NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 14, 2021

Alex Ovechkin moves up the all-time goals leader board, new contracts for the Islanders’ Ryan Pulock and Predators’ Mattias Ekholm, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin moved into sole possession of fifth place among the NHL’s all-time goalscoring leaders as his Washington Capitals thumped the New York Rangers 5-1. Ovechkin scored twice to surpass Hall-of-Famer Marcel Dionne with 732 goals. The Capitals captain collected four points on the night, linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov had three assists and rookie Hendrix Lapierre tallied his first NHL goal.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is nine goals behind Brett Hull (741), who sits fourth overall on the all-time leader list. He could pass The Golden Brett by the end of this month.

The Edmonton Oilers edged the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 on a shootout goal by Kyle Turris. Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected two assists and Mike Smith made 36 saves. The Canucks forced the extra frame by overcoming a two-goal deficit in the third period on goals by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Quinn Hughes.

Darcy Kuemper made 32 saves as the Colorado Avalanche doubled up the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2. Gabriel Landeskog, Nazem Kadri and Bowen Byram each had a goal and an assist for the Avs. It was a rough outing for Blackhawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury as the reigning Vezina Trophy winner gave up three goals in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seth Jones’ debut with the Blackhawks was not one he’ll remember with any fondness. The Avalanche dominated play when the 26-year-old Jones was on the ice in five-on-five situations.

The Toronto Maple Leafs nipped the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 on William Nylander’s game-winner early in the third period. Jack Campbell picked up the win with a 31-save performance. Jonathan Drouin scored his first goal for the Canadiens since taking time away in the second half of last season to deal with anxiety and insomnia issues.

Anaheim Ducks rookie Mason McTavish tallied his first NHL goal as his club upset the Winnipeg Jets 4-1. The 18-year-old McTavish became the youngest goalscorer in Ducks history. Rickard Rakell, Adam Henrique and Kevin Shattenkirk also scored for the Ducks while John Gibson kicked out 33 shots for the win.

HEADLINES

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the New York Islanders have agreed to an eight-year contract extension with defenseman Ryan Pulock. It’s believed to be just under $50 million with a full no-trade clause in the first five years and a limited no-trade in the final three.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per JFreshHockey, the 27-year-old Pulock is “a high-end, top-pairing two-way defenseman who’s the primary puck-mover on one of the league’s best pairings.”

Pulock’s annual average value could come in at around $6.25 million, slightly higher than the $5.75 million defense partner Adam Pelech is earning on his new contract. General manager Lou Lamoriello wasted little time ensuring this underrated defense pairing is locked up to reasonable long-term contracts.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators inked defenseman Mattias Ekholm to a four-year, $25 million contract extension. The annual average value is $6.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm gets a big raise over the $3.75 million of his current contract while the Predators get a sensible term for the 31-year-old blueliner, who wasn’t shy about publicly expressing his desire to remain in Nashville.

Some observers believe the raise is too high for a defenseman at this stage of his career but Ekholm was significantly underpaid as one of their most reliable top-four blueliners. While his performance could decline they obviously feel his experience and leadership are worth retaining while the club undergoes its’ “competitive rebuild.”

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed Colton Sceviour to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings named Danny DeKeyser and Marc Staal as their alternate captains this season.

NHL.COM: Seattle Kraken forward Marcus Johansson is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.

THE ATHLETIC: San Jose Sharks defenseman Nikolai Knyzhov is also out with a lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers claimed Charlottetown native Zack MacEwen off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks.

