NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2023

A milestone game for the Rangers’ Chris Kreider, the league and NHLPA investigate a breach in treatment protocol for Coyotes defenseman Juuso Valimaki, and the Avalanche trade Tomas Tatar to the Kraken. Details on these and other stories in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider scored two goals in a 5-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Jonathan Quick made 29 saves while Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox each picked up two assists for the Rangers (20-7-1) as they sit in first place in the Metropolitan Division and second overall in the Eastern Conference with 41 points. Lukas Dostal made 34 saves for the Ducks (10-19-0) as they’ve lost five straight games and nine of their last ten.

New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a milestone game for Kreider as he surpassed Adam Graves to move into third place among the Rangers’ all-time goalscoring leaders with 281. He also tied Graves for fourth on their all-time list for power-play goals (100) and surpassed the 500-point mark (501). He’s just seven points away from surpassing Graves for tenth place among the Blueshirts in total points.

The Boston Bruins defeated the New York Islanders 5-4 on a shootout goal by David Pastrnak, who also had a goal and an assist in regulation time. James van Riemsdyk and Morgan Geekie also each scored and collected an assist for the 19-5-4 Bruins, who sit in first place in the Eastern Conference with 42 points. Bo Horvat had a goal and two assists while Mathew Barzal set up two goals for the Islanders (14-7-8), who sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 36 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders announced that defenseman Scott Mayfield (upper body) was placed on injured reserve before this game.

Four unanswered third-period goals lifted the Buffalo Sabres to a 5-2 upset of the Vegas Golden Knights. Casey Mittelstadt scored twice and collected an assist while Dylan Cozens had a goal and two assists for the 13-15-3 Sabres. Ivan Barbashev and Jack Eichel replied for the Golden Knights (20-6-5) as they held a three-point lead over the Bruins for first place in the overall standings with 45 points.

An overtime goal by Filip Forsberg lifted the Nashville Predators over the Carolina Hurricanes 6-5. Roman Josi and Ryan O’Reilly each had a goal and two assists for the Predators (17-13-0), who’ve won three straight games and hold the first Western Conference wild-card berth with 34 points. Martin Necas and Stefan Noesen each had a goal and an assist for the 16-12-2 Hurricanes as they cling to the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 34 points.

The Dallas Stars overcame a 4-2 deficit in a 5-4 win over the Ottawa Senators. Matt Duchene had a goal and an assist while Scott Wedgewood made 25 saves as the Stars improved to 17-8-3 and sit in second place in the Central Division with 37 points. Drake Batherson scored two goals and Jakob Chychrun picked up three assists for the 11-14-0 Senators, who have dropped seven of their last 10 games and remain mired in last place in the Eastern Conference with 11 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stars goalie Jake Oettinger started this game but left just eight minutes into the first period with a lower-body injury. He will not be traveling with his team to St. Louis for Saturday’s game against the Blues.

Meanwhile, Senators winger Vladimir Tarasenko missed this game due to a family matter. Teammate Mathieu Joseph suffered a lower-body injury early in the first period and didn’t return.

Arizona Coyotes goalie Connor Ingram made 21 saves to shut out the San Jose Sharks 1-0. Mattias Maccelli scored for the Coyotes (14-13-2) as they regained the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 30 points. Kaapo Kahkonen turned aside 23 shots for the 9-18-3 Sharks.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli cited sources indicating the NHL and NHL Players Association are investigating a gap in treatment protocol as defenseman Juuso Valimaki was left in a Dallas hospital without care for hours last month after suffering a serious facial injury during a game against the Stars on Nov. 14.

According to Seravalli’s sources, Valimaki was dropped off at the emergency room and left to advocate for his own care with his wife Vilma (who was traveling with him during that road game) and a Coyotes employee. After initial observation, the overworked Dallas hospital told Valimaki to find a local hotel and return the next day as they were treating more critical incoming trauma patients.

