NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 2, 2023

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.

Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson (NHL Images).

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.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 15, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 15, 2023

Bruins center David Krejci retires, Leafs prospect Rodion Amirov has died and Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar makes the cover of NHL 24. Details on these and other stories in today’s Morning Coffee Headlines.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: David Krejci announced his retirement after 16 NHL seasons, all of them spent with the Bruins. The 37-year-old center tallied 231 goals and 555 assists for 786 points in 1,032 regular-season games along with 43 goals and 85 assists for 120 points in 160 playoff games.

Boston Bruins center David Krejci announced his retirement (NHL Images).

Krejci helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reach the Cup Final in 2013 and 2019. Last season, he played a key role in the Bruins setting the NHL’s single-season records for wins with 65 and points with 135.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A talented and sometimes underrated two-way center, Krejci sits fifth among the Bruins’ all-time leaders for games played and assists and is ninth in total points.

Krejci’s retirement was expected, following the lead of teammate Patrice Bergeron who called it a career last month. His departure has heightened speculation over how the Bruins will address their lack of top-six forward depth that started when Bergeron retired. I’ll have more about that in today’s Rumor Mill.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs prospect Rodion Amirov passed away yesterday in Munich, Germany. He was 21.

A promising young Russian winger, Amirov was chosen 15th overall by the Leafs in the 2020 NHL Draft. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor soon afterward and was receiving treatment in Munich.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A promising life and hockey career cut short far too soon. My condolences to Amirov’s family, friends, former teammates and the Leafs organization.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: EA Sports named Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar as the cover athlete for its NHL 24 videogame. He’s the third Avalanche player to grace the cover, joining Peter Forsberg (NHL 98) and Joe Sakic (NHL 2004).

OTTAWA SUN: The sale of the Senators to billionaire Michael Andlauer is nearly completion. He could take over control of the franchise by September.

A co-owner of the Montreal Canadiens, Andlauer is expected to have sold his 10 percent share of that franchise before he officially takes over the Senators. If not, that stake will be placed in trust until he has completed its sale.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has ruled in favor of the Flyers and the NHL regarding a 2022 contract agreement with Russian goaltender Ivan Fedotov.

Fedotov signed with the Flyers last year but was conscripted into the Russian military soon afterward. The Flyers tolled his contract forward to this season but the goalie recently signed a two-year deal with CSKA Moscow following the completion of his military service.

Per the IIHF ruling, Fedotov violated its transfer regulations and faces a four-month suspension from international games. CSKA Moscow faces an immediate one-year ban on international transfers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per the report, it’s unlikely Fedotov will be joining the Flyers for the coming season. CSKA Moscow stated on its website that it expects the 26-year-old netminder to play for them this fall.

The Fedotov situation seems fishy given his stated intention to play for the Flyers last year following the completion of his contract with CSKA Moscow. It’s suspected that the club’s ownership pulled strings with the Russian government to prevent his move to the NHL.

DAILY FACEOFF: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid topped Matt Larkin’s fantasy hockey top 300 rankings for 2023-24. McDavid’s teammate Leon Draisaitl, Avalanche forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen and New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes round out his top five.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow the link to see the complete list.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 31, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 31, 2023

An update on Robin Lehner’s future with the Golden Knights, the Coyotes avoid arbitration with Jack McBain, the Bruins and Trent Frederic could be heading to arbitration and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger believes the Vegas Golden Knights signing goaltender Adin Hill to a new contract worth an average annual value of $4.9 million speaks volumes about Robin Lehner’s status for 2023-24. The 32-year-old netminder missed all of last season recovering from double hip surgery and shoulder surgery.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner (NHL Images).

With Lehner on long-term injury reserve, the Golden Knights are comfortably under the $83.5 million salary cap. If he came off LTIR, however, it would push them over the cap. Lehner is signed through 2024-25 with an AAV of $5 million.

A buyout is off the table. If the Golden Knights wish to shed his contract via trade, they’ll likely have to include other assets in the deal.

