NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 14, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 14, 2017

Game recaps plus latest on Taylor Hall, Brandon Dubinsky and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Kari Lehtonen made 32 saves on route to his 300th career NHL victory as the Dallas Stars beat the New York Islanders 5-2. Stars captain Jamie Benn had a three-point game and Tyler Pitlick scored twice. 

P.K. Subban tallied two goals (one from center ice) and Craig Smith had a three-point performance to lead the Nashville Predators to a 7-1 drubbing of the Vancouver Canucks, who suffered their fourth straight defeat. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are really feeling the absence of sidelined top-six forwards Bo Horvat  andSven Baertschi, as well as veteran center Brandon Sutter and rugged blueliner Erik Gudbranson. 

David Pastrnak scored the game-tying goal and Brad Marchand netted the winner in overtime as the Boston Bruins edged the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. 

Bobby Ryan scored a goal and set up another as the Ottawa Senators hung on for a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers. It was the struggling Sens second victory in their last 14 games. 

TSN: Speaking of the Senators, team owner Eugene Melnyk denied rumors he was considering selling the club. “I am not selling the team – period. My kids (had) first call on the franchise long ago,” Melnyk said in an email sent to Postmedia.”

OTTAWA SUN: And speaking of Melnyk, former Sens center Kyle Turris believes the reason he was shipped to Nashville last month in a rare three-team trade was because the Ottawa owner didn’t want to re-sign him. Senators general manager Pierre Dorion dismissed this notion, claiming everything in the hockey department goes through him, not Melnyk. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators month-long tailspin gave rise to so much speculation over possible trades and the future of the franchise that Dorion held a press conference prior to the game against the Rangers to swat down the rumors. I’ll have more on what he said about potential player movement later today in the Rumors section. 

NORTHJERSEY.COM:  New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall is day-to-day with a knee contusion and won’t take part in tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. 

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky will miss six-to-eight weeks after suffering a facial fracture during a fight with Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian during Tuesday’s game in Columbus. 

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk is sidelined with a lower-body injury. The extent of the injury remains unknown.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks placed defenseman Cody Franson (upper body) on injured reserve and called up Ville Pokka.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights claimed forward Ryan Carpenter off waivers from the San Jose Sharks. 

TSN: Rick Westhead with a feature on former Minnesota Wild captain Matt Johnson, who’s now homeless and missing somewhere in California. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson’s decline since his NHL career ended in 2005 is yet another sad cautionary tale of how a player, even one who earned $6 million during his pro career, can fall through the cracks.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 5, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 5, 2017

The 2017-18 NHL season has begun. Check out the latest notable news in your morning coffee headlines.

EDMONTON SUN: Connor McDavid tallied a hat trick as the Edmonton Oilers blanked the Calgary Flames 3-0.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is wasting little time picking up from where he left off from last season’s MVP performance. As for the Flames, the good news was goalie Mike Smith gave up only two goals on 44 shots. The bad news is their vaunted defense didn’t play well against McDavid and company. 

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Wayne Simmonds also netted three goals to lead the Flyers to a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks.

STLTODAY.COM: Alex Pietrangelo scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the St. Louis Blues spoiled the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Cup banner night with a 5-4 win. 

TORONTO SUN: Patrick Marleau scored twice while Auston Matthews and James van Riemsdyk had three-point performances to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 7-2 beat down of the Winnipeg Jets. 

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets yesterday announced the signing of winger Nikolaj Ehlers to a seven-year, $42-million contract extension. His new deal begins in 2018-19 and is worth an annual average value of $6 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets wasted little time locking up the skilled 21-year-old Ehlers, who followed up a promising 38-point NHL debut in 2015-16 with a 25-goal, 64-point effort last season. He finished third among Jets scorers in assists and points and fourth in goals. A highly-skilled winger, Ehlers is a valuable part of the Jets’ offense. Given his upside, this contract could look like a bargain in a few years. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Blackhawks officially placed sidelined winger Marian Hossa (skin condition) on long-term injury reserve yesterday and signed defenseman Cody Franson to a one-year, $1-million contract. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise on either count. Franson was on a professional tryout offer with the Hawks but it was widely assumed he would make the roster. 

ORANGE COUNTRY REGISTER: Wednesday was a busy day for the Anaheim Ducks. They signed defenseman Josh Manson to a four-year, $16.4 million contract extension and placed veterans Ryan Miller (upper-body injury) and Patrick Eaves (lower body) on injured reserve. Manson will earn $3.25 million in 2018-19, $4.25 million in 2019-20 and $4.45 million in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed forward Daniel Winnik to a one-year, $660K contract. Winnik attended Wild training camp on a tryout offer. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals yesterday signed winger Alex Chiasson to a one-year, $660K contract. Chiasson attended Capitals training camp on a PTO. 

TSN: The Vegas Golden Knights inked free agent forward Brandon Pirri to a one-year, two-way deal worth $650K at the NHL level. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens traded defenseman Zach Redmond to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for gritty winger Nicolas Deslauriers. The latter will report to the Habs’ AHL affiliate in Laval. 