Valimaki, however, required immediate treatment. With a bloodied face, a hole in his mouth, and internal bleeding, he was unable to function. Doctors later said he might have asphyxiated in his sleep on his blood had he gone to the hotel as instructed. Five hours later after the NHLPA stepped in, Valimaki received 55 stitches in his mouth to close the wound, which included a fractured bone and the loss of three teeth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli’s story indicates it was Valimaki’s wife who called the NHLPA after her husband spent an hour in the emergency room without care. It was two hours later when his face and wound were finally cleaned, another hour before he was admitted to the hospital for surgery to close the wound in his mouth and another 12 hours before he received surgery to repair the fractured bone in his mouth and realign his remaining teeth.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW/THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Avalanche traded winger Tomas Tatar on Friday to the Seattle Kraken in exchange for a 2024 fifth-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tatar, 33, signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract this summer with the Avalanche. He struggled to mesh with his new club, tallying one goal and nine points in 27 games. The move frees up cap space for the Avalanche if they wish to make another move later in the season.

The Kraken, meanwhile, are struggling to score this season. Pressed for cap space, they hope Tatar (a former six-time 20-plus goal scorer) can regain his form in Seattle.

THE PROVINCE/SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: The Vancouver Canucks traded forward Jack Studnicka to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenseman Nick Cicek and a 2024 sixth-round draft pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In what could be a related move, the Sharks also placed forward Nico Sturm on injured reserve.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Sam Carchidi reports Flyers general manager Daniel Briere doesn’t intend to be a buyer before this season’s NHL trade deadline. While the club is exceeding expectations, Briere doesn’t intend to mortgage the future just to sneak into the playoffs.

Briere would love for the Flyers to reach the postseason. However, he still believes his club should stockpile draft picks rather than trade those assets for rental players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see if Briere becomes a seller by the March 8 deadline if the Flyers are still holding a playoff berth by then. He could stand pat rather than shop his own pending unrestricted free agents such as Sean Walker and Nick Seeler.

Both defensemen have reportedly drawn lots of interest in the trade market. Briere could still move one or both by March 8 for the right offer.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine is expected to miss six weeks as he recovers from a fractured clavicle suffered during Thursday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine has been plagued by injuries over the past three seasons. He’s recently surfaced in media trade conjecture though there’s no indication he wants to be moved or that the Blue Jackets are shopping him. If he was available in the trade market, his injury history would hurt his value.

CBS SPORTS: The Los Angeles Kings placed defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov (lower body) in injured reserve. He’s listed as week-to-week.

DAILY FACEOFF: Speaking of the Kings, backup goalie Pheonix Copley left practice on Friday with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings have reportedly called up David Rittich.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins placed forward Vinnie Hinostroza on waivers to send him to their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 13, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 13, 2023

The Oilers’ Connor McDavid and the Blackhawks’ Connor Bedard face off for the first time, the Leafs Auston Matthews and the Canucks’ Brock Boeser reach the 20-goal plateau, the Blues fire head coach Craig Berube, and more in the NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid led his club over the Chicago Blackhawks and Connor Bedard 4-1 as the two stars faced off for the first time. McDavid collected two assists to extend his points streak to 10 games as the Oilers won their eighth straight, improving their record to 13-12-1 (27 points) to sit one point out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Bedard scored for the Blackhawks (9-18-1) as they slipped to the bottom of the overall standings with 19 points.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid now sits seventh among the league’s leading scorers with 38 points. He’s nine points behind Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov, who tops the leaderboard with 47.

Bedard, meanwhile, tops all rookie scorers (and the Blackhawks) with 12 goals and 24 points. Speaking of the Hawks, defenseman Seth Jones missed this game due to an upper-body injury while rookie blueliner Kevin Korchinski was away dealing with a family matter.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews scored twice and collected two assists to thump the New York Rangers 7-3. Matthews became the first player to crack the 20-goal plateau this season and is tied for first among the league’s leading scorers with 21 goals. Mitch Marner tallied twice and set up another for the 15-6-5 Leafs. Blake Wheeler replied with two goals for the Rangers (19-7-1), who remain in second place in the Eastern Conference with 39 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller missed this game for personal reasons. The Boston Bruins also have 39 points but lead the Blueshirts based on point percentage (.750).

