NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 4, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 4, 2022

Recaps of Thursday’s action, barriers emerging for Russian players, an update on Hall-of-Famer Guy Lafleur, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin had a goal and two assists to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, ending the latter’s five-game win streak. Tristan Jarry made 29 saves while Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel each had a goal and an assist. Lightning coach Jon Cooper was ejected from the game near the end of the second period for criticizing referee Wes McCauley. With 76 points, the Penguins move to within three points of the first-place Carolina Hurricanes in the Metropolitan Division while the Lightning (76 points) drop one point behind the first-place Florida Panthers in the Atlantic Division.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Speaking of the Panthers, they snapped a three-game losing skid by blanking the Ottawa Senators 3-0. Sergei Bobrovsky had an 18-save shutout while Mason Marchment, Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Lomberg were the goal scorers. Panthers star Jonathan Huberdeau was held scoreless to end his points streak at 10 games.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, were shut out 4-0 by the Washington Capitals. Vitek Vanecek got the win by kicking out 36 shots while Alex Ovechkin scored his 763rd career goal to move within three of Jaromir Jagr on the all-time list. The Capitals hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 67 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals forward Anthony Mantha returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury on Nov. 4. The club created salary-cap space for his return by placing Carl Hagelin (eye) on long-term injury reserve and Joe Snively (upper body) on injured reserve.

Boston Bruins winger Craig Smith tallied a hat trick and David Pastrnak scored twice to down the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2. Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman turned aside 34 shots for the win as his club sits three points up on the Capitals in the first Eastern wild-card berth. Jack Eichel netted his first goal with the Golden Knights, who’ve slid into the final Western Conference wild-card spot with 64 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The absence of sidelined captain Mark Stone has contributed to Vegas’ slide in the standings. Since his last game on Feb. 8, the Golden Knights have just two wins in their last eight games. Robin Lehner returned to the lineup for the first time since Feb. 9 but gave up four goals on 35 shots.

A 42-save performance by Arizona Coyotes netminder Karel Vejmelka carried his club to a 2-1 upset over the league-leading Colorado Avalanche. Nick Schmaltz broke a 1-1 tie in the third period. The Avs remain atop the overall standings with 84 points.

Speaking of upsets, the Montreal Canadiens nipped the Calgary Flames 5-4 on an overtime goal by Ben Chiarot, who finished the game with two goals as the Habs ended the Flames’ 11-game home winning streak. Mike Hoffman had a goal and three assists and Nick Suzuki had three points for the Canadiens. Andrew Mangiapane had a goal and two assists for the Flames, who remain in first place in the Pacific Division with 71 points. Montreal forward Jake Evans left the game with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens remain competitive under interim coach Martin St. Louis. If this keeps up their improvement could hurt their odds of winning the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery but I don’t think the team cares about that. Their players look like they’re enjoying playing the game again.

In another upset, the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Edmonton Oiler 4-3 on an overtime goal by Alex DeBrincat. Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks, who honored former defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson with a pregame ceremony and a video tribute for Oilers blueliner Duncan Keith, who spent 16 seasons with the Blackhawks before being traded to Edmonton last summer. Evander Kane tallied twice for the Oilers (64 points), who moved into third place in the Pacific Division. Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury.

The Minnesota Wild snapped their four-game losing skid by downing the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4. Matt Boldy and Jonas Brodin scored 25 seconds apart in the third period as the Wild overcame a 4-3 deficit. Ryan Hartman scored twice while teammate Jared Spurgeon broke the club record for most games by a defenseman with 744. The Wild sit in third place in the Central Division with 67 points.

Third-period goals by Nils Hoglander and Vasily Podkolzin lifted the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders. With 60 points, the Canucks are four points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

HEADLINES

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Increasing international sanctions and bans imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine could bring up barriers for its hockey players hoping to reach the NHL or other elite leagues.

SPORTSNET: Guy Lafleur’s family issued a statement yesterday thanking fans for their support as the Hall-of-Famer battles lung cancer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hope you get well soon, Flower!

