NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 3, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 3, 2018

The 2018-19 NHL regular season opens tonight. Check out the latest contract signings, waiver news and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals will raise their 2018 Stanley Cup banner before their season-opener against the Boston Bruins as the curtain rises tonight on the NHL’s 2018-19 regular season.

TSN.CA: The city of Seattle is one vote away from getting an NHL expansion franchise after the league’s executive committee unanimously recommended to proceed with the city’s bid. It will be put toward a full Board of Governors vote on Dec. 3.

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton’s lengthy beard is history (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The BoG vote is merely a formality. For all intent and purpose, Seattle will become the NHL’s 32nd franchise. 

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton had his lengthy beard shaved off by teammate Brent Burns during a season-opening party. Thornton had been growing the beard since 2015-16. 

THE SCORE: Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green could be sidelined at least a month as he continues to recover from a liver virus.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Anaheim Ducks forward Ondrej Kase is out indefinitely due to a concussion suffered during a preseason game last Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another blow for the injury-ravaged Ducks. Kase joins Corey Perry (knee surgery) and Ryan Kesler (offseason hip surgery) among their regulars currently on injured reserve. 

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights placed winger Alex Tuch (ankle) on injured reserve. He’s not expected to be sidelined for long.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Jacob de la Rose suffered a cardiac incident during a recent preseason game and hasn’t been cleared by team doctors to travel with the club to Toronto for tonight’s game against the Leafs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coach Claude Julien said the move was a precautionary one as de la Rose’s condition isn’t considered to be serious. 

SPORTSDAY: Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns is coping with post-concussion symptoms. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers yesterday signed defenseman Jason Garrison and forward Alex Chiasson to one-year contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:Cap Friendly indicates both players are each worth $650K.

SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs lost two goaltenders via waivers yesterday. The Philadelphia Flyers claimed Calvin Pickard while the Carolina Hurricanes picked up Curtis McElhinney.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs have goalies currently on the sidelines. The Flyers have Michal Neuvirth (undisclosed) and Alex Lyon (lower body) are on injured reserve while Hurricanes starter Scott Darling is out two weeks with a lower-body injury. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Anticipating a lengthy suspension for right wing Tom Wilson, the Capitals claimed forward Dmitrij Jaskin off waivers from the St. Louis Blues.

THE PROVINCE:  The Vancouver Canucks have loaned forward Sam Gagner to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. The move was made to put Gagner closer to his family. The Canucks retain the right to recall him at any time.

COURIER-POST: The Flyers placed Dale Weise and Taylor Leier on waivers.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild put defenseman Gustav Olofsson on waivers.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON’s Joe Haggerty reports the Bruins will keep forward Lee Stempniak on tryout basis for the time being. He’ll continue practicing with the club as he hopes a roster spot will open up for him soon.


NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2018

Latest on the Islanders, Lightning and Canucks in your NHL rumor mill.


NEWSDAY: The free-agent status of top-six forwards Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle and Brock Nelson are among Andrew Gross’ five things to watch for the New York Islanders this season. He believes they cannot allow those three to depart as UFAs without compensation as they did with John Tavares this summer. General manager Lou Lamoriello could face some tough decisions by the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline.

New York Islanders could face a tough decision with pending free agents such as Anders Lee. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Player and team performance will determine the fates of those three. Of the trio, Nelson could be most likely to be shopped if he fails to impress as their second-line center. 

Big seasons from Lee and Eberle could land them new contracts with the islanders, but that will also depend upon how much they’re seeking. Lee is earning $3.75 million annually on his current contract and could look to double that, while Eberle is earning $6 million per season and could try to stay in that neighborhood. 


THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports the Tampa Bay Lightning have tried to move a defenseman, telling teams they’re open to trading Slater Koekkoek or Braydon Coburn. It remains to be seen if a deal will be made. For now, they’ve sent promising Erik Cernak to their AHL affiliate in Syracuse. Both blueliners still hold depth value for the Lightning. Of the two, Smith thinks Koekkoek could be more open to a change of scenery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Koekkoek is the most likely trade candidate, as he’s younger (24), lacks no-trade protection and carries an affordable $865K salary this season. That move might not happen right away but could take place later this season, especially if there’s a need to create more room on a crowded blueline. He could be an affordable blueline depth acquisition for a rival club as the season unfolds. 


