The latest contract signings, an update on the Calgary arena deal, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TORONTO SUN: Former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth told a Czech newspaper he’s accepted a professional tryout offer with the Maple Leafs.
Goaltender Michal Neuvirth agreed to a PTO with the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the Leafs are seeking an insurance policy in case Garret Sparks and Michael Hutchinson fail to measure up as backups for starting goalie Fredrik Andersen. Neuvirth’s a good goalie when healthy but he’s been plagued by injuries in recent years.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils avoided salary arbitration with Mirco Mueller. The 24-year-old defenseman agreed to a one-year, $1.4-million contract.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins avoided arbitration with winger Zach Aston-Reese, inking him to a two-year, $2-million deal.
RDS.CA: Former Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec will play another season for HC Kometa Brno in the Czech Republic.
THE ATHLETIC’s Joe Smith reports the Tampa Bay Lightning have reached a settlement with former defenseman Jake Dotchin regarding his grievance over his terminated contract with the club.
CALGARY SUN: Former Flames star Theo Fleury headlines the 2019 Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame class. Kevin Lowe is also being inducted.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Fleury and Lowe for this well-deserved honor.
THE SCORE: The city of Calgary officially announced an agreement with the Flames on a new arena project. The agreement was first reported last Friday. It goes before a city council vote on July 29. If approved, the three-year construction will begin in July 2021.
Game recaps plus the latest on Corey Crawford, Mike Matheson, Nick Ritchie, Brady Tkachuk and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored twice, John Carlson had a three-point night and Matt Niskanen tallied in overtime as the Washington Capitals edged the New York Rangers 4-3. Defenseman Neal Pionk assisted on all three Rangers goals.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice in his club’s 4-3 win over the New York Rangers. (Photo via NHL Images)
Johnny Gaudreau netted his 100th career NHL goal and Michael Frolik scored twice in the Calgary Flames’ 5-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. Gaudreau had to leave the game in the third period as part of the league’s concussion protocol following a high hit from Bruins blueliner Charlie McAvoy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No update was provided on Gaudreau’s condition but it doesn’t sound as though it’s serious. Hopefully, we’ll learn more later today.
Ryan Kesler scored twice as the Anaheim Ducks downed the New York Islanders 4-1.
The Ducks also ended their contract impasse with winger Nick Ritchie as they reached an agreement on a three-year, $4.6-million deal ($1.533-million annual average value) and inked unrestricted free agent defenseman Jake Dotchin to a one-year, $800K contract.
Dotchin must clear waivers before joining the Ducks. He’s also filed a grievance against his former club, the Tampa Bay Lightning, for terminating his contract over what they called a “material breach” regarding his conditioning.
Brendan Gallagher’s goal with 11 seconds remaining in the third period gave the Montreal Canadiens a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Max Domi and Mike Reilly scored their first goals this season for the Canadiens, who have a 4-1-1 record.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar also picked up an assist, giving him a team-leading eight points in six games. Former Habs captain Max Pacioretty, the guy Tatar was traded for, has one point in his first seven games with the Vegas Golden Knights.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford hopes to make his long-awaited return from concussion symptoms tonight against the Arizona Coyotes. Crawford’s last game was Dec. 23, 2017.
THE SCORE: Florida Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson said he’s received death threats and online harassment following his hit on Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson on Saturday. Matheson was slapped with a two-game suspension for the hit by the league.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson doesn’t deserve this. You can take issue with his hit on Pettersson but there’s no reason to harass him online. I daresay those making those threats lack the guts to make those comments to his face. Lots of folks with keyboard courage out there.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators rookie Brady Tkachuk will miss a month because of a torn ligament in his left leg.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tough break for the Senators and Tkachuk, who was off to a promising start (six points in four games) to the season.
SPORTSNET: The Tampa Bay Lightning signed forward Cory Conacher to a one-year, two-way contract extension worth $700K at the NHL level. He was placed on waivers yesterday for the purpose of demotion to their AHL affiliate.
MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings claimed forward Jacob de la Rose off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens.
A brief review and analysis of some of the past week’s notable NHL news.
Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi was suspended for the remainder of the 2018 preseason. (Photo via NHL Images)
Max Domi’s debut with the Montreal Canadiens last Wednesday was memorable for all the wrong reasons. After sucker-punching the Florida Panthers’ Aaron Ekblad in the face and bloodying the defenseman’s nose, the league suspended Domi for the remainder of the preseason.