GWINNETT PREP SPORTS: The Columbus Blue Jackets suspended defenseman Mikko Lehtonen for his failure to report to their AHL affiliate in Cleveland and placed him on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 8, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 8, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel (yes, again!), updates on the Predators’ Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg, and the latest on the Canadiens and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON EICHEL

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there are some NHL teams interested in Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel who are willing to let him undergo disc replacement surgery, others not so much.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Those teams are also telling the Sabres they want a conditional component to any trade because we don’t know what Eichel will be like when he returns from surgery, which could involve four months of recovery. LeBrun said the Sabres are willing to have a conditional part to a potential trade. It doesn’t mean a deal is imminent but another step in the process.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As LeBrun said, a conditional component is a big deal as that could help to facilitate a trade. What that could look like is anyone’s guess. It could involve additional draft picks or prospects, perhaps some money retained by the Sabres, or something else. What’s also important is there are clubs willing to let Eichel get the surgery he wants. Whether those clubs can work out a suitable swap with the Sabres remains to be seen.

EKHOLM AND FORSBERG

LeBrun reports Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm and his agent have told general manager David Poile that they would like to shelve contract talks for the season if a deal cannot be reached when the season opens next week. Talks are expected to continue before next week.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan reports Filip Forsberg’s agent told him contract talks with Predators management have not started.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg didn’t sound like he was in a rush to start contract discussions during a recent interview. Ekholm, on the other hand, appeared keen last week to get a deal done as soon as possible.

The issue here is whether either player fits into the Predators’ long-term plans. Ekholm is 31 and signing him to a long-term deal might not be the wisest course of action for a club in the midst of what Poile deemed “a competitive rebuild”.

Forsberg, 27, will command much more on the open market, perhaps $8 million per season. That’s a lot of money to invest in a player during a time when the club is undergoing a transition. Besides, Forsberg might not be keen to stick around with a rebuilding club as he enters his playing prime.

CANADIENS AND SENATORS SPECULATION

TSN: LeBrun believes the Montreal Canadiens announcement that the future of general manager Marc Bergevin wouldn’t be addressed until after this season suggests he could be a lame-duck GM. He points to the fact Bergevin and team president Geoff Molson spoke about his future in January and an offer was made in July that didn’t produce an agreement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Bergevin is a lame-duck one wonders how long it will take for Molson to find a suitable replacement. It could depend upon the club’s performance this season.

The possibility of Bergevin’s departure will get a mixed reaction from Canadiens fans. Some have long wanted him gone, even after the club reached the Cup Final last season. Others have fully supported most of his moves and decisions. 

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the long-term absence of center Colin White to shoulder surgery could have the Senators seeking a short-term replacement via the waiver wire or trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s confirmed White could be out four to six months. Don’t be surprised if the Senators make a move via waivers or trade in the coming days.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 30, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 30, 2021

An update on Johnny Gaudreau and the latest on the Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz observes there’s been little word on the status of contract talks between Johnny Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames. The 28-year-old left winger is entering the final season of a six-year, $40.5 million deal and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Gaudreau holds a lot of control over his current situation. His no-trade clause has kicked in for this season, limiting the Flames to just five potential trade partners. It puts plenty of pressure on management to sign the winger or risk losing him for nothing next summer.

Gretz speculates Gaudreau’s next contract could be in the $7.5 million to $8 million range per season at a minimum. The Flames must also re-sign restricted free-agent forwards Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane. That will make things tight under a salary cap expected to rise by just $1 million to $82.5 million next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Gretz points out, Gaudreau’s contract status will be the dominant storyline following the Flames this season.

If the Flames improve it could improve their chances of keeping Gaudreau in Calgary. If they remain a middle-of-the-pack playoff club, they risk losing him to free agency next summer.

And if they struggle as they did last season, I expect they’ll try to find a suitable trade partner among the five clubs on Gaudreau’s list of preferred destinations before the March 21 trade deadline.

THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina reports Mattias Ekholm still hopes to remain with the Nashville Predators beyond this season. The 31-year-old defenseman s entering the final season of his six-year, $22.5 million contract and is due to become a UFA next July.

I want to be here. I want to stay here,” said Ekholm, adding his agent is dealing with Predators general manager David Poile. He remains hopeful they’ll work something out. “I’d rather have it done yesterday,” he said.

Skrbina notes Ekholm’s name surfaced in trade rumors last season, which made the blueliner uncomfortable as he and his wife had a four-week-old baby at that point. He could get a raise for around $6 million annually.

