NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 9, 2021

Sidney Crosby undergoes wrist surgery, Patrice Bergeron discusses his contract situation, the latest on Evander Kane and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby underwent surgery on his left wrist on Wednesday. He’s expected to be sidelined for six weeks and could miss the Penguins’ opening four games of this season. General manager Ron Hextall said Crosby has been dealing with an unspecified ailment in his wrist for several years.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It sounds like Crosby aggravated the ailment as he was ramping up his training in preparation for the coming season. The Penguins will now be without their top two centers to open the season. Evgeni Malkin is recovering from offseason knee surgery that will sideline him much longer than Crosby.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said his focus is on the upcoming season and not on his contract status. The 36-year-old center is entering the final season of his deal and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He indicated he’ll play out this season and discuss his contract with the Bruins after that.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could make some Bruins fans nervous after seeing long-time stars Zdeno Chara and David Krejci depart over the last two years. Bergeron is no longer in his playing prime but he remains among the league’s best two-way forwards.

Much will depend upon his performance and how much he’ll seek on his next contract. They could be more accommodating to Bergeron given how thin the Bruins are at center.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The NHL’s investigation into allegations San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane bet on his own games has hit a snag. Kane’s estranged wife Anna made the accusations on social media but the league has thus far been unable to interview her. The NHL hoped to have its investigation completed before training camp opened later this month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The article also reported an examination of betting trends that showed no abnormalities for Sharks games last season. Kane was also the Sharks’ leading scorer in 2020-21.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche signed center Artem Anisimov to a professional tryout offer.

TSN: The Calgary Flames signed unrestricted free agent forward Brad Richardson to a one-year, $800K contract and restricted free agent defenseman Connor Mackey to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $912,500.

Former NHL player J.T. Brown pledged his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation in Boston. “We need more information about brain injuries and concussions, the kind of information you can get from studying brains after someone has died,” said Brown, adding he loves hockey and hopes to make it safer for future generations.

CBC NEWS: Brandon University scolded former NHLer Theo Fleury for “reprehensible remarks” he made against vaccine passports. The university granted Fleury an honorary doctorate in 2015 but says his espousing of conspiracy theories is a “stain on his legacy”. He recently took to Twitter claiming vaccine passports would make it easier for pedophiles to track children and touted an anti-parasitic medicine commonly used for livestock as an alternative to COVID-19 vaccines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury was one of my favorite players during his NHL career. His work in exposing sexual predators in hockey and as a mental health advocate remains worthy of praise. Nevertheless, it’s sad to see him disappear down this rabbit hole of misinformation.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks scout Patrik Jonsson recently passed away at age 51 of prostate cancer.

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










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 22, 2021

Flyers avoid arbitration with Travis Sanheim plus the latest on Juuse Saros, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeny Svechnikov and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers avoided salary arbitration with Travis Sanheim by signing the 25-year-old defenseman to a two-year, $9.35 million contract.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was another quiet offseason for arbitrators. All of the 19 players scheduled for hearings wound up settling with their respective clubs.

Cap Friendly indicates the Flyers have just over $281K in remaining cap space. They could shed some salary to create some additional wiggle room for the coming season. 

THE TENNESSEAN: With a new contract signed, Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros is training in Helsinki with several other Finnish NHL players in preparation for the 2021-22 season. Saros inked a four-year, $20 million deal earlier this month.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Chicago Blackhawks created a minor buzz on Twitter with a photo of the jerseys of their offseason acquisition with Marc-Andre Fleury’s last name misspelled. The tweet was later removed and replaced with one showing his name spelled correctly. Fleury was acquired by the Blackhawks last month from the Vegas Golden Knights.

MLIVE.COM: Former Detroit Red Wings forward Evgeny Svechnikov signed a one-year AHL contract with the Manitoba Moose. He’ll attend the Winnipeg Jets training camp on a professional tryout offer in hope of securing a one-year, two-way deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A former first-round pick (19th overall, 2015), Svechnikov struggled to crack the rebuilding Red Wings’ roster. The Wings decided not to qualify his rights, making him an unrestricted free agent.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Seattle Kraken prospect Matty Beniers is returning to the University of Michigan for the coming season. Beniers was the second-overall pick in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Owen Power (first overall, Buffalo Sabres) and Kent Johnson (fifth overall, Columbus Blue Jackets) are also returning to the University of Michigan for the coming season. The trio is keen to win the national championship before moving on to their NHL careers.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Former Avalanche goaltender Peter Budaj has returned to the franchise as a development goalie coach.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 5, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 5, 2021

The latest on Marc-Andre Fleury and Pierre-Luc Dubois plus the latest notable contract signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Marc-Andre Fleury admitted he was caught off guard by the recent trade that sent him from the Vegas Golden Knights to the Blackhawks. He needed time to process what was happening, including how this move would affect his family.

