NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 23, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 23, 2020

Latest return-to-play news plus updates on Max Domi, Nikita Zadorov, Jesse Puljujarvi and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox suggests hockey could return to normal by next September with coronavirus vaccines on the way. The NHL, meanwhile, is attempting to stage a shortened 2020-21 season with empty arenas, an all-Canadian division, a canceled All-Star break and playoffs that could finish in mid-July.

Talk of starting the season on Jan. 1 appears increasingly unlikely with each passing day. The pandemic is hitting rates in some American states not seen elsewhere in the world. Meanwhile, the all-Canadian division could hit a snag with rising COVID-19 rates in the provinces with NHL clubs.

Setting aside the entire season, however, doesn’t make sense for the league from a business standpoint. Return-to-play negotiations hit a snag last week over the league’s request for additional escrow and salary deferral from the players.

THE PROVINCE: An NHL player agent told Ben Kuzma the players hold the leverage in return-to-play negotiations because league commissioner Gary Bettman “has to preserve the integrity of the game and they have to play a season – whatever it looks like.” Failure to do so, according to the agent, would hurt the league’s brand.

If it was a just a clear deferral, I think players individually would look at that, if they had the flexibility,” added the agent. “But players are in different situations. If a guy is on a long-term deal, would it make sense for him to defer some money this year? That’s a voluntary decision and it might be able to work, but the players and league have to agree on it.

And part of the problem with deferred income is that in the U.S., it’s not guaranteed. So, if an owner wants to declare bankruptcy, the first thing a court is going to throw away is unsecured debt. And if you secure it, you add tax to that particular year.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL and NHLPA are running out of time to reach an agreement on a return-to-play plan for Jan. 1. The quickest way to that route would be the league backing off on their requests for increased escrow and salary deferral rates, but I don’t see Bettman and the team owners doing that. The players have dug in their heels. If the league does the same, the entire 2020-21 season will be in jeopardy.

ESPN.COM: In a recent interview with Greg Wyshynski, Max Domi addressed his recent trade from the Montreal Canadiens to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He pointed to his and the Canadiens’ struggles last season as factors that led to the deal, but he expressed no ill will toward his former club.

Domi’s looking forward to playing for the Blue Jackets as he feels they’re a team that’s ready to win. “They’re the hardest team to play against in the league. I can tell you that first-hand.”

THE ATHLETIC: Nikita Zadorov is looking forward to a larger role and more responsibilities with the Chicago Blackhawks after being largely a third-pair defenseman with the Colorado Avalanche. Zadorov was traded last month to the Blackhawks.

SPORTSNET: Jesse Puljujarvi’s improvement in Finland bodes well for his return this season to the Edmonton Oilers. He spent all of last season with the Oilers over a contract dispute.

TORONTO SUN: Defenseman Mikko Lehtonen terminated his contract last week with KHL club Jokerit Helsinki and is heading to Toronto to join the Maple Leafs. The 26-year-old defenseman signed a one-year, entry-level deal with the Leafs in May and was loaned to Jokerit in August.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Florida Panthers have officially partnered with the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits.










NHL Trade Roundup: Lots of Big Names Moving After Busy Week of Dealing

NHL Trade Roundup: Lots of Big Names Moving After Busy Week of Dealing

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2020

The 2020 NHL Draft completes its second and final day, Taylor Hall is heading to free agency, the Blue Jackets re-sign Max Domi, and much more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The 2020 NHL Draft is now history following a marathon second day in which it took over seven hours to complete rounds two through seven.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see the results for each round by clicking the above link to the NHL draft tracker. As for how long it took to go through yesterday’s rounds, the general managers and their staffs were drafting from home instead of at an arena in a host city as is usually done. That gave them a lot more time to evaluate which prospects they intended to select and to move up or down the draft order by swapping picks with other clubs.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong said Taylor Hall is heading to tomorrow’s unrestricted free agent market.

Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall is heading to free agency on Friday (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes gave up three prospects and two draft picks (including a first in this year’s draft) to acquire Hall in a trade with New Jersey last December. Hall played well for the Coyotes, with 10 goals and 27 points in 35 games, but his addition did little to significantly improve his new club. Their limited cap space made it almost impossible to re-sign him. His departure could ease the pressure from Armstrong to move captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson in a cost-cutting trade before the defenseman’s Friday deadline.

THE SCORE: One day after being acquired by the Columbus Blue Jackets from the Montreal Canadiens, Max Domi signed a two-year, $10.6 million contract with his new club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a sensible signing by the Jackets. Domi gets a raise over two-year, $6.3-million of his previous deal. The Jackets get a reasonable period of time to evaluate their new center’s performance to determine if he’ll be worth a longer-term deal.

Cap Friendly indicates this signing leaves the Jackets with just $1.725 million in cap space with first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois to re-sign. However, Dubois’ coming off his entry-level contract and could get an affordable bridge contract. The Jackets could also place Brandon Dubinsky ($5.85 million) on long-term injury reserve as a chronic wrist ailment has likely ended his playing days, providing more cap space for DuBois’ next contract.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators placed center Kyle Turris on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract. He had four years and $24 million remaining on his deal. The buyout will count as $2 million annually against the Predators’ salary cap through 2027-28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Turris’ contract turned into a costly mistake for Predators GM David Poile. Desperate to free up cap space, he had little choice but to buy out that deal following unsuccessful attempts to trade the 31-year-old center.

THE SCORE: The Vegas Golden Knights re-signed forward Chandler Stephenson to a four-year, $11 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephenson fit in well with the Golden Knights after he was acquired from the Washington Capitals last December. However, his new contract pushes Vegas’ cap payroll over the $81.5 million cap by $2.8 million. They are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason, but that will complicate any plans to be active in the upcoming free-agent market. A cost-cutting trade or two will be necessary before the start of next season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have decided to let winger Anthony Duclair become an unrestricted free agent after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. Duclair was a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and wasn’t given a qualifying offer by yesterday’s 5 pm deadline. GM Pierre Dorion declined to go into details but said Duclair chose to represent himself in contract talks. He added the club offered the winger a substantial raise over his previous salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A puzzling development. Duclair made $1.65 million on a one-year deal last season. Dorion didn’t shut the door on the winger possibly returning to Ottawa. Maybe the Senators were concerned Duclair would get more via arbitration.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed defenseman Dylan DeMelo to a four-year, $12 million contract. DeMelo was slated to become a UFA on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable signing by the Jets. DeMelo joined the Jets before the February trade deadline and quickly adapted to his new team.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers’ long contract standoff with Jesse Puljujarvi is over, re-signing the 22-year-old winger to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $1.175 million. Puljujarvi spent all of last season playing in Finland hoping to force a trade by the Oilers.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers traded center Lias Andersson to the Los Angeles Kings for the 60th pick in the 2020 NHL draft. Andersson was the seventh-overall pick in the 2017 draft but struggled to crack the Rangers lineup and spent the second half of last season playing in Sweden.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The stock of both young forwards really dropped over the past two years. There was even speculation at one point last season suggesting the two could be swapped for each other in a trade. Both players need a reset if they hope to salvage their NHL careers.

CBC: Montreal Canadiens Hall-of-Famer Guy Lafleur has undergone a second surgery to address a recurrence of lung cancer just two months following quadruple bypass surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Lafleur for a speedy and complete recovery.

 

 










Canadiens Trade Domi to Blue Jackets for Anderson

Canadiens Trade Domi to Blue Jackets for Anderson

The Montreal Canadiens announced they traded center Max Domi and a 2020 third-round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for winger Josh Anderson.

Montreal Canadiens trade Max Domi to the Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Domi and Anderson are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. Domi, 25, completed a two-year, $6.3 million contract while the 26-year-old Anderson is coming off a three-year, $5.5 million deal.

