NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 16, 2020

The Senators sign Evgenii Dadonov, the Rangers avoid arbitration with Tony DeAngelo and Alexandar Georgiev, Joe Thornton will play in Switzerland during the NHL offseason and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday signed Evgenii Dadonov to a three-year, $15 million contract. The annual average value is $5 million. The 31-year-old winger is coming off his third straight 20-goal season.

Ottawa Senators sign winger Evgenii Dadonov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A significant signing by the rebuilding Senators. Dadonov should bolster their anemic offense.

While it was surprising that the Sens landed one of the notable remaining unrestricted free agents, the signing also raised eyebrows over Dadonov getting less than market value. The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin observed it’s an indication of how much the flat salary cap is affecting mid-tier free-agent talent.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers avoided arbitration with defenseman Tony DeAngelo and goaltender Alexandar Georgiev. DeAngelo signed a two-year contract with an AAV of $4.8 million while Georgiev inked a two-year deal worth $2.425 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have $70.6 million committed to 21 players with Ryan Strome and Brendan Lemieux to re-sign. Both have arbitration hearings coming up but the Blueshirts have enough cap space to avoid that route.

TSN: Free-agent center Joe Thornton will play for Switzerland’s HC Davos during the NHL offseason. He previously played for Davos during the 2004-05 and 2012-13 NHL lockouts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The last time Thornton played an NHL game was on March 11 before the regular season was derailed by COVID-19. It’s a good way for him to get into game shape for whenever the NHL returns to action in the new year.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reported Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella hopes the recent additions of centers Max Domi and Mikko Koivu will allow him to open up his offense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lack of depth at center last season forced the Jackets to play a more defensive-oriented system. Koivu will likely see fourth-line duty while Domi is expected to fill the second-line center role.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox reports the effects of COVID-19 upon NHL revenue could be generating concern among the team owners. He points to Vegas Golden Knights’ owner Bill Foley’s recent remarks contradicting the league’s official position of returning next season on Jan. 1 with a full 82-games schedule. Foley noted his peers are getting nervous. “We all thought we’d be out of COVID by now”, he told an interviewer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Foley believes the NHL will return on Feb. 1 at the earliest and play a reduced schedule to be completed by the end of June because NBC (which holds the league’s US broadcasting rights) will be televising the Summer Olympics in July. No reaction yet from Commissioner Gary Bettman regarding Foley’s remarks, but the Golden Knights’ owner seems to be saying out loud what’s been discussed quietly behind the scenes.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 7, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 7, 2020

More Rangers speculation and what the Penguins will do with their free-agent goaltenders in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers are in need of a first-pair defenseman. He feels Brendan Smith is not up to logging those minutes alongside Jacob Trouba. Brooks points out Trouba was still trying to adjust to his new club when paired with rookie Libor Hajek earlier this season. Perhaps they might be a better fit next season. Promising K’Andre Miller might be able to fill that role one day, but it would be expecting too much for him to step into that position next season.

New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have over $68 million invested in 16 players next season, with Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux, and Alexandar Georgiev becoming restricted free agents with arbitration rights in the off-season. They would get some cap relief by trading or buying out Henrik Lundqvist, but that won’t be enough to re-sign those four and acquire a top-pairing blueliner via trade or free agency.

LOHUD.COM: Vincent Z. Mercogliano examined the Rangers’ possible off-season moves. He noted they’ll have about $13.5 million to spend on re-signing their free agents and can’t afford to keep them all.

Strome and DeAngelo earned the right to seek multi-year contracts, but their play against the Carolina Hurricanes in the qualifying-round series didn’t help their cause. To address their defensive issues. Mercogliano believes general manager Jeff Gorton will explore trade possibilities, with Strome, DeAngelo, and Georgiev as bait.

Regarding Henrik Lundqvist, if he’s unwilling to return as Igor Shesterkin’s backup next season or if the Blueshirt stick with Georgiev, Mercogliano speculates they could buy him out. Retirement is also possible but perhaps a long shot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gorton has some big off-season decisions to make. Landing a top-pairing defenseman could involve shopping DeAngelo in a package deal. Still, acquiring that type of rearguard would eat up a lot of their cap room. Perhaps he’ll consider more affordable moves while waiting to see how things shake out next season with their younger players.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Starkey was asked about the long-term implication if the Penguins chose to re-sign goalie Tristan Jarry over Matt Murray regardless of the outcome of this postseason.

