NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 4, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 4, 2020

Corey Perry receives a five-game suspension, the Canadiens sign Ilya Kovalchuk, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz had a goal and an assist while Esa Lindell collected three assists to give the Dallas Stars a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The Stars have won four straight games. Before the game, the Stars honored Pavelski for playing his 1,000th career NHL game.

Ilya Samsonov made 38 saves as the Washington Capitals held off the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3. Capitals forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Lars Eller each had a goal and an assist. The Hurricanes (50 points) hold the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

HEADLINES

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars winger Corey Perry received a five-game suspension for elbowing Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis during the 2020 NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. Ellis suffered a possible concussion and was placed on injured reserve.

Dallas Stars winger Corey Perry suspended five games for elbowing Nashville’s Ryan Ellis (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry’s two previous suspensions on his NHL resume and the severity of Ellis’ injury were contributing factors in the league’s decision.

Speaking of the Stars, former head coach Jim Montgomery is checking into a rehab program for alcohol abuse. Montgomery released a statement indicating his recent firing was the appropriate call by the club. He took responsibility for his actions, saying the loss of his job served as a wake-up call to get treatment.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Montgomery. Here’s hoping he lands another NHL coaching job soon. He did a good job with the Stars and should get another shot elsewhere.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens yesterday signed free-agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700K at the NHL level.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A spate of injuries and a recent slide in the standings prompted Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin to make this move. Kovalchuk is no longer a dominant scorer and probably won’t improve the Habs’ performance, but it’s a low-cost, low-risk move. If it doesn’t work out, Bergevin has sufficient salary-cap space to make a more impactful move.

WGR550: Buffalo Sabres winger Victor Olofsson will miss the next five-to-six weeks with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres needed forward depth before their recent acquisition of winger Michael Frolik from the Calgary Flames. Olofsson’s injury could push them back into the trade market.

TSN: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will pass on playing in the 2020 NHL All-Star Game. He will be replaced by Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, Fleury felt it better to use the All-Star break to rest and prepare for the remainder of the season and playoffs. He’ll be suspended by the league for one regular-season game. A small price to pay for the Golden Knights to rest their top netminder.

Speaking of the 2020 NHL All-Star Game, Washington’s Todd Reirden, Boston’s Bruce Cassidy, St. Louis’ Craig Berube, and Vegas’ Gerard Gallant will serve as coaches for the event.

SPORTSNET: New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech is out for the remainder of the season with an injury to his Achilles tendon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a big loss to the Isles’ blueline. Pelech is considered their most dependable rearguard and won’t be easily replaced.

CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Dean Kukan is sidelined indefinitely with a medial meniscus tear and articular cartilage injury.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings defenseman Kurtis MacDermid received a two-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 2, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 2, 2020

The Dallas Stars defeat the Nashville Predators in the 2020 Winter Classic, John Tortorella fined again, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars overcame a 2-0 deficit to double up the Nashville Predators 4-2 in the 2020 Winter Classic before over 85,000 fans at the sold-out Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. Alexander Radulov tallied the game-winner over five minutes into the third period, teammate Mattias Janmark had a goal and an assist, and Stars goaltender Ben Bishop made 31 saves. Matt Duchene had a goal and an assist for the Predators.

Alexander Radulov tallied the game-winner as the Dallas Stars defeated the Nashville Predators in the 2020 NHL Winter Classic (Photo via NHL Images)

Stars winger Corey Perry was ejected early in the first period for elbowing Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis in the head. Ellis left the game and didn’t return. Perry faces a disciplinary hearing from the league’s department of player safety. He insists the incident was unintentional, and hopes Ellis will be ok.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 2020 Winter Classic was among the most entertaining games since the league began staging outdoor contests. The Perry incident aside, the game had a good pace and the crowd was definitely into it. No word on Ellis’ status, but we should learn more later today.

