NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 14, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 14, 2019

The latest on the CBA negotiations, Stan Mikita had Stage III CTE, an update on Mitch Marner’s new contract, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Katie Strang examined the key issues in the NHL CBA talks as the NHLPA face tomorrow’s deadline to opt-out of the current agreement next September. Escrow calculations and post-career health care are of primary concern for the players. Strang also reports sources saying the league would like to address signing bonuses and front-loaded contracts, citing a competitive advantage to big-budget teams.

CBA negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA continue as the latter’s opt-out deadline fast approaches.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hands up everyone who isn’t surprised the league has concerns about those signing bonus and front-loaded contract loopholes. Critics of the current CBA saw these issues coming for a while now. Strang said it’s unknown if those will be sticking-point issues.

The PA has until tomorrow (Sept. 15) to exercise their early-out option. If they don’t, the current agreement expires on Sept. 2022, unless the PA and the league hammer out a CBA extension before then.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: A posthumous study of Hall-of-Famer Stan Mikita’s brain revealed he suffered from Stage IIIchronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease associated with repeated blows to the head. Mikita passed away on Aug. 7, 2018. “Mikita is the eighth former NHL player diagnosed with CTE at the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, a list that also includes Derek Boogaard, Bob Probert, and Reggie Fleming.” The NHL continues to reject any link to hockey and CTE injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe the reason the NHL refuses to acknowledge that link is because of the costs they’ll face in compensation to former players suffering from CTE. The evidence, however, is mounting against the league. At some point, it will have no choice but to seriously address this issue.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran reports nearly $61 million of Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner’s new six-year, $65.3-million contract will be paid out in signing bonuses. The bonuses provides a measure of insurance for Marner to get paid in the event of another NHL lockout as those must be paid in full every July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner’s contract is likely a fine example of the type the league wants to address with the PA in CBA talks.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was granted a leave of absence from training camp for personal reasons. Head coach Paul Maurice downplayed the situation, claiming there’s “nothing sinister” about it. There’s no indication how long he’ll be away.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars winger Corey Perry will miss at least two weeks with a fractured foot. He suffered the injury on Wednesday after tripping on a step and rolling his foot. Meanwhile, defenseman Stephen Johns remains sidelined indefinitely with post-concussion symptoms.

The Anaheim Ducks yesterday announced forward Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves will miss the entire 2019-20 season.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka revealed defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is day-to-day following a minor procedure over the summer to “clean up a previous injury.”

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian will miss training camp as he continues to recover from off-season hip surgery.

VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks forward Jake Virtanen is in head coach Travis Green’s doghouse after failing his physical exam. His conditioning is believed to be the issue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a good start for Virtanen. He’s in the final season of a two-year contract and likely on a very short leash with Green.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 23, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 23, 2019

Game recaps, plus the latest on Braden Holtby, Ryan Kesler, Chris Kreider and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild regained hold of the final Western Conference wild-card berth by edging the Washington Capitals 2-1. Luke Kunin broke a 1-1 tie with the winning goal in the third period for the Wild (79 points), who hold a one-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes. The Capitals played without defenseman Michal Kempny, who is sidelined indefinitely with a leg injury.

Speaking of the Capitals, goaltender Braden Holtby said he will respectfully decline the invitation to the White House on Monday to celebrate the club’s Stanley Cup championship. “It’s one of those things that we have to think about, but with me, I’ve got to stay true to my values, and I’m going respectfully decline the offer,” Holtby said. Brett Connolly and Devante Smith-Pelly have also declined the invitation.

Jakob Silfverberg’s overtime goal gave the Anaheim Ducks a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL Images)

Jakob Silfverberg’s overtime goal gave the Anaheim Ducks a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Rickard Rakell scored twice for the Ducks, as he and Silfverberg each collected three points. The Sharks (95 points) sit four behind the Calgary Flames for first place in the Pacific Division and the overall Western Conference standings. Earlier in the day, Ducks general manager Bob Murray gave updates on forwards Ryan Kesler (hip) and Patrick Eaves (post-viral syndrome), indicating both players could be done for the season. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The NHL’s department of player safety suspected Lightning forward Yanni Gourde two games for a hit to the head of Carolina Hurricanes center Jordan Staal. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Turns out Oilers winger Tobias Rieder wasn’t okay with being singled out by team CEO Bob Nicholson for the club’s woes this season, despite Nicholson subsequently saying he and Rieder later laughed it off. “I think it’s kind of disappointing and I’m offended by it,” said Rieder, who added Nicholson spoke with him again and he’s accepted the CEO’s apology. Rieder said he wants to put this behind him and move on. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Rieder will be moving on all right. He’s a restricted free agent but Nicholson said the club won’t re-sign him. Rieder has the support of his teammates, who credit him for his hard work despite his offensive struggles this season. 