Given Hill’s new contract and the uncertainty over Lehner’s health, Granger believes the most likely scenario is the netminder remains on LTIR for this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granger acknowledged the possibility of Lehner showing up for training camp in September much further along in his recovery than believed. For now, however, it appears the Golden Knights are proceeding as though that’s not going to happen.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes avoided arbitration with center Jack McBain by reaching an agreement on a two-year contract with an AAV of $1.6 million.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting the Bruins and Trent Frederic are $1.5 million apart in their arbitration filings. The club seeks a two-year contract worth $1.4 million annually while Frederic seeks a one-year deal worth $2.9 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Frederic’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 1. Meanwhile, Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman’s case was heard by an arbiter on Sunday. A decision is expected within 48 hours.

CANUCKS ARMY: David Quadrelli cited Vancouver Canucks insider Rick Dhaliwal reporting that Ilya Mikheyev recently resumed skating for the first time since suffering an ACL injury in January. The Canucks forward is expected to be ready for the 2023-24 season.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Philadelphia Flyers and the NHL have submitted that goalie Ivan Fedotov’s contract should be tolled as he missed last season due to military service in Russia. The International Ice Hockey Federation is considering whether his contract with the Flyers or KHL club CSKA Moscow is currently valid and binding.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fedotov signed a contract with Philadelphia last year but wound up drafted into the Russian military. If the NHL prevails, he will play for the Flyers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2022

Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner will be sidelined for the season by hip surgery, Flyers prospect facing trial in Russia, Ed Olczyk officially joins the Kraken broadcast team, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner will undergo hip surgery that is expected to sideline him for the entire 2022-23 season. Lehner, 31, battled injuries last season, including season-ending shoulder surgery in April.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner (NHL Images).

The Golden Knights currently have goaltenders Logan Thompson, Laurent Brossoit and Michael Hutchinson under contract for the coming season. Brossoit’s status remains uncertain after undergoing hip surgery earlier in the offseason.

With the Golden Knights already exceeding the salary cap, Lehner is expected to be placed on long-term injury reserve. While that would provide $5 million in cap relief, most of that will go toward signing restricted free agents Nic Hague and Jake Leschyshyn.

CAP FRIENDLY: indicates the Golden Knights can exceed the $82.5 million salary cap by over $12.857 million by placing Lehner and Shea Weber ($7.857 million) on LTIR.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the cap relief, this is a big blow for the Golden Knights. Lehner was supposed to be their starting goaltender this season. This news has sparked speculation over how they’ll replace him. I’ll have more about that in today’s NHL Rumor Mill update.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers prospect goaltender Ivan Fedotov will face a preliminary hearing in Russia on Sept. 20. The 25-year-old signed a contract with the Flyers in May and was expected to back up Carter Hart this season. However, Fedotov was reportedly arrested last month on suspicion of evading military service. He has filed a complaint against the Russian government’s attempts to recruit him for military service.

Meanwhile, Mikhail Vorobyev pleaded guilty to bribery charges related to evading Russian military service. He played the last two seasons in the KHL but his NHL rights are still owned by the Flyers.

NHL.COM: Ed Olczyk has officially joined the Seattle Kraken’s broadcast team as a television analyst. Olczyk spent the past 15 years as the Chicago Blackhawks’ TV color analyst.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins recently announced the promotion of Jamie Langenbrunner to assistant general manager. He’s spent the past eight seasons in the Bruins’ hockey operations department.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: The Sharks are reportedly bringing back a California Golden Seals’ look for their 2022-23 Reverse Retro jersey. The Oakland Seals were part of the NHL expansion in 1967-68 and changed their name to California Golden Seals in 1970 until their relocation to Cleveland in 1976.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 5, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 5, 2022

The Canadiens leave all options open with the first-overall pick as the 2022 draft approaches, the Sharks name Mike Grier as their new GM, Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk rescinds his trade request, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes is stirring up intrigue over what he’ll do with the first-overall pick in the upcoming 2022 NHL Draft. He claimed he hasn’t decided yet if he’ll choose center Shane Wright of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, winger Juraj Slavkovsky of Liiga club TPS in Finland, or center Logan Cooley of the U.S. National Team Development Program.