A hat trick by Brock Boeser powered the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Boeser became the second player to reach 20 goals this season and is tied for the lead (21 goals) with the Leafs’ Auston Matthews. Quinn Hughes had three assists for the 19-9-1 Canucks. Brayden Point scored for the Lightning (13-12-5) as they slipped out of a wild-card berth with 31 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes also have 31 points but sit ahead of the Lightning based on games in hand. Bolts defenseman Victor Hedman missed this contest with an upper-body injury.

The St. Louis Blues fired head coach Craig Berube following their 6-4 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Kevin Hayes tallied two goals for the Blues as they sank to 13-14-1. Lucas Raymond and Michael Rasmussen each had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings (15-9-4) as they hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 34 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Berube was signed through 2024-25. He coached the Blues to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history but he’s had to deal with a steadily depleted roster as long-time stars such as Alex Pietrangelo, Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko departed in recent years.

The Blues are just one point out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference but they’ve struggled with consistency this season. Like many clubs this season, they lack sufficient salary-cap space to improve their roster. General manager Doug Armstrong had little option but to shake things up behind the bench in the hope that it would provide a boost to his struggling club.

Speaking of the Red Wings, the NHL Players Association has officially filed an appeal to reduce the six-game suspension handed down to David Perron for cross-checking Ottawa Senators defenseman Artem Zub on Saturday.

Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone’s overtime goal lifted his club over the Calgary Flames by a score of 5-4, extending his club’s points streak to nine games. Stone finished the night with two goals and two assists while Jonathan Marchessault had three assists as the league-leading Golden Knights (20-5-5, 45 points) become the first team to reach the 20-win mark this season. Yegor Sharangovich scored twice for the 11-14-4 Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Flames announced that defenseman Chris Tanev is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho scored twice and added an assist as his club snapped a four-game losing skid by downing the Ottawa Senators 4-1. Pyotr Kochetkov stopped 31 shots for the 15-12-1 Hurricanes (31 points) as they sit behind the Washington Capitals (31 points), who hold three games in hand. Josh Norris replied for the Senators as they dropped to 11-12-0 and remained last in the Eastern Conference with 22 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators still hold several games in hand over their Conference rivals but they’re failing to gain traction in the standings. They must start stringing some wins together if they hope to contend for a playoff berth. Meanwhile, Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour indicated before this game that sidelined winger Andrei Svechnikov is expected to be out “for a while” with an upper-body injury.

The Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the Arizona Coyotes 4-2 thanks to two-goal performances from Jeff Carter and Jake Guentzel. Connor Ingram kicked out 40 shots for the Coyotes (13-13-2) as they dropped into the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 28 points, one ahead of the surging Oilers. The Penguins improved their record to 12-12-3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph returned to action after missing 16 games with an undisclosed ailment.

An overtime goal by Filip Forsberg lifted the Nashville Predators over the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2. The Predators jumped to a 2-0 lead but the Flyers battled back on goals by Sean Couturier and Travis Sanheim. The Predators (16-13-0) have won five of their last six and hold the first Western Conference wild-card spot with 32 points. The Flyers (15-10-3) had their four-game win streak snapped but hold third place in the Metropolitan Division with 33 points.

Seattle Kraken goaltender Joey Daccord made 24 saves for his first NHL shutout in a 4-0 victory over the Florida Panthers. Kailer Yamamoto had a goal and an assist for the 9-14-7 Kraken. Sergei Bobrovsky had 19 saves for the 17-9-2 Panthers, who sit one point ahead of the Leafs in second place in the Atlantic Division with 36 points.

A late goal by William Eklund gave the San Jose Sharks a 2-1 upset win over the Winnipeg Jets, snapping the latter’s four-game win streak. Mackenzie Blackwood turned aside 36 shots for the Sharks (9-17-3), who’ve won three of the last four games. Brenden Dillon scored for the 16-9-2 Jets, who hold third place in the Central Division with 34 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets are also awaiting a second opinion in Winnipeg regarding winger Kyle Connor’s knee injury. However, there’s speculation he could be sidelined for six to eight weeks. An update on his condition is expected today.


