NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2021

More COVID cases among NHL teams raise concerns about Olympic participation, the Blackhawks reach a settlement with Kyle Beach, Alex Ovechkin ties an NHL scoring record, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

COVID CASES AMONG NHL CLUBS STILL RISING, CONCERN GROWING OVER OLYMPIC PARTICIPATION

CALGARY SUN: The number of Calgary Flames players and staff testing positive for COVID-19 grew to 27 yesterday. Head coach Darryl Sutter and players Jacob Markstrom, Rasmus Andersson, Erik Gudbranson, Byron Froese, Trevor Lewis and Tyler Pitlick joined the list yesterday. Saturday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets has been postponed. The good news is all the Flames’ cases are reportedly doing well, which is being attributed to the players being fully vaccinated.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).

  NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron joined teammates Brad Marchand and Craig Smith in COVID protocol yesterday.

THE TENNESSEAN: 11 members of the Nashville Predators were placed in COVID protocol yesterday. They include forwards Mikael Granlund, Matt Luff, Michael McCarron and Philip Tomasino and defenseman Ben Harpur and head coach John Hynes.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Five Panthers players (Ryan Lomberg, Sam Bennett, Carter Verhaeghe, Radko Gudas and Brandon Montour) enter COVID protocol on Wednesday.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings placed forwards Robby Fabbri and Michael Rasmussen in COVID protocol Wednesday. Tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes is expected to go ahead as scheduled.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The growing number of cases is alarming but it’s not expected to result in a shutdown of the NHL schedule at the present time. That could change if the cases continue to spread and more games become postponed. However, it’s not expected to result in a season-ending shutdown as we saw in 2019-20. It could instead be a pause of two-to-three weeks.

One reason is all cases are experienced at worst minor symptoms because all but one player is fully vaccinated. Another is a return to enhanced COVID protocols (including daily testing) are expected to be implemented soon.

TSN: The province of Ontario is reducing capacity limits at sporting events to 50 percent starting Saturday. That includes the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL has no control over provincial or state COVID guidelines regarding sporting events. It remains to be seen if others will follow Ontario’s lead. The Leafs and Senators will likely see a return to full capacity once the COVID numbers in Ontario are reduced.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson is the latest NHL player to express concern over potential three-to-five week quarantine in China for players taking part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics who test positive for COVID-19 during the tournament. “If that’s the way it’s going to be, I don’t see it being very feasible for guys to take that risk. That’s my personal opinion,” said Karlsson.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin expressed apprehension over the potentially strict COVID guidelines for Olympic participants. “It would be unfortunate for anyone to get stuck in quarantine for that long and a serious unknown of when you’d come home. I think it’s unfortunate for all athletes,” said Larkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL is so far leaving it up to the NHLPA members to decide if they’ll participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics. No one has definitively said they won’t go because of those restrictions but that could change if there is no loosening of those rules for Olympic athletes.

The opt-out date is Jan. 10. The league can also withdraw if COVID outbreaks reach a point where it cannot complete the remainder of this season on time.

It’s been suggested the NHL would simply run a normal schedule during the Olympic break in February. However, The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro reported that would create a logistical nightmare for team owners as they attempt to reschedule events in their arenas during that period.

BLACKHAWKS REACH SETTLEMENT WITH BEACH

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: After eight months of legal battles, the Blackhawks and Kyle Beach have reached a confidential out-of-court settlement during third-party mediation yesterday. Beach alleged former Blackhawks video coach sexually assaulted him in May 2010 and that Blackhawks executives knowingly covered it up. An independent investigation by the Blackhawks supported Beach’s claims.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping this settlement brings Beach the closure and peace of mind he deserves after enduring a decade of hell dealing with what happened to him. It will take a long time for the Blackhawks organization to scrub away the stain on their reputation for the atrocious way they treated Beach and their handling of this situation.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tied the all-time power-play goal record as his club fell 5-4 to the Blackhawks. Ovechkin tallied his 274th PP marker to tied Dave Andreychuk.

