NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 24, 2020

The 2020-21 schedule is released, Nikita Kucherov sidelined for the season, plus a roundup of the latest notable signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league released the schedule for the 2020-21 season. It begins on Jan. 13 with five games, including the Tampa Bay Lightning raising their 2020 Stanley Cup championship banner before facing off against the Chicago Blackhawks at Amalie Arena.

The other four games see the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Philadelphia Flyers, the Montreal Canadiens face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Vancouver Canucks squaring off against the Edmonton Oilers, and the St. Louis Blues tangling with the Colorado Avalanche.

The league also announced the postponement of the 2021 Stadium Series slated for Feb. 20, 2021, featuring the Carolina Hurricanes.

Hip surgery will sideline Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All timings for those games have yet to be announced. Those will likely be revealed after the locations for the Canadian games are determined.

TSN reported last night the five Canadian provinces hosting NHL teams released a letter calling for increased testing of players, staff and close contacts as well as enhancing the schedule to group game into blocks to reduce inter-jurisdictional travel. The other option is reinstating a bubble model similar to the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which the league and the NHLPA aren’t keen to implement.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov has hip surgery scheduled for next week and is expected to be sidelined for the entire regular season. The club hopes to have him back in time for the 2021 playoffs beginning in May.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a big blow to the Lightning’s scoring punch but they will receive $9.5 million in salary cap relief by placing the former Art Ross Trophy and Hart Trophy winner on long-term injury reserve. That should free up sufficient cap space to sign restricted free agent Anthony Cirelli. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t need to make a cost-cutting deal. I’ll have more about that in the Rumors section.

The Lightning also signed forwards Mathieu Joseph and Alex Volkov to short-term, one-way contracts. Joseph inked a two-year deal worth $1.475 million while Volkov inked a one-year, $700K deal.

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood to a three-year, $8.4 million contract. The annual average value is $2.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable deal for the Devils. Blackwood will be their starting goaltender entering this season. A solid performance on his part over the course of this deal will ensure more lucrative terms on his next contract.

SPORTSNET: The Nashville Predators signed forward Erik Haula to a one-year, $1.75 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This signing comes on the heels of the Predators bringing back winger Mikael Granlund. It’s a good, cost-effective depth addition. Haula has an injury history but when healthy is a speedy, versatile two-way forward with a decent scoring touch who can skate on the wing or at center.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Goaltender Ryan Miller is returning for another season with the Anaheim Ducks, inking a one-year contract worth $1 million. He’s served as their backup netminder for the past three seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. Miller and his family live in the Anaheim area and he doesn’t want to relocate at this stage of his career.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens added more experienced depth to their forward links by signing winger Michael Frolik to a one-year, $750K contract.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed center Casey Mittelstadt to a one-year contract worth just over $874K.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers inked goaltender Sam Montembault to a one-year, two-way deal.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach suffered an apparent injury to his right wrist during Canada’s 1-0 win over Russia in a tune-up game for the upcoming 2021 World Junior Championship in Edmonton. Dach left the game, underwent X-rays and is undergoing other tests to determine the severity of the injury.

Meanwhile, Blackhawks forward Alex Nylander recently underwent knee surgery and is expected to be sidelined for four-to-six months.

SPORTSNET: The Vancouver Canucks hired Jason King as their new assistant coach and Chris Higgins as their new skills and development coach.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 15, 2020

Ted Lindsay Award nominees announced, exhibition and Stanley Cup qualifying round schedules revealed, plus the latest on Johnny Gaudreau, Shea Weber, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHLPA.COM: Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, and New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin are the 2020 finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award, presented annually to the NHL’s most outstanding player as voted by the NHL Players Association membership.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon is among the finalists for the 2019-20 Ted Lindsay Award (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All are worthy finalists. They could also be in the running for the Hart Memorial Trophy. The finalists for that award will be announced on July 21.