DAILY FACEOFF: Reports indicate the Washington Capitals (as well as the NBA’s Washington Wizards) will be moving across the Potomac River to a new arena in Alexandria, Virginia. It would be located about 20 minutes away from their current home, the Capital One Arena, which has hosted the Capitals since 1997-98. The anticipated move could take place in time for the 2028-29 season.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Speaking of the Capitals, Sammi Silber takes a look at the reasons why captain Alex Ovechkin is not scoring at his usual pace this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin leads the Capitals with 16 points in 25 games but he’s fourth in goals thus far with just five. He’s on pace for just 16 this season, which would be the first time he would fail to crack the 20-goal plateau.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen was none too pleased over reports from a Finnish columnist questioning his offseason dedication to training. The comments came from Ismo Lehkonen, father of Rantanen’s teammate Artturi Lehkonen.

Following the Avs win over the Flames on Monday, Rantanen accused the elder Lehkonen of “talking s**t about me”, accusing him of “making things up.” However, he also said everything was fine between himself and his old friend Artturi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Something tells me Lehkonen’s dad won’t be on Rantanen’s Christmas card list this year.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy and center Pavel Zacha are expected to miss tonight’s game against the New Jersey Devils with upper-body injuries. Both are listed as day-to-day and haven’t been ruled out of Friday’s matchup with the New York Islanders.

DAILY FACEOFF: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov is out day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

CBS SPORTS: The Islanders placed forward Matt Martin (upper body) on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 2.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 11, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 11, 2023

The Oilers extended their win streak to seven games, Jonathan Quick emerged victorious in his first meeting with the Kings, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers extended their win streak to seven games with a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist to extend his points streak to nine games while Evan Bouchard extended his streak to 11 games with a goal as the Oilers reached the .500 mark with a record of 12-12-1 (25 points). Jesper Bratt replied for the 14-11-1 Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid performance by the Oilers in this contest as they effectively contained the Devils’ offense while exploiting their opponent’s defensive breakdowns. The Devils played without forward Erik Haula as he was sidelined by an upper-body injury.

New York Rangers goaltender Jonathan Quick (NHL Images).

New York Rangers goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped 25 shots to defeat the Los Angeles Kings 4-1. It was Quick’s first game against the Kings since his trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets last season. Vincent Trocheck collected three assists as the Rangers (19-6-1) took over first overall in the Eastern Conference with 39 points. Phillip Danault scored for the Kings (16-5-4)as they dropped their first road game in regulation time this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Boston Bruins also have 39 points but the Rangers hold first place based on wins. Kings defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov left this game with a lower-body injury.

A shootout goal by Jonathan Marchessault lifted the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-4 win over the San Jose Sharks. The Golden Knights held 3-1 and 4-2 leads but the pesky Sharks battled back to force overtime and the shootout. Marchessault also scored twice in regulation as the Golden Knights (19-5-5) remain perched atop the overall standings with 43 points. Mike Hoffman tallied twice for the 8-17-3 Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic missed this game for personal reasons while teammate William Eklund is dealing with a lower-body injury. The Sharks have won five of their last 10 games with their last four contests all decided by one goal.

The Florida Panthers defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2. Panthers forward Sam Reinhart collected a career-high four assists while Aleksander Barkov had a three-point game to improve their record to 17-8-2 while the Jackets fell to 9-16-5. Blue Jackets defenseman Erik Gudbranson received 29 minutes in penalties for retaliating against Panthers forward Nick Cousins hitting him from behind into the boards as well as a subsequent fight between the two instigated by Gudbranson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cousins initially received a five-minute major for his hit on Gudbranson but the officials reduced it to two minutes. That infuriated the Blue Jackets defenseman, prompting the altercation with Cousins later in the game.

This is a consequence of the NHL’s ongoing reluctance to crack down on hits from behind. Cousins skates away with a minor penalty for a dangerous hit while Gudbranson, who was fortunate to escape serious injury, faces a hearing and a likely suspension.

A four-goal third period lifted the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. The Jets improved to 16-8-2 but lost winger Kyle Connor in the second period following a knee-on-knee hit by Ducks forward Ryan Strome. The Ducks dropped to 10-17-0 and have lost three in a row.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Connor could be sidelined for a while. He couldn’t put any weight on his injured right leg and had to be helped off the ice by his teammates. No word yet as to the severity of Connor’s injury. Strome was handed a five-minute major and a game misconduct but it remains to be seen if he receives supplemental discipline.

