NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 3, 2023
The latest on the Golden Knights and Panthers ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Blues won’t buy out contracts, more changes to the front offices of the Flyers and Penguins, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
TSN: Jack Eichel is making the most of his first-ever NHL postseason as his Vegas Golden Knights prepare for the upcoming Stanley Cup Final.
“It’s where you want to be as a player and (it’s) been taking a few years for me to get here,” said Eichel. “It’s been a great experience. It’s been a lot of fun sharing with the guys in the room, the emotions, winning and moving on.”
Eichel, 26, is tied for fourth in this postseason with 18 points.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill has been enjoying the ride to the Stanley Cup Final. Hill took over as their starter midway through their second-round series against the Edmonton Oilers, backstopping them to victory in that series and in the Western Conference Final against the Dallas Stars.
In 11 postseasons appearance, Hill leads all goalies with two shutouts and a sparkling .937 save percentage.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has found his underdog team’s march to the Stanley Cup Final to be “an unbelievable experience.” He’s applied the lessons learned from the disappointments of the past to his performance in the 2023 playoffs. Bobrovsky’s won 11 of his 12 playoff games, including six in overtime.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky’s performance has made him a front-runner for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Hill should also be considered a Smythe candidate.
NHL.COM: The Panthers long layoff has benefitted forward Eetu Luostarinen. Sidelined during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, he has returned to his usual spot with linemates Anton Lundell and Sam Reinhart.
STLTODAY.COM: Don’t expect the Blues to go the buyout route to free up some salary-cap space this summer. “I don’t see us buying out players, no,” said general manager Doug Armstrong. “I’m not sure this is the summer for substantial changes for us. We talked about that at the end of the year. We want to see internal growth from some of the guys.”
Armstrong also said he was flattered to learn that his name was mentioned by Toronto sports media as a potential candidate to become the GM of the Maple Leafs. He said he was glad he was in Europe when those rumors came out. “My intentions, I’m a St. Louis Blue,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those rumors appear to be based on pundits thinking out loud and spitballing potential candidates for the job. It turns out the Maple Leafs never reached out to the Blues to speak with Armstrong, who’s under contract through 2025-26.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The shakeups continue in the Penguins’ front office. Their latest departures include director of pro scouting Kerry Huffman, senior vice president of integrated performance Teena Murray and director of hockey operations Alec Schall. No replacements have been named yet.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers have parted ways with senior advisor to the general manager and player development Mike O’Connell and player development coaches John Riley and Kjell Samuelsson.
They named Alyn McCauley as assistant GM, Riley Armstrong as director of player development and Nick Schultz as assistant director of player development.
THE SCORE: Player agent Kurt Overhardt doesn’t anticipate any problems reaching an agreement with the Minnesota Wild on a new contract for client Filip Gustavsson. “I don’t think it’s a matter of getting something done. It’s just a matter of when it’s done. It’s only June 2. So there’s still a lot of time.”
Gustavsson is completing a two-year contract with an average annual value of $787, 500. He’s a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights. The 24-year-old Swedish goaltender appeared in 39 games with the Wild, starting 37 of them. He ranked second in save percentage (.931) among goalies with at least eight games played this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gustavsson has taken over the starter’s job from the aging Marc-Andre Fleury, who has one season remaining on his contract.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Toronto billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos is considered the front-runner in the bidding to purchase the Senators. He had the highest bid ($1 billion USD) and is thought to be in the driver’s seat because he has what’s considered to be the “cleanest” bid.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Apostolopoulos hasn’t had to get outside investors involved to come up with the money to purchase the team. Garrioch indicated that his partners are his two brothers and his bid isn’t heavily leveraged with debt.
TSN: The Montreal Canadiens have signed checking-line forward Michael Pezzetta to a two-year, $1.625 million contract. The average annual value is $812,500.
NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes are mourning the loss of Bob Brind’Amour, father of head coach Rod Brind’Amour. Bob passed away on Thursday in Campbell River, BC, surrounded by family and friends.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Brind’Amour family.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Bark-Andre Furry, the beloved Jack Russell terrier who became the furry friend of the Vegas Golden Knights, passed away on Friday at age 14. Bark was named after former Golden Knights star Marc-Andre Fleury in 2018 and frequently appeared at their home games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Condolences to the Golden Knights and to Bark’s owners.