We’re trying to evaluate how a player projects,” said Hughes. He adds they’re being open-minded and flexible over which is the right situation for those players. The Canadiens GM also didn’t rule out trading the pick or swinging a deal with the New Jersey Devils to end up with the first- and second-overall picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes is doing what any GM worth his salt would do with the first-overall pick in a draft where there is no generational player like Connor McDavid available. He’ll get a very good player with that pick if he keeps it regardless of whether he chooses Wright, Slavkovsky or Cooley.

Hughes could surprise us by trading that pick, and if he can land the Devils’ pick without giving up a young core player such as Nick Suzuki or Cole Caufield it’ll be an impressive move. However, I doubt he’ll be able to pull that off. I anticipate he’ll retain the first-overall pick and use it to select Wright given the Habs’ ongoing need for quality depth at center.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: cited ESPN NHL insider Kevin Weekes reporting the Sharks will name Mike Grier as their new general manager on Tuesday. He’ll become the first black person in NHL history to become the GM of a team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weekes has a solid record for breaking NHL news. Grier spent 14 seasons from 1996-97 to 2010-11 as an NHL player with the Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres. He went on to serve as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers and in 2021 was named the Rangers’ hockey operations advisor.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: cited TSN’s Ryan Rishaug reporting Jake DeBrusk’s agent claiming his client has rescinded his trade request. The Bruins signed the 25-year-old winger in March to a two-year contract extension.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting to note that DeBrusk withdrew his trade request after the Bruins fired head coach Bruce Cassidy. Make of that what you will.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Evander Kane’s grievance hearing with the San Jose Sharks over the January termination of his contract isn’t likely to be scheduled before free agency begins on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun wonders if the two sides might reach an agreement on a settlement before then. That might be possible now that the Sharks finally have a new general manager in place.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev has changed agents and is now represented by Dan Milstein. Dreger’s colleague Chris Johnston reports Sergachev is expected to sign a contract extension in the coming weeks.

Pierre LeBrun reports pending UFA winger Ilya Mikheyev’s agent (Dan Milstein) may seek a multi-year deal worth between $4.75 million to $5.5 million annually. The 27-year-old Mikheyev spent the past three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, tallying a career-high 21 goals and 32 points in 53 games in 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mikheyev is a good depth forward but he’s not worth that much. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t underestimate the ability of NHL general managers to succumb to action fever and overpay for second-tier talent in the opening days of free agency.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets have appointed Scott Arniel as an associate coach under new bench boss Rick Bowness.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers goaltender Ivan Fedotov is apparently going to be serving in the Russian Navy. After being detained in St. Petersburg last Friday for allegedly dodging the draft, he was reportedly hospitalized with what his attorney called stress-induced gastritis. He was then sent to a Russian naval base near the Arctic Circle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fedotov, 25, played for CSKA Moscow last season but signed a one-year entry-level contract in May with the Flyers. There are rumors his gastritis was in fact poisoning but there’s no confirmation of this.

Fedotov’s plight is raising concerns that he’s being used as an example to other young Russian players thinking of leaving their KHL clubs to play in the NHL while Russia is at war with Ukraine. It could affect whether Russian prospects are chosen in the upcoming NHL Draft.

CALGARY SUN: The city of Calgary is continuing to work with the Flames in hope of finding a resolution toward the construction of a new arena to replace the aging Saddledome. A third-party intermediary called the Event Centre Visioning Group is continuing talks with both sides with the intention of getting them back to the negotiating table.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 2, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 2, 2022

The Canucks sign Brock Boeser, the Sharks fire head coach Bob Boughner, the Jets hire Rick Bowness as their new bench boss, the Lightning sign Nick Paul, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: The Canucks signed Brock Boeser to a new three-year contract worth an annual average value of $6.65 million. The 25-year-old winger was slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights on July 13. It would’ve cost the Canucks $7.5 million to qualify his rights before then.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows that $6.65 million is a flat rate per season. The deal takes him up to unrestricted free agent eligibility and comes with a 10-team no-trade clause in the final season.

