NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 23, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 23, 2020

The Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put off contract discussion, Mikael Granlund returns to the Predators, the Lightning sign Erik Cernak and Jan Rutta, the Capitals sign Conor Sheary, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: The Edmonton Oilers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have agreed to put contract talks on the back-burner. The 27-year-old forward is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. There were reports in October that the two sides were making progress on a contract extension.

Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The two sides could resume negotiations at some point during the season. The flattened salary cap for the foreseeable future will affect the value of Nugent-Hopkins and his peers in next summer’s UFA market. He’s earning $6 million per season on his current contract. The longer he goes unsigned, however, the more likely his name could pop up in trade rumors.

TSN: The Nashville Predators signed winger Mikael Granlund to a one-year, $3.75 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m surprised by this signing because of Granlund’s offensive struggles during his previous season and a half with the Predators and reports he was seeking a long-term deal. It was rumored the Preds were interested in winger Mike Hoffman to boost their scoring punch. Both sides evidently decided it would be worthwhile to give it another go.

It’s an affordable deal for the Predators that would leave them with $9 million in cap space (stick tap to Cap Friendly) for the coming season. That will provide general manager David Poile with considerable flexibility to put toward another UFA signing or to make trades as needed over the course of the season.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed restricted free agent defenseman Erik Cernak to a three-year contract worth an annual average value of $2.95 million. They also signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Jan Rutta to a two-year deal worth $1.3 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These signings push the Lightning above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $6.15 million with RFA center Anthony Cirelli still to be signed. The Bolts have until Jan. 13 to become cap compliant. They’re expected to make a cost-cutting trade or two but could get some flexibility if winger Nikita Kucherov ($9.5 million AAV) ends up on long-term injury reserve because of a nagging hip ailment.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed UFA winger Conor Sheary to a one-year, $735K contract. He’s expected to skate on their third line. The signing leaves the Capitals with $2.2 million in cap space.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland announced his NHL retirement yesterday. He was one of the original Golden Knights selected in the 2017 expansion draft and the club’s unofficial leader. The 38-year-old blueliner also played with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Calgary Flames during his 11 NHL seasons, tallying 127 points in 671 regular-season games. He won the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2018 as the Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Engelland in his future endeavors.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports former Toronto Maple Leafs center Frederik Gauthier is considering a professional tryout offer with the Arizona Coyotes. He spent parts of the last five seasons with the Leafs.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins signed UFA forward Jordan Nolan to an AHL contract earlier this month. He could have a shot at cracking the roster in training camp next month. Nolan spent six seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, winning two Stanley Cups. He also played for the Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues. He spent last season with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings intend to name their first captain in three years. Dylan Larkin is considered the front-runner for the captaincy. The role has been vacant since former captain Henrik Zetterberg’s playing career was ended by nagging back injuries in 2018.

NHL.COM: The league and the NHLPA announced its medical protocols and critical dates for the coming season. They also revealed a change to the offside rule (stick tap to Kukla’s Korner) indicating a player’s skate will not have to be in contact with the blue line in order to be on-side.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only change to the previously reported critical dates is the last possible date for awarding the Stanley Cup was changed to July 9 from July 15, though it comes with a note indicating that date could change. The same goes for the May 11th start of the playoffs.

SPORTSNET: The Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals are the first teams to unveil helmet ads on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The ads are on the side of the helmets where the team logos used to be. They’re not garish or create an unnecessary distraction. Based on the photos provided in the link, I daresay the other NHL clubs will follow their lead.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 19, 2020

Sidney Crosby has a four-point game, an update on Jay Bouwmeester, the Senators honor Chris Phillips, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby picked up four points in a 5-2 victory over the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs. Bryan Rust collected three points as the Penguins (80 points) moved into first place in the Metropolitan Division. Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 43rd goal of the season for the Leafs (70 points), who cling to third place in the Atlantic Division. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin was a late scratch due to illness. Earlier in the day, the Penguins also revealed forward Zach Aston-Reese is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby led his club to a 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not to take anything away from the Penguins’ dominant performance, but that was a pathetic effort by the Leafs in a must-win game. They’ve dropped six of their last nine and remain in danger of slipping out of a playoff spot.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington made 17 saves to shut out the New Jersey Devils 3-0, snapping his club’s five-game losing skid. It was their first victory since Jay Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac incident last week in Anaheim. Bouwmeester released a statement yesterday indicating he’s on the road to recovery. With 76 points, the Blues hold a two-point lead over the Dallas Stars for first place in the Western Conference. Devils’ Will Butcher and Nick Merkley left the game with injuries.