The Minnesota Wild will host the 2021 Winter Classic at Target Field in Minneapolis. Their opponent has yet to be determined, but reports suggest the Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, and Winnipeg Jets have been discussed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild have a natural local rivalry with the Jets, but the other three clubs could draw bigger ratings in the U.S. TV market. The defending Stanley Cup champion Blues and the upward-trending Avalanche would be better opponents than the declining Blackhawks, who’ve been in more Winter Classics than any other NHL club.

SPORTSNET: Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella was fined $20,000 by the league for his post-game comments about the officiating following his club’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Blackhawks. He’s also been assessed a conditional $25,000 fine which will be collected in the event of what the league calls “similar inappropriate behavior” through Dec. 29, 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Former Sportsnet analyst John Shannon reports this is the ninth time Tortorella has been fined by the NHL. He’s also been suspended three times.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Alex Stalock was fined $2,000.00 for diving/embellishment during his club’s 6-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 21.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou will be sidelined two-three weeks with a lower-body injury.

WBNS: Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier is on injured reserve with a lumbar stress fracture.

TSN: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Kurtis MacDermid will have a hearing with the department of player safety regarding an illegal hit to the head on Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Ivan Provorov.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 16, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – May 16, 2019

Latest on the Predators, Red Wings, and Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

PREDATORS

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan notes Nashville Predators general manager David Poile is expected to make changes this summer. He examines several possible trade scenarios. Defenseman P.K. Subban could fetch an elite forward but Vingan feels that move should be made only if the return makes the Predators better.

Center Kyle Turris has surfaced in trade speculation but he carries a big salary and is coming off a down year. Vingan points out Poile has never retained salary in a trade but would have to in this case to move Turris.

Could the Nashville Predators pursue Columbus Blue Jackets center Matt Duchene? (Photo via NHL Images)

Vingan doubts Poile puts defenseman Ryan Ellis on the block after re-signing him a year ago to an eight-year contract extension. Shopping checking-line center Nick Bonino won’t land a big return but would provide salary-cap flexibility for other moves. Unless captain Roman Josi’s contract-extension negotiations break down, Vingan considers it unlikely he’ll be shopped. 

John Glennon wonders if the Predators will pursue Matt Duchene if he tests this summer’s free-agent market. He points out Poile previously had interest in the Columbus Blue Jackets center when he was on the trade block. The Predators would have to shed salary first as they lack sufficient salary-cap space to sign him. Duchene could seek between $8.5 – $10 million per season on the open market. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators’ biggest need is scoring depth at forward and that’ll require a cost-cutting move to pull it off. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $76.8 million tied up in 22 players. 

It’ll be interesting to see what Poile has in mind. He could do a dollar-for-dollar swap involving Subban or Ellis. Turris’s trade value is low right now. His $6 million annual average value through 2023-24 is a deal breaker unless Poile picks up a big chunk of his cap hit and includes a sweetener like a prospect or pick in the deal. Maybe he moves Bonino’s $4.1 million annual average value for a secondary scorer carrying a comparable cap hit. 

RED WINGS

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan recently mused over whether shopping Anthony Mantha or Andreas Athanasiou could bring a quality defenseman to the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings are deep in young forwards but short on talented young blueliners.

Steve Yzerman, the Wings new general manager, established a reputation for making bold moves during his tenure as Tampa Bay Lightning GM. Kulfan suggested clubs deep in defensemen, such as the Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, Anaheim Ducks, and Nashville Predators, as possible trade partners. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman could draw upon his depth in promising young forwards as trade bait to bolster his blueline corps. With over $71.1 million invested in 18 players, he could forego the free-agent market to address his defense needs via trade.

Then again, maybe Yzerman takes a season to fully evaluate his roster before opting to swing a big trade. We’ll find out starting next month what he has in mind and if those plans involve Mantha or Athanasiou.  

CANADIENS

TVA SPORTS: Left-side defensemen such as Toronto’s Jake Gardiner, Vancouver’s Alex Edler, Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere, and Los Angeles’ Alec Martinez could interest the Montreal Canadiens. 

