opportunities to score.
The Islanders have a projected $16 million in trade deadline cap space for the coming season. Barring any other moves, Lamoriello could have sufficient cap room to add a rental scorer by late February if his club is in playoff contention.
NEWSDAY’s Andrew Gross reported Lamoriello said he’s had no contract talks with UFA defensemen Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene. They are not currently under consideration for defense roles with the Isles.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: David Pastrnak’s contract extension talks with the Bruins are currently on hold but the 26-year-old winger isn’t concerned.
In an interview with Czechia media outlet Blesk, Pastrnak acknowledged Bruins GM Don Sweeney had a lot on his plate this summer negotiating new one-year contracts for Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Pastrnak has a year remaining on his contract and is focused now on physically preparing for the upcoming season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney will probably sit down with Pastrnak and/or his agent at some point during training camp to continue their negotiations.
Why didn’t the Islanders land Kadri? What’s the latest on Isles RFAs Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov? Who will the Golden Knights turn to for goaltending with Robin Lehner out for the season? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor mill.
LATEST ON THE ISLANDERS
NHL NETWORK: Elliotte Friedman believes the New York Islanders were interested in Nazem Kadri. However, he thinks they struggled to free up the necessary cap space to sign him, whereas the Calgary Flames were in a better position to clear cap room. On Thursday, the Flames signed the 31-year-old center to a seven-year, $49-million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello isn’t sure what the Islanders’ next move will be. They’ve been in the market this summer to bolster their offense. General manager Lou Lamoriello reportedly had an interest in Johnny Gaudreau before he signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets. There was also speculation he was working on a trade with the Vancouver Canucks for J.T. Miller but it apparently fell apart during the NHL Draft last month.
The Islanders have over $11 million in salary cap space, but most of that will be going toward re-signing two key restricted free agents. Speaking of whom…
New York Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson (NHL Images).
Friedman believes Lamoriello has already signed RFA defensemen Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov to new contracts. He guesses Romanov will come in around the $3 million range per season. Friedman believes Dobson’s will be “a big number”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dobson is coming off a breakout performance, netting 51 points on a club that was among last season’s lowest-scoring teams. That big number Friedman is referring to could be over $6 million annually.
UPDATE ON THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS GOALTENDING SITUATION
Brossoit is also recovering from hip surgery but is believed ahead of schedule. However, he’s not expected to return to action until several weeks into the coming season.
Peng noted the Sharks have three goalies in Kaapo Kahkonen, James Reimer and Adin Hill for the coming season. Reimer could be the odd man out but the Sharks are rumored to be seeking a second-round pick for him. Peng said it’s uncertain if the Sharks and Golden Knights have discussed Reimer but he thinks the latter could be unwilling to part with a second-rounder.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner considers it unlikely that the Islanders will part with veteran netminder Semyon Varlamov. Nevertheless, he wondered if the Golden Knights would be willing to offer up defenseman Nic Hague and a mid-round pick for Varlamov if their current goalies fail to get the job done.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights will likely use next month’s training camp/preseason schedules to evaluate their goaltenders before determining if they need an upgrade. Thompson showed promise down the stretch last season. If he can rise to the occasion, they’ll be content to stick with what they’ve got and see how the season unfolds.
If Thompson struggles, the Golden Knights could hit the trade market to avoid falling out of playoff contention. Maybe they’d be willing to pony up for Varlamov if the Isles are willing to move him and if the Golden Knights aren’t on his 16-team no-trade list. Otherwise, they’ll have to consider other options like Reimer.
Could the Canucks trade J.T. Miller to the Islanders for a top-four, right-side defenseman? Could Matthew Tkachuk’s new deal affect the Sharks’ contract talks with Timo Meier? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (NHL Images).
The Islanders have $11 million in cap space. Dobson is a restricted free agent whose 51-point performance last season could put him in line for a raise comparable to that of Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin’s two-year contract.
Dahlin will earn $5.8 million in actual salary this coming season and $7.2 million in 2023-24. That could prove too expensive for the Isles if Dobson seeks a similar deal, especially with Mathew Barzal due for a new contract next summer.
Miller, 29, is in the final season of his contract with an affordable $5.25 million cap hit. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and could cost $8 million annually on his next contract.
There were reports during the draft that the Islanders had an interest in Miller. However, Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford denied having any trade discussions about him with the Isles.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks seem reluctant to part with Miller. His agent recently said there’s a pathway toward his client signing a long-term extension but I daresay it’s a very expensive one.
Dobson, 22, would have to be part of the Canucks’ asking price if the Islanders were interested in Miller. The Summerside, PEI native would bring some much-needed skilled depth to the right side of their blueline.
Whether Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello is willing to part with Dobson, however, is another matter. Recent reports suggest he could be kicking tires on UFA center Nazem Kadri.
WILL TKACHUK’S NEW DEAL AFFECT MEIER’S CONTRACT TALKS?
Tkachuk, 24, signed an eight-year, $76 million contract with the Panthers on Friday. Pashelka observed the former Flames winger has 285 points since 2018-19 while the 25-year-old Meier had 222. He wondered if Tkachuk’s new deal would serve as a blueprint for the Sharks winger if he has a “monster year” in the coming NHL season, perhaps earning $1 million less per season than Tkachuk’s $9.5 million average annual value.