Domi and Anderson frequently surfaced in the rumor mill last season, often linked as a possible swap. While Domi had a 72-point performance in 2018-19, his stats tumbled to 44 points last season and he spent some time on the Habs fourth line during the playoffs.

Anderson tallied 27 goals and 47 points in ’18-’19. However, he was sidelined most of last season by a shoulder injury that required surgery to repair.

The Blue Jackets were in the market for a scoring center while the Canadiens were looking for a power forward. This move seems to address those needs, though time will tell which club benefits the most from this trade.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 25, 2020

A look at TSN’s updated trade-bait board in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray remains on top of Frank Seravalli’s trade-bait board, followed by Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson, Arizona Coyotes blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Winnipeg Jets left wing Patrik Laine.

Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine (NHL Images).

Seravalli reports the Penguins are looking at an internal salary cap of $75 million. GM Jim Rutherford is looking to free up cap space to “dip a toe” into the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Penguins have $75.3 million invested in 20 players following yesterday’s trade of Patric Hornqvist to Florida for Mike Matheson and Colton Sceviour. If they trade Murray it could be for draft picks or prospects. They also have eight blueliners under NHL contracts. One of them could be moved in a cost-cutting deal.

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang is No. 10 on Seravalli’s list, but everything I’ve read and heard out of Pittsburgh suggests he’s staying put. He’s got an 18-team trade list but also carries a no-movement clause, meaning he’d have to be protected in next year’s expansion draft. That could be a sticking point if the Penguins shop him.

Regarding Dumba, Seravalli’s colleague Darren Dreger believes the Wild could set a high asking price. GM Bill Guerin would love to land a first- or second-line center but could be willing to accept a “softer deal” of a high first-round pick and a good young NHL roster player. He points out they can hold onto Dumba until their price is met.

Seravalli suggested the Blue Jackets could also attempt to move out Alex Wennberg or Markus Nutivaara to clear space to re-sign Anderson and Pierre-Luc Dubois. The latter, of course, is the priority. The Jackets could shop Anderson if contract talks stall.

Ekman-Larsson is among several Coyotes (Phil Kessel at No 6 and Darcy Kuemper at No. 12) on Seravalli’s list who could become cost-cutting candidates, along with Derek Stepan, Michael Grabner and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Ekman-Larsson, however, has a full no-movement clause and controls his fate. Arizona Coyotes insider Craig Morgan recently reported Hjalmarsson currently doesn’t intend to waive his NMC.

Laine’s appearance on the trade-bait list prompted criticism suggesting TSN put him there as clickbait. Seravalli’s colleagues Dreger and Pierre LeBrun dispute this, with Dreger claiming Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is listening on Laine. However, he indicated there hasn’t been a lot of action, perhaps in part over economics going forward or the cost of re-signing him before he becomes arbitration-eligible next summer.

LeBrun believes the Columbus Blue Jackets has some interest in Laine while the Carolina Hurricanes had a brief conversation with the Jets that didn’t go far. The Montreal Canadiens could use a scorer like Laine but LeBrun said they currently don’t intend to get into the Laine sweepstakes.

New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri, the Ottawa Senators two first-round picks, and Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury are also among the top-10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli has Palmieri on that list because he’s a year away from UFA eligibility. So far, there’s no indication of what the Devils intend to do with him.

Senators GM Pierre Dorion could listen to offers on those picks. If he moves a first-rounder it’ll likely be the one he got from the Islanders (28th overall) in the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade. Fleury’s a goner if the Golden Knights re-sign Robin Lehner.

Wild winger Ryan Donato, New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk, St. Louis Blues rearguard Alex Pietrangelo and New York Rangers Tony DeAngelo and Ryan Strome also make the cut between spots 11 and 16.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Donato ($1.9 million for one season) would be a cost-cutting candidate. So would Boychuk for the cap-strapped Isles, who has an eight-team trade list as well as an annual average value of $6 million.