Ekholm’s teammate and fellow UFA, Filip Forsberg, said his focus is on training camp and not on his contract status. He’s in the final season of a six-year, $36 million deal.

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer Ekholm and Forsberg are unsigned the more likely their names will surface in trade speculation this season, especially if the Predators are out of playoff contention as the March trade deadline approaches. It will be worth keeping an eye on their respective situations.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 2, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 2, 2021

Are the Panthers close to announcing a new contract for Aleksander Barkov? Are there other moves the Islanders and Avalanche could make? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: With Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier and Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov getting new contracts last week, George Richards wondered if Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov could be next to sign a lucrative long-term extension.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).

Richards reports the Panthers are expected to announce a new contract for Barkov in the coming weeks, perhaps before training camp opens on Sep. 22. It’s believed he’ll get more than the $7.75 million per season that Couturier and Svechnikov will receive. The 25-year-old Panthers star is earning $5.9 million annually on his current deal which expires next July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barkov is the Panthers’ top player and among the best two-way forwards in the league. I don’t see them letting him go to market next summer. Richards expects it’ll be an eight-year maximum deal. He could pull in over $10 million per season.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple looked at what other moves could be in store for the New York Islanders after officially announcing new contracts yesterday for Anthony Beauvillier, Casey Cizikas, Kyle Palmieri and Ilya Sorokin.

The Isles didn’t announce a contract for Zach Parise but the winger will be joining them this season. Staple speculates he’ll get a one-year deal for the league minimum with performance bonuses on a plus-35 deal that could earn him over $2 million for the season.

Staple points out general manager Lou Lamoriello still hasn’t replaced Nick Leddy on the left side of the Islanders’ blueline. The Seattle Kraken has a surplus of left-handed defensemen but there hasn’t been much discussion between the two clubs. He doubts the Columbus Blue Jackets will part with Vladislav Gavrikov and it would take a decent-sized offer to pry Mattias Ekholm from the Nashville Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As noted in today’s Morning Coffee Headlines, the Islanders are $3.7 million above the $81.5 million salary cap. That will increase once they officially announce Parise’s contract.

They’ll address that overage by placing permanently sidelined Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million cap hit on LTIR. However, it still won’t leave much room to add a defenseman unless it’s a dollar-for-dollar swap or one or two players get demoted.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Peter Baugh was asked if the Colorado Avalanche might add a free agent or two to their bottom-six forwards. He believes they could offer someone like Tyler Bozak a cheap one-year contract or a tryout offer but they aren’t desperate to add someone before training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Baugh’s column was published before the Avalanche signed defenseman Jack Johnson to a professional tryout offer yesterday. They could do the same for a UFA forward like Bozak though there’s no certainty they will. GM Joe Sakic could see how things unfold in training camp before seeing if he needs another veteran for his bottom-six.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 23, 2021

The latest on Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm plus a look at some Blackhawks trade candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Adam Vingan was asked whether the Nashville Predators should re-sign Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm to long- or short-term contracts. They’re slated to become unrestricted free agents next July.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).

Vingan expects Ekholm to get a four-year deal worth around $6 million annually. He doesn’t anticipate the 32-year-old defenseman will drag out the process.

Forsberg’s negotiations, on the other hand, could get more complicated. The 27-year-old winger is in his playing prime as the Predators engage in a “competitive rebuild”. General manager David Poile will have to sell Forsberg on his short- and long-term plans for the Predators.

Poile must also decide Forsberg’s worth. He’s currently earning an annual cap hit of $6 million. While he’s the Preds’ most talented forward, he’s inconsistent and injury-prone.

Vingan believes Forsberg could get up to $8 million annually on the open market. He feels the Predators should avoid paying that much but it’s hard to see Forsberg accepting less than the $8 million annually being paid to teammates Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg’s contract situation will be worth following if he’s unsigned when the season begins. Vingan may be right about not paying him more than $8 million annually. However, having Johansen and Duchene each earning that much makes it difficult for Poile to justify paying Forsberg less.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we start hearing Forsberg’s name surface in this season’s rumor mill the longer he goes unsigned. That speculation could go into overdrive if the Predators are out of playoff contention as the trade deadline approaches.

