NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2022
The latest on Jack Eichel, Eric Staal and Jakub Vrana, the Golden Knights acquire Adin Hill from the Sharks, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Jack Eichel is healthy and looking forward to a better performance in his first full season with the Vegas Golden Knights.
The 25-year-old center was traded to the Golden Knights last November after disagreeing with the Buffalo Sabres over which surgery to undergo for a herniated disk in his neck. He underwent artificial disk replacement following the trade, made his debut with the Golden Knights on Feb. 16 and played the final six weeks of the season with a non-displaced thumb fracture.
Eichel said he’s looking forward to returning to form. “I just want to get back to being that dynamic force that I was before I got hurt and I know I’ll be there,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel finished with 14 goals and 25 points in 34 games despite coming off a lengthy layoff from his surgery and being hampered by his thumb injury. When healthy, he’s proven he’s an 80-point player and could reach or exceed that plateau with the Golden Knights. If he does, it gives them a good shot at reaching the 2023 playoffs.
Eric Staal is hoping to play his way back into the NHL with a professional tryout offer with the Florida Panthers. The 37-year-old forward last played in 2020-21 with the Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens.
Staal played five games last season on a PTO with the AHL’s Iowa Wild and was captain of Team Canada at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. He’ll be joining younger brother Marc Staal at Panthers training camp. Marc signed a one-year contract with the club in July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal might not make the cut on a deep Panthers club. However, a strong training camp and preseason effort could help him land a one-year contract with another club.
This is probably Staal’s last chance to earn a roster spot with an NHL club. He’s had a long and productive career and is among the greatest players in Carolina Hurricanes history. However, his best years are now well behind him.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of players looking forward to a bounce-back performance following an injury-shortened season, Jakub Vrana believes the Detroit Red Wings could be a playoff club in 2022-23.
Vrana, 26, missed most of last season recovering from shoulder surgery. He’s now fully healthy and excited over the Red Wings’ off-season additions. “In my opinion, we have strengthened enough, so there is a better chance for the playoffs,” said Vrana. “We will definitely go all out.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vrana was limited to 13 goals and 19 points in 26 games last season. His lengthy absence contributed to the Red Wings missing the 2022 postseason. A healthy season from him combined with a solid performance from their off-season additions and their promising youngsters should make the Wings a playoff contender.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: The Sharks traded goaltender Adin Hill to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Vegas’ fourth-round pick in 2024.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon’s recent remark about going with Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit as his goalie tandem to start the season. Brossoit is coming off hip surgery so perhaps he’s not fully recovered. If he has, McCrimmon probably wants to ensure he’s got sufficient experienced depth among his goalies.
As for the Sharks, this move enables them to go with a tandem of the promising Kaapo Kahkonen backed up by veteran James Reimer for the coming season. It also sheds Hill’s $2.175 million cap hit, giving the Sharks some extra wiggle room under the cap.
Speaking of the Sharks, they re-signed winger Jonah Gadjovich to a one-year, two-way contract. He’ll earn $750K at the NHL level.
THE ATHLETIC: The Chicago Blackhawks last week announced the hiring of Patrick Sharp and Troy Murray as the team’s TV color analysts. They’ll replace Ed Olczyk, who left the job after 16 years to join the Seattle Kraken in a similar role.