LeBrun believes a club could be interested in acquiring Pietrangelo’s rights because re-signing him for eight years would give them a favorable annual average value. DeAngelo and Strome are both RFAs with arbitration rights. One of them could be traded if the Rangers can’t find a way to shed Henrik Lundqvist’s $8.5 million cap hit for next season.

Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei, Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn, and Canadiens center Max Domi fill spots 17 through 20.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes acquired Skjei at the trade deadline and recently shipped out Joel Edmundson. They could use a scorer or an experienced starting goalie, but I suspect they’d find other options than moving Skjei.

The Lightning must free up cap room to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. With Johnson carrying a full no-trade clause, Killorn and his 16-team no-trade list seem the most likely to go.

Domi is an RFA with arbitration rights who spent time on the fourth line during the playoffs. He could be moved for a scoring winger if the Habs are comfortable with young centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson, Canadiens center Phillip Danault, Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour and Edmonton Oilers blueliner Adam Larsson are in spots 21 through 25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs could move Johnsson in a package deal for a defenseman or in a cost-cutting move to clear cap room to sign a blueliner in free agency. The rise of Suzuki and Kotkaniemi has some pundits wondering about Danault’s future, but I don’t believe the Habs intend to move him. He’s a UFA next summer but it’s best to keep him around in case Suzuki or Kotkaniemi struggle next season.

Montour is an RFA with arbitration rights and he could be moved for a forward. There was talk of the Oilers shopping Larsson for a top-six right winger but that’s died down of late.

Philadephia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, St. Louis Blues center Tyler Bozak and Hurricanes blueliner Dougie Hamilton round out the list. Patric Hornqvist and Mike Matheson are also there but this listing was published before they were traded for each other yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere’s struggles this season made him a frequent subject of trade chatter. Bozak could be shopped if the Blues re-sign Pietrangelo. Hamilton is a UFA next summer but the Hurricanes could be reluctant to part with him.

In other trade-rumor nuggets, Seravalli believes it’s a poorly-kept secret the Vegas Golden Knights could pursue Pietrangelo via free agency but he wonders how they can afford him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They can’t unless they forget about re-signing Robin Lehner or find a way to shed a lot of salary. They have $76.5 million tied up in 18 players. Even moving Fleury’s $7-million AAV won’t leave enough for Pietrangelo and Lehner, who could cost a combined $15 million to sign.

Seravalli also reports many are wondering if Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney is quietly checking the trade value of goaltender Tuukka Rask, who has a year remaining on his contract at $7 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney must find a suitable replacement for Rask if he’s going down that road, especially if he still feels the Bruins championship window remains open. Rask has a 15-team trade list.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2020

The latest on Matt Murray, Taylor Hall and Phillip Danault plus updates on the Jets and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON MATT MURRAY

TRIBLIVE.COM: Tim Benz cites Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater claiming Penguins goaltender Matt Murray is going to be at the top of the Colorado Avalanche’s wish list. He felt goaltending was a big factor in the Avs’ second-round elimination from the playoffs. Dater said the Avs like Murray’s age (26) as he’d fit into their template of building with younger players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports Avs general manager Joe Sakic intends to stick with his tandem of Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz for next season. He cited their strong regular-season performances and didn’t fault them for injuries that sidelined both during the playoffs. Francouz played hurt in the second round until making way for Michael Hutchinson.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports being told the Penguins and Edmonton Oilers have had discussions about Murray but the asking price (first-round pick?) is too rich for the Oilers. He believes Edmonton will be patient with the goalie search and hasn’t ruled out bringing back Mike Smith.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the flooded market for goalies in the coming offseason there’s no reason for the Oilers to bring back Smith. Time to go with a younger option.

SHOULD THE PREDATORS PURSUE HALL?