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Chris Kreider is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. 

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington has crossed the 28-game threshold, meaning he’ll become a restricted free agent this summer instead of a Group 6 UFA. “Binnington is 25 and in his sixth full season of pro hockey. But since he was under contract during the 2012-13 season, a lockout year in the NHL in which only 48 games were played, the number of games played to determine his free agency status was pro-rated down to 26.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, there’s no risk of Binnington hitting the UFA market if he and the Blues fail to agree to a new contract by July 1. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. While he could sign an offer sheet from a rival club, there’s a low probability of that happening. If he or the Blues file for arbitration he’d be ineligible to receive an offer sheet. 

TSN: Friday was another busy media day for Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. He called out his management for doing “a terrible job” in explaining the club’s rebuild plan to the fans, criticized Ottawa mayor Jim Watson for suggesting Melnyk was difficult to work with after negotiations for a new arena at LeBreton Flats fell through, and trolled the Toronto Maple Leafs rebuild by claiming they forgot about defense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Senators did a “terrible job” explaining their rebuilding plan, the responsibility lies at the top with Melnyk. He claimed he kept his mouth shut regarding Watson and in the same breath claimed Watson was lucky he did so while saying the mayor’s comments were counterproductive. That’s hardly going to win Melnyk any support among Senators fans or local voters.

Melnyk didn’t call out the Leafs by name but everyone knew who he was referring to with his remarks about a team that’s been patching up its roster “for 53 years.” While he has a point about the Leafs defense, he’s not in the best position to criticize a provincial rival that’s sitting 37 points ahead of his club in the standings. 

What appears to be fake Twitter accounts claiming to be Senators fans supporting Melnyk also popped up on Friday. So yeah, kind of a weird day for the Senators. 

TORONTO SUN: Speaking of the Leafs, head coach Mike Babcock dismissed rumors of a rift between himself and GM Kyle Dubas following Babcock’s recent complaints about the roster depth. “If there was any slap at anyone, it sure wasn’t intended and that’s not what I meant to say.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The club’s recent struggles and the absence of several injured players probably have folks looking too closely at Babcock’s remarks for signs of dissatisfaction with management. 

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Craig Custance with the story of how The Internet Hockey Database aka HockeyDB.com came into being and how it’s become the most reliable source for statistical information among fans and pundits. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I discovered HockeyDB 20 years ago and it remains among my most invaluable research tools. I highly recommend it. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 20, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 20, 2019

Game recaps, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: After blowing a 2-0 lead, the St. Louis Blues picked up their 11th straight win by downing the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on an overtime goal by Ryan O’Reilly. Former Leafs center Tyler Bozak picked up two assists for the Blues. Leafs center Nazem Kadri left the game after the first period with a concussion

Ryan O’Reilly’s overtime goal gave the St. Louis Blues a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images)

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray made 33 saves as his club held on for a 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. Evgeni Malkin extended his points streak to eight games while Sidney Crosby extended his streak to six games. The Penguins (71 points) moved ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets into third place in the Metropolitan Division. 

Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price made 31 saves as his team nipped the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 to snap a four-game winless skid. Tomas Tatar tallied the game-winner after the Habs blew a 2-0 lead. With the win, the Canadiens (71 points) move ahead of the Blue Jackets into the first wild-card spot.

The Jackets were playing without leading scorer Artemi Panarin, who was sidelined with the flu and not, as head coach John Tortorella insisted, being held out of the game pending a trade. “He shit his pants, he was puking, he did everything, so enough,” said Tortorella. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So you’re saying he’s really sick, Torts? 

Henrik Lundqvist kicked out 43 shots as the New York Rangers nipped the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. The Hurricanes (68 points) remain one point out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their seventh straight victory by rolling over the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2. Lightning winger Alex Killorn picked up his 100th career goal while NHL scoring leader Nikita Kucherov (99 points) was held pointless. The Flyers (69 points) remain six points out of a playoff spot.  Lightning goal-scoring leader Brayden Point was scratched from this game for missing a team meeting. The Bolts also called up Jan Rutta to replace sidelined blueliner Victor Hedman, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury. 

