NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 20, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 20, 2018

Game recaps plus updates on Kevin Shattenkirk, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nino Niederreiter and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

Aaron Ekblad’s overtime goal lifted the Florida Panthers to a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights (Photo via NHL Images).

 NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers spoiled the return of former coach Gerard Gallant by defeating the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3. It was Gallant’s first game at the BB&T Center since the Panthers fired him in November 2016. Aaron Ekblad scored the winner in overtime while teammate Aleksander Barkov collected three points. Before the game, the Panthers honored former owner H. Wayne Huizenga. 

Ryan Kesler’s third-period goal lifted the Anaheim Ducks to a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings, handing the latter their sixth consecutive defeat. Kings winger Dustin Brown received a $10,000.00 fine for cross-checking Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz during Thursday’s game between the two clubs. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin also received a $5000.00 fine for spearing Brown. 

Two goals by Max Pacioretty gave the Montreal Canadiens a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals, snapping the Habs three-game losing skid. 

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is sidelined indefinitely as he’ll undergo surgery on Monday to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He had been playing with the injury since the start of the regular season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would explain why Shattenkirk hasn’t played as well as expected in his first season with the Rangers. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Turns out Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is more seriously hurt than originally believed. He’ll be sidelined five-to-six weeks with cracked ribs suffered against the Golden Knights on Jan. 13.  

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets goaltender Steve Mason suffered his second concussion of the season after being struck with a high shot during a morning skate on Jan. 12.  

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Nino Niederreiter (lower-body injury) will be sidelined until after the All-Star break. 

TSN: The Seattle Group pursuing an NHL franchise has registered 13 potential team names. They are the “Cougars, Eagles, Emeralds, Evergreens, Firebirds, Kraken, Rainiers, Renegades, Sea Lions, Seals, Sockeyes, Totems and Whales.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’d go with Rainiers or Totems as I think they best evoke the Pacific Northwest. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: “Red Fisher, the chronicler and the conscience of Montreal hockey whose career touched seven decades, died on Friday at age 91.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Fisher’s family, friends and former coworkers. He was my favorite hockey pundit and an inspiration. Fisher was unquestionably one of the finest reporters ever to cover the game of hockey. You can read examples of his work here


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 12, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 12, 2017

Games recaps and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Patric Hornqvist scored a power-play goal and set up another as the Pittsburgh Penguins hung on for a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals. It was Hornqvist’s first game since undergoing hand surgery in the offseason. Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading eight goal for the Caps. 

Miles Wood and Pavel Zacha each scored twice and Cory Schneider made 47 saves as the New Jersey Devils defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3, handing the latter their first loss of the season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs outshot the Devils 50-31 but defensive breakdowns proved costly. The Devils, meanwhile, are 3-0-0 to open this season. 

Matthew Tkachuk scored twice and Sean Monahan netted the winner in overtime to give the Calgary Flames a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Dustin Brown scored twice for the Kings in a losing cause. Jaromir Jagr made his debut with the Flames but was held off the score sheet. 

Josh Gibson made 38 saves backstopping the Anaheim Ducks to a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders. Brock Nelson tallied twice for the Isles. 

Sven Andrighetto scored twice and Nail Yakupov had a two-point game as the Colorado Avalanche thumped the Boston Bruins 6-3. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yakupov has three goals and five points in his first four games of this season. After struggling for the past three seasons with the Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues, the former first-overall draft pick looks comfortable with the Avalanche. He’s among the reasons they’ve won three of their first four games. 

TWINCITIES.COM: Limited salary-cap space (around $200K) is preventing the Minnesota Wild from calling up a forward to complete their fourth line. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They could demote defenseman Mike Reilly as he’s exempt from waivers but they appear reluctant to do that right now. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes placed forward Brendan Perlini (upper body) on injured reserve and recalled forward Emerson Etem.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers have demoted defenseman Samuel Morin. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Former Nashville Predators captain Mike Fisher is settling into life after retirement. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Only 7,892 fans showed up for the Carolina Hurricanes’ recent home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the fact the Hurricanes last made the playoffs in 2009, it’s unsurprising their attendance was that low for an early-season Tuesday night game. If they can become a legitimate playoff club this season, the fans will return. 

THE DETROIT NEWS: A fan who tossed an octopus onto the ice during the Red Wings’ home opener at the new Little Caesars Arena will not be banned from returning. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The octopus toss is a 65-year-old tradition with the Red Wings. The fan was escorted from the building and received a misdemeanor fine. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 18, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 18, 2017

New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac sidelined four-to-six months.

