NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 7, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 7, 2022

The favorites to win the Hart Trophy for 2022-23, the league revamps a rule to permit disallowed penalties, and the Senators are enjoying a surge in season-ticket sales. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

DAILY FACEOFF: Matt Larkin has the PointsBet odds for the top favorites and sleeper candidates for the 2022-23 Hart Memorial Trophy.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

Edmonton Oilers forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews sit atop the 10 favorites for the Hart. Columbus Blue Jackets winger Johnny Gaudreau leads the sleeper candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow the link provided above for Larkin’s full list. Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar could challenge McDavid, Draisaitl and Matthews if he builds upon last season’s stellar performance.

SCOUTING THE REFS: The NHL has revamped its review rule to permit disallowed penalties. Referees will now be able to nullify a major penalty after video review or downgrade it to a minor infraction. The change doesn’t apply to match penalty reviews.

SPORTSNET: The Ottawa Senators are seeing a significant surge in season-ticket sales following a busy offseason that saw them add Claude Giroux, Alex DeBrincat and Cam Talbot to their roster. It’s also fueled by growing excitement over the development of their young core led by Brady Tkachuk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators could also see improvement at the gate throughout the coming season if the club becomes a playoff contender.

Speaking of the Senators, The Associated Press’ Stephen Whyno reports rookie defenseman Jake Sanderson has fully recovered from a lingering hand injury. He expects to be 100 percent when training camp opens later this month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The fifth-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, Sanderson is expected to become a blueline regular this season for the Senators.

TSN: Former NHL forward Brett Connolly signed a one-year contract with Lugano HC of Switzerland’s National League on Monday. The 30-year-old winger played in just nine games last season with the Chicago Blackhawks, who bought out the final season of his contract earlier this summer.

Connolly played 11 seasons in the NHL with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers and the Blackhawks from 2011-12 to 2021-22. He won a Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018 and tallied a career-best 22-goal, 46-point performance in 2018-19.

SIN BIN VEGAS: Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy recently provided an update on Laurent Brossoit. He said the 29-year-old goaltender is healing well from his (hip) surgery and is motivated to play this season.

However, Cassidy was vague over when Brossoit will return to the lineup. “Whether he joins us at the end of the year or two or three weeks in, we’ll see him.”

WINNIPEG SUN: Former Jets defenseman and captain Scott Campbell, 65, passed away on Saturday following a battle with cancer. Drafted first overall in the 1977 WHA draft by the Houston Aeros and ninth overall by the St. Louis Blues in the NHL Draft, Campbell opted for the WHA. His contract was purchased by the Jets after the Aeros folded and he won the Avco Cup with the Jets in 1978-79.

Campbell was part of the Jets after their move to the NHL in 1979. He was named team captain in the 1980-81 season and was traded to the Blues in 1981. His career was ended prematurely the following year by chronic asthma. He had 55 points in 149 WHA games and 25 points in 80 NHL contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Campbell’s family, friends and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2022

Leon Draisaitl talks about how his ankle injury affected his postseason play, Joe Thornton won’t be returning with the Panthers, Mike Babcock intends to retire from coaching and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Kayla Douglas cited Leon Draisaitl telling Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman how his high ankle sprain during the playoffs forced him to change his style of play. The Edmonton Oilers center suffered the injury in Game 6 of his club’s first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

Draisaitl usually relies on speed to beat his opponents. He explained that the injury forced him to slow down his game and evolve as a player. “I tried to find a way to be productive in a different way,” said Draisaitl. “I thought I did a pretty good job of that.”

For the remainder of the Oilers’ playoff run, Draisaitl scored twice and collected 22 assists in 10 games while playing a more stationary style.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was apparent Draisaitl was hampered by his injury yet his output was impressive. It’s bad news for opponents that he used the experience to evolve his style of play. This lesson could also help him remain productive when age inevitably slows his skating.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: On Wednesday, Joe Thornton’s wife posted to her private Instagram account that the family will be moving on from South Florida. He signed a one-year contract last summer with the Panthers but appeared in just 34 regular-season games and one playoff contest. It’s uncertain what the future holds for the 43-year-old free-agent forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After 24 seasons, Thornton’s NHL career has likely come to an end. His performance has been declining since his season-ending knee injury in 2017-18.