The Ottawa Senators honored former defenseman Chris Phillips by retiring his number and thumping the Buffalo Sabres 7-4. They tallied four goals in a 3:29 span in the first period and sealed the two with two third-period goals. Jean-Gabriel Pageau led the way with two goals and two assists while Artem Anisimov also scored twice. Brandon Montour scored twice for the Sabres, who remain eight points behind the Leafs in the Atlantic.

Travis Konecny had a three-point performance as the Philadelphia Flyers rolled to a 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, leaving the latter winless in their last six games. The Flyers (73 points) vaulted over the New York Islanders and the Blue Jackets into third in the Metropolitan Division.

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho scored to extend his points streak to 10 games in a 4-1 win over Nashville Predators. The Hurricanes (72 points) hold the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Predators (65 points) remain three points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth.

Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers each had three points as the Winnipeg Jets beat the Los Angeles Kings 6-3. With 67 points, the Jets are one point out of a Western Conference wild-card spot.

The Montreal Canadiens blew a 3-1 lead to fall 4-3 to the lowly Detroit Red Wings, who swept their four-game regular-season series. Andreas Athanasiou scored twice for the Wings, handing the Habs their fifth straight defeat.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And with that, we can close the book on the Canadiens’ playoff hopes for 2020. Earlier in the day, they traded defenseman Marco Scandella to the St. Louis Blues for two draft picks. More moves are likely in store leading up to the Feb. 24 trade deadline. The Wings, meanwhile, won 15 games thus far this season. Four of those came against the Canadiens.


SPORTSNET: Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen received some good news when an MRI on his upper-body injury revealed no requirement for surgery. He’s expected to return before the end of the regular season.

TSN: Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser will be sidelined eight weeks with a rib cartilage fracture.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks already made a significant move to address Boeser’s absence by acquiring Tyler Toffoli earlier this week. They might not be done dealing.

CBC.CA: A shoulder injury will sidelined Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom for the next two-to-three weeks.

SPORTSNET: The New York Rangers acquired minor-league winger Julien Gauthier from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for minor-league defenseman Joey Keane.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 13, 2019

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 13, 2019

Updates on the Devils, Oilers, and Penguins in today’s NHL Sunday rumor roundup.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the New Jersey Devils’ slow start has some observers wondering how patient they’ll be with Taylor Hall. The 27-year-old winger could become the big fish in next summer’s free-agent pond.

Friedman speculates rival general managers could start calling Devils GM Ray Shero about his plans if he can’t re-sign Hall. However, he feels it’s far too early for Shero to consider shopping the winger.

The New Jersey Devils’ early-season struggles is stoking speculation over Taylor Hall’s future (Photo via NHL Images).

Colleague Chris Johnston said there hasn’t been much contract talk lately between the two sides. He feels it’s an ongoing process but doesn’t dismiss the possibility of an extension being dependent upon the outcome of this season.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggests the Devils’ sluggish start could put head coach John Hynes on the hot seat. While Shero is a loyal and patient general manager, there’s a sense of urgency this season. Brooks thinks Scott Stevens might make a good replacement for Hynes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speculation over Hall’s future has been ongoing since the summer. The longer he goes unsigned the more conjecture will arise over his status with the Devils. I agree with Johnston that this season’s outcome could be a determining factor.

Given the Devils’ big off-season additions and Hall’s pending free-agent status, Hynes must quickly find a way to get his club on the winning side of the ledger or he’ll end up paying the price. A few wins in the Devils’ upcoming games will turn down much of that heat.