Ekblad had to leave the game for mandatory concussion protocol, which he passed. His nose wasn’t broken but he was left with two black eyes.
Domi’s actions prompted plenty of criticism but he also had defenders claiming Ekblad goaded the Habs forward with two slashes to the legs. Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos questioned if it could be considered a sucker punch since the two were facing each other and Ekblad, despite his unwillingness to fight, had to know the punch was coming.
Despite Domi’s suspension, critics of the NHL Department of Player Safety questioned the severity of the punishment because he won’t miss any regular-season play or lose any salary. They cited Ekblad’s remarks about settling scores the next time the teams meet as an example of a broken disciplinary system where players have to sort things out for themselves.
Domi deserved a suspension for his actions. Losing his temper and punching an opponent doesn’t help his club if it results in a match penalty and keeps him out of other games. While Domi still gets to practice with his teammates, his suspension means the Canadiens can’t properly evaluate his performance under game situations before the start of the regular season.
Being league disciplinarian can be a thankless job. They’ll never fully please everyone with their rulings. However, the Department of Player Safety brought much of the criticism upon themselves with years of questionable rulings involving often mild punishments for egregious infractions. Until that improves, their decisions will continue to be second-guessed by fans and pundits.
Four More RFAs Re-signed
Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse, Buffalo Sabres forward Sam Reinhart and New Jersey Devils forward Miles Wood finally re-signed with their respective clubs.
Three of them accepted received two-year “bridge contracts”, with Morrissey getting $6.3 million ($3.15 annual average value), Nurse $6.4 million ($3.2 million AAV) and Reinhart $7.3 million ($3.65 million AAV). Wood received a lower annual salary ($2.75 million) but accepted a longer term with his four-year deal.
Makes one wonder why they waited so long to get those contracts hammered out, rather than costing those players a week of training camp. The players’ stance would be understandable if their teams were playing hardball for lesser money. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
The Nurse camp, for example, reportedly valued their client at, or slightly above, $4 million annually. Given Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli’s penchant for handing out big raises, Nurse might’ve gotten it if the Oilers had more salary-cap room this summer. Once Morrissey signed his deal, however, Nurse’s market value was pretty much set.
Each of these players were coming off entry-level contracts and lacked salary arbitration. The only leverage they had was withholding their services. As we’ve seen in the salary-cap world, that tactic rarely works.
Three unsigned RFAs remain: Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander, Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore and Anaheim Ducks winger Nick Ritchie. Like the others, they’ve also completed entry-level deals.
As the regular season draws near, all could soon be under contract terms dictated by their clubs at the cost of missing most of training camp.
Eyebrows were raised around the league when the Tampa Bay Lightning recently placed defenseman Jake Dotchin on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.
Dotchin, 24, is a depth defenseman who saw 83 games with the Lightning over the last two seasons. After he cleared waivers last Saturday, reports emerged claiming the club cited his physical conditioning as a material breach of his contract.
On Wednesday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie revealed Dotchin reported to camp over 30 pounds over his playing weight of 210 lbs. Rather that simply suspend him, the Lightning opted to end his contract.
The NHL Players Association is reportedly filing a grievance and this could be headed before an arbiter. The concern is this could set a precedent allowing teams to use conditioning as an excuse to terminate contracts, perhaps as a way of getting out from under a bad deal.
In the Lightning’s case, they’re not getting a significant cap break by shedding Dotchin’s contract. He only had a year remaining on his deal worth $812K.
Should the arbiter decide in favor of Dotchin he’ll return to the Lightning. However, McKenzie observes that could create an awkward situation between the blueliner and management. The two sides could end up reaching a settlement in which the Lightning buy out the remainder of his contract.
Sabres re-sign Sam Reinhart, Max Domi to face disciplinary hearing, plus updates on Derick Brassard, Connor Murphy and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres yesterday re-signed forward Sam Reinhart to a two-year, $7.3-million contract. The annual average value is $3.65 million.
The Buffalo Sabres re-signed forward Sam Reinhart to a two-year contract. (Photo via NHL Images)
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Winnipeg Jets re-signing Josh Morrissey and the Edmonton Oilers re-upping Darnell Nurse, Reinhart’s new contract is a reasonable short-term option for a player coming off an entry-level deal who has yet to reach his full potential.