650 CKOM: Mike Babcock said he intends to retire from coaching after stepping down earlier this week as head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. While he seemed to leave the door open for a possible return to the NHL coach ranks, the 59-year-old indicated retirement was best for himself and his family.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Babcock had a long and successful career in the NHL. He sits 10th all-time in wins (700) between 2002-03 and 2019-20 with the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, winning the Stanley Cup with the Wings in 2008. Babcock faced allegations of bullying players following his dismissal by the Leafs but he has denied those claims.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings signed Filip Zadina to a three-year contract with an average annual value of $1.825 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chosen sixth overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, Zadina has struggled to play up to expectations as a top-six winger. The Wings appear intent on staying patient with the 22-year-old right winger. His affordable new contract could also make him easier to trade if the two sides feel he might benefit from a change of scenery.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed Philippe Myers to a one-year, $1.4 million contract extension. The 25-year-old defenseman was acquired from the Nashville Predators as part of the return in the Ryan McDonagh trade earlier this summer. Myers is entering the final season of his current contract with a $2.55 million cap hit.

DAILY FACEOFF: Vegas Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon said the club will go with the goalie tandem of Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit to start the upcoming season. There was speculation over how they would address the absence of Robin Lehner, who is undergoing double hip surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCrimmon has no choice. There are no viable replacement options via free agency or the trade market for his cap-strapped club.

TSN: cited the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reporting Senators general manager Pierre Dorion saying he’s still talking with the agents for Erik Brannstrom and Alex Formenton. He anticipates the two restricted free agents to be signed before training camp opens next month.

In other Senators’ news, they recently reached an affiliation agreement with the ECHL’s Allen Americans. Speaking of NHL teams and ECHL affiliates…

CALGARY SUN: The Flames named the Rapid City Rush as their ECHL affiliate.

NHL.COM: The San Jose Sharks did the same with the Wichita Thunder as did the Arizona Coyotes with the Atlanta Gladiators.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 17, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 17, 2022

The NHL and NHLPA release their COVID protocol for 2022-23, Wayne Gretzky has been hit with a $10 million lawsuit, Jets center Mark Scheifele clarifies his end-of-season comments and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The NHL and NHLPA released their COVID-19 protocol for 2022-23. There’s little change from last season’s protocol.

Testing will only happen for asymptomatic players and those crossing the Canada-US border. Those who test positive must isolate for five days if asymptomatic and 10 days if experiencing symptoms. Unvaccinated players remain unable to cross the border.

The NHL can postpone, reschedule or cancel games and events due to a COVD-19 outbreak if it poses a health risk to players and others.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi and Edmonton Oilers forward Josh Archibald were the only two unvaccinated NHL players by the end of last season. Archibald, now with the Pittsburgh Penguins, received a medical exemption in May. The travel restriction for the coming season would only apply to Bertuzzi unless he gets vaccinated or receives a medical exemption.

NEW YORK POST: cites TMZ reporting Hall-of-Famer Wayne Gretzky has been hit with a $10 million lawsuit accusing him of lying about losing 35 pounds after using a weight-loss gum for two months.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele downplayed speculation about his future based on his end-of-season comments in May. He pointed out that he prefaced those remarks by professing his love of playing in Winnipeg and his desire to remain with the Jets. Scheifele claims his comment about thinking about his career and what was best for him after the club missed the playoffs was misconstrued by the media.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).

I was confident I was coming back until I saw all the media headlines and then all of a sudden it’s I’m getting traded and who knows where I’m going and all that stuff,” said Scheifele.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff played down Scheifele’s comments last spring. He said the exit interview between the two went well, dismissing Scheifele’s remarks as an emotional reaction to missing the playoffs.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl are progressing well recovering from injuries suffered during the 2022 playoffs. Both are currently working out and Woodcroft expects they’ll be ready for training camp next summer.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed Jack Johnson to a one-year contract worth $950K. The 35-year-old defenseman played for the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche last season, appearing in 74 regular-season games and 13 playoff contests.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former NHL forward Cedric Paquette has signed a one-year contract with KHL club Dinamo Minsk in Belarus.

CAP FRIENDLY: indicates Derek Stepan has signed a professional tryout offer with the Carolina Hurricanes.

SALTWIRE: One of the two arenas at Summerside’s Credit Union Place was named in honor of New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Gallant for this well-deserved honor by his hometown. Gallant is among the best-known hockey men from Prince Edward Island. He started his playing career in Summerside’s minor hockey program and went on to play 11 seasons in the NHL from 1984-85 to 1994-95.

Since 2014-15, Gallant has become one of the league’s top coaches. He won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 2017-18 and guided the Vegas Golden Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. He took over behind the Rangers’ bench last season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2022

The latest on the Rangers and Lightning as the Eastern Conference Finals returns to New York for Game 5, ongoing fallout from the Oilers’ elimination from the Western Conference Finals, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Rangers hope to regain the lead in the 2022 NHL Eastern Conference Finals on home ice as the series returns to New York for Game 5 tonight at 8 pm ET. They saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate as the Lightning won Games 3 and 4 in Tampa Bay.