Gardiner and Edler are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. There could be considerable interest around the league in the 28-year-old Gardiner. Edler’s age (33) and desire for a no-movement clause in his next contract could be cause for concern. 

The asking price for Gostisbehere could be a first-round pick, which would likely be too high for the Canadiens. It remains to be seen if the rebuilding Kings part with Martinez after trading Jake Muzzin this season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have over $68.3 million committed to 20 players. They’ll have plenty of cap space to add a top-four left-side rearguard. I expect GM Marc Bergevin will attempt to address that issue this summer.

Gardiner could command over $6 million annually on a long-term deal. Unless Edler agrees to a three-year deal, the Habs could pass.

Martinez might not become available until next season’s trade deadline, if at all. Gostisbehere would be the best option but the Flyers won’t give him away. They’ll likely want more than just a first-round draft pick. I’m guessing they’ll want a top-six forward. 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 26, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – April 26, 2019

Could the Penguins consider trading Evgeni Malkin or other big-name players? Is another summer trade in the offing for the Predators’ P.K. Subban? Should the Maple Leafs consider shopping William Nylander? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

BIG MOVES COMING FOR THE PENGUINS? 

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey reports sources within the Penguins’ organization say management is considering almost every available option to chart the course of the next several years. That includes everything from possibly trading key players such as Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel to standing pat. 

Could the Pittsburgh Penguins consider shopping Evgeni Malkin this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

Should they decide on making major changes it wouldn’t be a teardown rebuild. Rather, it would be to move established assets while their trade value is high for returns of younger, affordable talent who can keep the club’s championship window open. It’s believed there’s a select group of players – captain Sidney Crosby and goaltender Matt Murray among them – the Penguins believe they can build around. 

Several days ago, Mackey also reported Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford could consider trading one or two defensemen under contract through next season to address their other roster needs. Mackey considered Olli Maatta as the most realistic trade candidate as moving him would free up $4.083 million in salary-cap space. He doesn’t believe Rutherford intends to move Brian Dumoulin and it would be very difficult to find any takers for Jack Johnson, who has four years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.25 million. 

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Jonathan Bombulie agrees Maatta is the most likely to be moved but he doesn’t anticipate a major overhaul of the Penguins’ blueline. He noted Rutherford recently saying their defense “is probably the best now that it’s been since I’ve been here, as a group.” 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the notion of the Penguins trading someone like Malkin or Letang makes for sexy headlines, I doubt very much they’re going that route with those two. Cap Friendly indicates Malkin has a full no-movement clause and I don’t think he’s keen to move on. Letang has a modified no-trade listing 18 clubs he can be traded to but I doubt Rutherford intends to make him the scapegoat for the Penguins’ early playoff exit.

If a major move takes place it’ll probably be Kessel. He’s clashed with Penguins coach Mike Sullivan and Rutherford reportedly fielded trade offers for the right winger last summer. I agree with Mackey and Bombulie that Maatta also seems a likely trade candidate this summer. Sullivan seems to have lost confidence in the 24-year-old and he could probably benefit from a change of scenery. 

WILL THE PREDATORS SHOP SUBBAN THIS SUMMER?

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan believes the Nashville Predators cannot justify maintaining the status quo following their first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Dallas Stars. Changes could be coming this summer, perhaps to shore up an offense that relied too much on the top line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and Viktor Arvidsson.

While they could dump center Kyle Turris, Vingan believes it’ll be difficult finding takers for the remaining five years and $30 million of his contract. He suggests they could turn to their defense, with P.K. Subban the natural target considering his expensive contract and wasn’t drafted and developed by the Predators. He also notes Ryan Ellis’ performance was a disappointment this season. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina reports Subban, who has three years remaining on his contract with a $9 million annual average value, wants to remain with the Predators and be part of the solution. However, he also acknowledged the business of hockey and that he has trade value if they were to shop him for a scoring forward. “If I’m talking facts, I’m the highest paid player on this team,” he said Wednesday. “With that comes responsibility. Just like everybody else, the responsibility is on me to take the fact that we didn’t win the first round; we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skrbina also noted Predators GM David Poile conceded his club failed to meet expectations this season and changes will be coming to their roster this summer. If he does decide to draw upon his blueline depth for a trade chip to bring in a scoring forward, Subban or Ellis seem the likely candidates.

