NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 21, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 21, 2019

Taylor Hall returns to the ice, Dan Girardi hangs up his skates, plus updates on Dustin Byfuglien, Alex Goligoski, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall scored a goal and collected an assist in a 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers in preseason play on Friday. It was Hall’s first game since suffering a knee injury last December. “I felt pretty good,” said Hall, who played just over 18 minutes. “There wasn’t a whole lot of flow to the game at certain points, but it was a lot of fun to be out there and (to) have some success right off the bat was a good feeling. It’s kind of the way you’d want to draw it up if you were coming back.”

New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall returned to action in his first game since last December (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a promising start for Hall. He’ll be crucial to the Devils’ playoff hopes this season.

TSN: Defenseman Dan Girardi yesterday announced his retirement. He spent 13 seasons in the NHL, 11 with the New York Rangers and two with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid, big-minute defensive blueliner, Girardi’s best seasons came during his long tenure with the Rangers, helping them reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. In recent years, however, his performance declined as he struggled to adjust to the increasingly faster pace of the game. Best wishes to Girardi and his family in their future endeavors.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets head coach Paul Maurice said he recently had a “wonderful conversation” with defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who’s taken a leave of absence from the club. Maurice offered up no timetable for the big blueliner’s return. He also downplayed a chance encounter at a restaurant between a couple of fans and Byfuglien, with one of the fans claiming the defenseman told her he will be playing this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets’ official line is they’re giving Byfuglien all the time and space he needs during this leave of absence. A report earlier this week claiming the rearguard was pondering his future has Jets fans understandably concerned he might retire.

THE ATHLETIC: Arizona Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski admitted he lost his passion for the game around mid-December last season. However, he was re-energized following the club’s mandatory off-week in late-January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Critics believe the off-week for teams is a waste of time, hurting momentum and roster cohesiveness. Goligoski’s case proves it can be beneficial for players experiencing burnout.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers re-signed defenseman Tony DeAngelo to a one-year, $925K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeAngelo was the Rangers’ only remaining unsigned restricted free agent. While he was holding out for more, the Rangers lacked sufficient cap space to give him a more substantial raise. If he matches or exceeds last season’s promising 30-point performance, the Blueshirts will reward him for it next summer.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning placed goaltenders Louis Domingue and Mike Condon on waivers yesterday for assignment to their AHL affiliate in Syracuse.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens rookie Ryan Poehling is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion while veteran Paul Byron is nursing an upper-body injury.

NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals named Jim Slater to their player development department.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 17, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – April 17, 2019

What next for the Penguins and Lightning after getting swept from the opening round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

PENGUINS

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan and Chris Peters speculate the Pittsburgh Penguins could shop a defenseman or two, suggesting this could be Olli Maatta’s last season in Pittsburgh. They could try to move aging agitator Patric Hornqvist but the 32-year-old has a $5.3-million annual average value through 2022-23 (with a full no-trade clause through 2021). They also suggest the trade rumors that swirled around winger Phil Kessel over the last two years could ramp up again. With the Penguins core aging, they recommend the club restock for the future. 

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey expects the Penguins could attempt a rebuild on the fly by moving some high-salaried players to free up salary cap space while attempting to get younger. He believes general manager Jim Rutherford will listen to offers for Kessel. It’s conceivable they could move on from Maatta and they’ll have to figure out what to do with Hornqvist. 

Will the Pittsburgh Penguins entertain trade offers for Phil Kessel this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

Mackey reported Kessel expects there will be roster changes this summer but doesn’t know if he’ll be part of them. Rutherford entertained offers for the veteran winger last summer but felt no urgency to move him then. Trading Kessel would be strictly a business move, as he’s beloved by his teammates and Penguins fans. 

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe also expects Kessel’s name to resurface in the rumor mill. He doesn’t know if the Penguins will trade him but believes he’s the most likely to go if they decide to trade a prominent forward. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel still has an eight-team trade list. He carries an $8 million annual cap hit through 2021-22, although the Toronto Maple Leafs are picking up $1.2 million of it. The 31-year-old’s goal-scoring declined over the second half of the season but he still finished with 82 points and had a good playoff series against the Islanders. If the Penguins shop Kessel this summer there will be a market for his services.