Marc-Andre Fleury will report to the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL Images).

Fleury said he had nothing against Chicago or the Blackhawks. Speaking with current and former Blackhawks helped him with his decision to report to the club, including former Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Chris Kunitz, who’s part of the Blackhawks coaching staff. He’s also excited about playing alongside Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury, 36, has a year remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $7 million. If things work out in Chicago perhaps he’ll sign a short-term contract extension. If not, he could be shopped at the February trade deadline, sign elsewhere next summer as a free agent or retire.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois intends to wear No. 80 to honor the memory of friend and former Columbus Blue Jackets teammate Matiss Kivlinieks. The 24-year-old goaltender was killed in a fireworks accident last month in Michigan.

Speaking of the Jets, they signed defenseman Logan Stanley to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $900K.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks avoided arbitration with Adin Hill, signing the 25-year-old goaltender to a two-year, $4.35 million contract.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues avoided arbitration with forward Zach Sanford by inking him to a one-year, $2 million contract.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators avoided arbitration with Victor Mete by signing the 23-year-old defenseman to a one-year, $1.2 million contract.

SPORTSNET: The Seattle Kraken signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Connor Carrick to a one-year, $800K deal. They also signed forward Alexander True to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700K at the NHL level.

TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens signed assistant coach Alex Burrows to a three-year contract extension.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins fired goaltending coach Mike Buckley and will replace him with Andy Chiodo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation the Penguins could attempt to replace starting goaltender Tristan Jarry via trade or free agency. This move likely signals their intention to work with Jarry to improve his game.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2021

Marc-Andre Fleury will report to the Blackhawks, the Kraken’s contract with Philipp Grubauer rejected by the league, Evander Kane denies betting on NHL games, and 17 players file for salary arbitration. Get the details in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Marc-Andre Fleury confirmed Sunday he will report to the Blackhawks this season. “Hey, Chicago, it’s Marc,” he said via the club’s social media account. “Just wanted to let you know: I’m in. Let’s get to work.”

Marc-Andre Fleury will report to the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL Images).

The Blackhawks acquired Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights last Tuesday. However, he took several days to discuss his situation with his family and consider his future. The 36-year-old goaltender has a year remaining on his contract with a $7 million salary cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury won the Vezina Trophy for the first time last season with the Golden Knights. He won’t have a solid defense in front of him in Chicago as he did in Las Vegas. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks could have a shot at a playoff spot in the Central Division this season if Fleury maintains his Vezina form.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken have rectified an accounting error that resulted in the league rejecting the club’s first attempt to finalize its contract with goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The front-loaded contract violated the CBA’s 25 percent cap above the amount in the initial contract year.

Grubauer’s annual average value is $5.9 million for six seasons. He will earn $5 million in actual salary this season. It was originally slated to rise to $6 million in 2022-23 and $7.5 million in 2023-24, an increase of 30 percent. The deal has been restructured by shifting $250K from the third year to the second year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: When this was first reported some fans on social media wondered if the contract would be voided. Doesn’t work that way. The team gets the opportunity to fix the accounting error. In this case, it was an easily addressed minor detail.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane denied allegations made by his estranged wife claiming he bet on NHL games. “I have NEVER gambled/bet on hockey, NEVER gambled/bet on Sharks games, NEVER gambled/bet on any of my games and NEVER thrown a hockey game,” he said in a statement released yesterday.

The NHL announced it would investigate Kane based on the allegation made on an unverified Instagram account attributed to Angela Kane. She responded to Kane’s statement via that account yesterday, accusing him of abandoning her and their daughter to party and gamble in Europe. She also claimed he had a gambling addiction and claimed he was trying to use the media to control the narrative.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s personal life has been under growing media scrutiny since applying for bankruptcy in January. He was also the topic of trade speculation following a recent report claiming several of his teammates expressed frustration about him to management during their season-ending exit interviews. The Sharks released a statement on Saturday saying they supported the league’s intent to investigate the gambling allegations.