Ekholm was the subject of intense trade chatter last season but that quickly died off as the Predators surged into a playoff spot in the weeks leading up to the April trade deadline. He seems keen to stay and Poile wants to keep him. I’ll be surprised if a new deal isn’t worked out before the season begins in October.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: With the Blackhawks bringing in additional depth and flexibility to their roster for this season, Ben Pope examined which players could become trade candidates.

Among the forwards, Dylan Strome could be shopped but that might not happen if captain Jonathan Toews isn’t ready to return to action in September and October. If that happens, Strome could get a second chance as a second-line center.

Brett Connolly could also hit the trade block. He’s 29 and overpaid at $3.5 million per season through 2022-23. With Marc-Andre Fleury and Kevin Lankinen expected to split the goalie duties, Malcolm Subban could be traded rather than lost for nothing via waivers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 18, 2021

Team owners approved jersey ads starting in 2022-23, Predators hope to re-sign Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg, Steven Stamkos sells his Tampa mansion, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTICO: The NHL Board of Governors unanimously approved adding advertisements to team jerseys effective 2022-23. Clubs can now begin negotiating with potential ad partners. The ads must fit a 3 by 3.5-inch rectangle. Last season, the league began selling ad space on the side of players’ helmets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Critics of these ads believe it is yet another step in a slippery slope toward turning players into billboards on skates akin to some European leagues. No NHL fans want to see that but I doubt it’ll ever go that far. European clubs have little choice because they lack the lucrative revenues streams enjoyed by the NHL.

Manufacturer logos have appeared on NHL player equipment for decades with no quibble from hockey fans. The small patch to appear on the front of jerseys will be as unobtrusive as those on the helmets.

The NHL is a business and that business took a big hit during the pandemic. They’re looking for whatever measures they can find to generate more hockey-related revenue. Anything that increases HRR will eventually translate into a higher salary cap, providing teams with more cap space to invest in building and maintaining their rosters.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).

Fans got used to ads painted on the boards and the ice. They weren’t put off by arenas being named after corporations or ads on the players’ helmets. They won’t be distracted by a small jersey patch as long as they don’t spread like measles all over the jersey.

NHL.COM: Nashville Predators general manager David Poile said his club is focused on signing Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg to long-term contract extensions. Both players are slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer.

Poile said discussions have started with Ekholm’s agent and should continue later this week or next week. He intends to reach out to Forsberg’s representatives before training camp opens next month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Predators with over $46.4 million invested in 10 players for 2022-23 with Ekholm and Forsberg as their two core players becoming free agents. They have plenty of cap space to re-sign both players.

The question is how much Ekholm and Forsberg want on their new contracts and if they see their long-term futures in Nashville. It might be easier to re-sign them if the Preds were a Cup contender as they were three years ago. Their recent decline, however, could become a factor in those contract talks.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos recently sold his Davis Islands home for a whopping $16 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No, this doesn’t mean Stamkos is going to be traded. He still has a full no-movement clause and reportedly has no intention of waiving it.

As the story goes, the house was never listed and he and his family were happy living there. Stamkos had no intention of selling until someone met his “move-out number.” He and his family are preparing to move to another unlisted home in the area.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed rugged forward Scott Sabourin to a one-year, two-way contract.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruins Chris Kelly and Adam McQuaid have returned to the club in off-ice roles. Kelly is now an assistant coach while McQuaid is their new player development coordinator.

WGR 550.COM: Buffalo Sabres alumni Tim Kennedy and Nathan Paetsch have returned to the club as player development coaches.

TSN: Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment announced attendees to their sports teams (including the Toronto Maple Leafs) will be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test effectively mid-September to gain access to its arenas, stadium and restaurants.