Updates on Travis Zajac, Mike Fisher, Zemgus Girgensons & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac underwent surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle and will be sidelined four-to-six months. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a significant blow for the Devils’ offense. I’ll have more on how they could address Zajac’s absence later this morning in the Rumors section. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Now-retired Nashville Predators center Mike Fisher will be honored for his community work. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres yesterday signed restricted free agent forward Zemgus Girgensons to a two-year, $3.2 million contract. The annual average value is $1.6 million.

WGR 550: Speaking of the Sabres, they also announced their pricing for single-game tickets for the upcoming season, which go on sale on Sept. 16. Mini-packs go on sale on Aug.23. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: During a recent meeting with season-ticket holders, Kings executives Rob Blake and Luc Robitaille expressed confidence that  their club will improve under a new offensive plan this season. Blake also cited a lack of affordable young talent as a reason why the club didn’t make a big splash in this summer’s free-agent market. He also said winger Marian Gaborik is progressing with a non-surgical procedure on his knee but isn’t sure when he’ll return to the lineup. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake also alluded the club’s salary-cap limitations – a hangover from the previous management – as a factor that hampered efforts to bolster their offense. Oft-injured winger Mike Cammalleri and backup goalie Darcy Kuemper were their only notable UFA signings. They have little choice but to look to within and hope a change in their system can improve their production. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger J.T. Brown donated $1,500.00 to remove a Confederate statue in downtown Tampa Bay. The Lightning, along with MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays and the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, raised the necessary $140K in private donations within 24 hours to have the statue removed. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 4, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 4, 2017

Nashville Predators center Mike Fisher announces his retirement.

Mike Fisher retires plus updates on Nate Schmidt, Jakob Chychrun and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

THE TENNESSEAN: After 17 NHL seasons, Nashville Predators captain Mike Fisher yesterday announced his retirement. He thanked the fans and the city of Nashville for supporting him and his teammates, especially during their march to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

A well-respected player, Fisher’s announcement drew reaction on social media from fans, pundits, players and his wife, country star Carrie Underwood. He was also well regarded in Ottawa, where he spent 11 seasons with the Senators. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In 1,088 NHL games with the Senators and Predators, Fisher scored 276 goals and added 309 assists for 585 points. He also tallied 51 points in 134 playoff games. In his prime, he was an excellent two-way center, though his playing style had him dogged by injuries throughout his career.

Fisher was also a highly-regarded player who was involved in community activities, first in Ottawa and then in Nashville. A devout Christian, he was one of hockey’s good guys and it wouldn’t be surprising if he goes on to work for the Predators in some capacity. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights and defenseman Nate Schmidt went through salary arbitration yesterday and await the arbiter’s decision on Saturday. There’s still time for the two sides to work out a deal before then. Schmidt’s agent said his client handled it well and both sides were “very professional” in the hearing. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Detroit Red Wings and Tomas Tatar also went through the process last month and settled before the arbiter’s ruling. It’ll be interesting to see how Schmidt’s situation shakes out. 

AZCENTRAL.COM: Bad news for the Arizona Coyotes, as defenseman Jakob Chychrun is sidelined indefinitely following surgery to repair a knee injury he suffered during offseason training. A further update is expected when training camp opens on Sept. 14. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chychrun, 19, has a promising NHL debut last season, with 20 points 68 games. I’ll have more on this later this morning in my Rumors section. 

CALGARY SUN: The Flames promoted pro scout Don Maloney to assistant general manager. He was executive vice president, general manager, and alternate governor of the Coyotes until last summer. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former IOC member Dick Pound slammed the NHL’s decision not to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

BSN DENVER: ESPN Sportscenter anchor John Buccigross is optimistic the NHL could return to his network when the league’s current contract with NBC Sports expires in three years time. 


NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2017

Can the Detroit Red Wings afford to bring back Thomas Vanek?

Another look at Sportnet’s list of the top-10 remaining UFAs in your NHL rumor mill. 

SPORTSNET: With defenseman Andrei Markov heading to Russia, Luke Fox recently updated his list of the top-10 remaining unrestricted free agents. Left wing Thomas Vanek tops the list. He’s been in touch with the Detroit Red Wings but they must re-sign restricted free agent winger Andreas Athanasiou first and have limited salary-cap space. 

Forwards Jaromir Jagr and Mike Fisher are second and third on the list. The 45-year-old Jagr recently skated with his hometown club of Kladno and still believes he can play in the NHL this season. As for Fisher, the Predators hope to learn more about his future plans next week. The 37-year-old could return with the Preds for one more season or opt for retirement. 

Puck-moving defenseman Cody Franson was linked to the Chicago Blackhawks as a possible tryout candidate in September. The New Jersey Devils need  blueline depth but reportedly aren’t interested in the 29-year-old Franson.