I doubt Poile intends to move captain Roman Josi and will try to free up some long-term cap room for Josi’s new contract next summer, while Mattias Ekholm earns a very affordable $3.75-million annually through 2021-22. Subban and Ellis also lack no-trade protection and both will attract plenty of interest in the trade market. 

LATEST ON THE LEAFS

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas wouldn’t confirm if head coach Mike Babcock will return next season but he also didn’t say he was contemplating a coaching change. He said team president Brendan Shanahan will do a full evaluation on everyone, including Dubas. Simmons assumes Babcock will be back but suggests there could be some changes to the assistant coaching staff. 

Dubas’ priority will be re-signing restricted free agent winger Mitch Marner. Simmons expects the Leafs will lose defensemen Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey to unrestricted free agency. Dubas must also decide if he’ll trade or retain center Nazem Kadri, trying to re-sign RFAs Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, and finding a solution to the Patrick Marleau situation. 

Marleau told Simmons he’s not considering retirement. The 39-year-old winger wouldn’t say if he’d accept a trade, adding it’s tough to speculate. Trading Marleau and his $6.25 million salary-cap hit would free up salary-cap space. Simmons also believes Dubas would like to shed Nikita Zaitsev’s $4.25 million cap hit and feels the Leafs GM must consider moving William Nylander no matter what he may have told the winger personally about staying in Toronto. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Among his five burning offseason questions for the Leafs, Matt Larkin wonders if Dubas will move an impact forward like Kapanen, Johnsson, Nylander or Kadri for a defenseman this summer. “Nylander for Subban or Hamilton, anyone?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Babcock isn’t on the hot seat yet but it’s starting to get warm. Despite Dubas comments, I expect the Leafs coach will be back next season. However, I daresay there will be discussions with Babcock regarding the usage of several players, including giving too much playing time to the fading Marleau.

It appears Dubas isn’t going to let Marner’s contract situation drag on throughout the summer. Quite frankly, he can’t afford to.

He needs to get the winger under contract as quickly as possible to determine how much salary-cap space he needs to free up to retain other players and to address other roster needs. Whether that involves moving Nylander or Kadri for a top-pairing, right-shot defenseman like Subban or Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton remains to be seen.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 15, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 15, 2018

Predators re-sign Ryan Ellis, Oilers’ Andrej Sekera sidelined indefinitely plus the latest on Duncan Keith, Jake Allen, Zach Werenski and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators yesterday announced they re-signed defenseman Ryan Ellis to an eight-year, $50-million contract extension. Ellis was slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Nashville Predators re-signed defenseman Ryan Ellis to an eight-year contract extension. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ellis is in the final year of a five-year, $12.5-million deal with an annual average value of $2.5 million. His new cap hit is a hefty $6.25 million.  Ellis probably would’ve received over $7 million annually on the open market next summer but it appears he’s left some money on the table to get that extra year with the Predators.

A skilled two-way defenseman, Ellis is a key part of the Predators’ blueline corps, which also consists of P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm. Predators general manager David Poile has invested considerable time, money and assets building up his defense and obviously wants to keep that top-four together as long as possible. They’ll be vital for the Predators’ ongoing pursuit of the Stanley Cup.

The Ellis deal also means captain Josi will also be in line for a substantial raise from the Preds as early as next summer, when he’ll also be a year away from UFA eligibility. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Andrej Sekera is sidelined indefinitely following surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon suffered during a recent training session. Sekera played only 36 games last season following a serious knee injury during the 2017 playoffs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing Sekera again for another lengthy period to start the season is a serious setback for their blueline. Prior to his knee injury he filled a top-pairing role but  struggled after returning to action last season. At his age (32), there’s concern this could end his career. It could provide an opportunity for a promising prospect such as Evan Bouchard to crack the roster. It could also send them into the trade or free-agent market for help. 