THE ATHLETIC: Jason Brough feels the Vancouver Canucks placing Sam Gagner on waivers could be a warning of more moves to come. He wonders if veterans Brandon Sutter and Alexander Edler become trade candidates later this season. He acknowledges Edler has a no-trade clause but perhaps he’d waive it if he were told in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t getting re-signed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Gagner clears waivers today they could send him down to their AHL affiliate or attempt to trade him. He’s signed through 2019-20 with an annual cap hit of $3.15 million, which could make clubs leery of claiming him. Even via trade, the Canucks could be asked to absorb part of that cap hit. 

Sutter will be a tough sell. Cap Friendly indicates he carries a $4.375-million cap hit through 2020-21 with a full no-trade clause this season. Edler, on the other hand, should attract plenty of interest near the trade deadline if he’s willing to waive his no-trade. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 2, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 2, 2018

Devils edge SC Bern, Shea Weber named Canadiens captain, Scott Hartnell and Radim Vrbata retire, Sam Gagner on waivers and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NJ.COM:  Taylor’s Hall’s overtime goal lifted the New Jersey Devils to a 3-2 victory over SC Bern during exhibition play in Switzerland yesterday.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens named defenseman Shea Weber as their 30th captain in franchise history.

Shea Weber named the new captain of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weber, the former captain of the Nashville Predators and one of the most respected players in the league, was the logical choice to replace former Habs captain Max Pacioretty. 

CALGARY SUN: Speaking of the Canadiens, they acquired defenseman Brett Kulak from the Calgary Flames in exchange for AHL blueliners Rinat Valiev and Matt Taormina. Kulak will report to the Habs’ AHL affiliate in Laval. They also offered rearguard Simon Despres a minor-league contract.

BOSTON HERALD: Bruins defenseman Torey Krug will be sidelined three-to-four weeks with an injured left ankle.

TSN: Winger Scott Hartnell retired after 17 NHL seasons. In 1,249 game, Hartnell tallied 327 goals and 707 points with the Nashville Predators, Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets, including nine 20-goal campaigns.

Radim Vrbata also announced his retirement after 16 NHL seasons. He had 284 goals and 623 points in 1,057 games with the Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Arizona Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers. That included eight seasons with 40-or-more points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hartnell and Vrbata in their future endeavors. 

SPORTSNET: The Vancouver Canucks placed forward Sam Gagner on waivers yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gagner is signed through 2019-20 with an annual salary-cap hit of $3.125 million. Don’t be surprised if he clears waivers today. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs traded defenseman Connor Carrick to the Dallas Stars for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2019.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers traded blueliner Jakub Jerabek to the St. Louis Blues for a conditional draft pick.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres acquired defenseman Jack Dougherty from the Nashville Predators in exchange for forward Nicholas Baptiste. They also announced forward Scott Wilson will be sidelined eight-to-10 weeks following surgery to repair a fractured ankle. 


NHL Rumor Mill – July 11, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – July 11, 2018

Latest on Max Pacioretty and Erik Karlsson plus a recent update on the Vancouver Canucks in your NHL rumor mill.

Is Max Pacioretty’s time with the Montreal Canadiens drawing to a close? (Photo via NHL Images)


THE ATHLETIC:  Marc Antoine Godin reports an NHL source claims Montreal Canadiens general manager has told captain Max Pacioretty that he won’t receive a contract extension and the club’s intention is to trade him as soon as possible. Pacioretty’s new agent, Allan Walsh, declined to comment except to say his client loves Montreal and hopes to stay.

It’s believed Pacioretty will seek a lucrative long-term contract after his current deal turned out to be one of the league’s biggest bargains. The 29-year-old left wing would prefer to re-sign with the Canadiens but there’s been trade speculation stretching back to December. Bergevin does not publicly comment about contract talks with his players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s already a bit of push-back against this story, suggesting this could be an agent’s tactic and pointing out the rumor didn’t come from a Montreal source. Still, it was widely reportedly the Canadiens had a trade in place to send Pacioretty to the Los Angeles Kings during the NHL Draft last month but the deal fell through because he declined to sign a contract extension with the Kings. 

Rumors linked Pacioretty to the Kings, San Jose Sharks. St. Louis Blues and Florida Panthers. With the Kings having signed Ilya Kovalchuk and the Blues yesterday inking Patrick Maroon, they’re likely out of the market for a scoring winger. The Sharks, who lost out in the bidding for John Tavares, could be the leading suitor. 

