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.
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.
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.
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.