The same can’t be said for Hornqvist. His contract is difficult to move, especially with that full no-trade clause, plus he’s got a concussion history and his production was down this season. Maatta looks like he could use a fresh start somewhere else. He’s only 24 and have good puck-moving abilities and carries a reasonable salary-cap hit of $4.083 million through 2021-22. 

LIGHTNING

THE ATHLETIC: In the wake of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s stunning first-round exit from the 2019 playoffs, Joe Smith expects GM Julien BriseBois will closely examine his club this summer. Smith doesn’t anticipate a major shakeup but believes there will be a change in the blueline with Dan Girardi, Braydon Coburn, and Anton Stralman due to become unrestricted free agents. 

Winger Ryan Callahan has a year remaining on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $5.8 million, making him a trade or buyout candidate. He expects restricted free agent Brayden Point will be re-signed to a big raise and rules out moving Tyler Johnson by pointing to his full no-trade clause. Still, they could look at moving a forward to bring in a younger one. 

ESPN.COM:  Greg Wyshynski and Chris Peters don’t see BriseBois making any panic moves this summer. They point out core players such as Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Ondrej Palat and Alex Killorn are all under 30 and signed through 2022, with Point soon to join them. They also expect there will be changes coming to the Lightning defense corps. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t expect the Bolts to trade away one of their core players. Head coach Jon Cooper recently signed a contract extension. He won’t be going anywhere but will be under pressure to address his club’s opening-round collapse and his apparent inability to counter the Blue Jackets aggressive forechecking.

The Lightning has over $73 million invested in 16 players for 2019-20. Point will command a big raise that could reach $7 million per season, though the Bolts have had success in convincing their core players to accept less than market value to stay in Tampa Bay. Even if they can convince him to accept, say, $5 million per season, they still won’t have sufficient cap room to suitably fill those blueline spots if Girardi, Coburn, and Stralman depart via free agency.

Moving Callahan via trade or buyout will free up some cap space. They could try to trade Yanni Gourde before his new contract (with a no-trade clause) kicks in on July 1. Having signed Gourde to that deal last November, however, they obviously want him to be part of their long-term future. They’ll be hard-pressed to sufficiently replace those departing blueliners, forcing them to find younger, cheaper options within their system, via trade or free agency. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 26, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 26, 2019

Game recaps, Lightning win their 59th game, Predators clinch a playoff berth, stars of the week, Capitals visit the White House, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning became the fourth team in NHL history to win 59 games in a season by erasing a 4-2 deficit to beat the Boston Bruins 5-4. Steven Stamkos scored two goals and Anthony Cirelli netted the game-winner with 53 seconds remaining in regulation. Earlier in the day, the Lightning revealed defenseman Dan Girardi (lower-body injury) is sidelined indefinitely

Four goals by John Tavares helped the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Florida Panthers 7-5 (Photo via NHL Images).

A four-goal performance by John Tavares powered the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 7-5 victory over the Florida Panthers. With 45 goals, Tavares sits second among the league leaders. Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman each had three points for the Leafs while Jonathan Huberdeau and Jayce Hawryluk each scored twice for the Panthers. The Leafs (96 points) are five behind the Boston Bruins for second in the Atlantic Division. 

Zach Sanford had a goal and an assist as the St. Louis Blues downed the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1, preventing the latter from clinching a postseason spot. With 90 points, the Blues sit two points behind the Nashville Predators for second in the Central Division. 

The Nashville Predators secured a playoff spot by blanking the Minnesota Wild 1-0. Juuse Saros made 29 saves for the shutout and Ryan Johansen tallied the only goal. With 92 points, the Predators sit two behind the Central Division-leading Winnipeg Jets. The Wild (79 points) remain two back of the Colorado Avalanche for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Speaking of the Jets, they dropped a 5-2 decision to the Dallas Stars. Tyler Seguin and Radek Faksa each scored twice for the Stars (84 points), who opened a three-point lead over the Avalanche for the first Western wild-card berth. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins (95 points) moved to within a point of first place in the Metropolitan Division by defeating the New York Rangers 5-2. Teddy Blueger tallied twice as the Penguins overcame a 2-0 deficit. Phil Kessel also collected two assists. Earlier in the day, the Rangers announced winger Jesper Fast (shoulder injury) will be sidelined for the remainder of the season. 

Jack Campbell had a 42-save shutout as the Los Angeles Kings upset the Calgary Flames 3-0. The Kings played without winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who remained back in Los Angeles to work with the club’s development and skills staff. GM Rob Blake said the decision was not based on Kovalchuk’s comments last week complaining about his declining ice time under coach Willie Desjardins.