Johnston reports Jesse Puljujarvi is comfortable with spending the season in Finland. The 21-year-old restricted free agent winger is waiting for the Edmonton Oilers to honor his trade request. The Oilers have until Dec. 1 to sign him or trade him to a club that will sign him. Otherwise, he’ll be ineligible for the rest of his NHL season.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins reports there’s some talk the Oilers could have interest in Carolina Hurricanes winger Julien Gauthier, who saw fourth-line duty against Columbus on Saturday. His waiver-exempt status could also make him an attractive trade option.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Should the Oilers continue playing well leading up to Dec. 1 they won’t be under any pressure to move Puljujarvi. If a suitable return isn’t found they’ll let him spend the season in Finland and try signing or trading him next summer.

Unless the Oilers are willing to offer up something worthwhile, Hurricanes GM Don Waddell has no reason to trade Gauthier. Like the Oilers, the Canes are off to a great start and Waddell’s not facing pressure to swing a deal right now.


Friedman reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is willing to deal from his blueline depth for a forward. However, he hasn’t found anything worthwhile in the trade market. He’s not interested in moving his 2020 first-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford will remain patient while Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad recover from their injuries. If there’s nothing suitable in the trade market he’s got little choice but to wait for his two sidelined centers to return.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2019

Game recaps, Lightning win Presidents’ Trophy, Steven Stamkos and Elias Pettersson have record-breaking nights, stars of the week, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: It was a record-breaking night for the Tampa Bay Lightning and team captain Steven Stamkos as they rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. The Lightning (116 points) clinched the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time in franchise history, while Stamkos set a franchise record with his 384th career goal. The loss leaves the Coyotes (78 points) one point ahead of the Minnesota Wild for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. 

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos tallied a franchise-record 384th goal in a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes (Photo via NHL Images).

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson collected an assist to set a franchise record for most points by a rookie (61) in his club’s 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Bo Horvat tallied the game-winner in overtime. The Blackhawks (74 points) gained a point to sit four behind the Coyotes. 

Kyle Connor had a goal and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets edged the Los Angeles Kings 3-2, officially eliminating the latter from playoff contention. With 90 points, the Jets hold a three-point lead over the Nashville Predators for the top spot in the Central Division. 

For the second straight game, the San Jose Sharks failed to clinch a playoff berth as they fell 7-3 to the Vegas Golden Knights. Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith each had four-point performances for Vegas. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski missed the game with a lower-body injury that could sideline him a little longer than day-to-day.

New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss, Chicago Blackhawks winger Brendan Perlini, and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 17. 

THE TENNESSEAN: The NHL and NHLPA have ended the indefinite suspension of Nashville Predators winger Austin Watson following treatment for an alcohol-abuse relapse. He’s expected to rejoin the club for today’s morning skate but no timetable has been set for his return to action. 

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs center Frederik Gauthier will miss the next two games with a foot injury. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 12, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 12, 2018

Updates on John Tavares and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the latest notable contract signings and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

Former New York Islanders captain John Tavares apologized to Isles fans regarding his decision to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images)

  NEWSDAY: In a recent Players Tribune article, former New York Islanders captain John Tavares apologized to Islanders fans for things not working out regarding his decision to depart via free agency. He signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1.

Tavares also apologized for the club falling short of winning the Stanley Cup during his captaincy, expressing his gratitude for their support. He described how he agonized over trying to decide if he’d stay or join the Leafs, his hometown team.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson donated $125,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale.

DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings re-signed forward Anthony Mantha to a two-year, $6.6-million contract.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning re-upped left wing Adam Erne to a one-year, $800K deal.

SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs signed forward Frederik Gauthier to a two-year, two-way deal worth $675K annually at the NHL level.

NBC SPORTS: With his playing career drawing to a close, NHL winger Brian Gionta is contemplating his future, which could include coaching.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres have hired Steve Smith as an assistant coach. He spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Carolina Hurricanes.

BOSTON HERALD: With long-time anthem signer Rene Rancourt retired, the Bruins are taking applications for his replacement.