Earlier in July, there was reportedly mutual interest between winger Drew Stafford and the Minnesota Wild but they must first re-sign RFAs Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund and Marcus Foligno. The Boston Bruins also had some interest earlier in the month. 

Aging forwards Brian Gionta, Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan haven’t ruled out playing next season. Iginla and Doan, as well as Fisher, recently received invitations to join Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team if they don’t land NHL contracts for 2017-18. Doan’s agent said he’s spoken with four or five NHL teams but declined to name them. 

Former LA Kings forward Andrei Loktionov is returning to the club on a professional tryout offer. Center Matt Cullen is pondering his future. The 40-year-old could retire but it’s also possible he could return to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Minnesota Wild also expressed some interest in signing him. So far, he’s yet to reach a decision. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not much change in the status of these players since the last time Fox updated this list. Many of these players could be waiting until September to secure NHL contracts, especially older guys such as Jagr, Iginla, Doan and Gionta. As for Fisher, he’ll likely retire if he doesn’t sign with the Preds. Given his personal ties to Nashville, I don’t see him signing elsewhere. 

The Wings will be under the cap by around $900K once they place Johan Franzen on injured reserve. If defenseman Ryan Sproul (knee) joins him, that’s an additional $600K. However, that won’t be enough to re-sign Athanasiou, let alone to bring back Vanek. 

Some observers are surprised Franson hasn’t signed  yet. Perhaps he’s hoping to land with the Blackhawks via tryout. If Cullen decides to return to the Penguins they’ll still need to pursue a decent third-line center. Given Cullen’s age, I don’t see him filling that role.

The Wild could sign Cullen or Stafford, but that’ll depend upon how much cap space they’ve got left once Niederreiter, Granlund and Foligno are under contract. They’ve got over $15 million in cap space, but new deals for those three will eat up most of it.

Colorado Avalanche prospect defenseman Will Butcher could soon be added to Fox’s UFA list. The 2017 Hobey Baker Award winner intends to test the market on Aug. 15. The Athletic’s Craig Custance reports a source said the Detroit Red Wings will pursue Butcher. Custance also lists the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks as potential suitors. Others could include the New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2017

Nashville Predators captain Mike Fisher could soon reach a decision on his future.

Update on Mike Fisher, roundup of latest contract signings & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators general manager David Poile hopes to have an update on the status captain Mike Fisher by next week. Fisher, 37, is an unrestricted free agent. He’s yet to decide if he’ll return with the Predators for another season or retire. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fisher has a solid performance last season, netting 42 points in 72 regular-season games. However, he was held to just four points during the Predators’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. Given how close the Preds came to winning the Cup, Fisher could decide to return for one more shot at a championship.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: The Rangers avoided salary arbitration with center Mika Zibanejad by re-signing him to a five-year, $26.75 million contract. The annual average value is $5.35 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Derek Stepan traded away to Arizona last month, Zibanejad gets the opportunity to become a full-time first-line center. A broken fibula limited him to 14 goals and 37 points in 56 games last season, but he had nine points in 12 playoff games. The 24-year-old made steady improvement prior to last season, reaching 51 points in 2015-16, his final campaign with the Ottawa Senators. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres re-signed goaltender Robin Lehner to a one-year, $4 million contract. He was scheduled for an arbitration hearing on July 31. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report notes Lehner set career highs in games played (59), wins (23) and shutouts (two) while posting the ninth-best save percentage (.920) by a Sabres goalie with 40-plus games played. However, he’s also been dogged by injuries throughout his career. This deal seems to be a “show me” contract by Sabres management. If Lehner fails to build upon his 2016-17 performance or is once again sidelined for a significant period, this could be his final season with the Sabres. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year, bonus-laden contract. He’ll earn a base salary of $700K with $300K in bonuses. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is an affordable depth move by the Canadiens. Streit, 39, began his NHL career in Montreal. At this stage in his career, he’s no longer a top-pairing defenseman and is best suited as a third-pairing blueliner. It’ll be interesting to see if this means the Habs have given up trying to bring back Andrei Markov. 

BSN DENVER: The Colorado Avalanche signed forward Matt Nieto to a one-year, $1 million contract and inked forward Rocco Grimaldi to a one-year, two-way deal.  

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils re-signed defenseman Mirco Mueller to a two-year, $1.7 million contract. 

TSN’s Rick Westhead reports lawyers for the NHL and former players will begin arguments in court on Oct. 11 if the concussion case filed by those players should be a class-action suit. If certified as class action, some 5,000 former players would automatically become plaintiffs, except for those who opt out. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Chuck Greenberg, the prospective buyer of the Carolina Hurricanes, was in Raleigh on Monday for what he called a fact-finding trip. Greenberg is part of an ownership group that submitted a non-binding letter of intent to purchase the Hurricanes for $500 million.