Earlier in the day, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty created a pre-game stir by saying he has no respect for Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk, who clashed with Doughty in previous contests. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk was going to be a healthy scratch during the Kings’ three-game road trip so apparently it was a mutual decision (based on his suggestion) to remain in Los Angeles. I’ll have more on Kovalchuk and the Kings later this morning in the Rumors section. 

The San Jose Sharks suffered their sixth straight defeat by falling 3-2 to the Detroit Red Wings. The loss leaves the Sharks six points behind the Flames for first place in the Pacific Division and the overall Western Conference standings.

New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider kicked out 45 shots backstopping his club to a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Pavel Zacha had a goal and an assist. The Sabres have dropped 12 consecutive road games. 

Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 25, 2019.

The White House and President Trump yesterday welcomed the Washington Capitals to commemorate their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny attended the event on crutches and is considered sidelined long-term with an injured left leg. 

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz became the fourth coach in league history to reach 1,600 regular-season games during his club’s 2-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 21, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 21, 2019

Game recaps, Connor McDavid tops NHLPA poll, Wings re-sign Jimmy Howard, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Andrei Vasilevskiy made 54 saves and Victor Hedman scored in overtime to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 5-4 victory over the Washington Capitals. Nikita Kucherov scored two goals while Steven Stamkos had a goal and two assists. The Lightning played without defenseman Dan Girardi, who’s sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny left the game in the second period after injuring his left leg. Despite the loss, the Capitals (94 points) hold a three-point lead over the New York Islanders for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. 

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews tallied his 35th goal of the season and his 200th career point in a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres (Photo via NHL Images)

Auston Matthews tallied his 35th goal of the season and his 200th career NHL point as the Toronto Maple Leafs doubled up the Buffalo Sabres 4-2. John Tavares also had a goal and an assist for the Leafs (93 points), who sit four points behind the Boston Bruins for second in the Atlantic Division. 

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck picked up his first shutout of the season by blanking the Anaheim Ducks 3-0. Hellebuyck made 29 saves while Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers were the goal scorers. Jets defenseman Joe Morrow returned to action for the first time since being sidelined in mid-February by a lower-body injury. With 92 points, the Jets hold a three-point lead over the Nashville Predators for first place in the Central Division. 

Despite a four-goal third period by the Ottawa Senators, the Vancouver Canucks went on to defeat them by a scored of 7-4. Alexander Edler collected three assists, Loui Eriksson had a four-point performance and Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson each scored twice for the Canucks. Dylan DeMelo had three helpers for the Senators. 

NHLPA: Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid was voted the NHL’s best forward in this season’s NHLPA player poll. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman was voted the best defenseman and the Montreal Canadiens’ Carey Price was the best goaltender. 

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings have re-signed goaltender Jimmy Howard to a one-year contract extension worth $4 million. The deal comes with a $1.1-million bonus if the Wings reach the playoffs next season but doesn’t include a no-trade clause. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted yesterday, this is a fair deal for both sides. Another solid season by Howard could earn him another contract with the Wings after next season. The deal also gives the Wings time to find a suitable replacement for Howard in the near future. 

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings forward Jacob de la Rose is doing well but will undergo further examination following a cardiac episode on Tuesday. 

The New York Islanders announced center Valtteri Filppula will be sidelined four weeks with an upper-body injury. Jordan Eberle is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 9, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 9, 2018

Artemi Panarin was the overtime hero as the Columbus Blue Jackets edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 (Photo via NHL Images).

Blue Jackets rally to defeat the Leafs, three stars of the week and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Artemi Panarin’s overtime goal gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Jackets overcame a 2-0 deficit on goals by Nick Foligno and Pierre-Luc Dubois late in the third period. James van Riemsdyk and William Nylander tallied for the Leafs. 

Earlier in the day, the league fined Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard $5,000.00 for slashing Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck during Sunday’s game between the two clubs. 

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, Colorado Avalanche goaltender Jonathan Bernier and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 7, 2018. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights are on route to a record-setting performance by an expansion team. At 29-10-2, they have the third-highest wins total for a team in its first season (the record is 33, held by the Florida Panthers and Anaheim Mighty Ducks) while their 18 home victories are just four shy of the record (22) set by the Hartford Whalers in 1979-80. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s safe to say the Golden Knights will break those aforementioned records. With a .732 points percentage, they’re also on pace to become the first club in the expansion era to finish with a .500 record. 