A three-goal third-period outburst carried the Florida Panthers past the Buffalo Sabres 4-2, handing the latter their fourth defeat in their last five games. Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov led the way with three-point performances. Earlier in the day, the Sabres announced winger Kyle Okposo is sidelined with a concussion and there’s no timetable for his return. The Sabres (63 points) remain six points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. 

Anaheim Ducks goalie Ryan Miller turned in a 31-save shutout performance backstopping his club to a 4-0 blanking of the Minnesota Wild, handing the latter their fifth straight loss. The Wild (60 points) are barely clinging to the final Western Conference wild-card spot while the Ducks are three points behind them. Earlier in the day, the Ducks placed winger Patrick Eaves on waivers for the purpose of sending him to their AHL affiliate in San Diego. 

Shootout goals by Alex Galchenyuk and Vinnie Hinostroza gave the Arizona Coyotes a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, who were playing without captain Connor McDavid (flu). The Coyotes are now one point behind the Wild in the Western Conference playoff chase while the Oilers are six points back. 

Roman Josi scored two goals and Pekka Rinne made 36 saves as the Nashville Predators beat the Dallas Stars 5-3. 

TSN: The New York Islanders have recalled forward Andrew Ladd and defenseman Thomas Hickey from their AHL conditioning stints. 

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Dan Robson looks at the life and death of former NHL goaltender Ray Emery, who drowned while swimming last summer in Hamilton. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 10, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 10, 2019

Game recaps, injury updates, Canadiens and Flyers swing a four-player trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Philadelphia Flyers rookie goaltender Carter Hart collected his eighth straight win backstopping his club to a 6-2 drubbing of the Anaheim Ducks. Hart tied Jocelyn Thibault as the only two goalies in NHL history to win eight straight games before their 21st birthday. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher confirmed Hart would remain with the club for the remainder of the season. While the Flyers have points (9-0-1) in their last 10 games, the Ducks have just two victories in their last 21 contests, sending them tumbling to the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hart’s the biggest reason behind the Flyers’ recent resurgence, providing them with the quality goaltending that was lacking earlier in the campaign.

As for the Ducks, injuries and a lack of scoring depth have crippled them this season, but I also believe general manager Bob Murray’s reluctance to fire head coach Randy Carlyle is another contributing factor. It’s apparent the players have tuned out Carlyle. Big changes are required in Anaheim and they should start behind the bench as soon as possible.

**UPDATE** The Ducks fired Carlyle this afternoon. Murray will take over as the coach on an interim basis for the remainder of the season. 

John Tavares’ overtime goal lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 (Photo via NHL Images).

John Tavares’ overtime goal gave the Toronto Maple Leafs (71 points) a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, opening a two-point lead over the latter for second in the Atlantic Division. Earlier in the day, the Canadiens shipped David Schlemko and Byron Froese to the Philadelphia Flyers for Christian Folin and Dale Weise, placed defenseman Karl Alzner on waivers, and placed Paul Byron (forearm) on injured reserve as winger Andrew Shaw returned to the lineup. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A bit of tinkering here for both clubs, with Schlemko and Weise as the notable players in this deal. By moving Schlemko to the Flyers, the Canadiens shed his $2.1 million salary-cap hit through next season while bringing back Weise ($2.35 million through 2019-20), who was a popular checking line forward during his previous tenure in Montreal.

The Canadiens sent Weise to their AHL affiliate but there’s talk they’ll try to bring him up into the roster soon. Schlemko, meanwhile, is expected to skate alongside promising Philippe Myers on the Flyers’ blueline.  

The St. Louis Blues picked up their fifth straight win by nipping the Nashville Predators 3-2. Blues rookie goalie Jordan Binnington picked up his ninth win in 11 starts and teammate Vladimir Tarasenko stretched his points streak to seven games. The Blues (57 points) maintained their grip on the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. 

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton collected two assists to tie Gordie Howe (1,049) for ninth on the all-time list in a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Kevin Lebanc tallied a hat trick for the Sharks. Following the game, Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock criticized his players’ performance. “At this time of year, the coaches can’t want it more than the players,” he said. The Oilers (53 points) are four points out of a playoff berth. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players are a disheartened bunch right. They’ve tried their best since the All-Star break but their lack of depth is hampering those efforts and hurting morale. Scolding them won’t overcome those issues. 