NHLPA: Seventeen NHL players applied for salary arbitration yesterday:

Zach Aston-Reese (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Ross Colton 
(Tampa Bay Lightning)
Andrew Copp 
(Winnipeg Jets)
Jason Dickinson 
(Vancouver Canucks)
Vince Dunn 
(Seattle Kraken)
Adam Erne 
(Detroit Red Wings)
Dante Fabbro 
(Nashville Predators)
Dennis Gilbert 
(Colorado Avalanche)
Adin Hill 
(San Jose Sharks)
Michael McNiven 
(Montreal Canadiens)
Victor Mete 
(Ottawa Senators)
Adam Pelech 
(New York Islanders)
Neal Pionk 
(Winnipeg Jets)
Zach Sanford 
(St. Louis Blues)
Juuse Saros 
(Nashville Predators)
Jakub Vrana 
(Detroit Red Wings)
Nikita Zadorov 
(Calgary Flames)

The deadline for club-elected arbitration is 5 pm ET on Monday, Aug. 2. The arbitration period is from Aug. 11 to Aug. 26.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several notable names on this list include Dunn, Pelech, Pionk, Saros and Vrana. If history is anything to go by we can expect most, perhaps all of these players to reach agreements with their teams on new contracts before their scheduled arbitration hearings.










Reviewing Some Recent Notable NHL Trades & Free-Agent Signings

Reviewing Some Recent Notable NHL Trades & Free-Agent Signings

July 25 to 31 was a busy week in the NHL following the entry-draft weekend with the annual free-agent market opening on July 28.

I noted the top UFA signings of the opening day of free agency for Bleacher Report. Here’s a quick look at several other notable free-agent signings, plus some interesting trades that caught my eye over the past week.

July 26: Florida Panthers re-sign Sam Bennett to a four-year, $17.7 million contract.

Bennett quickly meshed well with the Panthers following his acquisition from the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline. He’ll provide them with solid second-line depth in their quest to become a Cup contender.

July 27: Chicago Blackhawks acquire Marc-Andre Fleury from Vegas Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights had to shed salary to improve their roster depth. With a younger Robin Lehner under contract for four more years at $5 million per season, the 37-year-old Fleury and the remaining year of his contract ($7 million) had to go. Unfortunately, he found out about it on Twitter before the club could inform him. His omission of team owner Bill Foley and general manager Kelly McCrimmon in his farewell statement to the team and the fans spoke volumes.

Blackhawks acquire Tyler Johnson from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning shed Johnson’s contract for the next three seasons. In return, they get the contract of permanently sidelined defenseman Brent Seabrook to put on LTIR. In other words, Lightning GM Julien BriseBois immediately shed $5 million from his books and garnered another $6.875 million in cap wiggle room if necessary.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Points (NHL Images).

July 28: Lightning re-sign Brayden Point to an eight-year, $76 million contract.

It’s a big investment by the Lightning but that’s the price to be paid for keeping a core player who is becoming one of the best centers in the NHL. He’s deadly during the regular season and seems to find another gear when the playoffs roll around.

Starting in 2022-23, the Lightning has almost $45 million invested in just five players. Those five, however, are Point, former league MVP and scoring champion Nikita Kucherov, former Norris and Conn Smythe winner Victor Hedman, current Smythe winner and former Vezina winner Andrei Vasilevskiy, and team captain and former Richard winner Steven Stamkos. They’re the core that helped win back-to-back Stanley Cups. You can argue they’re paying too much to keep that group intact but at least they’ve got true value for those salary-cap dollars.

Colorado Avalanche acquires goaltender Darcy Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes.

Avalanche GM Joe Sakic turned immediately to the Coyotes and Kuemper after starter Philipp Grubauer signed with the Seattle Kraken. The 31-year-old netminder has a year left on his contract with an affordable $4.5 million cap hit. He’s a terrific performer but has been plagued by injuries in recent years. Kuemper must stay healthy throughout this season if the Avs hope to win the Stanley Cup next June.

Calgary Flames sign Blake Coleman to a six-year, $29.4 million contract.

Coleman was an effective and versatile checking-line forward for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their back-to-back championship runs. His style of play should fit well with head coach Darryl Sutter’s system of grinding defensive hockey. Still, investing that much for six years on a middle-six forward who turns 30 this season could prove costly in the final half of the deal when his skills start to decline.

Boston Bruins sign Linus Ullmark to a four-year, $20 million contract.

Ullmark put up decent stats during his four years with the sad-sack Buffalo Sabres. Whether he’ll become a reliable starter on a better club in Boston remains to be seen. It’s an expensive gamble that could go sour. This signing also raises questions about the future of long-time starter Tuukka Rask once he returns from offseason hip surgery in February.