NBC SPORTS: The Carolina Hurricanes will host the Washington Capitals in the 2023 Stadium Series at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, NC on Feb. 18, 2023.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sharks goaltender James Reimer is sidelined week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers center Kevin Rooney will be out for at least a week with an upper-body injury.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 4, 2021

Canada’s 2022 Olympic men’s hockey team names its first three players, the league reaches out to Robin Lehner over his social media accusations, Jake Guentzel tests positive for COVID-19, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Team Canada general manager Doug Armstrong has notified Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Alex Pietrangelo they will be part of the 2022 Olympic team. The move was made at the request of the International Ice Hockey Federation, the NHL, and the NHL Players Association.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

This will be Crosby’s third Olympics, the second for Pietrangelo and the first for McDavid.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s no surprise seeing Crosby, McDavid and Pietrangelo being named to Canada’s squad. I daresay Crosby will be named team captain as he was in 2014. It remains to be seen when the rest of the roster will be named.

No word on which three players will be named to the other men’s Olympic ice hockey clubs. Perhaps those will be revealed in the coming days.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The NHL has reached out to Robin Lehner to set up an interview after the Vegas Golden Knights goaltender took to social media accusing several teams of giving players drugs without a doctor’s prescription.

Lehner claimed he knew several teams that gave players sedatives and anxiety pills with a doctor’s consent, singling out the Philadelphia Flyers and head coach Alain Vigneault. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher issued a statement yesterday denying the allegation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner claimed he had proof to back up his allegation against the Flyers though he never played for the club or Vigneault. As I said yesterday, he could end up in hot water if he cannot substantiate his claims. If he can, however, it could force the league to launch an investigation.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel tested positive for COVID-19 and has been placed in the NHL’s protocol for the coronavirus. He’s the second Penguin to test positive, joining forward Zach Aston-Reese.

Guentzel must remain in isolation for 10 days following his positive test. If he’s asymptomatic and fully vaccinated, he can be released from isolation if he receives two negative tests during that period.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers forward Josh Archibald has been diagnosed with COVID-related myocarditis. It’s the same heart ailment that sidelined Oilers goalie Alex Stalock.

Archibald had contracted COVID during the summer. The unvaccinated forward was in the midst of his 14-day quarantine after traveling to Edmonton from the United States for training camp when he began to not feel well.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Stalock, Archibald’s career is now in jeopardy. Myocarditis causes inflammation of the heart muscle which can prove fatal under physical exertion. Stalock is out for the upcoming season and Archibald could suffer the same fate.

TSN: The Vancouver Canucks officially signed Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes to their new contracts yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly has the full details. It’s going to be expensive for the Canucks to re-sign Pettersson at the end of his three-year contract. He’ll earn $10.25 million in actual salary in the final season (2023-24) of that deal, meaning it’ll cost them that much to qualify his rights. Hughes, on the other hand, can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of his new six-year contract.

**UPDATE**: I’ve been reminded that rule for contracts signed after July 10, 2020, is now 120 percent of the contract’s annual average value. That means it’ll cost the Canucks $8.82 million to qualify Pettersson’s rights. Still expensive but not as much as $10.25 million. 

THE SCORE: The Tampa Bay Lightning have reportedly opened contract extension talks with head coach Jon Cooper. The club recently re-signed general manager Julien BriseBois.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cooper could become the NHL’s highest-paid coach after guiding the Lightning to consecutive Stanley Cup titles.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov missed yesterday’s practice with a lower-body injury. He’ll be re-evaluated today.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed checking-line forward Jake Evans to a three-year, $5.1 million contract extension. The annual average value is $1.7 million.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sharks goalie Adin Hill left practice yesterday favoring his left wrist. His participation in today’s preseason game against the Anaheim Ducks is in doubt.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2021

The latest on the Canadiens and Lightning, top prospect Owen Power still leaning toward returning to university, the Kraken announces the hiring of two assistant coaches, the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Expect the Canadiens to ice the same lineup in Game 5 as they did in their previous contest. That means Jake Evans will replace Jesperi Kotkaniemi again on the third line while Alexander Romanov and Brett Kulak will replace Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill on the third defense pairing.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That shouldn’t come as a surprise considering those changes contributed to their 3-2 victory in Game 4. Romanov scored an even-strength goal with an assist from Evans.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh is enjoying perhaps the best postseason performance of his career. He’s set up several big goals, leads all postseason skaters with a plus-minus of plus-14, and is one of his club’s top shot blockers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDonagh’s been overshadowed by teammates such as Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Points, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Victor Hedman. Nevertheless, he’s a big reason why the Lightning holds a 3-1 lead in this series over the Canadiens.