CBS SPORTS: The Canadiens also shipped forward Andreas Martinsen to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchanged for forward Kyle Baun.

TSN: Former NHL forward Jiri Hudler is accused of creating an outburst during a recent flight to Prague. He is alleged to have “in which he threatened flight attendants, demanded cocaine and tried to urinate in a food cart.” Hudler denies the allegations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wowsers! Sounds like a scene from a Hunter S. Thompson story. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 8, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 8, 2017

Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis could be sidelined until the end of December.

Latest on Ryan Ellis, Nick Bonino, Cody Franson and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis could be sidelined for the first two or three months of the upcoming NHL season because of knee surgery he underwent back in June. General manager David Poile said the usual timeline for recovery is four to six months and it appears Ellis will be out for the full six months. He anticipates Ellis’ return could be late-December.

New Predators center Nick Bonino isn’t expected to play with his new club during preseason. He’s still recovering from a broken left tibia suffered during this year’s Stanley Cup Final. It’s believed he’ll be ready to play when the Predators open the season on Oct. 5. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators anticipated Ellis’ absence would be a lengthy one. That’s why they acquired defenseman Alexei Emelin from the Vegas Golden Knights on July 1. Still, the Preds will feel Ellis’ absence. He’s a key part of their defense corps. 

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES:  The Blackhawks signed free-agent defenseman Cody Franson to a professional tryout offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a surprising development. It was reported in July that Franson could join the Hawks on a PTO contract. 

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed free-agent blueliner Tim Erixon to a PTO contract. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: An ankle injury could prevent Oilers forward Anton Slepyshev from participating in training camp. 

NBC SPORTS: The NHL announced former enforcer George Parros as the new senior vice-president of its Department of Player Safety. Parros vows to crack down on slashing and will seek longer suspensions for non-hockey infractions. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With all due respect to Parros, I’ll believe it when I see it. The NHL Department of Player Safety is a joke. Few folks take its pronouncements seriously. 

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs have hired former defenseman Stephane Robidas as an assistant director of player development. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cynics will consider this Robidas’ reward for not kicking up a fuss when the Leafs buried him for salary-cap relief during the final two years of his contract. However, since 2016 he was in a consulting role for the Leafs, working with their AHL affiliate. 

Mark your calendars, folks. TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie yesterday reported the 2018 NHL trade deadline is 3 pm ET on Monday, February 26, 2018. 

OTTAWA SUN: After suffering the embarrassment of reduced attendance numbers and empty seats at Canadian Tire Centre last season, the Senators are reducing their seating capacity from 18,500 to 17,000. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If you can’t fill your building, reduce your seating. What a novel way to address the issue. You know, if an American Sun Belt team did that, some pundits and fans would be calling upon the league to relocate that club to a better hockey market. 


NHL Rumor Mill – September 6, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – September 6, 2017

Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene was absent from a pre-training camp practice.

Updates on Matt Duchene, David Pastrnak, Andreas Athanasiou and Cody Franson in your NHL rumor mill.

THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers reports Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene was absent from captain Gabe Landeskog’s pre-training camp practice yesterday. Nathan MacKinnon and Nikita Zadorov also missed the practice. MacKinnon was in New York on an NHL media tour while Zadorov is still without a contract.

Duchene, the subject of trade rumors since last season, was in Vail, Colorado on Saturday attending a wedding. Veterans are expected to report to training camp on Sept. 14. “I talked a little bit with Dutchy. He’s not here; that’s not a secret,” said Landeskog. “As of right now, he’s a part of the Avalanche organization and we all expect him to be here when training camp starts.” 

Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic recently acknowledged fielding trade offers for Duchene. Chambers feels a trade “appears inevitable and the return could fetch a much-needed defenseman or two.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Attending a pre-training camp practice isn’t mandatory for veterans such as Duchene. His absence doesn’t mean he intends to skip training camp, but it certainly stokes the trade speculation.

A trade might seem inevitable but nothing appears imminent. That could change if Sakic can find someone willing to pay his steep asking price (reportedly a young, proven top-four defenseman, an established NHL player, a first-round draft pick and a top prospect) or if he’s willing to reduce it. Media trade chatter linked Duchene to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins. 

BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont reports agent J.P. Barry, who represents winger David Pastrnak, said he and the Bruins recently discussed a new eight-year contract for his client. The Bruins had offered the Pastrnak camp a choice of six- or seven-year contracts worth $6 million annually. If Bruins GM Don Sweeney is willing to offer eight years, Dupont speculates that “perhaps middle ground between $6 million and the recent $8.5 million a year the Oilers recently gave Leon Draisaitl, who is also a 21-year-old forward/center.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Bruins going as high as Draisaitl’s annual average value. I think they’ll look at something close to $7 million. Pastrnak was briefly the subject of trade speculation last month but Sweeney wasted little time dismissing that idea.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan reports it appears increasingly likely that Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou could sign with a KHL team. Athanasiou’s agent Darren Ferris said it’s becoming more of a possibility his client will head to the KHL because of the wide disparity in negotiations with the Wings.