THE ATHLETIC: Adan Vingan reports a league executive told colleague Scott Burnside last month the Nashville Predators would make sense as a landing spot for Taylor Hall. The Arizona Coyotes left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

In examining the pros and cons, Vingan observes the cost of signing the 28-year-old Hall could be in excess of $8 million. The Predators have around $9.3 million in cap space and enough money already tied up in players in the late-20s and early-30s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And that, folks, is why I don’t see Hall landing in Nashville in the offseason.

COULD THE CANADIENS KEEP DOMI & TRADE DANAULT?

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling Buffalo’s WGR 550 that he thinks the Canadiens will look at the trade market for Max Domi and Phillip Danault. With the latter saying he’s not crazy about his situation where he’s the No. 3 center, Friedman thinks there’s a chance Danault could be traded before Domi. He feels Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is open to anything.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I won’t rule anything out. Nevertheless, I think it’s more likely Domi gets moved before Danault. The latter is a year away from UFA eligibility but Bergevin could stick with him for next season and see how promising centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi develop before deciding on Danault’s future.

Speaking of Domi, his future in Montreal depends upon his contract talks with Habs management. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

LATEST ON THE JETS

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck feels it would make sense for the Jets to trade winger Patrik Laine only if they feel they can’t afford to re-sign him long-term. The same can be said if the return is too good to pass up. “But rarely do deals featuring big-name stars result in both sides walking away with their heads held high.”

Billeck also feels a Laine trade will depend upon which direction the club wants to go. They cannot continue with their current make-up. They’re currently a scrappy team that relies on their goaltending to bail them out, which isn’t a recipe for a Stanley Cup contender.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked if the New Jersey Devils should target Laine and what it would cost to land him. He acknowledged the Devils could use a skilled sniper like Laine and have the cap space to afford him. However, he doesn’t believe the Devils can afford the asking price, which would include parting with center Nico Hischier as part of the return. The Jets are built to win right now and won’t be interested in picks and prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine, 22, is a restricted free agent next year with arbitration rights who will seek a big raise over his current $6.75-million annual average value. That will factor into whatever decision the Jets make, but I believe they intend to keep him.

What the Jets need is a good second-line center to play alongside Laine, as well as improvements to their defense corps. Sportsnet’s Ken Wiebe suggested Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen, Calgary’s T.J. Brodie or Travis Hamonic as possible targets to address their blueline needs.

WHAT DOES THE OFFSEASON HOLD FOR THE FLYERS?

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher sounded as though he’d look toward his farm system to improve his roster. “I don’t think we have to do anything necessarily in the free-agent market or the trade market,” said Fletcher. “We have some holes we have to fill. Certainly we’re going to have to supplement some of the core pieces we have right now.”

Fletcher acknowledged his club’s need for another goal scorer. However, he pointed to the Flyers’ young players. “We have a lot of good kids coming,” he said, singling out those who got a taste of NHL action this season like Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost and Connor Bunnaman.

Carchidi points out the Flyers have over $72 million invested in 15 players, leaving little wiggle room for additions.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall also weighed in on Fletcher’s end-of-season comments. He also pointed out addressing the Flyers needs won’t be easy given the league’s current economic climate. Hall noted Fletcher indicating the Flyers have to manage their cap properly to ensure they can re-sign their young players two or three years from now.

NHL.COM: Adam Kimelman observed Fletcher indicating he’ll be looking to improve his roster, but it won’t be through free agency over the next couple of years. “We’ll be working the phones to see what we can find on the trade front,” said the Flyers GM.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher won’t be going the UFA route to address his club’s needs. He’ll look at the trade market but he’ll also promote from within.

If he does swing a deal it’ll likely be a dollar-for-dollar swap or something as close to that as possible. He does have depth in prospects and draft picks to use as trade bait, but as Fletcher pointed out, he has to ensure he leaves enough long-term cap room to re-sign those promising youngsters down the road.