Washington Capitals forward Nic Dowd scored twice to double up the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2. Darcy Kuemper turned aside 34 shots as the Capitals improved their record to 14-8-3. Connor Bedard picked up two assists for the 9-17-1 Blackhawks.

The Nashville Predators got two goals from Colton Sissons and 36 saves from Juuse Saros in a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. The Predators 15-13-0 have won 10 of their last 13 games and hold the first Western Conference wild-card berth with 30 points. Jake Evans scored for the 12-13-3 Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens defenseman David Savard was activated from injured reserve for this contest. It was his first game since suffering a fractured hand on Oct. 23.

Minnesota Wild goalie Filip Gustavsson turned in a 24-save shutout performance to blank the Seattle Kraken 3-0. Matt Boldy, Marco Rossi and Joel Eriksson Ek were the goal scorers for the 10-12-4 Wild. Joey Daccord stopped 23 shots for the 8-14-7 Kraken.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Kraken announced that starting goalie Philipp Grubauer (lower body) had been placed on injured reserve.


DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: NHL Network analyst Tony Granato announced Sunday he’s stepping away from his duties as he receives treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Granato is also a former NHL player and coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Granato makes a swift and complete recovery.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings offered no update yesterday on the status of captain Dylan Larkin. He was knocked unconscious during Saturday’s game against the Ottawa Senators and had to be helped from the ice. ESPN’s Kevin Weekes reported all scans for Larkin were negative but there’s no timeframe for his return.

MLIVE.COM: Red Wings forward David Perron faces an in-person hearing today with the NHL department of player safety for cross-checking Senators defenseman Artem Zub. His actions were the result of a scrum following Larkin’s injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perron appeared to assume that Zub was responsible for Larkin’s injury, prompting his response. It was Senators forward Mathieu Joseph who struck the Red Wings captain in the back of the head, followed by another blow by Sens forward Parker Kelly. Perron could face at least a five-game suspension.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins yesterday signed Jesse Puljujarvi to a professional tryout offer. The 25-year-old winger underwent double hip surgery in the offseason and hopes to resume his NHL career.

There Could Be More Short-Term NHL Contract Signings This Summer

There Could Be More Short-Term NHL Contract Signings This Summer

For the first time since 2019, the NHL’s annual free-agent period will open on July 1.

Apart from spoiling the Canada Day holiday for pundits, bloggers and freelancers (like me), it represents another return to normalcy for a league that – like everyone and everything else in the world – saw its normal calendar upset by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s usually a time when restricted and unrestricted free agents sign lucrative long-term contracts. Some players and teams are wasting little time getting the jump on things.

On June 5, the Montreal Canadiens re-signed RFA winger Cole Caufield to an eight-year, $62.8-million deal. Four days later, the Columbus Blue Jackets acquired pending UFA defenseman Damon Severson from the New Jersey Devils and signed him to an eight-year, $50-million contract.

Those deals seem to signal that it could be business as usual in this year’s free-agent market. However, sandwiched between the Caufield and Severson signings was Vladislav Gavrikov’s two-year, $11.75 million contract with the Los Angeles Kings.

Acquired before the March trade deadline from the Columbus Blue Jackets, Gavrikov quickly established himself as a key member of the Kings’ defense corps.

The 6’3”, 217-pound blueliner played so well for the Kings that they offered him a long-term contract. However, his agent reportedly pushed for the shorter term in order for Gavrikov to reenter the UFA market when the salary cap is expected to be significantly higher.

The salary cap for 2023-24 is projected to remain flattened, rising only by $1 million to $83.5 million as per the terms of the 2020 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Meanwhile, Cap Friendly indicates 16 clubs carry less than $10 million in cap space while another five teams have less than $15 million. That’s 21 out of 32 NHL teams facing a difficult offseason bidding for UFA talent or re-signing key talent.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently explained the reason behind that ongoing flattened cap for next season is the players still have outstanding escrow payments owed to the NHL team owners due to the imbalance in hockey-related revenue during the COVID-shortened seasons of 2019-20 and 2020-21.

