NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2023

Reaction to the Erik Karlsson trade, the Coyotes sign Matt Dumba, Radko Gudas explains why he signed with the Ducks and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dave Molinari believes the Penguins got Erik Karlsson at a bargain price. While some of the assets that were sacrificed (such as a top-10 protected 2024 first-rounder) will sting a bit, it won’t be a crippling blow considering what they got back.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Mark Madden considers Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas a “miracle worker” for getting a superstar such as Karlsson while shedding a combined $14 million in cap space getting rid of players he didn’t want in Mikael Granlund, Jeff Petry, Jan Rutta and Casey DeSmith.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Ron Cook also sang Dubas’ praises for landing Karlsson while shedding the dead weight he was saddled with by the Penguins’ previous management.

Meanwhile, Matt Vensel examined how the addition of Karlsson will affect the bottom of the Penguins’ lineup. He points out that the departures of Petry and Rutta leave the Penguins’ blueline corps smaller while raising questions about their penalty-killing ability. Trading away Granlund also removes needed playmaking from their bottom-six forward lines.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Sheng Peng believes the San Jose Sharks didn’t get much back for Karlsson, taking on the unwanted contracts of Granlund and Ruuta from Pittsburgh and of Mike Mike Hoffman from the Montreal Canadiens.

Peng reported that Sharks GM Mike Grier indicated the club didn’t want to retain more of Karlsson’s $11.5 million cap hit than they did ($1.5 million) to facilitate a trade. “Having some cap flexibility and financial flexibility was really important for us going forward, “ said Grier.

Grier added that it was important for the Sharks to have the cap space to acquire players via trades or free agency when the opportunity arises. It also provides them flexibility within the next two years when the contracts of the players acquired in the Karlsson trade to put toward their prospects.

Peng believes we’ll get a better evaluation of this trade from the Sharks’ standpoint within a couple of years depending on what they do with that cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wrote my take on the trade soon after it went down yesterday. You can read it here.

It will be interesting to see how things unfold for the Penguins and Sharks over the next three or four years.

In the short term, the Penguins are the clear winners of this trade. They got the best player in this deal without giving up much to land him. This could work out well for the Pens over the next two or three years if Karlsson remains a reliable 70-80 point producer. It could also go south if his production declines and/or his injury woes resurface.

The Sharks didn’t get very much back because of their unwillingness to retain more of Karlsson’s hefty AAV. The flattened salary cap also worked against them. Had the cap risen by a significant amount this summer (like the projected $4 million increase for 2024-25), they might’ve found more suitors willing to offer up more than the Penguins.

Nevertheless, this could work out for the Sharks over the long run. They managed to get all almost all of Karlsson’s cap hit off their books plus they got a conditional 2024 first-round pick in the deal. As Peng explained, it depends on what they do with their cap flexibility and those promising players within their system.

The addition of Granlund, Hoffman and Rutta helps the Sharks buy a year or two to allow their prospects more time to develop. They could also flip those three at the trade deadline for draft picks or prospects.

As for the third team in the trade, the Canadiens also did a tidy bit of business in this deal which I noted in my analysis yesterday. They shed themselves of Hoffman’s $4.5 million cap hit, got Petry back at a reduced salary, bolstered their goalie depth by adding DeSmith and moved out a player who no longer fit into their roster in Rem Pitlick.

The Canadiens might not be done dealing. I’ll have more about that in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Reports indicate the Coyotes signed defenseman Matt Dumba to a one-year contract worth $3.9 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dumba is coming off a five-year contract with an AAV of $6 million. The recent decline in his offensive game ensured he wouldn’t get anything close to that in this year’s free-agent market.

Dumba remains an experienced top-four defenseman who can log big minutes. Those attributes should provide a boost to the rebuilding Coyotes blueline.

A solid performance in Arizona could turn Dumba into a valuable asset for the Coyotes at the March trade deadline. It will also improve his chances of landing a richer deal in next summer’s free-agent market.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Radko Gudas recently explained why he opted to sign with the rebuilding Anaheim Ducks after leaving the Stanley Cup finalist Florida Panthers as a free agent. He indicated that it had to do with the role he’d play with the Ducks as well as the financial aspect.

Gudas said he received interest from some Canadian teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, he didn’t know if he’d feel comfortable dealing with the constant media attention. He also noted the taxes were higher in Canada.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gudas isn’t the only player who has spurned signing with Canadian teams because of higher taxes in some provinces as well as media scrutiny. It’s gone on for decades now. Those clubs have still managed to sign notable free agents over the years but it does make it harder for them to attract high-quality talent.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Former Detroit Red Wings forward Evgeny Svechnikov is reportedly signing a contract with KHL club AK Bars Kazan. He spent four seasons bouncing between the Red Wings and their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids from 2016-17 to 2020-21. He also played for the Winnipeg Jets in 2021-22 and the San Jose Sharks last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Svechnikov is the older brother of Carolina Hurricanes star Andrei Svechnikov. Chosen 19th overall by the Red Wings in the 2015 NHL Draft, he never reached the same heights as Andrei did.

NHL.COM: Former NHL goaltender Gilles Gilbert passed away on Saturday at age 74. Gilbert spent 14 seasons with the Minnesota North Stars, Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings from 1969-70 to 1982-83. In 416 games, he had a record of 192-143-60 with 18 shutouts, a 3.27 goals-against average and a .883 save percentage.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gilbert’s best seasons were with the Bruins from 1973-74 (when he backstopped them to the Stanley Cup Final) to 1979-80. He almost denied the Montreal Canadiens of a fourth straight Stanley Cup with an outstanding performance in Game 7 of the 1979 semifinal. He was named the game’s first star despite the Bruins losing 5-4 in overtime.

My condolences to Gilbert’s family, friends and former teammates.