ESPN.COM: A league source told Greg Wyshynski there is “zero chance” Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final will be postponed despite Tropical Storm Elsa bearing down on Tampa Bay. That assessment was made based on the forecast, though NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated they have “an amount of flexibility.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, unless the storm’s impact proves far worse than anticipated, it’s game on tonight in Tampa Bay.

WGR 550: University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power is still leaning toward returning to university for one more season before making the jump to the NHL. Power is ranked as this year’s top prospect. He is expected to be selected by the Buffalo Sabres, who hold the first-overall pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some teams might prefer a prospect who could be ready to jump to the NHL right away. However, it’s unlikely Power will drop in this year’s draft order. Many highly-touted prospects need another year or two of seasoning before they’re ready for the big time.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken yesterday announced the hirings of Kelly McFarland and Jay Leach as assistant coaches. McFarland will oversee the power-play unit and forwards while Leach will be in charge of the defensemen.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed goaltender Scott Wedgewood to a one-year, two-way deal worth $825K at the NHL level.

NHL.COM: The Los Angeles Kings signed defenseman Christian Wolanin to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets yesterday signed center Dominic Toninato to a two-year contract worth $750K at the NHL level. It’s a two-way deal in the first season.

CBS SPORTS: Former Boston Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer signed a one-year contract with KHL team AK Bars Kazan.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes have hired Alan Hepple as their new director of pro scouting. He’s the former director of amateur scouting with the Colorado Avalanche.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 13, 2021

The Islanders and Lightning commence their third-round series today, Lightning GM Julien BriseBois addresses Nikita Kucherov’s LTIR, an update on the Canadiens, some expansion draft details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM:The third round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs begins this afternoon at 3 pm ET as the New York Islanders face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Tampa Bay.

SPORTSNET: Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois defended his team’s handling of Nikita Kucherov’s recovery from hip surgery and placing his contract on long-term injury reserve for the entire season.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

We had a player who was injured, needed surgery with about a five-month expected rehabilitation time. It just so happened with this season, because of the extraordinary circumstances, the regular season was only lasting four months,” BriseBois said in a press conference Saturday. “So he was able to have surgery, miss the entire season, we were able to get some cap relief during the season, and he was able to come back a little sooner than expected.”

BriseBois also confirmed the NHL investigated the Lightning’s handling of Kucherov’s contract status and found no rules were broken.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Critics suggest the Lightning somehow cheated the system because Kucherov returned in time for the playoffs when the salary cap isn’t applicable. However, they cannot be faulted for following the LTIR rules within the CBA, which apply to every NHL club. Cap Friendly and PuckPedia have the breakdown of LTIR frequently asked questions. 

It’s legalized cap circumvention which the league and the NHLPA are willing to live with and have done so for years. Perhaps this will be raised in the next round of negotiations in 2026.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens center Jake Evans is making progress in his recovery from the concussion he suffered in the previous round. He’s been skating on his own and could return at some point in the upcoming series against the Vegas Golden Knights.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently reported the Seattle Kraken will be allowed to sign players acquired prior to the July 21 expansion draft to eight-year contracts before the opening of free agency on July 28.

The Kraken also has an exclusive three-day window from 10 am on July 18 to 10 am on July 21 to speak with and potentially sign pending free agents left unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft. If they sign that player before the expansion draft, it will count as their pick from that player’s former club.

The earliest the Kraken can buy out players is 2022.

July 13 is the latest date a team can ask a player to waive their no-movement clause to be exposed in the expansion draft. The deadline for the player to waive that clause is July 16.

A trade freeze will be in place from 3 pm ET on July 17 to 1 pm ET on July 22 among the 31 NHL teams. The Kraken are allowed to make trades with any club during that period.

The deadline for protection list submission is 5 pm ET on July 17. The Kraken must submit their selection list to the league by 10 am ET on July 21. That’s the same deadline for them to submit contracts of players they signed during the free-agent interview period.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes interviewed Dallas Stars assistant coach Todd Nelson and are expected to interview St. Louis Blues assistant coach Mike Van Ryn for their vacant head-coaching position.

PUCKPEDIA: The Boston Bruins have a $2.02 million in bonus carryover overage cap hit for 2021-22.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 10, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 10, 2021

The Islanders advance to the semifinals, the Norris Trophy finalists are announced, plus the latest on Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Islanders advanced to the semifinals of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 6-2 victory over the Boston Bruins to end their series in six games. Brock Nelson scored two second-period goals to snap a 1-1 tie while Semyon Varlamov made 23 saves for the win. Brad Marchand tallied both Bruins goals. The Isles face the Tampa Bay Lighting for the second straight year in the third round.