It’s widely assumed the Canadiens would want a scoring center in exchange for Pacioretty but that return could be difficult to land if he intends to hit the open market next summer. As per Cap Friendly, he lacks no-trade protection so he could be unwilling to sign a contract extension with the Canadiens unless he gets a guarantee that he won’t be dealt during the final season of his current contract.


THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports the Tampa Bay Lightning re-signing winger Nikita Kucherov yesterday to an eight-year, $76-million contract extension doesn’t preclude the Lightning from acquiring Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. GM Steve Yzerman didn’t mention Karlsson by name but said any report that he was close to making a major acquisition was “very inaccurate”. However, he didn’t rule out the possibility of taking on a high-salaried player, though they’d “have to make the money work, so to speak.”

Smith notes the Lightning have around $4 million in cap space for 2018-19 while Karlsson’s annual cap hit is $6.5 million. Defensemen Braydon Coburn ($3.7 million), Anton Stralman ($4.5 million) and Dan Girardi ($3 million) come off the books next summer as unrestricted free agents. However, Smith suggests the Lightning would still have to move a contract, such as that of winger Ryan Callahan ($5.8 million annually) or center Tyler Johnson ($5 million AAV), to re-sign Karlsson, who’s also due to become a UFA next July. No-trade clauses for those like Callahan and Johnson could also complicate things.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman won’t say he’s pursuing another team’s player via trade as that would be considered tampering. However, it’s no secret the Lightning GM is trying to work out a deal with the Senators for Karlsson.

As Yzerman noted, making the dollars work is a sticking point. There was talk last week of the Lightning trying to get a third club involved, like the New York Rangers, to take a salaried player off their hands. Still, the Senators will also have to take one or two contracts from the Lightning to make this work.

It’s believed they want promising young defenseman Mikhail Sergachev as part of the return. They could also ask for another young roster players such as 22-year-old center Brayden Point. 


THE PROVINCE: Last week, Jason Botchford noted the Vancouver Canucks kept saying they wanted to be active in this summer’s trade market. However, they “may have to be creative to get it done.”

Botchford recommended retaining up to half the annual cap hit of a defenseman like Ben Hutton ($2.8 million) or Michael Del Zotto ($3 million), consider moving a player like Nikolay Goldobin or Brendan Gaunce rather than risk losing them to waivers, or move a veteran such as Brandon Sutter, Sam Gagner or Sven Baertschi. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t rule out the Canucks considering any of these options, though they might end up having to wait until the season is underway to drum up some interest.

Hutton and Del Zotto are both entering the final season of their contracts so maybe, as Botchford suggests, a rival club could consider one of them as a reclamation project. Goldobin or Gaunce could improve into full-time roster players so moving either guy this summer could be premature.

Sutter would have to waive his no-trade clause to be dealt. Gagner lacks no-trade protection but teams could balk at his $3.15-million cap hit through 2019-20. The Canucks recently re-signed Baertchi to a three-year deal worth over $3.36 million. Having him under contract could make him easier to move but I think they see him as part of their rebuilding plan. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 8, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 8, 2018

Game recaps, Alex Burrows suspended, Jonas Brodin sidelined by injury and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron scored twice leading his club to a 6-1 win over the New York Rangers. The Bruins (74 points) have won four straight and nine of their last ten to sit just one point back of the Tampa Bay Lightning for top spot in the league’s overall standings. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considered by some experts as a playoff bubble team entering this season, the Bruins have exceeded expectations. Barring a significant collapse between now and the start of the postseason in April, they must be considered legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. 

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty is the second blueliner in franchise history to tally 300 career assists and 400 points (Photo via NHL Images).

Three unanswered third-period goals by Paul Ladue, Alex Iafallo and Anze Kopitar carried the Los Angeles Kings to a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty picked up his 300th career assist and 400th career point to join Rob Blake as the only blueliners in franchise history to reach those milestones.

James van Riemsdyk scored in regulation and the shootout as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Nashville Predators 3-2. The Leafs had a 2-0 lead but the Predators came back to tie it on goals by Colton Sissons and Viktor Arvidsson. Leafs goalie Frederik Anderson made 44 saves and stopped six of seven shootout attempts. 

