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.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 3, 2021

The Avalanche take a 2-0 series lead over the Golden Knights, the Canadiens beat the Jets in their second-round series opener, the Sabres win the draft lottery, the Ted Lindsay Award finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Mikko Rantanen’s overtime power-play goal lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights and a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. Brandon Saad and Tyson Jost also scored for Colorado while Alec Martinez and Reilly Smith replied for Vegas. Avalanche netminder Philipp Grubauer made 39 saves. Marc-Andre Fleury returned to the Golden Knights’ net after being the backup in Game 1.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas coach Peter DeBoer wasn’t happy with the officiating on the slashing call on Rielly Smith that led to Rantanen’s PP goal. “Just a soft call”, he said, going on to accuse the Avalanche players of embellishment throughout the game.

The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Winnipeg Jets 5-3 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Eric Staal had a goal and an assist while Carey Price made 27 saves for the win. Their victory, however, was overshadowed by a dangerous hit by Jets center Mark Scheifele on Habs center Jake Evans as the latter was scoring an empty net. Evans was stretchered from the ice while Scheifele received a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was out of character for Scheifele, who has no history of supplemental discipline. He let his emotions get away with him and could face a suspension. Evans, meanwhile, was evaluated by the Canadiens’ medical staff. John Shannon reported he was back at the team hotel following the game, where he was described as doing fine, alert but shaken.

It should be noted that Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers protected the prone Evans during the ensuing scrum. He also called for additional medical attention for the fallen Hab. “In a situation like that, you don’t want anyone falling on top of him,” said Ehlers. “I was just trying to keep everyone away.”

Winnipeg center Paul Stastny missed this game with an undisclosed injury. Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo left the game early in the first period with a lower-body injury.

The Buffalo Sabres won the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery yesterday. The expansion Seattle Kraken won the second-overall pick while the Anaheim Ducks will select third.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres could select University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power. He’s listed as this year’s top prospect by NHL Central Scouting.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid are the finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan defended his team’s top-four players during the club’s end-of-season press conference. He did, however, acknowledge the club lacked a “killer instinct” that must be addressed.

SPORTSNET: Leafs captain John Tavares said he’s doing “really well” in his recovery from the traumatic head injury suffered during Game 1 against the Canadiens. Tavares missed the rest of the series with a concussion and a knee injury. He said he has no memory of the incident and doesn’t intend to watch the replay.

TSN: Leafs winger Mitch Marner denied a report that he refused to play a goal-line role on the club’s power play. “It’s a complete lie,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t expect Marner, Tavares, Matthews or William Nylander to be traded this summer if Shanahan’s comments are anything to go by. However, that hasn’t stopped the speculation among the Toronto media. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck’s status for Game 3 tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning remains uncertain. He was still being evaluated yesterday following his ankle-to-ankle collision with teammate Warren Foegele in Game 2.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Craig Smith could return to the lineup for Game 3 tonight against the New York Islanders. He missed Game 2 with a lower-body injury suffered during the previous game.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall said he’d be comfortable returning with the same group of players next season. He defended beleaguered starting goaltender Tristan Jarry, lauded the coaching staff and expects core players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang to return next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall and president of hockey ops Brian Burke intend to bring some size and toughness to the line next season. There will be some changes but those will likely involve their secondary players. They could also acquire an experienced backup as a mentor for Jarry.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers center Kevin Hayes underwent successful sports hernia surgery last week. His expected recovery period is five weeks.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 29, 2021

The Golden Knights advance to the second round, updates on the Leafs and Canadiens, the Ducks seek an assistant coach, a Gretzky rookie card fetches a record price at auction, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights advanced to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs following a 6-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild in Game 7 of their first-round series. Mattias Janmark tallied a hat trick for the Golden Knights, who faced the Colorado Avalanche in round two. Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin left the game in the first period with an apparent upper-body injury.

Vegas Golden Knights forward Mattias Janmark (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a close game early in the second period tied at two. However, the Golden Knights scored twice before the period was out and Janmark put it away with two goals in the third. It was a hard-fought series and the only one thus far in the first round to go the full seven games. This was a tough loss for the Wild but they have a promising future thanks to their budding core of young talent.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Nick Foligno remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury and questionable for Game 6 tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. Defenseman Travis Dermott could replace Rasmus Sandin for tonight’s game.

Montreal Canadiens center Jake Evans could return to the lineup tonight after being sidelined since Game 1 with an undisclosed injury. Artturi Lehkonen (upper-body) remains doubtful.

NHL.COM: Game 1 of the second-round series between the Carolina Hurricanes – Tampa Bay Lightning goes Sunday in Carolina at 5 pm ET.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Lightning, they’ve ended their policy that restricted fans from wearing gear supporting other NHL clubs in their premium seating areas. This move came after a video went viral showing Florida Panthers fans being asked to remove their jerseys jersey by team staffers during a recent playoff game between the two clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a bush-league rule that never should’ve been implemented in the first place.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray said head coach Dallas Eakin will return next season. He’s also looking for an assistant coach who can run their power play.

NBC SPORTS: A Wayne Gretzky rookie card recently sold for a record $3.75 million at auction.