New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders were the better team in this series. They took control of this game in the second on those goals by Nelson with Kyle Palmieri making it 4-1 in the final minutes of the frame.

The Bruins were without sidelined defensemen Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller. Goaltender Tuukka Rask acknowledged he was hampered by a nagging injury, raising questions over coach Bruce Cassidy’s decision to play him in this crucial game.

Adam Fox of the New York Rangers, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche are this year’s finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele still doesn’t believe he deserved a four-game suspension for charging Montreal Canadiens forward Jake Evans during their second-round series. “I thought I was going to be tried to be shut down by (Canadiens center) Phillip Danault,” said Scheifele. “Instead it was the Department of Player Safety that shut me down.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Scheifele shut himself down. He let his frustration get the better of him. Rather than accept the Game 1 loss and put the focus on rallying back in Game 2, he made a reckless hit that took himself out of the series. It contributed to the Jets getting swept from the second round by the Canadiens. Scheifele’s suspension is his fault. The sooner he accepts it the better.

Speaking of Evans, he resumed off-ice training yesterday after suffering a concussion from Scheifele’s hit that sidelined him for the rest of the second-round series. There’s no timeline for his return to play but Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said he could return at some point in the semifinals. Defenseman Jeff Petry could also return for the semis after injuring his right hand in Game 3 against the Jets.

SPORTSNET: Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers claims he felt 100 percent during the playoffs but revealed he suffered a posterior labrum tear in his shoulder and a first-rib cartilage fracture.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The injuries affected Ehlers’ play as he managed just three points in six games. He enjoyed perhaps the best performance of his career during the regular season, tallying 46 points in 47 games.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin hired Ray Shero as senior advisor. Shero is the former general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks hired former Columbus Blue Jackets assistant coach Brad Shaw as an assistant coach. He’s expected to help the Canucks improve their porous defense.

THE SCORE: New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban will serve as an ESPN in-studio NHL analyst for the remainder of the playoffs. The company is also reportedly hiring NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes, as well as A.J. Mleczko Griswold and Ryan Callahan. Turner Sports, meanwhile, is bringing about NBC/Sportsnet analyst Anson Carter.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 4, 2021

The Bruins take a 2-1 series lead over the Islanders, the Hurricanes narrow the Lightning’s series lead, Mark Scheifele is suspended, the Calder Trophy finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brad Marchand’s overtime goal gave the Boston Bruins a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders in Game 3 of their second-round series. Craig Smith opened the scoring for Boston in the first period but the Islanders’ Mathew Barzal tied it in the third. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made 28 saves while Semyon Varlamov turned aside 39 for the Isles. The Bruins hold a 2-1 lead in the series. Game 4 goes on Saturday on Long Island.

Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal (NHL Images).

The Carolina Hurricanes picked up their first win of their second-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 3. Jordan Staal tipped in Sebastian Aho’s shot for the winning goal. Aho had a goal and two assists while Petr Mrazek made 35 shots for the win in his first game in this postseason. Tampa Bay rallied back from a 2-0 deficit on goals by Brayden Point and Alex Killorn. The Lightning holds a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 on Saturday in Tampa Bay.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov’s penalty for holding the stick of Hurricanes winger Martin Necas set the stage for Staal’s game-winner. Hurricanes forward Warren Foegele left the game with an upper-body injury. The Canes played this game without sidelined forwards Nino Niederreiter and Vincent Trocheck.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele received a four-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for charging Montreal Canadiens forward Jake Evans during Game 1 of their series on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a hefty suspension for a star player with no previous suspensions or fines. Coming in the middle of the playoffs, it’s the equivalent of an eight-game suspension in the regular season. Evans suffered a concussion and could miss the rest of this series.

The absence of their top forward is a big loss for the Jets in this series. They also played Game 1 without center Paul Stastny (undisclosed) and lost defenseman Dylan DeMelo to a lower-body injury. There’s a chance Stastny could return for Game 2 tonight in Winnipeg but DeMelo seems unlikely to play.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov, Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic and Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson are this year’s finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy.

SPORTSNET: The NHL hopes to have a decision soon regarding US teams crossing the Canadian border for the semifinals of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said talks with the Canadian government are ongoing.