NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 13, 2021

Penguins GM Ron Hextall talks about his club’s offseason and their plans for the upcoming season, plus the latest on Jason Demers, Bo Byram, Ryan Donato and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

POST-GAZETTE.COM: In an interview with Mike DeFabo, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall said “there wasn’t a feeling around here” that big changes were needed during this offseason. “I think the part you can’t lose sight of is we did win the division last year,” he said.

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall (NHL.com).

Hextall doubts team captain Sidney Crosby will be sidelined long-term by his recent wrist surgery. However, he conceded Evgeni Malkin (knee surgery) could start the season on long-term injury reserve. Hextall also said the departures of Jared McCann and Brandon Tanev were cost-cutting measures to remain under the salary cap. He also

Turning to the UFA status of Malkin, Kris Letang and Bryan Rust, Hextall remains hopeful of reaching an agreement with the trio that’s fair for both sides. He’s also looking for better performances from defenseman Marcus Pettersson and John Marino and winger Jason Zucker.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins failed to advance past the first round in two of the last three postseasons and didn’t get past the qualifying round during last year’s expanded playoff format. Questionable goaltending and an aging roster core were contributing factors behind those playoff disappointments.

Hextall’s limited cap space prevented him from making any significant additions to his roster this summer. The outcome of this season could determine if Malkin, Letang and Rust still fit into the Penguins’ long-term plans.

PHNX: Craig Morgan reports former Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jason Demers is still waiting to find an NHL team to play with. “There’s hard days and there’s good days,” he said. “You’ve just got to focus on keeping yourself ready and making sure you don’t look too far ahead or you can make yourself go crazy, sitting in the house.” The 33-year-old Demers is training in Arizona.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche defenseman Bo Byram is hoping for a healthier season after being limited to just 19 games in 2020-21 by concussion symptoms and testing positive for COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byram could see more playing time and responsibilities this season following the offseason departures of Ryan Graves and Patrik Nemeth.

CAP FRIENDLY: reports Ryan Donato signed a one-year, $750K contract with the Seattle Kraken.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers prospect Dylan Holloway might not be on the ice for the club’s rookie training camp. He underwent offseason surgery to repair a broken thumb suffered last season playing for the University of Wisconsin but it may not be fully healed.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2021

Flyers chairman Dave Scott weighs in on his club’s performance plus the latest on the Blackhawks and Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Sam Carchidi reports Flyers chairman Dave Scott shares the frustrations of his club’s fans over the course of this season but doesn’t believe radical change is necessary. “We’re closer than our record shows,” said Scott, pointing out this year’s core group is the same that played well under difficult circumstances during the 2020 playoffs.

Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk (NHL Images)

Scott feels the Flyers need another scorer and a top-pairing defenseman. He also hinted a backup goaltender could be on their wish list. The chairman believes general manager Chuck Fletcher will have sufficient salary-cap space to add some key pieces even if he doesn’t trade a high-salaried player like Jakub Voracek or James van Riemsdyk or lose one of them in the expansion draft.

Head coach Alain Vigneault and his staff have Scott’s support though the chairman wasn’t thrilled by the job they did this season. He also suggested February’s COVID-19 outbreak among several players could account for the club’s difficulties once they returned to action.

Scott said he hasn’t lost faith in Fletcher and looks forward to playing a full 82-game schedule.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stick tap to “CraddyShack” for the link. Landing a scorer, a top-pairing defenseman and a backup goaltender will be costly. Cap Friendly shows the Flyers with $70.2 million invested in 18 players under a flattened salary cap for 2021-22. Goalie Carter Hart, defenseman Travis Sanheim and forward Nolan Patrick are restricted free agents.

I don’t see how the Flyers can bring in some key pieces without shedding salary unless it’s a dollar-for-dollar swap or shopping Hart, Sanheim and Patrick. Feel free to weigh in with your proposals in the comments section below.

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers considers center Dylan Strome likely to return with the Chicago Blackhawks next season despite his struggles this season and uncertain future. His trade value could be low coming off a down year. There’s a chance he could be selected in the expansion draft if the Blackhawks expose him.