Starkey believes the Penguins cannot afford to re-sign both for even more than one season. They’re each slated to become restricted free agents with arbitration rights. It could come down to what each goalie seeks on his next contract. Murray’s performance in this year’s playoffs could also be a determining factor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray appeared in the Penguins’ first three games of their qualifying round series against the Montreal Canadiens, but he’s been out-played by the Canadiens’ Carey Price. If the Penguins are eliminated with Murray in net, that could have implications for his hopes of re-signing even a one-year deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 6, 2020

The latest Rangers’ speculation involving Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Strome, Alexandar Georgiev, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

NEW YORK POST: With the Rangers’ season over, Larry Brooks believes Henrik Lundqvist’s long goodbye with the Blueshirts is over. He wonders how the goaltender and the club will part ways after 15 seasons as it transitions toward a tandem of Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev.

Has Henrik Lundqvist’s long career with the New York Rangers drawing to a close? (Photo via NHL Images).

Lundqvist has a year left on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $8.5 million. Brooks praised his handling of this situation, but he doesn’t know if the former Vezina Trophy winner will accept being a backup with the Rangers or another club.

The Rangers must shed salary to re-sign restricted free agents like Georgiev, Ryan Strome, and Tony DeAngelo. Brooks doesn’t see a legitimate Stanley Cup contender pursuing Lundqvist at this stage in his career, or another club taking him on even if the Rangers absorbed half of his cap hit. The other option is buying out his contract once the playoffs are over. Retirement is also a possibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A difficult decision faces Lundqvist and the Rangers. I agree with Brooks’ take regarding his trade value. The 38-year-old netminder has enjoyed a stellar career but he’s no longer the type of starting goaltender a contender would covet. Even if the Rangers absorbed half his cap hit, it would make him an expensive backup.

As Brooks observed, if Lundqvist retires his $8.5 million cap hit won’t count against the Rangers’ cap payroll for next season, but he’d forfeit the $5.5 million he’s owed in actual salary. If they can’t trade him to another club, a buyout would create $3 million in savings but still leave some dead cap space.

Brooks indicates the Rangers received no significant offers for Georgiev before the February trade deadline, nor did management especially dangle him in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Georgiev’s name surfaced a lot in this year’s rumor mill, though most of it was pundits dreaming up potential destinations for him. Barring a surprising swerve where the Rangers keep Lundqvist, Georgiev appears destined to be Shesterkin’s backup next season.

Brooks examined other possible off-season moves for the Rangers. Popular check-line winger Jesper Fast is expected to depart via free agency. They must decide whether to sign Ryan Strome to a one-year contract that might be worth $5 million. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Strome didn’t improve his chances for a long-term deal or his trade value with a dismal performance against the Carolina Hurricanes in the qualifying round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome had a couple of assists against the Hurricanes but his overall performance was disappointing. Maybe they consider trading him if they anticipate a difficult contract negotiation. Then again, perhaps the flat cap works in their favor if comparable players on other clubs start accepting less money on one-year deals.

The Rangers now have a shot at winning the upcoming second draft lottery and the right to select top prospect Alexis Lafreniere. Brooks, however, suggests the Rangers could instead consider selecting big Sudbury Wolves center Quinton Byfield. He points to a looming top-six opening at center over the next couple of years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks could be talking about Strome if the Rangers ink him to a one-year deal in the off-season. However, I suspect he’s referring to Mika Zibanejad, who becomes eligible for UFA status in 2022 and could seek a pay raise that proves too hefty for the Rangers to carry.

Landing Byfield might be a more sensible pick if the Rangers win the draft lottery. They already have Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider at the left wing, with both guys carrying expensive contracts and full no-movement clauses.

Playing Lafreniere on the third line isn’t a good option, and shifting him to the right side takes him out of his comfort zone. They could move Panarin or Kreider to the right side but could face the same problem.

If the Rangers win the first-overall pick, maybe they trade down with another club to ensure they get Byfield and something else.

What say you, Rangers fans? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2020

The latest on the Rangers, Red Wings, and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes a strong postseason by Tony DeAngelo could increase his value when he negotiates his new contract and in the trade market. The Rangers defenseman is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights at the season’s end.

New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo (NHL Images).