New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil (NHL Images).

The Rangers haven’t lost on home ice since Game 1 of their first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re also 3-0 in home games following a road loss.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers centers Ryan Strome and Filip Chytil will be game-time decisions. Strome has been sidelined since Game 3 with a lower-body injury while Chytil left Game 4 with an upper-body injury.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper hasn’t ruled out center Brayden Point for Game 5. He’s been working his way back into the lineup since suffering a lower-body injury in Game 7 of their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The presence or absence of Strome, Chytil and/or Point could affect the outcome of Game 5. While the Lightning has coped with Point’s absence, his return would provide them with a big boost. The Rangers, meanwhile, are still learning to adjust without Strome and Chytil in their lineup.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland revealed several of his players were coping with injuries during their playoff run. However, none of them are expected to undergo surgeries.

Holland confirmed forward Leon Draisaitl played with a high-ankle sprain suffered during their first-round series with the Los Angeles Kings. He still managed to finish the playoffs with 32 points in 16 games, including four primary assists in their 6-5 series-ending loss to the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Finals.

Defenseman Darnell Nurse played the entire postseason with a torn hip flexor. Center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was dealing with a shoulder injury but still managed 14 points in 16 games.

Winger Jesse Puljujarvi suffered a shoulder injury in Game 4 against the Avalanche and his recovery timeline is four-to-six weeks. Winger Kailer Yamamoto missed the final two games against the Avs due to concussion protocol.

Holland also indicated five-to-seven other Oilers, including goaltender Mike Smith, were battling injuries.

TSN: Holland also praised interim head coach Jay Woodcroft for doing a “fabulous job” in getting the Oilers to the Western Conference Finals. He intends to meet with Woodcroft next week to discuss his future with the club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That should be a short conversation with Woodcroft getting the “interim” tag removed from his job title in the near future. He took over a club that was sinking in the standings and quickly reversed its fortunes, guiding them to a 26-9-3 record in their final 38 games and a second-place finish (104 points) in the Pacific Division.

THE DENVER POST: Ticket prices in Denver for the 2022 Stanley Cup Final are going for up to $1,000.00 on the secondary market, with some peaking at $10,000.00.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz examines the trades by Avalanche GM Joe Sakic that helped turn his club into a Stanley Cup finalist. Among the noteworthy additions were Nazem Kadri, Devon Toews, Darcy Kuemper, Andre Burakovsky, Samuel Girard, Josh Manson and Arturri Lehkonen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sakic has made moves that will help his club now and over the long term. He’s proven to be among the savviest general managers in the league.










NHL Morning Coffee Headline – June 7, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headline – June 7, 2022

The Avalanche sweep the Oilers to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins fire coach Bruce Cassidy and Kyle Connor wins the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche are heading to the Stanley Cup Final after defeating the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. Artturi Lehkonen scored in overtime as the Avs swept the Oilers, sending them to the Final for the first time since 2001.

2022 Western Conference Champion Colorado Avalanche (NHL.com).

The Avalanche opened the scoring but the Oilers took leads of 3-1 and 4-2 before the Avs regained the lead on third-period goals by Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. Zack Kassian scored late in the third to tie the game at five and force the extra frame.

Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar finished the night with a goal and four assists while Landeskog and Lehkonen each had a goal and an assist. Leon Draisaitl had four primary assists, Zach Hyman tallied twice and Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist for the Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was the most exciting of this short series but it also had an air of inevitability about it. Despite the Oilers taking two 2-goal leads they simply lacked the goaltending and defensive depth to hold it.

The Avalanche are a much deeper club, enabling them to overcome those deficits and prevail in overtime. That included adjusting to the absence of center Nazem Kadri, who returned to Denver to repair a broken thumb suffered in Game 3. His return for the remainder of the postseason is questionable.

Injuries to some key players also hurt the Oilers in this series. Despite Draisaitl’s offensive heroics, he was pretty much playing on one leg after suffering an ankle injury during their first-round series with the Los Angeles Kings. Defenseman Darnell Nurse revealed he’d played the entire postseason with a torn hip flexor. Winger Kailer Yamamoto missed Game 4 with an upper-body injury suffered in Game 2.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins yesterday announced they fired head coach Bruce Cassidy. During Cassidy’s six-year tenure behind the bench, they reached the playoffs six times, including the Stanley Cup Final in 2019.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa cited front office unhappiness with Cassidy’s offensive tactics and approach to optimizing player performance (especially those of the younger players) as the reasons behind this move. However, he’s among the pundits who are critical of this move, suggesting the club’s Stanley Cup window is now closed. Some believe Cassidy is taking the fall for management’s missteps over the past six seasons.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Kyle Connor won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. He enjoyed a career-best performance (47 goals, 93 points) while collecting just four penalty minutes in 79 games. That was the fewest among the league’s top-100 scorers with at least 50 games played.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Connor for this well-deserved award. Like all the previous winners, he’s a fine example that this game can be played at a high level without resorting to questionable behavior or taking costly infractions.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning center Brayden Point remains sidelined by a lower-body injury and won’t suit up for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers.