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2017

Washington Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scores one of his two goals against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of their second-round series.

Capitals force Game 7 against Penguins plus updates on John Tavares, Vladimir Tarasenko & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM:  Andre Burakovsky scored twice and Nicklas Backstrom tallied a goal and an assist as the Washington Capitals defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 in Game 6 of their second-round series. The seventh and deciding game will be played on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals dominated the Penguins in this game, breaking up Pittsburgh’s passing game and frustrating their best players. Some believe there’s been a momentum shift since Game 5 of this series, but I believe that shift occurred following captain Sidney Crosby’s concussion in Game 3. While the Penguins won Game 4 in Crosby’s absence, they were outplayed in that game and owed their victory to the goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury. Crosby’s return in Game 5 hasn’t helped. Indeed, he hasn’t looked the same since his injury. His teammates look like they’ve lost the energy they had earlier in this series.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby collected an assist for his 97th career NHL playoff point, surpassing Mario Lemieux as the club’s all-time playoff points leader. However, that was overshadowed by the loss and a scary incident in which Crosby crashed headfirst into the end boards during the first period. Crosby would continue playing but he and Penguins coach Mike Sullivan offered up conflicting replies post-game regarding concussion evaluation. Crosby said he was evaluated following the first period but Sullivan said he wasn’t. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s surprising the NHL’s concussion spotters didn’t ask to take a look at Crosby following that incident. The conflicting comments by the Penguins captain and Sullivan could raise more questions over how the club and the league evaluates their players for possible concussion symptoms. 

The Penguins also played without defenseman Trevor Daley, who missed Game 6 with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

 EDMONTON SUN/ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Oilers fourth-liner and first-unit power-play shooter Mark Letestu has more points than superstar teammate Connor McDavid, sitting seventh among all scorers in this postseason. Meanwhile, Ducks forwards Patrick Eaves and Logan Shaw remain questionable for Game 7 tomorrow. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s largely due to Ducks center Ryan Kesler’s close checking of McDavid, but the Ducks seem to have no answer for Letestu, who’s really stepped up his game in his series. 

OTTAWA SUN/NEW YORK POST:  Long-time Senators enforcer Chris Neil hopes he’ll see some playing time in Game 6 of his club’s series tonight against the New York Rangers. Neil played just over two minutes in Game 5, but his presence provided a boost to his teammates. However, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault doubts Neil will have much impact if he plays in Game 6. 

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders captain John Tavares underwent surgery last month on his right hand but is expected to be ready for training camp in September. It’s also believed the Islanders are likely to offer Tavares, who’s eligible next July for unrestricted free agency, an eight-year contract extension worth $10 million annually. Meanwhile, sources claim Barclays Center has taken the preliminary step toward a potential opt-out of its 25-year lease with the Islanders. 

STLTODAY.COM: The coach of Russia’s national hockey team said St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko won’t be joining his club at the World Championships because he’s due to undergo surgery. However, there’s no confirmation about this from Tarasenko or Blues management. 

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs forward Frederik Gauthier underwent surgery for a lower-body injury and is expected to be sidelined for six months. 

COURIER POST’S Dave Isaac reports the Philadelphia Flyers there is interest in bringing back Dean Lombardi, the former general manager of the Los Angeles Kings. No word what his role could be. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Ron Hextall worked with Lombardi as assistant GM with the Kings. I imagine Hextall wants to bring Lombardi in as his right-hand man. 

TSN: If the NHL Players Association opts out of the current CBA in 2019 and there isn’t a new CBA in place by 2020, there won’t be a World Cup of Hockey that fall. 

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Vegas Golden Knights will be able to sign an unprotected restricted free agent as though they’re their own player. No offer sheet required and no compensation for the team. 

BSN DENVER:  The Colorado Avalanche has parted ways with team doctor Andrew Parker and their medical staff. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens owner and president John David Molson passed away at age 88. He was president of the club from 1964 to 1972, during which the Habs won five Stanley Cups. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Canadiens organization and the Molson family.