NHL.COM: The league released its schedule of exhibition games and the Stanley Cup qualifiers schedule for Phase 4 of its return-to-play plan. All Western Conference games will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton and all Eastern Conference games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

SPORTSNET: Johnny Gaudreau’s separation from his linemates and the main group during the opening two days of the Calgary Flames’ training camp is raising eyebrows. Flames coach Geoff Ward claimed the move was due to “circumstances that became apparent last week.” He declined to elaborate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The first-line winger continues to participate in the Flames’ practices with a smaller group, and Ward suggested he could be reunited with his linemates at some point. The NHL’s tight controls over the players’ medical status could cause imaginations to run wild over Gaudreau’s situation. If he were suffering COVID-19 symptoms, he wouldn’t be at practice. Perhaps he’s nursing a recent injury.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber was “unable to practice” yesterday but took to the ice afterward with assistant coach Luke Richardson for some individual work. Canadiens coach Claude Julien anticipates Weber will return to practice on Wednesday.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois missed practice yesterday with what is believed to be a minor issue. Because of the league’s return-to-play rules, the team didn’t provide details.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko returned to the ice yesterday with his teammates after missing the first day of training camp. Teammate Robert Bortuzzo remained absent. Both are believed to have recently tested positive for COVID-19. Blues coach Craig Berube expects Bortuzzo will return soon.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals forwards Lars Eller and Carl Hagelin intend to leave the protective bubble during the playoffs to be with their expectant wives. Eller’s wife is due to give birth on Aug. 8 while Hagelin’s spouse is due in September. Both players must isolate and test negative for four consecutive days before returning to the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Players are allowed to leave and return to the host cities for family reasons.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan missed practice yesterday for a family emergency. Teammate Corey Crawford remains “unfit to play” for the second straight day.

WGR550.COM: Buffalo Sabres winger Michael Frolik has reportedly received a contract offer from KHL team Avangard Omsk. The 32-year-old is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks re-signed winger Troy Terry to a three-year, $4.35-million contract extension. Terry, 22, is completing his entry-level contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Terry is among several promising youngsters the Ducks hope to rebuild around over the next several years. He’s tallied eight goals and 28 points in 81 games over the past three seasons.

NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks signed prospect defenseman Jack Rathbone to an entry-level contract.

SPORTSLOGO.NET: cites The Athletic reporting the Ottawa Senators will be switching to a slightly modified version of the 2d Senator Head logo they wore from 1997 to 2007.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 3, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 3, 2020

Three stars and top rookie of the month for December, Canadiens, Sabres, and Flames get busy in the trade market, milestones reached by Zdeno Chara, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COMNathan MacKinnon’s four-point performance (one goal, three assists) led the Colorado Avalanche to a 7-3 thumping of the St. Louis Blues. Nazem Kadri scored twice and Samuel Girard collected four assists. Robert Thomas scored twice for the Blues.

Nathan MacKinnon’s four-point effort carried the Colorado Avalanche over the St. Louis Blues 7-3 (Photo via NHL Images).

The Vancouver Canucks picked up their sixth straight win by holding off the Chicago Blackhawks 7-5. J.T. Miller had a four-point effort while teammates Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, and Tanner Pearson each collected three points. Patrick Kane scored two goals for the Blackhawks while teammate Adam DeBrincat had three helpers.

The San Jose Sharks defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on an overtime tally by Brent Burns. Joe Thornton picked up his 1,080th career NHL assist to move into seventh on the all-time assists leader list. Patric Hornqvist scored both Penguins goals.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are unbeaten in their last nine games (8-0-1) after downing the Winnipeg Jets 6-3. William Nylander scored two goals and set up another while teammate Frederik Andersen kicked out 45 shots. Earlier in the day, the Jets announced defenseman Nathan Beaulieu will miss at least a month with a lower-body injury.