Brooks feels the only path for a long-term deal for the young blueliner is moving him to the left side of the Rangers’ blueline. Trading DeAngelo would leave the Blueshirts scrambling to find an affordable veteran third-pairing, right-shot rearguard via free agency.

A strong playoff tournament by third-line center Filip Chytil could affect how the Rangers management approach contract talks with second-line center Ryan Strome, who’s also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Brooks would be shocked if they give Strome a long-term deal, especially when they’ll have to pay Mika Zibanejad $10 million annually to keep him off the UFA market in 2022. It would also keep Chytil relegated to the third line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have over $67 million tied up in 15 players for next season, with DeAngelo, Strome, Jesper Fast, Brendan Lemieux, and Alexandar Georgiev among their notable free agents. It could be a tight squeeze fitting them within their cap payroll unless they shed a salary, which explains in part the speculation suggesting they could buy out the final season of Henrik Lundqvist’s contract.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports acquiring a goaltender is among this off-season’s top priorities for Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman. He’s skeptical the rebuilding Wings can entice any of this summer’s notable UFA goalies unless they overpay.

Khan suggests Yzerman go shopping via the trade market. Possible options include Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jake Allen of the St. Louis Blues, or Alexandar Georgiev of the New York Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khan suggests bringing one of them in as long-term or stop-gap measures. Yzerman could prefer the long term.

Murray, Jarry, and Georgiev are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. The Wings GM could swing a deal acquiring one of them after they’re signed to a new contract.

Allen is a year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent. Assuming Yzerman was interested, he could seek assurances Allen would re-sign before trying to acquire him.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Hailey Salvian recently examined which Ottawa Senators’ free agents are staying or going. She doesn’t see them keeping Craig Anderson, Mikkel Boedker, Scott Sabourin or Matthew Peca, and feels it’s 50-50 UFAs Ron Hainsey and Mark Borowiecki are re-signed.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2020

Updates on Taylor Hall and Anton Khudobin plus the latest Sharks speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

UPDATE ON HALL’S MEETING WITH COYOTES OWNERSHIP

AZ COYOTES INSIDER (subscription required): Craig Morgan provided additional insight into Taylor Hall‘s recent meeting with Arizona Coyotes ownership.

Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall (Photo via NHL Images).

Hall’s agent, Darren Ferris, reiterated the two sides agreed to wait until the end of the season to discuss a new contract. However, Morgan reported it sounds like an offer for Hall was crafted and it appears it was below market value and mid-term in length. It may have been a starting point for the Coyotes, or it could be all they’re willing to pay. Hall’s market value is still believed between $8 million and $11 million.

There are also conflicting accounts over the absence of general manager John Chayka at that meeting. One source said it was a mutual agreement between Chayka and ownership, with the Coyotes GM wanting Hall to meet new club CEO Xavier Gutierrez, but another source said that’s inaccurate. Chayka and Gutierrez declined to comment. Ferris was also absent from the meeting.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe that meeting was for Hall to meet the new CEO and get a sense of the club’s direction. Maybe Chayka was bypassed to enable ownership to speak directly to the winger.

What’s more interesting is the supposed low-ball offer to Hall. It’s not unusual for a team’s initial offer to be below market value as part of the negotiating process as the two sides attempt to hammer out an agreement.

The Coyotes, however, have limited cap space and must shed some salary if they intend to re-sign Hall. If they don’t intend to move up into the market value range, Hall could be on his way out when the UFA market opens on Nov. 1.

LATEST SHARKS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked what it might take to acquire winger Brock Boeser from the Vancouver Canucks. He doesn’t see that happening, doubting the Canucks would trade Boeser within the division plus they’re not in a position to part with key core players or assets to acquire a player like him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s name was floated as a possible cost-cutting option for the Canucks, but I’ll be surprised if they went that route. If they do, I can’t see the Sharks landing him. Kurz cites good reasons, but I’d add their limited cap space (over $66 million invested in 13 players as per Cap Friendly), and several notable players carrying big contracts and no-trade clauses also make it difficult to pursue that type of deal.

