NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 2, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 2, 2023

The Devils eliminate the Rangers, the Flames fire head coach Darryl Sutter and the Panthers limit ticket sales for fans of the Maple Leafs. Details and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils blanked the New York Rangers 4-0 in Game 7 of their best-of-seven first-round series. Akira Schmid turned in a 31-save shutout while Michael McLeod, Tomas Tatar, Erik Haula and Jesper Bratt scored for the Devils, who advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2012. They’ll face off with the Carolina Hurricanes with Game 1 starting Wednesday.

New Jersey Devils goaltender Akira Schmid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a big step forward for the Devils emerging from years of rebuilding. Schmid was their MVP in this series, taking over in Game 3 with his club down 2-0 in the series and winning four of five games. His goaltending inspired his teammates as their overall play improved over the course of this series.

Credit also goes to head coach Lindy Ruff, whose gamble on Schmid paid off handsomely for the Devils. Haula, Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier were among the Devils who stepped up as this series went on.

Devils winger Timo Meier left the game in the third period following a thundering hit by Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba. He left the game but return to the Devils’ bench late in the third. Ruff had no update on Meier following the game but felt that Trouba made contact with the winger’s head. No penalty was called on the play.

For the Rangers, this is a major letdown after their run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. They loaded up for a run at the Stanley Cup by acquiring Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane but they tallied four goals between them in seven games.

They’re not solely to blame for this defeat. The only Rangers who played well consistently in this series were goalie Igor Shesterkin and winger Chris Kreider.

Mika Zibanejad was limited to one goal and four points while Artemi Panarin had just two assists. The Kid Line of Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere wasn’t as effective as they were in last year’s playoffs. Meanwhile, the blueline struggled to contain the speedy Devils forwards.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: The Flames yesterday announced they fired head coach Darryl Sutter. The move came two weeks after Brad Treliving stepped down as general manager. Treliving’s replacement has yet to be named but whoever takes over that role will choose the Flames’ next head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames must still honor Sutter’s two-year contract extension worth a reported $8 million. They evidently felt it was worthwhile eating that deal considering how the club struggled this season amid reports of growing unhappiness among the players over Sutter’s coaching style.

Winger Jonathan Huberdeau admitted he and Sutter “really didn’t click” and there were rumors that Sutter was clashing with center Nazem Kadri. Centers Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund hinted they might depart as free agents next summer though Lindholm seemed to suggest he would see what direction the club took in the coming months.

Speaking of the Flames, Oliver Kylington will return to the club next season. The 25-year-old defenseman missed the entirety of this season for personal reasons.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers are limiting tickets being sold on their website for the first two home games of their series against the Toronto Maple Leafs to those with a billing address in the United States. Team president Matthew Caldwell called it “an access thing so our fans can get tickets.” He said they will eventually allow tickets to be sold to Toronto fans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the Panthers want to ensure their fans aren’t outnumbered by fanatical Leafs supporters. However, there will be plenty of “snowbirds” who live in Florida that are Leafs fans. They will likely make their presence felt at those games.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: According to ESPN’s Kevin Weekes, Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark played through a “debilitating and painful injury that limited his mobility and technique.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That explains why Ullmark (the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy as this season’s top goalie) at times didn’t seem like himself in the first-round series against the Panthers. It calls into question the coaching staff’s decision to allow him to play through that injury rather than give more starts to a healthy Jeremy Swayman.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek said he suffered a broken leg while blocking a shot during an Apr. 6 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He attempted to play in Game 3 of the Wild’s first-round series with the Dallas Stars but left after one shift. He had surgery on his fibula shortly following that game.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders signed winger Hudson Fasching to a two-year, one-way contract worth $775K annually.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Capitals signed top prospect Ivan Miroshnichenko to a three-year entry-level contract after he and his KHL club Avangard Omsk mutually agreed to terminate his deal. The 19-year-old forward was chosen 20th overall by the Capitals in the 2022 NHL Draft

THE SCORE: Rapper Snoop Dogg is part of a bid fronted by Los Angeles entrepreneur Neko Sparks interested in purchasing the Ottawa Senators. He’s the latest celebrity connected to a bid for the Senators, joining actor Ryan Reynolds.

NHL Rumor Mill – April 10, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – April 10, 2023

The latest on Jonathan Toews and an update on the Islanders in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is treating the club’s final two home games as his last with the franchise after 15 seasons. The 34-year-old center is an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s not treating it as the end of his career as he thinks he could be playing elsewhere next season but he believes he’s coming to the end of his time with the Blackhawks.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks are rebuilding with younger talent, shipping Toews’ long-time teammate Patrick Kane to the New York Rangers before the March 3 trade deadline. He might’ve been traded to a playoff club too if he hadn’t taken himself out of the lineup for two months dealing with health issues.

If Toews decides to continue his playing career it’s unlikely that he’ll be returning to the Blackhawks. He still wants to win and would like one more shot at adding a fourth Stanley Cup ring to his collection.

Toews turns 35 on Apr. 29, which will make him eligible to receive a 35-plus contract, meaning a team can sign him to a one-year contract with a low base salary and plenty of performance bonuses.

Despite his health issues, there could be contenders willing to sign him to that type of contract.


THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently pondered whether the New York Islanders can afford to re-sign pending UFAs Pierre Engvall and Hudson Fasching. Both are in their late-20s and seem like the type of players that general manager Lou Lamoriello would like to keep around on his aging roster.

Re-signing both could require some salary-cap gymnastics by the cap-strapped Islanders. Kurz suggested a four-year, $16 million deal for Engvall and a three-year, $3.6 million contract for Fasching, meaning it would cost the Isles a total of $5.2 million to keep them.

The Islanders have over $76 million invested in their 2023-24 roster. Kurz speculates that pending UFAs Semyon Varlamov and Scott Mayfield will likely get better contracts elsewhere. He also suggested a contract buyout for Josh Bailey and burying Ross Johnston’s $1.1 million in the minors.

However, the Isles have restricted free agents like Oliver Wahlstrom and Samuel Bolduc that they’ll want to keep around. Kurz thinks they’ll have to make another cost-cutting move or two to re-sign Engvall and Fasching.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could mean shopping the 32-year-old Casey Cizikas and his $2.5 million average annual value through 2026-27. Perhaps they try peddling 35-year-old Cal Clutterbuck ($1.75 million) or the 33-year-old Matt Martin ($1.5 million), who are both a year away from UFA status.