Sean Monahan’s third-period goal gave the Calgary Flames a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers. Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist for the Flames while Rangers defenseman Adam Fox collected three assists.

The Vegas Golden Knights scored four first-period goals and hung on to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4. Max Pacioretty scored twice for the Golden Knights, who killed off a 6-on-3 Flyers power-play in the final 90 seconds of the third period. Vegas winger Jonathan Marchessault missed the game with a lower-body injury.

A four-goal second period carried the Florida Panthers to a 6-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Evgenii Dadonov tallied twice and added an assist for the Panthers.

The Columbus Blue Jackets edged the Boston Bruins 2-1 on an overtime goal by Pierre-Luc Dubois. The Jackets’ point streak has reached 12 games (8-0-4). Bruins winger David Pastrnak tallied his league-leading 30th goal of the season.

Jack Eichel’s penalty-shot goal in overtime completed a 3-2 comeback by the Buffalo Sabres over the Edmonton Oilers. The Sabres overcame a 2-0 deficit on regulation goals by Curtis Lazar and Sam Reinhart. Sabres rookie winger Victor Olofsson left the game in the third period with a lower-body injury.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 38-save performance carried his club over the Montreal Canadiens 2-1. The Habs played without winger Brendan Gallagher, who’s out indefinitely with a concussion.

Nico Hischier tallied the game-winner as the New Jersey Devils nipped the New York Islanders 2-1. The Devils are 4-0-1 in their last five games. New Jersey center Jack Hughes missed the game with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech (lower-body injury) also missed this contest.

The Arizona Coyotes doubled up the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 following a three-goal third period. Goaltender Antti Raanta made 26 saves for the win.


Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau, Pittsburgh Penguins goatender Tristan Jarry, and New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin are the NHL’s three stars for December 2019. Buffalo Sabres winger Victor Olofsson is rookie of the month for December.

Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara and San Jose Sharks forwards Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are the 12th, 13th, and 14th players in NHL history to play at least one game in four or more different decades.

TSN: The Montreal Canadiens yesterday traded defenseman Mike Reilly to the Ottawa Senators for a fifth-round pick in 2021 and minor-leaguer Andrew Sturtz. They also acquired defenseman Marco Scandella from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With these moves, the Canadiens add some much-needed veteran experience to their blueline in Scandella while shedding a $1.5-million salary-cap hit for 2020-21 by moving out the frequently-scratched Reilly. Eligible for UFA status this summer, Scandella can be considered a rental to keep the Habs’ flickering playoff hopes alive. The Senators, meanwhile, needed defensive depth with Dylan DeMelo, Nikita Zaitsev and Ron Hainsey sidelined by injuries.

The Sabres, meanwhile, flipped that draft pick they received from the Canadiens to the Calgary Flames for winger Michael Frolik.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres needed help up front. That they only had to part with a fourth-rounder speaks to the decline in Frolik’s stock. The Flames were reportedly close to moving Frolik at last year’s trade deadline to the Minnesota Wild in a deal for winger Jason Zucker but it fell through at the last minutes. Frolik might not be the only move the Sabres have in store, while the Flames could also be active in the trade market leading up to this year’s deadline. I’ll have more later this morning in my daily Rumors update.

THE ATHLETIC: Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown returned to practice yesterday following a stint in hospital recovering from pneumonia.

USA TODAY: Carolina Hurricanes center Erik Haula and his wife, Kristen, released a statement yesterday mourning the passing of their unborn daughter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sincere condolences to the Haulas.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 29, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – November 29, 2019

Would Taylor Hall be a good addition for the Canadiens? Who could the Oilers target to bolster their secondary scoring? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan cites TSN insider Darren Dreger suggesting Taylor Hall would be a good addition for the Montreal Canadiens. The New Jersey Devils winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Would Taylor Hall be a good addition for the Montreal Canadiens? (Photo via NHL Images)

“I think that Taylor Hall would be a good addition for the Montreal Canadiens,” Dreger told Toronto’s TSN 1050 OverDrive show. “I don’t understand why they wouldn’t have interest and I’m not so sure that, given the opportunity, Taylor Hall wouldn’t sign in with the Montreal Canadiens.”