That outstanding balance will be paid off by the end of 2023-24, after which the cap is projected to rise by at least $4 million in 2024-25 and another $4 million in 2025-26. Some speculate those increases could be even higher.

For Gavrikov, this means he’ll become a UFA in the summer of 2025 when he’ll be 29. If he continues playing well for the Kings, he could be in line for a longer-term contract with an average annual value worth much more than the $5.875 million AAV of his upcoming deal.

Not every player will follow Gavrikov’s example, preferring the security of a long-term deal. Others, however, could see this as an opportunity to get a good raise now on a shorter term while betting on themselves to receive much bigger paydays in two or three years’ time.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 8, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 8, 2023

Updates on the Golden Knights and Panthers ahead of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, the finalists for the King Clancy Trophy are announced, the Kings re-sign Vladislav Gavrikov, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines


LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights’ blueline depth is a key reason why they’re just two wins away from becoming Stanley Cup champions. Defensemen such as Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore, Alec Martinez and Zach Whitecloud have played significant roles in their club’s success thus far in this postseason.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Golden Knights’ discipline has also been a crucial part of their 2-0 series lead over the Panthers. “Our guys are veteran enough that they can keep their cool and composure,” said Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy. “It’s easy to retaliate and get your instant gratification. But to hold it in takes a lot more.”

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leadership and experience made the difference for Vegas in the first two games of this Stanley Cup Final. They have a roster with several stars who’ve been here before and know what it takes. They’re not perfect – Pietrangelo received a one-game suspension in the second round for his lumberjack slash on Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl – but they’ve learned from their mistakes.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour had a busy couple of days between Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. Following the first game, he rushed home to Florida to be with his wife as she gave birth to their son. He then returned to Las Vegas to suit up for Game 2.

DAILY FACEOFF: Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said Sergei Bobrovsky will be his club’s starting goalie for Game 3 tonight. Defenseman Radko Gudas will be in the lineup despite leaving Game 2 with an undisclosed injury and skipping practice on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as Gudas can skate he’s going to play for the Panthers in this series. The question is how effective the rugged blueliner will be. His injury could hamper his performance, making him less of a physical presence.


NHL.COM: Calgary Flames center Mikael Backlund, New York Islanders captain Anders Lee, and Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse are the finalists for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. The award honors the player “who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.”

LA HOCKEY NOW: The Los Angeles Kings signed defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov to a two-year contract worth an average annual value of $5.875 million. This signing came less than 24 hours after the Kings traded Cal Petersen and Sean Walker to the Philadelphia Flyers to free up salary-cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gavrikov was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He was a solid addition to the Kings’ defense core after being acquired from Columbus at the March trade deadline. It’s believed the Gavrikov camp wanted the short-term deal in order to capitalize on a much higher salary cap in two years’ time.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed Andreas Athanasiou to a two-year contract extension with an AAV of $4.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou reached 20 goals and 40 points this season for the second time in his career. Like Gavrikov, he was due to become a UFA on July 1.

The 28-year-old forward indicated his desire to stay with the rebuilding Blackhawks during his end-of-season interview. While the Hawks are focused on stocking their roster with promising young talent, they need veterans like Athanasiou in the lineup to mentor those players.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings hope to re-sign pending UFAs Pius Suter and Alex Chiasson. Their other unrestricted free agents (Adam Erne, Alex Nedeljkovic, Robert Hagg, Jordan Oesterle, Mark Pysyk, Gustav Lindstrom and Magnus Hellberg) are not expected to return.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues hope to have replacements for fired assistant coaches Mike Van Ryn and Craig MacTavish before the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville on June 28-29.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Popular TV color commentator Darren Pang is reportedly heading to Chicago to join the Blackhawks broadcast team after 14 seasons calling Blues games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Panger would say, “Holy jumpin’!” Best of luck to him in his new gig.