The Blackhawks would like to keep center Pius Suter but Powers is uncertain if they can afford to re-sign him. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. If a contract cannot be worked out the Blackhawks could trade him or let him walk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have $74.3 million tied up in 20 players next season. They can get over $10 million in cap relief by placing the permanently sidelined Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw on long-term injury reserve. That would provide plenty of space for Suter but the Hawks will prefer keeping him on an affordable short-term deal.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka listed a lack of scoring punch among five reasons the San Jose Sharks will miss the playoffs this season. He feels management’s priority is to address this issue in the offseason or the club will head down the same path next season.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently reported the Sharks have some decisions to make regarding restricted free agent forwards like Rudolfs Balcers, Ryan Donato, Noah Gregor, Alex True, Joachim Blichfeld, Jeffrey Viel and Dylan Gambrell.

Balcers is the only one probably assured of returning in the opening lineup next season because of his solid play among their top-six this season. Donato is the most expensive of the group ($1.9 million) but he’s tumbled down the depth chart this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Addressing that scoring depth issue won’t be easy with the Sharks carrying $68.5 million committed to 13 players for 2021-22. Maybe a couple of those RFAs get packaged into a deal for a scorer but it’ll take something else of significance in that package to get it done. They also have a number of veterans carrying expensive contracts that could be difficult to move this summer.

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 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 6, 2020

Connor McDavid tests positive for COVID-19, the Wild trade Devan Dubnyk and Ryan Donato to the Sharks, Matt Niskanen retires, Penguins buy out Jack Johnson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers captain Connor McDavid has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The club reports McDavid, 23, is experiencing minor symptoms but otherwise feeling well and self-quarantining at his Ontario home.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid tests positive for COVID-19 (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to McDavid for a swift and full recovery. He’s the biggest NHL star to be diagnosed with the coronavirus since a report emerged in June revealing Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews also tested positive. Matthews recovered and played for the Leafs in the NHL’s return-to-play tournament in August.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA/TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild made two trades yesterday with the San Jose Sharks, shipping goaltender Devan Dubnyk (along with a seventh-round pick in 2022) and winger Ryan Donato to the Sharks for a fifth-round pick in 2022 and a third-round pick in 2021. The Wild also retained half of Dubnyk’s $4.33 million cap hit for 2020-21, which is the final season of his contract. The Wild also re-signed defenseman Carson Soucy to a three-year, $8.25-million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubnyk will share the Sharks’ goaltending duties with Martin Jones. General manager Doug Wilson is confident the 34-year-old netminder can regain his form after dealing with his wife’s health issues last season. Wilson also feels Donato, who was stuck on the Wild’s fourth line, could flourish given more playing time.

These moves were straightforward salary dumps by the Wild, giving them $12.5 million in salary-cap space. GM Bill Guerin has made no secret he wants to improve his goaltending plus he still needs a proven scoring center after trading Eric Staal to Buffalo last month. Perhaps he’ll put some of that cap space to addressing those needs.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen has retired after 13 NHL seasons. The 33-year-old blueliner had a year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $5.75 million. Niskanen had 72 goals and 356 points in 949 games with the Flyers, Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, winning the Stanley Cup with the latter in 2018.

The Flyers also re-signed defenseman Justin Braun to a two-year, $3.6-million contract worth annual average value of $1.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Niskanen in his future endeavors. His decision was reportedly based on being away from his family during the recent playoffs and uncertainty over what next season could be like. His retirement clears his cap hit from the Flyers’ books.

With the Braun signing, the Flyers have $2.9 million in cap space for 2020-21. Niskanen’s retirement could send them into the trade or free-agent market for a replacement, or it could make them reluctant to trade blueliner Shayne Gostisbehere.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday placed defenseman Jack Johnson on waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a surprising move. The writing was on the wall for Johnson when the Penguins acquired Mike Matheson last month from the Florida Panthers. The move leaves the Penguins with $1.16 million in dead cap space for the next two seasons, $1.9 million in 2022-23, dropping to $916K for the following three seasons.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs re-signed Jason Spezza to a one-year, $700K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spezza, 37, was a worthwhile depth addition playing a variety of roles for the Leafs last season. His signing scarcely dents their cap room, leaving them with $4.7 million.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres re-signed forward Tage Thompson to a three-year contract worth $1.4 million per season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators re-signed defenseman Josh Brown to a two-year, $2.4-million deal.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): The Dallas Stars salary-cap space shrunk for next season, incurring over $3 million in performance bonuses last season that will count against their 2020-21 salary cap payroll.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames will be adopting their classic 1980s jerseys and color combinations for the entire 2020-21 season.

