NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 2, 2023
Tage Thompson’s new contract already looks like a bargain for the Sabres, an update on the Coyotes’ future, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski recalled how much of the hockey world questioned the Sabres’ signing center Tage Thompson to a seven-year, $50 million contract extension last August following his 38-goal performance in 2021-22.
A year later, the 25-year-old Thompson’s deal looks like a bargain after he tallied a team-leading, career-best 47 goals and 94 points last season. Starting this season, he’ll earn an average annual value of $7.142 million, which is lower than 87 other NHL players.
Among them are those who signed new contracts this year, including New Jersey’s Timo Meier and Jesper Bratt, Detroit’s Dylan Larkin, and the New York Islanders’ Bo Horvat. Each has a longer record of success but none possess the same upside as Thompson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I was among those who questioned the Sabres signing Thompson to that contract. It certainly looks like a savvy move now. It will certainly be a steal for the Sabres if he maintains around the same level of production over the life of that deal.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly recently provided an update on the Arizona Coyotes’ search for a new arena. “They’re committed to finding a place in Arizona and making it work,” said Daly. “They continue to be optimistic about their ability to do so.”
Earlier this month, Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo submitted a letter of intent to purchase a parcel of land in northwest Mesa to potentially construct a new arena and entertainment district for the franchise.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes will be playing at Arizona State University’s 4,600-seat Mullett Arena for the second straight year. They have a lease there through 2024-25.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers goaltender Ivan Fedotov started Friday for CSKA Moscow in their KHL season opener. It’s an apparent violation of the IIHF ruling regarding the contract dispute that also involves the Flyers and the NHL, which stated that he could not play in Russia until Jan. 1, 2024.
The IIHF last month ruled that Fedotov’s contract with the Flyers, which was tolled forward after he spent a year of service with Russia’s military, was valid for this season. However, CSKA Moscow and the KHL dispute the ruling, claiming it “infringes on the constitutional right of a citizen of the Russian Federation to work.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Russia considered a pariah in the international athletic community due to their war with Ukraine, Fedotov’s situation could have consequences for NHL clubs with Russian draft prospects. It creates a potential precedent that could make it very difficult for those players to join their NHL clubs if their KHL teams decide they don’t want to let them go.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the KHL, league president Alexei Morozov said they approached the NHL about hosting interleague exhibition games. Those discussions failed to come to fruition. The last time KHL teams faced off with NHL clubs was in preseason action in 2010.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russia has been banned from international competition by the IIHF over its’ war with Ukraine, a ruling that the NHL abides by. It could also complicate the NHL’s plans to stage a World Cup of Hockey tournament in 2025.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sam Bennett will throw out the first pitch on Florida Panthers night prior to the Los Angeles Dodgers-Miami Marlins game on Sept. 6. The Marlins are honoring the Panthers’ 30th anniversary season.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Brian Boucher will replace Keith Jones as TNT Network’s “between the benches” in-game NHL analyst. Jones departed the role earlier this year to become the Flyers’ president of hockey operations.
THE ATHLETIC: Long-time Pittsburgh Penguins color commentator Bob Errey will not be returning to that role this season on Penguins TV broadcasts on SportsNet Pittsburgh. He’s held that job since 1999-2000. Steve Mears, his broadcast partner since 2017, is expected to be replaced in the play-by-play role by Josh Getzoff.
Phil Bourque is expected to remain as an analyst while Colby Armstrong is expected to play a bigger role in Penguins broadcasts.