DAILY FACEOFF: The AHL announced its inaugural Top Prospects Team for 2022-23. It includes the Iowa Wild’s Jesper Wallstedt in goal, the Utica Comets’ Simon Nemec and the Cleveland Monsters’ David Jiricek, and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ Tyson Foerster, the Rochester Americans’ Jiri Kulich and the Rockford IceHogs’ Lukas Reichel at forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to their promising youngsters. They’re all projected to have bright futures with their respective NHL clubs.

NHL Rumor Mill – June 7, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – June 7, 2023

Are more moves coming for the Flyers, Kings and Blue Jackets following their deal to move Ivan Provorov to Columbus? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


PHILADELPHIA HOCKEY NOW: Chuck Bausman reports more moves could be coming for the Flyers after they shipped Ivan Provorov to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday in a three-team deal involving the Los Angeles Kings.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart (NHL Images)

Flyers general manager Daniel Briere was asked about the status of Carter Hart during his press conference announcing the Provorov trade. The 24-year-old goaltender has been the subject of trade speculation after Briere recently indicated he would listen to offers.

I’m still in the same spot I was,” said Briere. “We’re open for business. We listen on everybody. Everybody’s being treated the same way for us on our side.”

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marc Dumont noted a rumor that surfaced immediately following the Provorov trade claiming the Flyers were working on a deal involving Hart. He mused over whether the Canadiens should pursue him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s been nothing new thus far regarding that rumored Hart trade. Perhaps we’ll learn more details soon or maybe it’ll come to nothing. What’s clear is Briere isn’t afraid to make bold moves involving one of his core players provided he gets a solid return. He could trade Hart if someone makes him a good offer.

LA HOCKEY NOW: Austin Stanovich reports the Kings cleared $5.6 million by shipping goaltender Cal Petersen and defenseman Sean Walker. That will give them more cap room to re-sign defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, goaltender Joonas Korpisalo and forward Gabriel Vilardi. Gavrikov and Korpisalo are due to become unrestricted free agents on July 1 while Vilardi is a restricted free agent.

Stanovich expects Gavrikov will be signed soon, perhaps to a three-year, $6 million per year deal. He also stated there’s nothing linking the Kings to Carter Hart but wouldn’t be surprised if they were in the mix.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens also weighed in on what the Kings’ next moves could be. He agrees the Provorov trade makes it easier for them to re-sign Gavrikov. Stephens cited colleague Pierre LeBrun indicating the blueliner’s agent seeks a two-year deal while Eric Duhatschek speculated Gavrikov could get around $5.7 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The thinking here for the Gavrikov camp is he could be in line for a much bigger payday in 2025 when the salary cap is expected to rise by a significant amount. He made $2.8 million annually on his current deal so something between $5.5 million and $6 million would be a healthy raise.

As for Korpisalo, Stephens suggested they could re-sign him or look at bringing in another goalie to share the duties with Pheonix Copley.

MAYOR’S MANOR: The influential Kings’ blog offered their analysis of what the Provorov deal means for this club. In addition to re-signing Gavrikov, they believe it allows the Kings to retain forwards Alex Iafallo, Trevor Moore and Viktor Arvidsson. The trio was to be considered cost-cutting trade candidates.

They anticipate the Kings will add another goaltender but will likely only have around $2 million to make that move. “We are not expecting Joonas Korpisalo to be an option for LA.” They also ruled out the possibility of pursuing Anaheim’s John Gibson or Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With just over $13 million in projected cap space and 16 active roster players under contract, the Kings can easily afford Gavrikov. However, it will take a substantial bite out of their cap space. That’s why they’ll likely pass on Korpisalo in favor of more affordable goaltending options.

The Provorov trade might be the only major one the Kings make this summer. They could look at a smaller deal for a goalie or seek a cost-effective option via free agency.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline speculates Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen might not be done dealing after acquiring Provorov. He noted that Kekalainen said his club will keep evaluating with free agency coming up and he didn’t rule out making another trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets have some promising centers on their roster (Kent Johnson, Cole Sillinger. Dmitri Voronkov) and could attempt to select another such as Leo Carlsson with the third-overall selection in this year’s draft. However, they still need more experienced depth at that position. With $12 million in cap space and 19 active roster players under contract for next season, Kekalainen could set his sights on a center through the trade or free-agent markets.