NHL Rumor Mill – October 3, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 3, 2020

The latest on Patrik Laine, the Sharks and Wild are working on a trade involving Devan Dubnyk, plus the latest on the Oilers and Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NHL.COM: Tim Campbell reports Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff acknowledged Patrik Laine could be traded when asked about the recent trade rumors swirling about the 22-year-old winger. “So we’re looking at all our options, including potentially trading different players,” said Cheveldayoff.

Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine (NHL Images).

The Jets GM added there are some holes to fill in his roster, due in part to the uncertainty over center Bryan Little’s injury status and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien’s departure. Their defense corps was further depleted last summer when Jacob Trouba was traded to the New York Rangers and Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot departed via free agency.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there will be no shortage of suitors for Laine if the Jets decide to trade him. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens are two clubs in need of a scoring forward, but Garrioch speculates the asking price could be a top defenseman or a second-line center plus a prospect and a pick. Other interested clubs could include the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild and Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine would be a very attractive trade chip for the Jets, but just because they could trade him doesn’t mean they will. Their asking price could be more than most are willing to pay.

For example, I don’t see the Blue Jackets giving up Seth Jones or Zach Werenski, while the Canadiens could be reluctant to part with promising Nick Suzuki. The Habs could offer up Max Domi but the Jets will probably want a lot more in the package.


NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Ali Thanawalla cites TSN’s Darren Dreger reporting of trade discussions between the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild regarding Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Dreger called the talks “promising” but not done. Pierre LeBrun added it could take a few days before a deal is done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Michael Russo tweeted Wild winger Ryan Donato could also be part of this proposed deal. No indication yet what would be heading the Wild’s way.

It’ll be interesting to see how this deal could shake out. Dubnyk and Donato carry a combined annual average value of $6.23 million for 2020-21. With the Sharks already having $67.3 million invested in 14 players, they could insist on the Wild taking a player in return or retaining some of that cap hit.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson wondered about what it would cost the Oilers to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The 26-year-old forward is a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility and is earning $6 million per season on his current contract. Matheson speculates it could be a five- or six-year contract. The Oilers could offer up $6.5 million annually using St. Louis Blues forward Brayden Schenn as a comparable, but Nugent-Hopkins’ agent could seek something similar to the $8 million annually being earned by Matt Duchene of the Nashville Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m guessing $7 million per season on a six-year deal for Nugent-Hopkins. What say you, Oilers fans? Too much? Not enough? Just right?

Matheson notes the Oilers will have too many right-wingers if Jesse Puljujarvi returns. He’ll join Kailer Yamamoto and Josh Archibald, who Matheson believes aren’t going anywhere. The others include Zach Kassian, Alex Chiasson and James Neal. “Something’s got to give there,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And it could be Kassian, Chiasson or Neal, though the latter’s $5.75-million cap hit is tough to move.

David Staples, meanwhile, notes there’s plenty of talk linking the Oilers to Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie. Slated to become a UFA on Oct. 9, the puck-moving Barrie struggled last season with the Leafs. Staples feels he would be a more affordable acquisition than trying to trade for Arizona Coyotes blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. Ekman-Larsson carries an $8.25-million annual average value for seven more years. The Oilers would also have to give up some assets, including a good young player or two, to pry him away from the Coyotes if he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause.

Barrie, on the other hand, will be more affordable as a UFA signing and could regain his offensive form with the Oilers. We’ll find out by the end of next week if he ends up in Edmonton or elsewhere.


THE SCORE: Brandon Maron cited The Athletic recently reporting Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is willing to make his first-round pick (16th overall) in the upcoming draft available for the right price. He indicated he’d be interested in a player who can help the Canadiens right away with more than a year remaining on his contract. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Bergevin seeks a top-six forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t expect Bergevin to get into the bidding for Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine. In a recent interview, TVA Sports reported the Habs GM said it would take emptying his team to acquire a player of that caliber, sending them sideways or backward. He also doesn’t intend to overpay for a big-ticket free agent like Taylor Hall. It sounds like he could target clubs looking to shed salary before next season.