Blackhawks defenseman Caleb Jones won it for his club with an overtime goal. Chicago winger Alex DeBrincat scored two goals while Marc-Andre Fleury got his 501st career win with a 42-save performance. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom collected an assist in his season debut after missing 28 games recovering from a hip injury

New York Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko scored twice, including the game-winner as his club downed the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Chris Kreider assisted on all three Rangers goals. The Coyotes have lost six straight. Rangers winger Artemi Panarin left the game in the second period with a minor lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry netted his 18th of the season in a 4-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Goalie Anthony Stolarz picked up his sixth straight win for the Ducks this season.

IN OTHER NEWS…

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Christian Dvorak is listed as sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Winger Josh Anderson will be out for another six weeks with an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, winger Brendan Gallagher and defenseman Sami Niku are expected to rejoin their teammates later this week after emerging from COVID protocol.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Kevin Labanc will be sidelined for three months after opting for surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder.

NHL.COM: The Chicago Blackhawks placed forward Henrik Borgstrom on injured reserve backdated to Dec. 10 with a non-COVID-related illness.

LA KINGS INSIDER: Kings winger Andreas Athanasiou will miss the remainder of his club’s current road trip with a lower-body injury.

NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils acquired goaltender Jon Gillies from the St. Louis Blues for future considerations.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2018

Latest notable contract signings and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks yesterday re-signed center Adam Henrique to a five-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $5.825 million. The new deal begins in 2019-20.

The Anaheim Ducks re-signed center Adam Henrique to a five-year contract extension (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the 28-year-old Henrique’s new deal also contains a modified no-trade clause. He’s in the final season of a six-year, $24-million contract. Anaheim acquired Henrique in a Nov. 30, 2017 trade with the New Jersey Devils. Because he re-signed with the Ducks, the Devils will get their third-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. He had a solid season with the Ducks, tallying 20 goals and 36 points in 57 games.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames avoided arbitration with forward Elias Lindholm by inking him to a six-year worth an annual salary-cap hit of $4.85 million. They also re-signed goaltender Jon Gillies to a two-year contract worth $750K, with the first year being a two-way deal. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lindholm was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes as part of that multiplayer swap during the 2018 NHL Draft. He’s getting quite a nice pay bump, having earned $2.7-million annually on his previous contract. It’s expected he’ll fill a top-six role with the Flames.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators signed backup goaltender Jusse Saros to a three-year, $4.5-million contract and forward Ryan Hartman to a one-year, $875K deal. 

NEWSDAY: Young forward Josh Ho-Sang has a clean slate with the new management and coaching staff of the New York Islanders. Entering the final season of his three-year entry-level contract, the 22-year-old Ho-Sang will be expected to compete for a top-six role with the Islanders in training camp. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This season could be Ho-Sang’s last opportunity to make a positive impression with the Islanders. If he fails to earn a full-time roster spot they could attempt to trade him before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline or not qualify his rights next June. 

 











NHL Rumor Mill – February 7, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – February 7, 2018

Updates on Rick Nash plus the latest on the Penguins, Senators, Flames, Sabres and more in your NHL rumor mill.

LATEST RANGERS SPECULATION

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the New York Rangers seek three pieces for winger Rick Nash. “So a first-round pick, a top prospect and another lesser player, or prospect or pick in combination with those,” said McKenzie, who believes the Rangers will ultimately have to settle for a lesser return, perhaps a first- and a second-round pick or a first and a prospect. Pierre LeBrun said the Rangers could be willing to absorb a big chunk of the remainder of Nash’s $7.8-million salary-cap hit to facilitate a trade and maximize the return.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes if a team that’s not on Nash’s list of preferred trade destinations expresses interest in him and makes a good offer, the Rangers could ask him if he’ll consider that club as a possibility. He believes there’s a lot of teams interested in Nash, listing the Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets and possibly the Winnipeg Jets as potential suitors.