Dreger said Hall’s agent and Devils general manager Ray Shero have “nibbled at parameters” of a new contract but no solid numbers have been proposed. He believes the Hall camp wants to see how this season plays out. Dreger also feels Hall wouldn’t be concerned over the pressure of playing in a Canadian market, citing his years with the Edmonton Oilers.

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen included the Canadiens among the clubs he feels could pursue Hall if the Devils decide to move him before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Other destinations could include the Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall would improve any team’s offense, but he can’t fix the Canadiens’ porous defense, and that’s what killing the Habs right now. Rather than waste money and assets on Hall before the trade deadline or in next summer’s UFA market, Montreal GM Marc Bergevin should instead bolster his blueline depth.


SPORTSNET: New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider, Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Calgary Flames winger Michael Frolik are among Sonny Sachdeva’s list of suggested targets to bolster the Edmonton Oilers’ offensive depth. Others include Frolik’s teammates Andrew Mangiapane and Mark Jankowski, Pageau’s teammate Vladislav Namestnikov, and New Jersey Devils winger Nikita Gusev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquiring Kreider or Pageau would be expensive, but they would have the biggest positive effect upon the Oilers’ secondary scoring. Oilers GM Ken Holland wasn’t afraid to make significant moves near the trade deadline during his long tenure with the Detroit Red Wings. He could do it again this season if the Oilers stay in playoff contention.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 28, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – September 28, 2019

A look at five NHL clubs that could soon make a move in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton speculates the Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks, and Winnipeg Jets could be worth watching as the season approaches. One of them could soon make a move to become cap compliant or to reduce their roster to 23 players. 

Calgary Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie frequently surfaced in this summer’s trade-rumor mill (Photo via NHL Images).

The Flames are among those that must become salary-cap compliant before the seasons opens on Oct. 2. They could achieve that by demoting someone like Dillon Dube to the minors. But if he cracks the roster, they could be forced to make a trade.

Winger Michael Frolik and defensemen T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic surfaced in this summer’s rumor mill. Jusso Valimaki’s knee injury makes it unlikely the latter two will be moved.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Flames sit above the $81.5-million salary cap by over $658K. Frolik was nearly shipped to the Minnesota Wild at last season trade deadline for winger Jason Zucker. He’s in the final season of his contract ($4.3 million salary-cap hit) with a 10-team no-trade clause. 

Despite trading Justin Faulk this week to St. Louis, the Carolina Hurricanes remain overstocked on defensemen. Clinton suggests it might be necessary to move another one, with Trevor van Riemsdyk and recently-acquired Joel Edmundson as candidates. Dealing one of them might be a better way to become cap compliant than demoting a young player earning the league minimum.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes are less than $500K above the cap ceiling. I doubt they’ll move Edmundson as he brings grit and Stanley Cup experience to their blueline corps. Meanwhile, van Riemsdyk is still recovering from off-season surgery. if he’s unable to start the season, the Hurricanes will get short-term cap relief by placing him on LTIR.

Clinton doubts the Stars want the distraction of unsigned blueliner Julius Honka on the sidelines. General manager Jim Nill acknowledged Honka requested a trade. The 23-year-old puck-moving rearguard has what Clinton considers untapped offensive potential and could blossom with a change of scenery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Montreal Canadiens were rumored to be interested in Honka. So far, however, nothing’s come of it. The market for Honka might not be to Nill’s liking right now.

The Vancouver Canucks could demote Tim Schaller and perhaps Nikolay Goldobin to get down to a 23-man roster. Clinton suggests shopping Schaller and perhaps Loui Eriksson. He acknowledged Eriksson’s $6-million cap hit makes it unlikely he gets move but feels it’s at least worth exploring.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think there’s much of a market for those players. Jake Virtanen has also surfaced in recent trade talk.

