The Philadelphia Flyers sign Sean Couturier to an eight-year extension, the Carolina Hurricanes ink Andrei Svechnikov to an eight-year deal, Canadiens expect Carey Price and Jonathan Drouin to attend training camp, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Philadelphia Flyers signed center Sean Couturier yesterday to an eight-year, $62 million contract extension.
Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Couturier will earn an annual average value of $7.75 million starting in 2022-23 through 2029-30. He’ll be 29 when that contract begins.
Winner of the Selke Trophy in 2019-20 as the NHL’s top defensive forward, Couturier is considered among the best two-way players in the league. He’s also the Flyers’ best player and one of their team leaders.
This deal could work out well for the Flyers as long as he maintains that Selke form. That shouldn’t be a concern through the first half of this new deal but could become burdensome if his performance declines over the second half.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed winger Andrei Svechnikov to an eight-year, $62 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Svechnikov is getting a big pay raise coming off his entry-level contract. Unlike Couturier who is an established star at the peak of his playing career, the 21-year-old Hurricanes winger is a rising star who has displayed considerable potential as a first-line winger.
The Canes are banking on Svechnikov reaching or exceeding expectations. If he does, they’ll have a high-scoring top-line forward under contract during most of his best seasons at a price well below those of his peers.
SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme said Carey Price is expected to be ready for the start of training camp next month. The 34-year-old goaltender is currently recovering from offseason knee surgery.
Jonathan Drouin is also expected to be at camp. The 26-year-old winger took a leave of absence in April for personal reasons and missed the remainder of the regular season and the Canadiens march to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite last season’s surprising playoff success, the Canadiens could be in a tough fight to clinch a playoff berth in 2021-22 in the competitive Atlantic Division. A healthy Price and Drouin could be crucial to their postseason hopes this season.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins center Charlie Coyle is recovering well from offseason surgery to repair a fracture in his left kneecap and a small tear in his patellar tendon. He’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp in mid-September.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haggerty indicates those injuries accounted for Coyle’s struggles last season as he managed only 16 points in 51 games. He’s expected to take over the second-line center position left vacant by David Krejci’s decision to return to the Czech Republic.
TSN: The Calgary Flames signed winger Dillon Dube to a three-year, $6.9 million deal.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators are expected to name a team captain before the end of training camp. Thomas Chabot and Brady Tkachuk could be the leading candidates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators haven’t had a captain since trading Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks three years ago.
Avalanche and Hurricanes take 2-0 series leads, Bruins up 2-1 over the Capitals, Jets take Game 1 from the Oilers, the order for the 2021 Draft Lottery is revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon’s hat trick powered the Colorado Avalanche past the St. Louis Blues 6-3 in Game 2 of their first-round series. Joonas Donskoi also scored twice for Colorado as they took a 2-0 lead in the series. Avalanche center Nazem Kadri received a match penalty for an illegal hit to the head of Blues defenseman Justin Faulk during the third period. Faulk left the game and didn’t return. Game 3 shifts to St. Louis on Friday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was closer than the final score indicates as the Blues overcame a 3-0 deficit with two goals and scored again when MacKinnons made it 4-2. Kadri could face supplemental discipline given his playoff suspension history.
Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic made 32 saves for his first career postseason shutout to blank the Nashville Predators 3-0 in Game 2 of their opening-round series. Sebastian Aho scored twice and Warren Foegele also tallied for the Hurricanes, who have a 2-0 series lead to Nashville for Game 3 on Friday. Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin missed the game with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Predators’ goaltender Juuse Saros did his best to keep his club in the game with 28 saves, several of them on high-quality scoring chances. Once again, the Predators’ anemic offense was their undoing, especially on a power play that went 0-7.
The Boston Bruins took a 2-1 lead in their series by downing the Washington Capitals 3-2 in double overtime. Craig Smith netted the winner following a turnover behind the Washington net. Brad Marchand and Taylor Hall also scored for Boston while Alex Ovechkin and Nic Dowd replied for the Capitals. Game 4 goes Friday night.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s taken overtime to decide every game in this series thus far. Ovechkin wasn’t pleased with the miscommunication between goalie Ilya Samsonov and defenseman Justin Schultz that led to Smith’s goal.
Connor Hellebuyck kicked out 32 shots to backstop the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-1 series-opening win over the Edmonton Oilers. Dominic Toninato broke a 1-1 tie with his first-ever NHL playoff goal while Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler each had a goal and an assist. Jesse Puljujarvi replied for the Oilers. Jets forwards Nikolaj Ehlers (shoulder injury) and Pierre-Luc Dubois (undisclosed) remain sidelined.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid defensive effort by the Jets as they held Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl pointless in this contest. Game 2 goes tomorrow night.