TSN: The NHL’s department of player safety suspended Ottawa Senators forward Alex Burrows 10 games for “serving as an aggressor/ kneeing New Jersey’s Taylor Hall” during Tuesday’s game between the two clubs. 

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin will miss three-four weeks following surgery on Wednesday to repair a broken left hand. For now, the Wild will turn to Gustav Olofsson and Mike Reilly to fill the void. Both blueliners have rotated in and out of the lineup this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Olofsson and Reilly aren’t up to the task over the next couple of weeks, the Wild could perhaps turn to the trade market for help. More on that later this morning in the Rumors section.

VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks forward Sam Gagner suffered a sprained ankle during Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers and will return to Vancouver for treatment. 

TORONTO SUN: In a recent interview, sidelined Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul acknowledged he’s likely reaching the end of his playing career. Still under contract with the Leafs until the end of this season, Lupul underwent sports hernia surgery two years ago and hasn’t returned to action since then. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lupul attempted to return to the Leafs last fall but failed his training camp medical as well as an independent examination ordered by the league after he insinuated the Leafs were cheating the system. He subsequently withdrew and apologized. Since then, he’s been on long-term injured reserve.


Analysis of Notable NHL Free Agent Signings – July 1, 2017

Analysis of Notable NHL Free Agent Signings – July 1, 2017

Joe Thornton re-signed a one-year deal with the San Jose Sharks on July 1, 2017.

As the opening day of the 2017 NHL free-agent market winds down, here’s a brief look at the day’s notable signings.

San Jose Sharks re-sign defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (eight years, $7 million annual average value) and goaltender Martin Jones (six years, $5.75 million AAV). Both contracts kick in on July 1, 2018. The Sharks also sign center Joe Thornton (reportedly one-year deal and around $6.5 million).

Vlasic’s an elite NHL defenseman and his new contract puts him among such notables as Drew Doughty of the LA Kings and Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’d say he belongs there. He’s a crucial part of the Sharks defense corps.

Jones’ new salary places him around fifteenth among the highest-paid goalies. If the 27-year-old returns to his solid form of 2015-16, this could prove a bargain for the Sharks over the long run.

Despite all the speculation linking Thornton to other clubs leading up to July 1, it wasn’t surprising that he re-signed with the Sharks. He was seeking a three-year deal but apparently was willing to accept a one-year deal for a full $6.5 million salary.

It’s been reported Thornton’s future in San Jose was tied to long-time Sharks teammate Patrick Marleau. Thornton’s signing could signal Marleau’s return.

Anaheim Ducks re-sign defenseman Cam Fowler (eight years, $6.5 million AAV) and goaltender Ryan Miller (two years, $2 million AAV).

Like Vlasic’s and Jones’ new contract, Fowler’s kicks in next July. Though he was the subject of frequent trade speculation last summer, it’s apparent the Ducks consider him the key cog of their blueline. Th 25-year-old’s new contract is comparable to that of St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo.

As for Miller, his days as an elite netminder are in the past. He’ll take on a backup/mentor role for starter John Gibson.

New York Rangers sign defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (four years, $6.65 million AAV). The biggest name in this summer’s UFA market lands where he was always expected to go. He finished among last season’s leading scorers among blueliners though he’s earned criticism for his defensive game.

The 28-year-old will be skating on the right side of the Blueshirts top pairing with Ryan McDonagh. He’s being overpaid for his services but the Rangers at least didn’t lock him up for too long.

Pittsburgh Penguins re-sign defenseman Justin Schultz (three years, $5.5 million AAV). Schultz rejuvenated his NHL career with the Penguins, playing a role in their consecutive championships in 2016 and 2017. Tallying a career-high 51 points last season, he was among the league’s highest-scoring blueliners. That ensured the Pens would keep the mobile rearguard in the fold and give him a healthy raise to boot.

Montreal Canadiens sign defenseman Karl Alzner (five years, $4.65 million AAV). The Canadiens land themselves a quality replacement for Alexei Emelin, who was plucked away by Vegas in the expansion draft. The 28-year-old Alzner is a durable, physical shutdown defender. The Habs got him for a reasonable deal.

Dallas Stars sign center Martin Hanzal (three years, $4.75 million AAV). The 6’6”, 226-pounder brings size and two-way skills at center for the Stars. However, he also has a long injury history and only two 40-point seasons on his resume. The salary’s a little pricey but the Stars didn’t saddle themselves with a lengthy term.