Meier is entering the final season of a four-year deal with an AAV of $6 million but an actual salary of $10 million, which is what it’ll cost the Sharks to qualify his rights. If the two sides fail to work out a suitable contract extension, Peng wondered if Meier might fetch a return comparable to what the Flames got from the Panthers for Tkachuk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Meier’s future in San Jose will depend upon whether he buys into the club’s direction under new general manager Mike Grier. If the club is engaging in a long rebuild, he could be reluctant to ink a long-term deal, forcing Grier to peddle him in the trade market.
Meier is a skilled offensive winger but doesn’t play the same physical style as Tkachuk. He could bolster his stock with a career-best performance in this coming season, raising the cost of signing him but also boosting his value in the trade market. Still, I doubt he’d land two players comparable to Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar.
The Panthers tied a winning-streak record, McDavid and Draisaitl reach scoring milestones, Alex Ovechkin tallies his most assists through 20 games, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers picked up their 11th straight home win to start the season as they downed the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1. Aaron Ekblad tallied in overtime as the Panthers tied the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks for the longest season-opening home win streak at 11-0-0. The victory also propelled them into first overall with 31 points.
Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).
Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid each scored two goals and collected two assists to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 5-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Zack Kassian also chipped in a goal and two assists while the Coyotes Clayton Keller had a three-point performance. Draisaitl has a league-leading 20 goals and 40 points, joining Wayne Gretzky as the only Oiler to score 20 goals in less than 20 games. McDavid, meanwhile, netted his 400th career assist. Earlier in the day, the Coyotes placed goaltender Carter Hutton in COVID protocol.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Draisaitl maintains a four-point lead over McDavid in the NHL scoring race.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin collected three assists in a 6-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Ovechkin (33 points) has 18 assists in 20 games, exceeding his previous best (17) in 2008-09. He joins Mario Lemieux, Johnny Bucyk, Gordie Howe and Martin St. Louis as the only players’ age 36 or older to reach at least 18 assists in their first 20 games of the season. Capitals defenseman Justin Schultz left the game with an upper-body injury. Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield potted his first goal of the season.
Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri had two points to extend his points streak to 10 games to help his club beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. Kadri has netted 21 points during that streak. Sonny Milano scored both goals for the Ducks. Earlier in the day, the Ducks listed Adam Henrique as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
The Toronto Maple Leafs netted four goals in the second period on route to a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Auston Matthews and John Tavares each had a goal and an assist while Rasmus Sandin chipped in three helpers. The Leafs have won seven of their last eight. Earlier in the day, the Kings placed forward Andreas Athanasiou in COVID protocol.
A four-goal first period powered the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres 5-1. David Pastrnak, Charlie Coyle and Nick Foligno each collected two points for the Bruins, handing the Sabres their fourth straight loss. Bruins netminder (and former Sabre) Linus Ullmark didn’t start as he’s nursing a minor undisclosed injury but served as a backup in this contest.
Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala scored in the shootout as his club nipped the New Jersey Devils 3-2. Wild goalie Cam Talbot made 40 saves in regulation and overtime and was perfect in the shootout. The Devils overcame a 2-0 deficit on goals by Pavel Zacha and Yegor Sherangovich with Nico Hischier assisting on both.
A 36-save performance by Tristan Jarry carried the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks 4-1. The Penguins have won four straight while the Canucks have dropped seven of their last eight contests.
Elvis Merzlikins kicked out 36 shots for his first shutout of the season as the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked the Winnipeg Jets 3-0, spoiling Pierre-Luc Dubois’ return to Columbus for the first time since getting traded to Winnipeg in January.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets’ usually reliable offense has dried up of late, managing just four goals in their last four games. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets continue to exceed expectations, winning seven of their last 10 contests.
The Detroit Red Wings got 35 saves from Alex Nedeljkovic to snap a four-game losing streak by doubling up the St. Louis Blues 4-2. Adam Erne broke a 2-2 tie while Robby Fabbri had a goal and an assist. Blues center Brayden Schenn returned to action after missing nine games with an upper-body injury. Earlier in the day, the Wings placed defenseman Danny DeKeyser in COVID protocol.
Chris Kreider and Kevin Rooney each scored twice to lead the New York Rangers to a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders, who had seven players in COVID protocol. The Isles have lost seven straight games. Adding to their misery, defenseman Noah Dobson is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Arthur Staple shot down a rumor claiming Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello asked the league for a postponement. NHL sources said they didn’t believe any such request came from Lamoriello. The league continues to monitor the Isles’ situation closely. Yesterday was the first time in a week the club had no new COVID cases.
Max Pacioretty collected an assist as the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Nashville Predators 5-2. Pacioretty missed 17 games with a fractured foot. Filip Forsberg scored both Predators’ goals as he returned from a nine-game absence with an upper-body injury.
The Seattle Kraken got 35 saves from Philipp Grubauer and a late goal in the third period by Marcus Johansson to upset the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. Jared McCann tallied the tying goal on a power play in the second period for the Kraken (6-12-1), giving them their second straight win. The Hurricanes (14-3-1) sit two points behind the first-overall Panthers.
A three-point effort by Timo Meier (one goal, two assists) gave the San Jose Sharks a 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. Sharks forward Nick Bonino also scored in what was his 700th career game. Brady Tkachuk had a goal and an assist for the Senators.