Jacob Markstrom made 44 saves and Elias Pettersson scored the winner in a shootout to give the Vancouver Canucks a 5-4 win over the Calgary Flames. Pettersson also collected two assists in regulation. Flames winger James Neal lost some teeth after being struck in the mouth by the stick of Canucks defenseman Alex Biega but he was able to finish the game. Biega received a double-minor penalty. Earlier in the day, the Canucks revealed sidelined winger Sven Baertschi is dealing with post-concussion syndrome

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby surpassed Mario Lemieux for most games played in franchise history (916) in a 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Penguins (63 points) have dropped four straight and cling to the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. 

An overtime goal by Patrice Bergeron gave the Boston Bruins a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Before the game, the Bruins honored Bergeron for recently playing his 1,000th career NHL game. The Kings also activated forward Trevor Lewis off injured reserve.

Third-period goals by Conor Sheary, Connor Mittelstadt, and Kyle Okposo carried the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The Sabres (61 points) sit two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference

The Minnesota Wild snapped their four-game losing skid by doubling up the New Jersey Devils 4-2, handing Devils goalie Cory Schneider his 20th consecutive loss. With the win, the Wild (59 points) hold the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference

Ryan Pulock scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the New York Islanders edged the Colorado Avalanche 4-3. It was the Avs’ sixth straight defeat, putting them three points behind the St. Louis Blues (57 points) for the final wild-card berth in the West. 

Ottawa Senators goaltender Anders Nilsson made 44 saves as his club downed the Winnipeg Jets 5-2. Mark Stone scored twice against the Jets, who’ve dropped three straight games. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe the Jets’ recent slump puts more pressure on GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to swing a deal before the trade deadline. 

The Arizona Coyotes ended a five-game losing skid by holding off the Dallas Stars 3-2. Alex Galchenyuk scored twice for the Coyotes (53 points), who sit four points out of a Western Conference wild-card spot. Stars defenseman Roman Polak left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. 

Mike Hoffman’s overtime goal gave the Florida Panthers a 5-4 victory over the Washington Capitals, giving the Panthers their sixth win in their last eight contests. Brett Connolly scored twice for the Capitals. 

Cam Atkinson scored the game-tying and winning goals as the Columbus Blue Jackets rallied to down the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 18, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 18, 2018

Game recaps, injury updates and more CBA optimism in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Anthony Cirelli scored in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Philadelphia Flyers 6-5 following a wild third period that saw the Flyers rally from a 5-1 deficit to force the extra frame. Brayden Point scored twice for the Lightning while James van Riemsdyk had a three-point game for the Flyers.

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist moved into seventh place on the NHL all-time wins list for goaltenders. (Photo via NHL Images)

Henrik Lundqvist picked up his 438th career victory to move ahead of Jacques Plante into seventh on the all-time goaltender wins list as the New York Rangers doubled up the Florida Panthers 4-2. Rangers winger Chris Kreider had a goal and two assists.

Erik Karlsson scored his first goal with the San Jose Sharks while Aaron Dell turned in a 30-save shutout to blank the St. Louis Blues 4-0. Joe Pavelski scored twice and Logan Couture had three assists.

Cam Atkinson’s hat trick powered the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-1 win over the slumping Carolina Hurricanes. Artemi Panarin also collected three assists for the Jackets while Sergei Bobrovsky kicked out 30 shots.

Calle Jarnkrok potted his first career NHL hat trick as the Nashville Predators beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-3.

Carey Price turned in his second straight solid performance (35 saves) backstopping the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, handing the latter their fifth straight loss. Jonathan Drouin scored the winner while Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson netted his 11th goal of the season.

The Ottawa Senators ran up a 5-1 lead and held on for a 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Mark Stone and Matt Duchene each scored twice for the Senators, who chased Penguins goalie Matt Murray from the net after he gave up three goals on 10 shots. Penguins forward Derick Brassard returned to the lineup after missing nine games with a lower-body injury. 

The Buffalo Sabres picked up their fifth straight win by overcoming a 2-0 deficit to beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Rasmus Dahlin and Jason Pominville tallied the tying and winning goals.

The Calgary Flames won the latest round in the Battle of Alberta by overcoming a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. Elias Lindholm scored two goals for the Flames, handing the Oilers their fifth loss in six games.

Dylan Larkin’s overtime goal gave the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. The Wings have won eight of their last 10 games. Wings forward Darren Helm could be sidelined for some time after leaving the game in the first period with an injured right arm.

Jaroslav Halak turned aside 32 shots and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson tallied his first NHL goal to give the Boston Bruins a 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The injury-ravaged Bruins lost another key player, as Patrice Bergeron (suspected shoulder injury) returned to Boston for medical evaluation. 

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman John Klingberg (broken hand) could be sidelined for longer than four weeks, as coach Jim Montgomery suggested the blueliner could be out six weeks. 