The cap-strapped Wings are offering the restricted free agent a two-year deal worth just under $2 million per season. However, he’s getting offers from multiple KHL teams of one-year deals worth around $3 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even if the Wings had sufficient salary-cap space, I don’t think they’d be keen to match or exceed those KHL offers. They could let Athanasiou head to Russia for the upcoming season and revisit contract talks with the restricted free agent next summer. 



NHL Rumor Mill – September 4, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – September 4, 2017

Could the St. Louis Blues make a pitch for NY Islanders star John Tavares?

Updates on John Tavares and Danis Zaripov plus some possible PTO targets for the Capitals in your NHL rumor mill. 

STLTODAY.COM: In a recent live chat with St. Louis Blues fans, Jeff Gordon doubted the club could afford to pursue New York Islanders center John Tavares via trade or free agency, Gordon feels Tavares wants to stay with the Islanders if the club can get a new arena. If not, he thinks the Toronto Maple Leafs have the pieces to acquire the Isles captain in a blockbuster trade.

Gordon also believes Tavares will get $10 million per season on his next contract. He points out it would be difficult for the Blues to afford Tavares and winger Vladimir Tarasenko, who’s earning over $7 million annually. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have over $58 million invested in 14 players for 2018-19. Assuming they acquired Tavares and paid him $10 million per season, that would push their payroll to over $68 million for 15 players. If there’s another marginal cap increase to between $77-$78 million for ’18-’19, the Blues will have limited salary-cap space to re-sign or replace other key players, including RFAs Robby Fabbri and Joel Edmundson. 

CSN MIDATLANTIC: J.J. Regan notes the Washington Capitals currently have only five defensemen (Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov, John Carlson, Brooks Orpik and Taylor Chorney) under contract from last season, leaving two spots open for prospects. If the Caps decide they need additional veteran depth, Regan lists unrestricted free agent defensemen Roman Polak, Fedor Tyutin, Cody Franson and Mark Stuart as possible professional tryout offer candidates. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay the Capitals aren’t the only clubs looking at those four as potential PTO candidates. The Chicago Blackhawks, for example, also only have five blueliners under contracts from ’16-’17. In July, a rumor emerged linking Franson to the Hawks as a tryout candidate. The Colorado Avalanche only have four rearguards under contract and recently invited Jared Cowen to camp on a tryout basis. 

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports sources say the Pittsburgh Penguins are among four NHL teams interested in former KHL winger Danis Zaripov. “According to sources, the Penguins have made an inquiry and are “internally discussing” a contract offer,” write Kingerski. He also notes the Pens remain in the market for a third-line center. The New York Rangers are also thought to have interest in the 36-year-old Zaripov. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could depend upon how much it’ll cost the Penguins to sign Zaripov and if that leave sufficient space to bolster their depth at center. They currently have over $3.2 million in cap space, though Kingerski observes that’ll drop to $2.4 million if blueliner Derrick Pouliot cracks the roster this season. That could affect efforts to land that third-line center unless some salary is shipped out in a trade. 


NHL Rumor Mill – August 29, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – August 29, 2017

Detroit Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou is mulling offers from the Wings and a KHL team.

Updates on the Detroit Red Wings and the latest on Cody Franson in your NHL rumor mill.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports agent Darren Ferris, who represents Detroit Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou, said contract discussions with the club are ongoing but a deal isn’t imminent. He also said the KHL offer his client received remains on the table and he’s expecting a decision later this week.

Khan believes a two-year bridge deal between $1.5 – $2 million per season with the Wings is a possibility. Athanasiou is a restricted free agent who lacks arbitration rights and could be using the KHL offer as leverage in his talks with the Wings.

In a recent mailbag segment, Khan suggested former Wing and current unrestricted free agent forward Thomas Vanek could be an option  on a one-year contract if Athanasiou bolts for the KHL. He notes the Wings will have to clear some salary-cap space “by trading or waiving a player, unless someone with a relatively substantial cap hit, besides Johan Franzen, has a long-term injury.”

Khan doesn’t see the Pittsburgh Penguins being interested in Wings center Frans Nielsen or Darren Helm, as they’re carrying too much money and term on their contracts. He also doubts the Wings will bring back unrestricted free agent center Drew Miller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Athanasiou heads to the KHL, the Wings could be forced to move fast to sign Vanek. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports the Vancouver Canucks are believed to have interest in the veteran winger.

The Wings’ salary-cap issues (they’re $3 million above the $75 million salary cap) are the reason why Athanasiou remains unsigned. It’ll be interesting to see what the young winger decides. If he does go to Russia, the Wings still retain his NHL rights, but they’ll miss his speed and his scoring potential this season. 


SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet as to which club Franson could sign with for the upcoming season. There was a report last month suggesting he could sign a professional tryout offer with the Chicago Blackhawks.