NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2018

Latest on Joe Thornton, James Neal, Darnell Nurse, Richard Panik and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Coming off his second straight knee surgery, San Jose Sharks veteran center Joe Thornton said he’s healthy and feels good. He adds he’s looking forward to the start of the coming season. Despite his age (39), he still feels he can dictate the play.

Despite two knee surgeries, San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton believes he can still be an effective contributor. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton had a slow start last season after coming off his first knee surgery but looked like he was rounding back into form when he was sidelined again. Having more time to recover this time around could help him have a better beginning this time around. 

CALGARY SUN: James Neal hopes to establish himself as the Flames’ new first-line right wing. He joined the club as a free agent this summer on a five-year, $28.75-million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The job is there for the taking. Michael Frolik and Elias Lindholm are the other notable Flames’ right wingers but neither is a natural sniper like Neal. 

EDMONTON SUN: Defenseman Darnell Nurse said he won’t attend Oilers’ training camp without a new contract. The restricted free agent is coming off a three-year entry-level deal. Given the Oilers’ limited salary-cap space, Nurse is likely to get a two-year bridge deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Oilers fans might freak out over Nurse’s statement but it’s really the proper thing to do. He shouldn’t attend training camp if he isn’t under contract. That being said, there’s still plenty of time for the two sides to get a deal hammered out before camp opens next week. I’ll be surprised if there isn’t an agreement in place by then. 

KUKLA’S KORNER: cites TMZ reporting Arizona Coyotes forward Richard Panik pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal trespass stemming from an incident on April 8 when he drunkenly refused to leave the entrance to a Scottsdale sports bar. He avoided jail time by cutting a plea deal involving the completion of a court-ordered diversion program.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Veteran goaltender Steve Mason is still hoping to land with an NHL team this season. In June, Mason was traded by the Winnipeg Jets to the Montreal Canadiens, who bought out the remainder of his contract.

THE SCORE: Veteran defenseman Cody Franson signed a two-year contract with the KHL’s Avangard Omsk.

TORONTO SUN: In an interview with TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said he isn’t in any rush to name a new team captain to start the upcoming season.

TSN: The NHL is in discussions to settle various lawsuits filed by former players alleging the league lied to them over the dangers of repeated head trauma and concussions. 

SPORTSNET: The investment group seeking to bring an NHL franchise to Seattle “has announced a new set of local investors including Seattle Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer and members of the Ackerley family that previously owned the Seattle SuperSonics.”

CBC.CA: Former NHL forward Ab McDonald has passed away at age 82. Starting in 1957-58, He spent nearly 15 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues, winning three Stanley Cups with the Canadiens and one with the Chicago Blackhawks. He also spent two seasons with the Winnipeg Jets in the WHA. McDonald was the first captain of the Penguins and also of the Jets. 


SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to their families and friends. 


NHL Rumor Mill – September 3, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – September 3, 2018

Should the Stars pursue Artemi Panarin? Should the Bruins pursue Tyler Seguin? How will the Golden Knights adjust to Nate Schmidt’s absence? Read on for the latest in your NHL rumor mill.

Would Artemi Panarin be a good fit with the Dallas Stars? (Photo via NHL Images)


NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien considers it unlikely the Dallas Stars will land Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Artemi Panarin but feels it would be glorious fun if they did. The Stars are supposedly on Panarin’s short list of preferred trade destinations but O’Brien notes that doesn’t mean he’ll land in Dallas. Still, he feels it would be interesting if the Stars acquired the skilled left winger, in part because he’d be a good fit with an exciting core of skilled players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As O’Brien points out, there’s no indication the Stars have inquired into Panarin’s availability. Still, a Panarin-to-Dallas might not be that far-fetched. We know the Stars are among a handful of teams that expressed interest in Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. If they’re willing to kick tires on Karlsson, why not on Panarin?

That being said, Panarin would be expensive to acquire and to re-sign, especially when the Stars are negotiating a new contract with Tyler Seguin. If the Blue Jackets fall out of playoff contention by the trade deadline perhaps the Stars might consider Panarin a postseason rental. That will of course depend upon where they are in the playoff chase and if they have a real need for more offense at left wing. 


BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy took note of recent reports claiming contract talks have stalled between the Dallas Stars and center Tyler Seguin. If Seguin, who began his career with the Boston Bruins, should hit next summer’s free-agent market, Conroy doesn’t believe it’s a good idea for the Bruins to pursue him, largely because he could become the NHL’s next $10 million-plus player. However, he thinks it would be a good idea to look at acquiring the winger if he became available at the trade deadline as a playoff rental.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a significant shift in the Bruins roster they won’t be bringing back Seguin on a long-term deal. A playoff rental is possible though it could cost them a promising young forward such as Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen or Ryan Donato as part of the return. Still, I don’t think Boston fans should dust off their old Seguin Bruin jerseys anytime soon. 


NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently looked at the possible options for the Vegas Golden Knights to replace defenseman Nate Schmidt, who recently received a 20-game suspension for violating the league’s PED policy. Schmidt’s minutes could be dispersed among Colin Miller, Deryk Engelland, Shea Theodore and Brayden McNabb.

Still, O’Brien wondered if general manager George McPhee might dip into the shallow free-agent pool for help, suggesting Cody Franson could be “a low-risk, OK-reward signing, one who could make sense as a bottom-pairing guy or injury insurance even after Schmidt’s suspension ends.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If McPhee decides to bring in a short-term replacement for Schmidt he could consider going the professional tryout route. Maybe they bring back Luca Sbisa or consider someone else like Franson. Or maybe McPhee will look to within his system by assessing his blueline during training camp and preseason. 


NHL Rumor Mill – January 11, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – January 11, 2018

Latest look at possible trade-deadline rental players and more in your NHL rumor mill.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson could be among the top rental players at this year’s NHL trade deadline(Photo via NHL Images).


FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites TSN’s Bob McKenzie’s appearance Wednesday on NBC Sports Network discussing the NHL trade market. He considers Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane as the premier rental player available. He also lists Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green, Vancouver Canucks winger Thomas Vanek and blueliner Erik Gudbranson and Edmonton Oilers forwards Patrick Maroon, Mike Cammalleri and Mark Letestu as possible rental players.

McKenzie also suggests several players on struggling clubs with term remaining on their contracts could potentially be on the move. Those include Montreal Canadiens forwards Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk and Ottawa Senators winger Mike Hoffman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McKenzie’s TSN colleague Darren Dreger recently said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Nashville Predators had some interest in Pacioretty. He admits, however, he doesn’t know if the two clubs have held talks.

Nashville and Montreal have a recent trade history (Shea Weber for P.K. Subban in 2016). If the Habs move Pacioretty or Galchenyuk before the trade deadline (and that’s a big “if” at this point), they’ll want a quality return that helps them now and in the future. A winger such as Kevin Fiala or Viktor Arvidsson could be part of the asking price. 

He also speculates the Minnesota Wild, who’ve been busy near the deadline in recent years, could opt to look internally this season. They don’t have much salary-cap room this season. They’d also like to evaluate veterans Zach Parise and Nino Niederreiter, who’ve been hampered by injuries, and younger players such as Jason Zucker and Charlie Coyle.


THE ATHLETIC: Mike Halford lists the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins as possible trade destinations for Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson.

Halford notes the Lightning reportedly seek a top-four, right-handed defenseman. They’re deep in prospects and have all their picks in each of the next three drafts, though they’ve been reluctant in the past to part with their prospects. The Bruins were reportedly looking for a minute-munching blueliner but they’re already deep in right-handed rearguards. The Leafs, meanwhile, need experienced d-men but it depends upon how management views Gudbranson.

The Panthers could still be interested in bringing back Gudbranson. The Capitals could be in the market for a veteran defenseman. While Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford and Canucks GM Jim Benning have a trade history, the Pens recent acquisition of Jamie Oleksiak could take them out of the bidding for Gudbranson.

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites insider Elliotte Friedman telling Vancouver’s Sportsnet 650 his belief that there are teams kicking tires on Gudbranson, but it remains to be seen how serious those suitors are. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if Toronto, Tampa Bay or the Los Angeles Kings have made inquiries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There is some concern over whether Gudbranson remains suited to the increasing speed of the NHL game. Still, I think there are playoff contenders willing to pursue him if the asking price is reasonable. The Canucks, however, gave up a lot to pry Gudbranson away from the Panthers in 2016 so they won’t just give him away. If the Panthers want him back, I assume they’ll wait for this summer when he’ll likely hit the UFA market.

The Lightning could be a little more willing to part with prospects this season if they’re all-in for a Cup run. The Leafs and Capitals could also be suitors. I think the Pens have made their move to address their defense and could shift their focus toward a scoring forward. If the Bruins remain in the market for a blueliner I expect they’ll put their focus on one with a left-handed shot. 



NHL Rumor Mill – January 10, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – January 10, 2018

James van Riemsdyk could be an expensive re-signing for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Updates on James van Riemsdyk, Evander Kane, Rick Nash, Brock Nelson and more in your NHL rumor mill.