SPORTSNET: The Anaheim Ducks placed defenseman Luke Schenn on waivers. Forward Patrick Eaves was placed on injured reserve suffering from back spasm. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL is doing everything it can to dodge another labor dispute with the NHLPA, with the two sides engaged in ongoing preliminary talks “aimed at extending the CBA before either party can exercise its reopener in September 2019.”  Brooks cites multiple sources claiming league commissioner Gary Bettman hopes to avoid the prospect of a fourth lockout in 17 years under his watch.

Among the highlights from Brooks’ column:

-The league and the PA are apparently interested in participating in the 2022 Winter Olympic in Beijing. The trade-off could be staging a World Cup of Hockey in 2020 (and possibly 2024) with most of the revenue going to the league. 

-Escrow isn’t the major sticking point it once was. While the players are having 11.5 percent of their salaries withheld this season, the PA expects a postseason refund of eight percent. 

-The PA seeks a change in the way long-term injury reserve payments are calculated against the cap. “If the league eliminates additional payroll dedicated to LTI as part of the mix, that would reduce escrow. It would also slightly tilt the 50/50, so the NHL obviously would need something tangible in return — perhaps a redefinition of Hockey-Related Revenue that would benefit the teams.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the second report in as many weeks suggesting the possibility another work stoppage might be avoided, perhaps before next September’s deadline for either side to re-open CBA talks. According to last weekend’s report by Hockey Night in Canada’s “Headlines” crew, the league needs to know by January if they can stage a 2020 World Cup of Hockey. If that tournament gets the green light,  a new CBA could be in place by next fall or the current one will remain in place until its expiry date in September 2022. 

 










NHL Morning Headlines – November 3, 2018

NHL Morning Headlines – November 3, 2018

Game recaps, Lightning re-signed Yanni Gourde, latest demotions and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo made 32 saves in his first game since suffering a season-opening knee injury backstopping his club to a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in the second game of the NHL Global Series in Helsinki, Finland. Jets forward Patrik Laine scored for the Jets, marking his fourth goal in two games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers are a different team when Luongo’s between the pipes. 

Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson had a five-point performance in his club’s 7-6 victory over the Colorado Avalanche (Photo via NHL Images)

Derrick Pouliot’s overtime goal gave the Vancouver Canucks a 7-6 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Elias Pettersson (two goals, three assists) and Brock Boeser (two goals, two assists) led the way for the Canucks, while Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each had three points for the Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game may not have been a defensive masterpiece but you’ve got to admit that these high-scoring contests are fun to watch. Speaking of fun to watch, so are the leading scorers of the Avalanche and Canucks. 

Antti Raanta made 48 saves and Alex Goligoski collected three assists in the Arizona Coyotes 4-3 overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Michael Grabner tallied the Coyotes’ winning goal. Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho saw his twelve-game points streak come to an end.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have won five straight games, rising from dead last in the Western Conference two weeks ago to within one point of a wild-card berth

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning yesterday signed forward Yanni Gourde to a six-year contract extension with an annual average value of $5.166 million. Gourde was slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A versatile two-way skater who can play all three forward positions, Gourde was an undrafted prospect who worked his way into the Lightning lineup. He tallied 25 goals and 64 points as a 25-year-old rookie last season and is currently tied for second among Lightning scorers with 12 points in as many games. Little wonder management opted to ink him to a long-term deal. 

Gourde’s signing also means the Bolts have over $72 million invested in 14 players for 2019-20  (stick tap to Cap Friendly), with Brayden Point due for a big raise coming off his entry-level contract and pending UFA defensemen Anton Stralman, Bradon Coburn, and Dan Girardi to re-sign or replace. Unless the Bolts can shed some salary next season, Point and the Lightning could face a contract stalemate akin to that of the Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander.

NBC SPORTS:  Anaheim Ducks winger Patrick Eaves “had a blast’ in his first game since Oct. 13, 2017, skating in the Ducks 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday. He’d been sidelined by a post-viral syndrome and shoulder surgery.

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils have sent center Pavel Zacha to their AHL affiliate in Binghamton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sixth overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, Zacha’s been something of a disappointment thus far for the Devils. Perhaps spending some time in the minors will help the 21-year-old to elevate his game. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers have returned defenseman Evan Bouchard to the OHL’s London Knights. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A first-round pick in this year’s NHL Draft, Bouchard has considerable potential as a top-pairing mobile blueliner. He could crack the Oilers’ roster on a full-time basis next season.