NHL.COM: Rangers center Ryan Strome is expected to play against the Lightning tonight after leaving Game 3 on Sunday with a lower-body injury.

TSN: Speaking of the Rangers, prospect winger Vitali Kravtsov has rejected an extension to his KHL contract and appears to be eyeing a return to the NHL next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Time will tell if he’s back with the Rangers or another club. His falling-out with management over his playing time earlier this season prompted considerable trade speculation.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly said the lingering effect of COVID-19 took a toll on his performance this season. He had just five goals in 27 games before the Christmas break. His performance improved over the remainder of the campaign, finishing with 21 goals and 58 points, as well as seven goals and 12 points in 12 postseason games.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’s Brian Hedger tweeted that Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine has fully recovered from the back injury that sidelined him from the final seven games of the season. There’s no update, however, on the status of the restricted free agent’s contract negotiations.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed defenseman Chris Wideman to a two-year, $1.525 million contract.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Long-time Blackhawks forward Eric Nesterenko passed away Monday at age 88. He spent 21 seasons in the NHL, starting in 1951-52 with the Toronto Maple Leafs before joining the Blackhawks in 1956-57, spending the remaining 16 seasons in Chicago and helping them win the Stanley Cup in 1961. He had 250 goals and 574 points in 1,219 games. Nesterenko appeared in the 1986 movie “Youngblood” and also served as a consultant on the film.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Nesterenko’s family, friends and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2022

The Rangers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, plus the latest on the Lightning, Oilers, Avalanche and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Rangers are heading to the Eastern Conference Finals after eliminating the Carolina Hurricanes with a 6-2 victory in Game 7 of their second-round series. Chris Kreider scored twice, Mika Zibanejad collected three assists and Igor Shesterkin made 37 saves for the Rangers.

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (NHL Images).

Vincent Trocheck and Max Domi replied for the Hurricanes, who lost goaltender Antti Raanta and winger Seth Jarvis to injuries. Raanta left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury after stretching out to make a save. Jarvis was sidelined with an upper-body injury in the first period by a hit from Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a dominant performance by the Rangers, who took an early 2-0 lead and never looked back. They earned this thanks to outstanding goaltending from Shesterkin, solid special teams play, timely offense from their leading scorers and a playoff-leading 236 blocked shots.

The Hurricanes entered this series with starting goaltender Frederik Andersen sidelined since mid-April by a lower-body injury. However, his absence was just one of several reasons why they failed to defeat the Rangers. They couldn’t win on the road, their power-play sputtered and their leading scorers such as Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen failed to deliver.

THE ATHLETIC’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman reports Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse skated with their Edmonton Oilers teammates in practice on Monday. It was Draisaitl’s first practice since suffering an injury in Game 6 of the first round while Nurse had skipped most recent practices.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Draisaitl is believed to have a high-ankle sprain but you’d never know it by his performance. He set an NHL record in the second round by tallying the most assists (15) in a single playoff round.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Speaking of the Oilers, an NHL insider said there was no truth to a report claiming the club had some “COVID-related travel issues” getting to Colorado on Sunday. The Oilers face the Avalanche in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday.

THE DENVER POST: On the eve of the Western Conference Finals, Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic is earning praise for sticking with center Nazem Kadri and head coach Jared Bednar. Kadri earned suspensions in recent postseasons while Bednar faced criticism for his inability to get his club beyond the second round.

NHL.COM: Brandon Hagel missed his third straight practice on Sunday. However, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper believes the forward will be ready for Game 1 against the Rangers on Wednesday.

THE ATHLETIC’s Michael Russo reports Minnesota Wild captain Jared Spurgeon had core muscle surgery and will be back at full strength in six weeks. Winger Mats Zuccarello is facing similar surgery plus he had a leg fracture that will heal with rest.

CALGARY SUN: Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom denied his struggles against the Oilers in the second round were injury-related.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: The Vancouver Canucks have added Mike Komisarek and Mikael Samuelsson to their player development department. Meanwhile, Henrik and Daniel Sedin will be working daily with the Canucks’ young players in Vancouver and with their AHL affiliate in Abbotsford.