In three NHL seasons, Reinhart’s averaged around 23 goals and 45 points but tends to be a streaky scorer. If he can improve on those numbers over the course of his new contract he’ll be in line for a more lucrative deal down the road.
SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi faces a hearing today with the NHL’s department of player safety for sucker-punching Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad during the Panthers’ 5-2 preseason win over the Habs last night. Domi received a match penalty. Ekblad left the game with a bloody nose and passed the mandatory concussion protocol.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not the best debut with the Canadiens for Domi, who was acquired in June in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk from the Arizona Coyotes. In March 2016, Domi received a one-game suspension for instigating a fight with then-Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Garbutt. He could be facing another, possibly longer suspension for the Ekblad incident.
NBC CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy could miss eight-to-twelve weeks with a back injury.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Derick Brassard hit the ice in training camp yesterday for the first time since being sidelined by a lung infection.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: A shoulder injury could sidelined Minnesota Wild defenseman Gustav Olofsson for two weeks.
CBS SPORTS: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott (shoulder) is listed as day-to-day.
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports blueliner Jake Dotchin showed up last week for Tampa Bay Lightning training camp over 30 pounds overweight, with around 25 percent body fat. The Lightning terminated his contract citing a “material breach” after he cleared unconditional waivers over the weekend. The NHL Players Association is appealing the decision.
Latest notable injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk sidelined by a minor lower-body injury. (Photo via NHL Images)
CALGARY SUN: Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk will miss today’s exhibition game in China against the Boston Bruins with a minor lower-body injury. He could’ve played but is being held out of the lineup as a precautionary measure.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres winger Conor Sheary is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Center Sean Malone injured his knee and will miss six weeks. Defenseman Matt Hunwick is sidelined indefinitely with a neck injury.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Nicolas Deslauriers is out indefinitely after suffering a facial fracture during a fight in a preseason game against New Jersey’s Brandon Braddock.
CBS SPORTS: New York Rangers forward Boo Nieves has suffered a concussion.
COURIER-POST: Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Alex Lyon missed yesterday’s preseason game against the New York Islanders with a lower-body injury.
THE SCORE: The NHL and Jagermeister has entered into a one-year deal making the liqueur the league’s “official shot.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jagermeister: For those who want booze that tastes like cough medicine.
Elliotte Friedman: on Jake Dotchin – -From what I heard, it was extreme, he wasn’t just out of shape, he was extremely out of shape, we had heard he showed up with 25% body fat, that’s way too high for an NHLer
Bruins edge Flames in first preseason game in China plus updates on Alex Ovechkin, Cory Schneider, Jeff Carter and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
Brad Marchand scored one of two shootout goals as the Boston Bruins edged the Calgary Flames 4-3. (Photo via NHL Images)
BOSTON HERALD: Shootout goals by Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk gave the Boston Bruins a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames in the NHL exhibition season-opener on Saturday in Shenzhen, China. Matthew Tkachuk tallied the only shootout goal for the Flames, who overcame a 3-1 deficit on two third-period goals by Mark Giordano to tie the game.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin set the tone for the defending Stanley Cup champions with the message, “Not suck back to back.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals won’t suck this season but they face a tough road to winning a second consecutive championship. Over the last 25 years, only two teams – the Detroit Red Wings (1997 and 1998) and Pittsburgh Penguins (2016 and 2017) have won back-to-back Cups.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider’s rehab from off-season hip surgery is progressing well. The club remains confident that he’ll be ready to return to action at some point this fall.
THE ATHLETIC: Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter said the ankle he injured last season is improving. However, it remains to be seen if it’ll ever return to normal. Carter missed 55 games last season following surgery to repair a cut to a tendon in his left ankle.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues goaltender Jake Allen (back spasms) said he’s feeling better and could return to action ahead of schedule. His original timeline for recovery was 10-14 days.
AZCENTRAL.COM: As defenseman Jakob Chychrun continues to recover from knee surgery, a spot could be open on the Arizona Coyotes blueline if he’s not ready to return for the season opener next month. While Chychrun’s ahead of schedule in his recovery, the club has no intention of rushing him back to the lineup.
SPORTSNET.CA: Defenseman Jake Dotchin cleared waivers yesterday, one day after the Tampa Bay Lightning placed him on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract over a material breach. It’s believed the club was unhappy over Dotchin’s conditioning as training camp opened last week.