Carolina Hurricanes sign right wing Justin Williams (two years, $4.5 million AAV). Williams, 35, returns to the team where he won his first Stanley Cup in 2006. He gets a nice pay raise over the $3.25 million per season of his previous two-year deal. Despite his age, he remains a reliable second-line right wing. The rebuilding Canes should benefit from his skills and leadership.

Nashville Predators sign center Nick Bonino (four years, $4.1 million AAV) and left wing Scott Hartnell (one year, $1 million AAV). Bonino’s two championship seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins bolstered his free-agent value. The Pred needed two-way depth at center and willingly ponied up for him. This move likely means they’re out of the bidding for Avalanche center Matt Duchene.

The Predators also shipped Colin Wilson to the Colorado Avalanche to make room for Hartnell, who was recently bought out by Columbus. He’s returning to the club where his NHL career began. While the 35-year-old is in decline, he could be a worthwhile checking-line depth addition for the Preds.

Winnipeg Jets sign goaltender Steve Mason (two years, $4.1 million AAV) and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (three years, $4.33 million AAV). Mason’s earning the same annual cap hit as he did on his previous three-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Jets needed an experienced goalie to carry the bulk of the workload until promising Connor Hellebuyck is ready for the full-time starter’s job. As with former Jets starter Ondrej Pavelec, however, consistency is an issue for Mason.

Kulikov, meanwhile, hopes to get his career back on track after a back injury hampered him during his brief tenure with the Buffalo Sabres. When healthy, he’s a mobile, big-minute defender. But if his back woes flare up again, this could become a costly error for the Jets.

Vancouver Canucks sign forward Sam Gagner (three years, $3.1 million AAV) and defenseman Michael Del Zotto (two years, $3 million AAV). Gagner’s 50-point bounce-back performance last season with the Blue Jackets earns him a big raise over his one-year, $650K deal in 2016-17. If he can maintain his usual 40-point production, he could provide a decent boost to the Canucks offense.

Del Zotto, meanwhile, takes a bit of a pay cut for two seasons in Vancouver. He’ll provide the retooling Canucks with experienced puck-moving depth, buying time to allow their younger rearguards to develop.

Tampa Bay Lightning sign defenseman Dan Girardi (two years, $3 million AAV) and winger Chris Kunitz (one year, $2 million). The Bolts get older, but perhaps not necessarily better. They sought an experienced top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot. However, the 33-year-old Girardi has a lot of miles on him and has lost a step or two. That’s one reason the Rangers bought him out.

Same goes for Kunitz, who’s also getting $1 million in bonus money. He helped the Penguins win three Stanley Cup titles since 2009 but saw his production decline over the past two years. Yzerman’s taking a couple of gambles here, but at least they’re affordable and only short term.

Toronto Maple Leafs sign defenseman Ron Hainsey (two years, $3 million AAV). Hainsey reached the playoffs last season for the first time in his career, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup. The Leafs expect he’ll bring experienced depth to their defense corps, but it remains to be seen how much the 36-year-old has left in the tank.

Philadelphia Flyers sign goaltender Brian Elliott (two years, $2.75 million AAV). After washing out with the Calgary Flames last season, the 32-year-old Elliott will try to get his career as an NHL starter back on track with the Flyers. His deal is a reasonable one, but he’s unlikely to end the Flyers’ seemingly never-ending carousel of mediocre goaltending.

Florida Panther sign right wing Radim Vrbata (one year, bonus-laden contract, $2.5 million base salary). The 36-year-old Vrbata will replace now-departed winger Jaromir Jagr. He was the Coyotes’ leading scorer last season with 55 points and could be a decent short-term addition to the Panthers’ scoring lines.

Los Angeles Kings sign winger Mike Cammalleri (one year, $1 million AAV). After being bought out by the New Jersey Devils, Cammalleri returns to the city his NHL career began. The 35-year-old still has a decent scoring touch, but injuries in recent years have limited his effectiveness.

Chicago Blackhawks sign winger Patrick Sharp (one year, $800k AAV). The 35-year-old tallied 20 goals and 55 points in 2015-16 but injuries limited him to just 18 points last season. Having recovered from hip surgery, perhaps a return to Chicago, where he had his best seasons, can help him regain to form. It’s an affordable risk for the cap-strapped Blackhawks.