July 29: Columbus Blue Jackets re-sign Zach Werenski to a six-year, $57.5 million contract extension.

After seeing so many core players depart in recent years, the Blue Jackets had to ensure they could keep Werenski in the fold. The 24-year-old is an excellent puck-moving defenseman but they overpaid to keep him in Columbus. His $9.583 million AAV is higher than that of Colorado Avalanche rearguard Cale Makar ($9 million), who was a Calder Trophy winner in 2019-20 and a Norris Trophy finalist last season.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 1, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 1, 2021

Check out the latest on Marc-Andre Fleury, Jack Eichel and Elias Pettersson in today’s Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

WILL FLEURY REPORT TO THE BLACKHAWKS?

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers and Rob Rossi report multiple sources close to Marc-Andre Fleury said he and his family haven’t yet made a final decision on his future. The 36-year-old goalie is apparently wary of trusting another team after the Vegas Golden Knights traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks. Fleury learned of the trade on Twitter rather than directly from Vegas management.

Will Marc-Andre Fleury report to the Chicago Blackhawks? (NHL Images)

Fleury has one season left on his contract and could decide to retire instead of report to the Hawks. However, he could be leaning toward reporting to the Blackhawks after making inquiries with people familiar with the club’s ownership, front office and coaching staff. The Hawks have also been in contact with Fleury and remain hopeful he’ll play for them. He could seek assurances he won’t be traded this season. 

His reluctance to go to the Blackhawks is based on what’s right for his family and has nothing again against the team or the city. There’s speculation the Blackhawks could trade him back to the Pittsburgh Penguins but GM Ron Hextall doubts the Blackhawks would trade him. The cost of acquiring Fleury would be complicated given their limited cap room.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury apparently received assurances from Golden Knights owner Bill Foley that he wouldn’t be moved despite his lack of a full no-trade clause. Many of his former teammates interviewed by The Athletic said they’d be surprised if he walked away. The story also cited league sources citing their belief Fleury will play this season because he hopes to play for Canada at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Fleury’s concern seems to stem from an unwillingness to move his family to Chicago if they’ll turn around and trade him later in the season. Based on The Athletic’s reporting, he could reach a decision soon.

A trade back to Pittsburgh isn’t out of the question but that appears a long shot at best. It will require a significant cost-cutting trade that could prove too complicated to pull off without weakening the Penguins elsewhere in their lineup.

LATEST EICHEL TRADE SPECULATION

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wonders if the Buffalo Sabres would be willing to retain half of Jack Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit to facilitate a trade. He envisions a scenario where the Rangers could then pitch promising winger Kaapo Kakko in a package deal including other prospects and perhaps a first-round pick. That would enable the Rangers to re-sign Mika Zibanejad for around $9 million per season, giving the Blueshirts a powerful one-two punch at center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Well, if you’re gonna dream, dream big!

Brooks also reports the Golden Knights are still believed to have an interest in Eichel,  despite their limited salary cap space. Even when Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon was acquiring Evgenii Dadonov from the Ottawa Senators, he was apparently preparing to send multiple assets to Buffalo for Eichel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy recently reported the Sabres’ asking price from the Golden Knights was believed to be winger Reilly Smith, prospect Peyton Krebs, promising defenseman Nicolas Hague and a first-round pick. However, they’re already sitting just above the $81.5 million salary cap. It’ll be a tight fit even if the Sabres picked up half of Eichel’s cap hit, meaning another cost-cutting deal would have to be made.

CANUCKS UNWORRIED ABOUT POSSIBLE PETTERSSON OFFER SHEET.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma recently reported Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning was wary but unworried about Elias Pettersson receiving an offer sheet. “I don’t think people should be concerned,” he said, pointing out the constructive talks with Pettersson’s agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have over $14 million in cap space with Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Jason Dickinson and Olli Juolevi to re-sign. Hughes is ineligible to receive an offer sheet because he hasn’t played enough NHL games to qualify. An offer sheet for Pettersson could complicate things for the Canucks but I don’t think they have too much to worry about here.

Assuming the Pettersson camp is open to an offer sheet, the compensation rate due to the Canucks, if he were signed away to a deal worth between $6.16 million and $8.22 million, is a first-round pick, a second and a third. From $8.23 million to $10.276 million, it’s two firsts, a second and a third. Beyond that, it’s four first-rounders.

I don’t see teams pitching over $8.22 million annually for Pettersson. The Canucks can easily match that so there’s little incentive to try.