It’s a reasonable contract for the Canucks and Boeser. It also shows that management was understanding of the personal difficulties the winger faced this season coping with the knowledge that his father was dying. This deal could pay off for the Canucks if Boeser can reach his 30-goal potential. It would also bolster his stock when he becomes eligible for UFA status.

THE PROVINCE/TSN: The Canucks also signed promising defenseman Jack Rathbone to a two-year, one-way contract worth $850K per season. They also hired former Philadelphia Flyers interim coach Mike Yeo as an assistant coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Boeser and Rathbone signings leave the Canucks with $2.15 million in cap space with 19 players under contract for 2022-23. However, they will get $3.5 million in cap relief if necessary with winger Micheal Ferland on their permanent long-term injury reserve list. Still, I wouldn’t rule out a contract buyout before the July 12 deadline or a cost-cutting trade.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks fired head coach Bob Boughner and his assistant coaches on Friday after three losing seasons. Interim general manager Joe Will said the move was made in part to allow whoever becomes their new GM to have full autonomy in choosing their coaching staff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand the logic behind that but I would’ve thought they would’ve made that decision at the end of the regular season. This could an indicator of the difficulty the Sharks are encountering in finding a replacement for former general manager Doug Wilson. Allowing the new GM to hire his own staff might be a means of enticement for suitable candidates.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: The Winnipeg Jets are hiring former Dallas Stars head coach Rick Bowness as their new bench boss.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bowness’ hiring should help reduce starting goaltender Connor Hellebuyck’s workload given his adherence to a disciplined defensive system. It’ll be interesting to see if he can heal what’s considered a fractured dressing room in Winnipeg.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed forward Nick Paul to a seven-year contract worth an annual average value of $3.15 million. The deal also comes with a full no-trade clause in the first four seasons and a 16-team no-trade list in the final three years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquired from the Ottawa Senators before the trade deadline, Paul quickly established himself as a key member of the Lightning roster, especially during the postseason. The length of this deal reflects how highly they think of him.

The move leaves the Lightning sitting above the $82.5-million salary cap by $5.13 million. They’re allowed to spend over the cap ceiling by 10 percent during the offseason. When the season begins, they can use the $6.875 million of the permanently sidelined Brent Seabrook as cap relief by placing him on their LTIR list.

However, that doesn’t leave sufficient wiggle room to re-sign or replace pending UFAs Ondrej Palat, Jan Rutta and Riley Nash. That’s why Lightning management is reportedly looking at trading defenseman Ryan McDonagh and his $6.75-million annual cap hit through 2025-26.

NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues have hired Craig MacTavish as an assistant coach.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed Julien Gauthier to a one-year contract extension worth $800K. The 24-year-old winger was slated to become a restricted free agent on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Post noted Gauthier had requested a trade and wondered what impact this signing will have on a potential deal. Perhaps this is part of a “sign-and-trade” move by the Rangers. We’ll find out soon enough.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers goaltender Ivan Fedotov was reportedly arrested in St. Petersburg on suspicion of “dodging the Russian Army”. He was taken to the Russian military registration and enlistment office in St. Petersburg. Chosen by the Flyers in the 2015 draft. The 25-year-old Fedotov spent the past six seasons in the KHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fedotov signed an entry-level contract with the Flyers on May 7. This is an ominous turn for Russian players hoping to skate in the NHL next season. It could also have an effect on the upcoming NHL draft. Teams could be leery of choosing Russian players over concerns they could be prevented from skating in North America.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Speaking of the Flyers, they’ve hired Brad Shaw as an assistant coach.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars have added Alain Nasreddine and Steve Spott as assistant coaches.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Former Red Wings great Pavel Datsyuk expects to officially announce his retirement from professional hockey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Datsyuk in his retirement. The 43-year-old forward spent the past five seasons playing in the KHL. Before that, Datsyuk spent 14 seasons in the NHL with the Wings, becoming one of the greatest two-way players in the league by winning three Selke Trophies and four Lady Byng Trophies. He also helped the Wings win two Stanley Cups.

CALGARY SUN: Long-time Flames organist Willy Joosen passed away at age 66. He held that role at Scotiabank Saddledome since 1988.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Joosen’s family, friends and the Flames organization.