McKenzie also reports some general managers see Nash’s teamate Michael Grabner as a more affordable option. He already has 21 goals this season and carries a $1.6-million cap hit. McKenzie believes the asking price is along the lines of a first-round pick. While the Blueshirts aren’t rushing everyone out the door, McKenzie said there are no untouchables on the roster. “Not Ryan McDonagh, not Mats Zuccarello, not J.T. Miller, not anybody.” They’re going to listen to offers that involve young players, prospects and picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s understandable why the Rangers are setting a high asking price for Nash, but I concur with McKenzie that they could end up accepting a first and a second or a first and a prospect. While Nash is still a notable name, his offensive game has declined. The 33-year-old is on pace this season for 23 goals and 38 points in 82 games. Those numbers could improve on a deeper roster but a rival GM might be unwilling to pay a big price to take that gamble. Grabner’s speed, affordable cap hit and lower asking price could make him enticing to teams unable or unwilling to pay big for Nash. 

Ottawa Senators forward Mike Hoffman might not be as likely a trade candidate as he once seemed to be (Photo via NHL Images).

UPDATES ON THE SENATORS, FLAMES AND SABRES

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Ottawa Senators are only prepared to trade good players that they believe they’ll get good returns for. Forwards Mike Hoffman, Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau are often mentioned as possible trade candidates, but Dreger speculates they could retain Hoffman because he’s developed good chemistry with Matt Duchene.

Pierre LeBrun believes it’s a long shot that the Senators will move defenseman Dion Phaneuf because of his $7 million annual cap hit and modified no-trade clause. However, he believes the Los Angeles Kings have expressed some interest, though the Sens would have to absorb part of his cap hit to move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Up until a couple of weeks ago Hoffman appeared to be the Senators’ prime trade candidate. Of late, that seems to have changed, though we still can’t fully dismiss the possibility, especially if they get a worthwhile offer. If Duchene and Hoffman are playing well, it could be worth keeping them together.

Phaneuf was dealt two years ago this month so we can’t completely reject the notion he gets traded again. But as LeBrun noted, the Sens might have to eat a portion of his cap hit to make happen. 

LeBrun also reports the Calgary Flames covet a scoring winger if they can pull it off. They lack first and second round selections in this year’s draft to use a trade bait, but LeBrun said he’s heard they might be willing to listen to offers for promising goaltender Jon Gillies if he could fetch a scorer with term remaining on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun notes the Flames are deep in goaltending prospects but I’d be leery of parting with the 6-foot-6 Gillies. Depends on what they could get as a scoring forward. 

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports hearing some recent talk of Buffalo Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly in the rumor mill but he said he’d be surprised if the center got moved. He thinks teams have asked about O’Reilly but feels GM Jason Botterill is trying to build up his club’s strength at center and move O’Reilly might not be something they want to do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Reilly’s big contract (as per Cap Friendly, $7.5 million annually through 2022-23) could be a sticking point if the Sabres did want to trade him. Like Friedman, I don’t see him getting traded. 

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS, COYOTES AND CANUCKS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman suggests it’s possible Minnesota Wild center Matt Cullen could return to the Pittsburgh Penguins by the trade deadline. The Pens have been linked to a lot of centers over the season but Friedman wonders if they might go back to Minnesota and see if maybe they try to bring Cullen back.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Based on what he’s heard about the Penguins’ approach leading up to the trade deadline Jason Mackey reports he wouldn’t be surprised if the Pens “stand pat, stay out of the third-line center fray, make a small add in the No. 4 spot and move on.” He cites the Penguins improvement since Jan. 1 and feels Riley Sheahan is playing well enough in the third-line center role. Mackey is also convinced the Pens could try to bring back Matt Cullen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A Cullen return to Pittsburgh could depend upon where the Wild see the veteran center in their lineup and if they remain in playoff contention over the next two weeks. 

Friedman’s colleague Chris Johnston reports it’s believed Arizona Coyotes forward Max Domi would be open to a move and the club could listen at this point. Domi’s in the final season of his entry-level deal and Johnston said it’s known that if teams want to inquire about Domi he could be had.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Richard Morin reports Coyotes GM John Chayka dismissed the New York Post report claiming Domi was available. “I don’t know where they get this stuff,” Chayka said. While he added he’ll “listen on anything,” Chayka said the club is happy with its young players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted on Sunday, Domi’s numbers are down this season because he’s playing a second-line center role and taking on more defensive responsibilities. While I don’t dismiss the possibility that he could be traded for the right offer, I don’t think the Coyotes are beating down doors trying to move him.