THE ATHLETIC: Chris Kuc believes it’s not time to write off Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith after one disappointing season. Though the 35-year-old’s offensive numbers were down, his Corsi-For (51.8 percent), shot attempts (347), hits (41) and blocked shots (165) numbers were better than the previous season’s. Former Blackhawks defenseman Sean O’Donnell believes Keith will do whatever it takes this summer to remain an elite player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A bounce-back performance by Keith could be among the key factors that helps the Blackhawks return to playoff contender status in 2018-19. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Despite a busy offseason for the St. Louis Blues, their success next season could rest upon the play of goaltender Jake Allen. Since taking over the starter’s role in 2016-17, the 28-year-old has struggled with consistency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another shaky effort by Allen could force GM Doug Armstrong into the trade market for help between the pipes before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline. This could be a make-or-break campaign for the Fredericton NB native.

NHL.COM: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski has returned to skating following shoulder surgery on May 3. He’s hoping to be in the lineup for the Jackets’ season-opener on Oct. 4 in Detroit against the Red Wings but won’t rush the recovery timeframe of five-to-six months. 

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils re-signed defenseman Steven Santini to a three-year, $4.25-million contract. 

THE SCORE: Free-agent forward Mark Letestu has accepted a professional tryout offer with the Florida Panthers. 

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 11, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 11, 2018

Red Wings re-sign Dylan Larkin plus updates on Henrik Zetterberg, Ryan Ellis, Brian Gionta and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings yesterday announced their re-signing of center Dylan Larkin to a five-year, $30.5-million contract. The annual average value is $6.1 million.

Detroit Red Wings re-signed center Dylan Larkin to a five-year contract (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larkin’s getting a significant raise coming out of his entry-level contract. His bounce-back performance last season after struggling through his sophomore campaign convinced the Wings he’s worth this investment.

The Wings ensured their best forward is under contract long-term through most of his prime playing years for what could be considered reasonable dollars if he plays up to expectations over the term of this new deal.  He’ll also become eligible for unrestricted free agency at the end of this contract, putting him in line for an even bigger raise, from the Wings or someone else.

If last season is any indication, Larkin is poised to become one of the best two-way centers in the NHL. With Henrik Zetterberg’s career winding down, Larkin is the likely candidate to become the next Wings captain. He’s the foundation upon which their rebuild rests. 

THE DETROIT NEWS: Speaking of the Wings, general manager Ken Holland said the health of Henrik Zetterberg remains an unknown for the club. Holland said Zetterberg hasn’t been able to train this summer as he normally would because of his back. He said it’s something they’ll have to examine his status when training camp opens next month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Zetterberg doesn’t pass the team medical he could end up on long-term injured reserve to start the season. While his absence would give the Wings a measure of cap relief, it will also create a big hole at center that could prove difficult to fill, forcing them to lean more heavily on Larkin. 

TSN: Nashville Predators GM David Poile said his club has had “consistent and continual conversations” with defenseman Ryan Ellis, who is eligible for unrestricted free agent status next July.  Ellis is earning $2.5 million on his current deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ellis said he wants to retire with the Predators but it’s going to cost a lot of money to make that happen. It could cost the Predators over $7 million per season to keep him in the fold. As per Cap Friendly, they’ll have the salary-cap space to do so. However, it will still be an expensive investment, especially when they’ll have to face the same scenario next summer with Roman Josi. 

NHL.COM: Brian Gionta, 39, is acknowledging he may have played his final game in the NHL. If so, he’s prepared to walk away with no regrets. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gionta enjoyed a long and productive NHL career but it appears that his professional playing days are over. It appears he’s ready for the next stage, which could including coaching, scouting or management. 

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday signed free-agent forward Chase Balisy. 

SPORTSNET: Former Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Mark Hunter has returned to the OHL’s London Knights as general manager.