TSN: NHL insider Darren Dreger appeared on Leafs Lunch yesterday discussing what it might cost the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-sign left wing James van Riemsdyk, who’s due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Noting colleague Bob McKenzie suggested it could take a five-year deal in the range of $6 million annually as the starting point in negotiations, Dreger believes JVR would take $6 million annually to stay with the Leafs on a six-year deal. He doesn’t think there’s been any serious contract talks between the two sides thus far.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Because of van Riemsdyk’s UFA status, there’s some fan speculation suggesting the Leafs should shop him at the trade deadline for a top-four defenseman. While anything’s possible, I don’t believe they’ll go that route because they don’t want to sacrifice the offense van Riemsdyk gives them. They’ll stick with him for the remainder of the season and try to hammer out an agreement on a new contract before July 1. 


TSN: During Tuesday’s insider segment, Pierre LeBrun reported the Buffalo Sabres’ asking price (if they have their way) for pending UFA left wing Evander Kane “will be a first-round pick, plus a prospect, plus potentially a conditional pick in case he signs with that new team.” While there’s no firm timeline as to when the Sabres could move Kane, LeBrun suspects it’ll be near the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Sabres will wait until the days leading up to the deadline to move Kane in hopes of maximizing his trade value. Teams could be leery of parting with a first-round pick but a club looking at making a run for the Cup this season could go for it. Perhaps the Tampa Bay Lightning could consider making a pitch? 

Darren Dreger reports most believe right wing Jaromir Jagr’s time with the Calgary Flames is drawing to a close, but he’s still being treated for an injury and he wants to be healthy before determining his playing future. The Flames could try to trade him but Dreger said it doesn’t appear as though there’s much of a market for Jagr’s services.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I hate to say it but I think Jagr’s NHL playing days are over. I’ll be very surprised if he gets traded. 

Regarding the Chicago Blackhawks making Brent Seabrook a healthy scratch from Tuesday’s game against the Ottawa Senators, LeBrun said this wasn’t about setting up a trade or that Seabrook’s days as a key member of the Blackhawks are coming to an end. He feels it was done to send a message to Seabrook and his teammates regarding their performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even if the Blackhawks wanted to trade Seabrook, his hefty contract ($6.875 million annual average value through 2023-24 plus a no-movement clause) makes him almost impossible to move. 


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports there’s a belief the Rangers could attempt to add a piece or two to offset the loss of Chris Kreider to potentially season-ending rib surgery. However, he calls upon management not to be deluded by their 22-15-15 record, citing the team’s lack of focus and intensity, defensive-zone deficiencies and the fact they’re being kept afloat by the goaltending tandem of Henrik Lundqvist and Ondrej Pavelec.

Brooks believes they should be listening to offers on pending free agent winger Rick Nash. While the decline in Nash’s production hurts his trade value, Brooks suggests “it only takes two teams believing that No. 61 can be a missing link to a title in order to generate a bidding war.” While landing a first-round pick would be ideal, he suggests entertaining offers “including a second-rounder, plus.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nash’s offensive decline screams “buyer beware”. Sure, the Rangers could listen to offers but I doubt they’ll get many serious ones. 


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson is “starting to creep out there” in the rumor mill. With defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Calvin de Haan sidelined, the Isles need blueline help. Friedman believes there will be interest in Nelson. He also wonders if the Isles might take a look at Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nelson, 26, reached 20 goals and 40 points in each of the last three seasons but he’s currently on pace for only 17 goals and 27 points. Still, I think he could be enticing for clubs with blueline depth seeking a second-line forward with good size who can play center or wing. As for Lehner, I don’t think the Sabres want to part with him. 

Friedman said there’s no shortage of people who believe Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson “will be better on a better, more structured team.” The Canucks, however, are trying to drive up his price.


THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: During a recent live chat, Mike Heika was asked which big-name player on the Dallas Stars was most likely to be traded. While he doubts any of them will be moved this season, he suggests center Jason Spezza as a candidate.

While Spezza’s minutes have been reduced this season, Heika notes he has some control over a possible trade. He thinks the veteran center wants to stay in Dallas and help the Stars win. Unless the Stars fall apart down the stretch, Heika doesn’t believe they’ll become sellers at the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spezza surfaced briefly in the rumor mill earlier this season. However, his age (34), declining production and contract ($7.5 million annual cap hit through 2018-19 with a modified no-trade clause) should ensure he finishes this season in Dallas. If the Stars become active in the trade market leading up to the deadline, it’ll be as buyers. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 10, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 10, 2018

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane had a career-best five-point performance as his club thumped the Ottawa Senators 8-2.

Games recaps plus updates on Chris Kreider, Nino Niederreiter, Cody Franson and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Patrick Kane had a career-best five-point performance (one goal, four assists) as the Chicago Blackhawks crushed the Ottawa Senators 8-2. Jonathan Toews and Nick Schmaltz each scored twice for the Blackhawks, who demoted defenseman Cody Franson to the minors after he cleared waivers yesterday. Veteran Hawks blueliner Brent Seabrook ($6.875-million annual cap hit) was a healthy scratch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Scratching the high-salaried Seabrook and Franson clearing waivers certainly raised eyebrows yesterday. Given Seabrook’s expensive cap hit and veteran presence he’s unlikely to be banished to the press box for long. Franson, meanwhile, could be a trade candidate. I’ll have more on his status later this morning in the rumors section. 

Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor scored twice while Patrik Laine collected his 100th career point as the Winnipeg Jets thumped the Buffalo Sabres 7-4. The Jets have won three straight and six of their last seven while the Sabres dropped their fifth consecutive game. Jack Eichel tallied twice for Buffalo.

Tyler Johnson’s hat trick helped the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Carolina Hurricanes by a scored of 5-4. Teammate Brayden Point collected three assists.

Three straight second-period goals powered the Florida Panthers to a 7-4 thrashing of the St. Louis Blues. Panthers forwards Vincent Trochek, Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau each collected three points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: More troubling for the Blues is the ongoing struggles of goaltender Jake Allen, who’s going through another midseason slump. He’s won only one of his last nine starts with a 3.39 goals-against average and .896 save percentage. 

The Washington Capitals picked up their fifth straight win (and their tenth consecutive home victory) by downing the Vancouver Canucks 3-1. Philipp Grubauer made 37 saves to pick up the victory.

Dougie Hamilton’s overtime goal gave the Calgary Flames a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. The Wild forced the overtime frame on third-period goals by Mikael Granlund and Jared Spurgeon. Flames center Sean Monahan scored his 20th of the season. Prior to the game, the Wild announced winger Nino Niederreiter would be sidelined for a week with a lower-body injury.

First-period goals by Craig Smith and Viktor Arvidsson gave the Nashville Predators a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, handing the latter their seventh loss in eight games. Connor McDavid scored the Oilers’ only goal.  Earlier in the day, the Predators announced the re-signings of depth defensemen Yannick Weber, Matt Irwin and Anthony Bitetto.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Rangers winger Chris Kreider underwent successful rib surgery and will be reevaluated in six weeks. He remains sidelined indefinitely.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers forward Kevin Hayes is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Off-the-cuff comments made by three San Jose Sharks players calling Winnipeg the worst NHL city to play in prompted Sharks GM Doug Wilson to issue an apology. Wilson is also unhappy over the club’s broadcast partner, NBC California, putting those players into that awkward position.

NEWSDAY: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman toured the refurbished Nassau Coliseum to assess its suitability as a temporary home for the New York Islanders while their new arena is constructed in Belmont Park. The Islanders played at the Coliseum from 1972 to 2015, when they moved to Barclays Center.

AZCENTRAL: The Arizona Coyotes contributed $1,000.00 donation to help pay for a fan’s funeral expenses. Douglas Tornese was killed in a car accident on Dec. 19 while on route to watch the Coyotes play the Florida Panthers.



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 9, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 9, 2018

Artemi Panarin was the overtime hero as the Columbus Blue Jackets edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 (Photo via NHL Images).

Blue Jackets rally to defeat the Leafs, three stars of the week and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Artemi Panarin’s overtime goal gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Jackets overcame a 2-0 deficit on goals by Nick Foligno and Pierre-Luc Dubois late in the third period. James van Riemsdyk and William Nylander tallied for the Leafs. 

Earlier in the day, the league fined Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard $5,000.00 for slashing Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck during Sunday’s game between the two clubs. 

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, Colorado Avalanche goaltender Jonathan Bernier and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 7, 2018. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights are on route to a record-setting performance by an expansion team. At 29-10-2, they have the third-highest wins total for a team in its first season (the record is 33, held by the Florida Panthers and Anaheim Mighty Ducks) while their 18 home victories are just four shy of the record (22) set by the Hartford Whalers in 1979-80. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s safe to say the Golden Knights will break those aforementioned records. With a .732 points percentage, they’re also on pace to become the first club in the expansion era to finish with a .500 record. 

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers are targeting the beginning of February for goaltender Roberto Luongo’s return from a lower-body injury. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Good news for Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi, as he’s considered day-to-day after taking a slapshot by Detroit’s Martin Frk off the back of his neck during Sunday’s contest between the two clubs. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Blackhawks yesterday placed defenseman Cody Franson on waivers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston expects the 30-year-old Franson will be claimed today. Despite his lack of speed, he’s a rearguard with a right-handed shot carrying an affordable contract who could be attractive to clubs seeking blueline depth. Johnston also suggests a lower-ranked club could claim Franson and use him as potential trade bait near the Feb. 26 trade deadline. 

ESPN.COM: Should the NHL expand to Seattle, Emily Kaplan offers up her take on how to better realign the 32 franchises into four divisions.