The Calgary Flames beat the Vancouver Canucks 6-2 in their final game of the season. Calgary winger Matthew Tkachuk scored two goals. Flames forward Dillon Dube left the game with an upper-body injury.
The full order for the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery was revealed yesterday. The Buffalo Sabres have the best odds (16.6) of winning the lottery. The Anaheim Ducks (12.1) have the second-best while the expansion Seattle Kraken (10.3) has the third-best.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see the complete list by following the link above. The Arizona Coyotes are included in this list at 11th with 3.1 percent odds but they forfeited their 2021 first-round pick for violating the 2020 NHL Draft combine rules.
STLTODAY.COM: An NHL investigation showed several COVID tests initially showing several members of the Blues tested positive were in error. Several players, including goalie Jordan Binnington and winger Vladimir Tarasenko, were forced to miss the morning skate while awaiting clarification. David Perron, Jake Walman and Nathan Walker remain on the COVID protocol list from their positive tests several days ago.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Evgeni Malkin traveled with the Pittsburgh Penguins to Long Island yesterday. He missed the first two games of his club’s series against the New York Islanders with a suspected knee injury. Sidelined backup goalie Casey DeSmith remained in Pittsburgh.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens captain Shea Weber will be in the lineup when his club faces off tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Weber missed the final eight games of the regular season with an upper-body injury.
NEW YORK POST: John Davidson is returning to his former job as president of the Columbus Blue Jackets less than two weeks after being fired as president of the Rangers.
SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Rangers, they hired Mike Grier as their new hockey operations advisor.
CBS SPORTS: Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick underwent shoulder surgery on Wednesday. He also dealt with a rib injury toward the end of the season.
MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said he suffered a neck injury on April 20. He won’t have to face surgery and expects to be fully recovered for next season.
ESPN.COM: Former U.S. Women’s National Team captain Meghan Duggan is joining the New Jersey Devils as their manager of player development.
TSN/WGR 550: Former NHL forward Jussi Jokinen is hanging up his skates after 21 pro seasons. He collected 563 point in 951 NHL games with the Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Columbus Blue Jackets and Vancouver Canucks from 2005-06 to 2017-18.
Former NHL forward Derek Roy is retiring after 18 pro seasons. He netted 524 points in 738 games with the Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers from 2003-04 to 2014-15. He spent the past five seasons playing in Europe.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wishing the best of luck to both players in their future endeavors.
Recaps of a busy Saturday, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM:Connor McDavid scored twice, including the winner in overtime, to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Leon Draisaitl and Tyson Barrie each collected two assists while John Tavares had two assists for the Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid’s end-to-end power-play goal in the second period is my candidate for goal of the year. I realize it’s very early in the season and lots of great goals are coming but it will be difficult for McDavid – or anyone else – to top that tally.
Jack Eichel tallied the only goal in a shootout as the Buffalo Sabres edged the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Sabres winger Taylor Hall collected two assists. Devils defenseman Ty Smith scored to move into a tie with Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov (seven points) for the rookie scoring lead.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal lifted his club to a 5-4 win over the New York Rangers. Rookie defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph had three assists for the Penguins, who lost blueliner Kris Letang to a lower-body injury. Rangers center Colin Blackwell left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An update on Letang’s status could be coming later today. The Penguins already have four regular defensemen on the shelf with injuries.
The Philadelphia Flyers edged the New York Islanders 3-2 on an overtime goal by Scott Laughton. Carter Hart kicked out 26 shots for the win. It’s the Islanders’ fourth consecutive defeat.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored in overtime to nip the Boston Bruins 4-3. It was Ovechkin’s first game since being placed on COVID-19 protocol list a week ago. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and two assists. This was Zdeno Chara’s first game against the Bruins since signing with the Capitals. Bruins winger David Pastrnak collected an assist in his first game of the season following his recovery from offseason hip surgery.
The Carolina Hurricanes beat the Dallas Stars 4-1 to hand the latter their first loss of the season. Vincent Trochek scored twice for the Hurricanes, who chased Stars goalie Anton Khudobin after he gave up four goals on 16 shots. Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek left the game early in the first with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin didn’t get much help from his teammates in this contest. The defense was sloppy, giving up three power-play goals.
A four-goal second-period outburst carried the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Nashville Predators 4-3. Lightning rookie Callan Foote tallied his first NHL goal while Steven Stamkos scored the eventual game-winner. Filip Forsberg had two assists for the Predators.
Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist while Aleksi Heponiemi scored his first career NHL goal in overtime to lift the Florida Panthers over the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. The Panthers extended their season-opening points streak to five games (4-0-1).