If Dustin Byfuglien doesn’t return to start the season, the Jets will need short-term blueline help. Clinton wonders if a deal could be made for one of the Hurricanes’ depth defenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the clubs on this list, the Jets could have the more dire need to swing a trade. They needed depth on the right side of their blueline well before Big Buff took his leave of absence. They won’t be able to replace what Byfuglien brings to their lineup but they’ll have to add an experienced right-side rearguard as a stopgap.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 13, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – September 13, 2019

Kyle Connor could be an offer-sheet target plus updates on Justin Faulk, Mitch Marner, and Michael Frolik in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: Sean Reynolds reports at least three teams have considered signing Kyle Connor to an offer sheet. The 22-year-old winger is a restricted free agent coming off back-to-back 30-goal seasons. Reynolds said several teams checked into offer-sheeting Connor back in June. Contact with them has been ongoing and at least one club “checked in with interest” following the August long weekend.

Could Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor sign an offer sheet? (Photo via NHL Images)

Reynolds suggests Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller’s new contract (eight years, $7.15-million annually) could be a good comparable. Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has said he intends to match any offer for his unsigned RFAs.  The Jets have over $15 million in cap space but must also re-sign winger Patrik Laine.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A rival GM could wait until close to the start of the season to sign Connor to an offer sheet. it could complicate Cheveldayoff’s efforts to match and remain salary-cap compliant when the season opens next month. That depends on whether Connor’s still unsigned by then and if he’s willing to agree to an offer sheet.

CapFriendly indicates six teams (Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Ottawa Senators, and Colorado Avalanche) have sufficient cap space to sign Connor. Half of them – the Bruins, Lightning, and Avalanche – have RFA talent of their own to re-sign.


THE ATHLETIC: Josh Cooper reports there’s nothing new to report since rumors broke earlier this week claiming the Anaheim Ducks and Carolina Hurricanes have a deal in principle that would send defenseman Justin Faulk to the Ducks.

Cooper wonders if this situation was made public by the Faulk camp to drum up interest in the blueliner, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He also wondered if the Hurricanes leaked the news to make it known Faulk’s available.

It’s possible the Ducks can’t afford the Hurricanes’ asking price. If a deal doesn’t happen, Cooper wonders what will happen to Ducks winger Ondrej Kase, who was said to be part of the return to the Hurricanes. If this falls through, he also pondered what defensemen the Ducks could pursue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks are said to be on Faulk’s 15-team no-trade list. It’s also said Faulk or the Ducks want a contract extension. Ultimately, it’s up to the blueliner to decide if this trade goes through.


TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas remains optimistic of getting Mitch Marner signed before the season opens on Oct. 2. He told reporters he won’t comment again about this situation until it’s resolved “one way or another.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Folks will zoom in on the “one way or another” remark to mean Dubas could trade Marner if a deal can’t be reached by Oct. 2. While I don’t rule anything out, I believe the Leafs GM doesn’t want to go that route.

If he changes his mind and put Marner on the trade block it could be difficult finding suitors willing to part with what would be a hefty asking price from Dubas and Marner’s rumored demand. It’s said the winger seeks over $11 million annually on a short-term deal.


SPORTSNET: Eric Francis reports Calgary Flames winger Michael Frolik could be a cost-cutting trade candidate. The Flames still have to re-sign RFA forwards Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane and their combined cost could exceed the club’s $7 million in salary-cap space.

Frolik was nearly shipped to the Minnesota Wild last season but the deal fell through by the trade deadline. He carries a $4.3 million cap hit for this season and Francis suggests moving the winger would address the Flames cap quandary. Frolik said he’s never requested a trade and hopes to remain with the Flames this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Frolik seems an obvious trade candidate but his cap hit and 10-team no-trade list could complicate things.