NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 6, 2021

The Canadiens avoid being swept from the Stanley Cup Final, Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks dies in a fireworks accident, Wild re-sign Nick Bjugstad and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens staved off elimination from the Stanley Cup Final with a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 on Monday night.

Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson (NHL Images).

Josh Anderson opened the scoring in the first period and tallied the game-winner in overtime. Alexander Romanov scored his first of the playoffs for the Canadiens while Carey Price made 32 saves for the win. Barclay Goodrow and Pat Maroon replied for the Lightning.

The series returns to Tampa Bay for Game 5 on Wednesday night with the Lightning holding a 3-1 lead.

TSN: The Canadiens made some lineup changes for Game 4. Jesperi Kotkaniemi was replaced by Jake Evans as their third-line center while Romanov and Brett Kulak replaced Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill on their third defense pairing. Anderson moved to the Canadiens’ second line alongside Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield.

Lightning winger Alex Killorn missed his third straight game of this series. He remains day-to-day with a leg injury suffered in Game 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning controlled most of the play in this game. Head coach Jon Cooper lamented several near misses for his club, including several shots clanging off the goalposts.

That doesn’t detract from what was a big win by the Canadiens. Price and his penalty killers were outstanding as they shut down five Lightning power-play opportunities, including a double-minor on Habs captain Shea Weber that stretched from late in the third period into the early minutes of overtime. Price was particularly strong during the opening minutes of the game, shutting down the Lightning as they pushed to open the scoring.

NHL.COM: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died on July 4 at age 24. It was initially reported that he suffered an apparent head injury during a fall, but an initial autopsy revealed he suffered a percussive injury from a fireworks explosion that led to major damage to his heart and lungs.

The incident took place at the Novi, Michigan home of former Detroit Red Wings goalie Manny Legace. Kivlenieks’ death is being investigated as accidental and no charges are under consideration at this time.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets fans gathered at a popular bar near NationWide Arena to mourn Kivlenieks’ passing. It included an 80-second moment of silence in honor of the netminder, who wore No. 80 with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sincere condolences to Kivlenieks’ family, friends, teammates and the Jackets organization and fans. This was a tragic ending to a young life and career that held so much promise.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed Nick Bjugstad to a one-year, $900K contract. The 28-year-old center was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. He excelled in a depth role with the Wild this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bjugstad’s taking a big pay cut to stay in Minnesota. Cap Friendly indicates he was coming off a six-year deal worth an annual average value of $4.1 million. That reflects how much his role has changed since signing that deal with the Florida Panthers in 2014.

The signing puts only a slight dent into the Wild’s projected salary-cap space for next season. They have over $15.9 million remaining with restricted free agent stars Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala to re-sign.

NHL.COM: Swedish prospect forward William Eklund received the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence. The award, presented by NHL Central Scouting, goes to the candidate who best displays a commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness and athleticism. Previous winners include Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny and New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eklund overcame an emergency appendectomy and a positive COVID-19 test to become this year’s top European skater as ranked by NHL Central Scouting. He’s projected to go in the top five of this year’s NHL Draft.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: The AHL’s Providence Bruins will be seeking a new head coach as Jay Leach has joined the NHL’s Seattle Kraken as an assistant coach.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 1, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 1, 2021

The Blackhawks are working on a trade for Duncan Keith plus the latest on the Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BLACKHAWKS ATTEMPTING TO TRADE KEITH

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported last evening the Chicago Blackhawks are working on a potential trade for Duncan Keith. The move could send the 37-year-old defenseman to “either the Pacific Northwest or Western Canada.”

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman cited Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times reporting Keith’s family lives in Penticton, British Columbia during the off-season and his son stayed there this season. He wants to be closer to his family as his career winds down. Wegman suggested the teams that fit the criteria are the Seattle Kraken, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and perhaps the San Jose Sharks.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston cites a source saying the Canucks aren’t believed to be interested in acquiring Keith citing their limited cap space. They seem inclined toward re-signing Alexander Edler. Cap space could also rule out the Flames as a destination. Another source suggested the Jets would be too far east.

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (NHL Images).

Keith has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.538 million but he’s owed just $3.6 million in actual salary over those remaining seasons.

Johnston believes the Oilers have cap space to work with, as do the expansion Kraken. Both are relatively short flights from Penticton.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples examines if Keith would make sense for the Oilers. Given his high cap hit, it would be a steep price to pay for a defenseman on his last NHL legs unless the Oiler can move out an iffy contract like James Neal or Mikko Koskinen in the deal. He doubts the Blackhawks would pick up half of Keith’s annual cap hit. Staples also points out Keith’s stats indicate he’s producing at a low third-pairing level.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken could be the best destination. They have plenty of cap space, Keith could provide leadership and experience to the expansion roster, and he’s still a recognizable name. Whether the Kraken or any of those other clubs are interested remains to be seen.

LATEST ON THE SABRES

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres are said to be seeking the equivalent of four first-round picks in exchange for captain Jack Eichel. However, TSN’s Darren Dreger believes that the high asking price is depressing the 24-year-old center’s value in the trade market.

The Blackhawks are reportedly among the suitors for Eichel. However, Dreger cited a source saying their interest isn’t believed to be that high as they already have three high-priced forwards in Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat. He believes they’re more interested in adding a high-end defenseman like Columbus’ Seth Jones or Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton.

Dreger noted the Anaheim Ducks have also been connected to Eichel. Because they’re in the midst of a rebuild, they’re believed to be balking at the Sabres’ asking price. He also doubted their interest is as high as has been speculated. Dreger feels the New York Rangers remain well-positioned to make the best offer, despite the Sabres’ misgivings about sending Eichel there.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks and Ducks could be performing due diligence to determine the Sabres’ asking price. Maybe they’ll be more interested if Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams drops his price to a more reasonable level.

I don’t blame Adams for setting a high ask as he wants the best possible return. He’ll see what interested parties counter with and try to find something in-between that works for both clubs.

The Blackhawks could free up additional cap dollars if they can find a taker for Duncan Keith. They’ll likely use those savings to put toward landing a star defenseman as Dreger observed.

I originally believed the Los Angeles Kings would be the best destination. They appear more interested in less expensive top-six forwards.

We don’t know how serious the Rangers’ reported interest in Eichel could be. Adams probably prefers moving him as far away from Buffalo as possible. However, he could have little choice but to move him to an eastern club if he can’t find better offers from western teams.