The Calgary Flames blanked the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 to hand the latter their first regulation loss of the season. Jacob Markstrom kicked out 37 shots for the shutout while Johnny Gaudreau and Mikael Granlund were the goal scorers as the Flames halted their three-game losing skid. Canadiens winger Josh Anderson left the game following the first period with flu-like symptoms. He tested negative for COVID-19 but will be retested today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames winger Dillon Dube got away with a blindside headshot on Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi. It’s unlikely he’ll receive supplemental discipline. Kotkaniemi was shaken up but returned to action.
Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Brandon Saad, Andre Burakovsky, and Samuel Girard each collected two points as the Colorado Avalanche downed the Minnesota Wild 5-1, handing the latter their third loss in their last four games. Wild defenseman Matt Dumba left the game with a leg injury in the third period. Earlier in the day, the Wild revealed prospect Marco Rossi returned to Austria to rest due to complications from COVID-19. He’s expected to return to the Wild sometime in March.
The St. Louis Blues scored their fastest three game-opening goals (2:06) in franchise history on route to a 6-1 thrashing of the Anaheim Ducks. Jordan Kyrou scored two of those three goals. Ducks goalie John Gibson was pulled after giving up those three goals on just six shots.
Brock Boeser scored twice to lead the Vancouver Canucks over the Winnipeg Jets 4-1 for their fourth straight win. Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko made 23 saves for the win while Jets netminder Connor Hellebucyk turned aside 35 shots.
Recaps of Thursday’s action, Pierre-Luc Dubois benched, an update on the four Capitals sidelined under COVID-19 protocols, and a lengthy list of injuries in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Tyler Toffoli scored twice as the Montreal Canadiens thumped the Vancouver Canucks 7-3 in the second game of their three-game series. With the score tied 2-2 following the first period, the Canadiens blew the game open with four unanswered second-period goals.
Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli (NHL Images).
Montreal winger Joel Armia also scored twice but suffered a concussion late in the third period from a blindside hit by Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers, who received a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Habs forward Paul Byron also left in the third after being struck in the leg by a shot from teammate Shea Weber. Canucks defensemen Travis Hamonic and Alexander Edler missed the game with upper-body injuries, while blueliner Jalen Chatfield suffered a first-period upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli now has five goals in two games against his former club this season. It’s uncertain if Myers will receive supplemental discipline for his cheap shot on Armia. The Canadiens and Canucks will play the final game of this series on Saturday, with the Habs unbeaten in regulation (3-0-2) thus far.
Jake DeBrusk tallied the only goal in a shootout to give the Boston Bruins a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Nick Ritchie had a goal and an assist while David Krejci collected two assists. James van Riemsdyk tallied twice and Jakub Voracek collected three assists for the Flyers, who gave up 43 shots in this contest. The Flyers played without forward Morgan Frost (dislocated shoulder, injured reserve) and defenseman Philippe Myers (fractured rib, week-to-week).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a big win for the Bruins, who entered this game sitting dead-last in goals for per game (1.00). A porous defense saw the Flyers blow 2-0 and 3-2 leads in this game. The injuries are piling up for the Flyers, who were also playing without Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere.
The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their third straight win by edging the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on an overtime goal by Brayden Point. Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois was benched for almost the entire game, seeing less than four minutes of ice time in the first period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bolts victory was overshadowed by Dubois’ benching. This is ramping up speculation over the 22-year-old center’s future with the Blue Jackets and his relationship with head coach John Tortorella. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.
New York Islanders winger Jordan Eberle tallied twice in a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Isles center Mathew Barzal had a goal and two assists. Josh Bailey returned to the Isles lineup after spending one day on the club’s COVID-19 absence list. The Devils were without starting goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, who was placed on the club’s COVID list, though that doesn’t mean he’s tested positive for the coronavirus.
Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist to lead the Winnipeg Jets over the Ottawa Senators 4-1. The Jets took control of the game with three unanswered second-period goals. Jets winger Patrik Laine missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury.
The Los Angeles Kings got their first win of the season by doubling up the Colorado Avalanche 4-2. The Kings overcame a 2-0 deficit with Adrian Kempe netting the game-winner in the third period. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and an assist for the Avs.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov has tested positive for COVID-19. Samsonov, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov were placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol-related absence list on Wednesday. Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Orlov will miss at least four games while Samsonov could be sidelined longer. It remains to be seen if the other three tested positive.
Samsonov’s positive test triggered contact testing within the Capitals dressing room, leading to the NHL discovering the four players spent time socializing in the team hotel without facial coverings on multiple occasions. The league fined the Capitals $100K.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits and fans questioned the NHL’s protocols when this story broke on Wednesday. The bottom line is the Capitals, and every other team in the league knew what the protocols were before this season started. The NHLPA voted for them. Every player had the opportunity to opt-out of playing this season. The players involved in this incident broke those rules and must now suffer the consequences.