Kurz was also asked what it would take for the San Jose Sharks to acquire a young goalie like Igor Shesterkin or Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers. He doesn’t see the Rangers parting with the promising Shesterkin. He’d be surprised if the Sharks pursue Georgiev, noting their recent signing of prospect Alexei Melnichuk from the KHL. Kurz thinks they’ll instead try to add a veteran goalie to compete with struggling starter Martin Jones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps it could be an experienced backup like Anton Khudobin. Speaking of the Stars’ pending UFA goalie…

KHUDOBIN HOPES TO REMAIN WITH THE STARS

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks recently reported Anton Khudobin hopes to re-sign with the Stars, though he’s leaving the negotiations up to his agent.

The 34-year-old netminder is due to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and is due for a raise over his $2.5 million annual average value. Contract term could also be an issue.

DeFranks indicates the Stars could have between $7.5 – $9 million in cap space after re-signing restricted free agents Radek Faksa, Roope Hintz, and Denis Gurianov. They could also need to add some depth players if they feel promising youngsters like Thomas Harley, Ty Dellandrea, and Jason Robertson aren’t NHL-ready.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin’s experience and solid goaltending stats will attract interest around the league in the UFA market from clubs (like the Sharks) seeking depth between the pipes in the off-season.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2020

Check out the latest on the Golden Knights, Bruins, and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS’ GOALTENDING

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen reports the salary cap remaining frozen at $81.5 million for next season makes it tougher for the Vegas Golden Knights to re-sign Robin Lehner. Acquired at the trade deadline, the 28-year-old goaltender is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Can the Vegas Golden Knights afford to re-sign Robin Lehner? (Photo via NHL Images)

The Golden Knights have over $74.6 million invested in 17 players for 2020-21. Lehner will be seeking security after spending the past three seasons on one-year contracts. He could command around $6 million annually on the open market.

If Lehner departs, the Golden Knights must find a backup goalie for Marc-Andre Fleury. It could be recently re-signed Oscar Dansk, an affordable free agent, or perhaps trading for a promising netminder like the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jesse Granger last week suggested the Golden Knights pursue goalies in the trade market who could be left exposed by their current clubs in next summer’s NHL expansion draft. Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, Arizona’s Antti Raanta, and Toronto’s Frederik Andersen were among his proposed targets.

Andersen won’t be available next season but Murray and Raanta could be. Murray is a restricted free agent so his next contract will take up a big chunk of the Golden Knights’ payroll, meaning they’ll have to send salary the other way. Same goes for Raanta, but the Coyotes wouldn’t want salary back if they’re moving him to clear cap room to re-sign Taylor Hall.

The Golden Knights might prefer more affordable options. Trading for a young, affordable goalie like Georgiev might be the best move.

NO HOMETOWN DISCOUNT FOR DEBRUSK?

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports the agent for Jake DeBrusk brushed aside talk of his client accepting a hometown discount. The 23-year-old winger is a restricted free agent who’s average 20 goals and 40 points in each of his first three NHL campaigns.

DeBrusk’s agent, Rick Valette, said they’re not considering taking less than market value at this stage. He also pointed to his client’s performance in big games during the playoffs, noting he’s been a top-six winger almost from the moment he first stepped on NHL ice.

During an appearance on NBC Sports Boston Zoom last week, Edmonton Oilers analyst Bob Stauffer suggested DeBrusk was worth between $5.5 million and $6 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk is completing his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. That gives Bruins management leverage to ink him to an affordable bridge deal if necessary. Much will depend on whether they can re-sign defenseman Torey Krug and the cost of keeping him off the UFA market at season’s end.

LATEST SABRES SPECULATION

THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski was asked about Brandon Montour‘s future with the Sabres. The 26-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent who could cost $5 million annually to re-sign. Given their abundance of right-shot defensemen and their need for help on their forward line, Lysowski feels Montour has enough value to fetch a good return via trade.

Asked about whether Rasmus Ristolainen might be traded, Lysowski noted the coaching staff spoke highly of the blueliner. With head coach Ralph Krueger considering Ristolainen a core player, he probably won’t be moved.

Lysowski also doesn’t see the Sabres shopping their first-round pick (eighth overall) in this year’s draft. He also suggests they sign a UFA goalie to a short-term contract and attempt to find a team that will take the final year of Carter Hutton’s contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montour frequently surfaced in this season’s trade rumors because of his difficulties in adjusting to Krueger’s defensive system. He was acquired by now-former general manager Jason Botterill, so I don’t think new GM Kevyn Adams would have any qualms about shopping him for a second-line scoring forward.