The NHL’s COVID protocols were based on CDC and Health Canada guidelines enabling the 31 NHL teams to stage this season in their home arenas. They must also follow local guidelines.
Those rules have had an effect upon this season. A ban on non-essential travel at the Canada-US border has limited Canadian teams to playing among themselves during the regular season. The San Jose Sharks started this season on the road because Santa Clara County has prohibited all sports activities due to high local COVID levels.
The NHL has already postponed games involving the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes because of COVID outbreaks. They cannot risk further spread jeopardizing the season because some players won’t adhere to the rules.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola will each be sidelined several weeks with undisclosed injuries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could have Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford shopping for help. I’ll have more about that in the Rumors section.
SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson is sidelined for six weeks with an oblique muscle injury.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman John Klingberg (medical reasons) is questionable for his club’s season-opener on Friday against the Nashville Predators.
TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews left practice early yesterday as he wasn’t feeling great, according to head coach Sheldon Keefe. His status will be updated today. Forward Joe Thornton is expected to miss some games with an upper-body injury.
CALGARY SUN: Flames winger Dillon Dube is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
WGR550: Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton will miss at least two games with a head injury. Sabres starter Linus Ullmark revealed he missed Monday’s game against Philadelphia as he was grieving the death of his father in Sweden. Ullmark returned to practice and is slated to travel with the club for their upcoming two-game series against Washington.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Ullmark during this difficult time.
The Lightning down the Blue Jackets in a five-overtime marathon. Check out the details in the recaps of the opening round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning needed five overtime periods to edge the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series. Brayden Point tallied the winner at 10:27 of the fifth-overtime period, marking the fourth-longest game in NHL history, lasting over six hours and 13 minutes. The goal was Point’s second of the game. Pierre-Luc Dubois had a goal and an assist for the Jackets.
Tampa Bay Lightning center Braydon Point (NHL Images).
The two teams combined for a record 151 shots, with the Lightning firing a record 88. Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo set a record with 85 saves while Bolts netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 61. Jackets defenseman Seth Jones also set a record for minutes-played by a skater, logging 65 minutes and six seconds of ice time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the most entertaining multiple overtime game I’ve seen since the Buffalo Sabres edged the New Jersey Devils 1-0 in Game 6 of their 1994 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. These types of games usually turn into long, dull defensive slogs with few quality scoring chances. Not this game. Every period was fast-paced and exciting, with the Lightning having the bulk of the offensive opportunities. A tough loss for the Jackets, who’ll have little time to recover before Game 2 tomorrow.
Because of the length of the Lighting-Blue Jackets game, the NHL rescheduled Game 1 between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes to 11 am ET today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the right call by the league. It reportedly would’ve taken nearly two hours following the end of the Bolts-Jackets game to clean the dressing rooms and players benches and to prepare the ice surface for the Bruins and Hurricanes.
Rasmus Andersson’s second-period goal proved to be the game-winner as the Calgary Flames held off the Dallas Stars 3-2 in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series. Dillon Dube scored twice as the Flames jumped to a 2-0 lead but the Stars tied it on goals by Denis Gurianov and Jamie Benn nine seconds apart. Stars defenseman Stephen Johns left the game in the second period and is listed as “unfit to play.” Stars center Tyler Seguin was held without a shot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dube had a heck of a game for the Flames, especially with his second goal that looked like a Pavel Bure special. Teammate Milan Lucic is also playing well, picking up his fifth point (1-4-5) in as many games.
Reilly Smith scored twice and collected an assist to lead the Vegas Golden Knights over the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 in Game 1 of their opening-round series.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Mark Scheifele said he doesn’t believe Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk deliberately intended to injure him in Game 1 of their qualifying-round series. Scheifele suffered an injury to the back of his leg following a collision with Tkachuk, who reached out to the Jets center explaining he was skating too fast and lost control as he approached Scheifele along the boards.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets coach Paul Maurice had thought otherwise, accusing Tkachuk of a dirty hit and doubling down a day later. It was obvious, however, that the collision was accidental. I think Tkachuk got a bad rap here because of his well-earned reputation for questionable tactics. If it had been Tkachuk’s teammate Johnny Gaudreau colliding with Scheifele, nobody would’ve thought it was dirty.
CBS SPORTS: Edmonton Oilers forward Tyler Ennis suffered a fractured leg and ligament damage near his ankle during an Aug. 5 game against the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s expected to be recovered in time for the 2020-21 season, but it might not be with the Oilers. Ennis is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Ivan Barbashev is expected to rejoin his teammates in Edmonton on Friday after traveling to St. Louis to be with his wife during the birth of his son.
Hearing that the Habs have given permission to Florida to speak with AGM Scott Mellanby.