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers are targeting the beginning of February for goaltender Roberto Luongo’s return from a lower-body injury. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Good news for Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi, as he’s considered day-to-day after taking a slapshot by Detroit’s Martin Frk off the back of his neck during Sunday’s contest between the two clubs. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Blackhawks yesterday placed defenseman Cody Franson on waivers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston expects the 30-year-old Franson will be claimed today. Despite his lack of speed, he’s a rearguard with a right-handed shot carrying an affordable contract who could be attractive to clubs seeking blueline depth. Johnston also suggests a lower-ranked club could claim Franson and use him as potential trade bait near the Feb. 26 trade deadline. 

ESPN.COM: Should the NHL expand to Seattle, Emily Kaplan offers up her take on how to better realign the 32 franchises into four divisions. 

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 8, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 8, 2018

Evgeni Malkin’s overtime goal lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-5 victory over the Boston Bruins (Photo via NHL Images).

Game recaps, All-Star Game coaches named plus updates on Josh Bailey, Sebastian Aho, Dan Girardi and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM:An overtime goal by Evgeni Malkin carried the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-5 victory over the Boston Bruins. Malkin scored twice and Sidney Crosby collected three assists. 

-The Vegas Golden Knights collected their league-leading 18th home win by squeezing past the New York Rangers 2-1. Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves while James Neal and William Karlsson scored for the Knights, who were playing without defenseman Luca Sbisa (upper-body, day-to-day). 

-Yanni Gourde scored two goals and set up another while Nikita Kucherov tallied his 27th goal of the season as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-2, handing the latter their first loss in five games.

The Lightning suffered a scare when defenseman Dan Girardi left the game after taking a shot to the back of his neck. He’s reportedly okay but will undergo further tests in Tampa. 

-The New York Islanders snapped a five-game losing skid by edging the New Jersey Devils 5-4, handing the latter their fifth straight defeat. Brock Nelson scored the only goal in the shootout frame after the Isles overcame a 4-2 deficit in the third period. Travis Zajac scored twice for the Devils.

Islanders coach Doug Weight said winger Josh Bailey’s lower-body injury, suffered during Friday’s game against Pittsburgh with a lower-body injury, isn’t expected to keep him sidelined for long.

-Sean Couturier scored twice and Michal Neuvirth made 30 saves in his first start since Nov. 30 as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1. 

-The Edmonton Oilers suffered their sixth loss in seven games, falling to the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. Hawks goalie Anton Forsberg made 32 saves for the victory. Rumors of a coaching change have dogged the slumping Oilers but general manager Peter Chiarelli said he has no intention of firing head coach Todd McLellan. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s been rumblings of changes coming for the Oilers if they don’t snap out of their current funk soon. If Chiarelli or McLellan aren’t going anywhere, a roster shakeup is the only remaining option. 

-Mathieu Perreault scored twice and Connor Hellebucyk made 31 saves as the Winnipeg Jets downed the San Jose Sharks 4-1, picking up their 15th win in 17 home contests this season. 

-Nicklas Backstrom’s overtime goal lifted the Washington Capitals to a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues. It was the Capitals fourth straight win. 

-Sergei Bobrovsky made 42 saves and Josh Anderson tallied the shootout winner as the Columbus Blue Jackets nipped the Florida Panthers 3-2. Florida netminder James Reimer kicked out 46 shots.

-The Montreal Canadiens got a goal and an assist from Brendan Gallagher in the third period to beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. Canucks winger Sven Baertschi returned to action after missing 11 games with a fractured jaw. 

Before the game, Canadiens GM Marc Bergervin held a “state of the team” midseason press conference. He said he’d like to a piece to help his struggling roster, but isn’t about to sacrifice the future to do so. He also admitted there’s no short-term solution out there he’s aware of that can help reverse his club’s fortunes. Bergevin said his club isn’t giving up on the season and declined to say at what point he’d consider becoming a seller before the trade deadline if the Habs fail to improve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Bergevin will be a seller. Team captain Max Pacioretty has featured prominently in recent trade speculatuion but I don’t believe he’ll be dealt. The Habs GM has apparently set a high price (a young scorer and a first-round pick) for Pacioretty and he’s not getting that before the trade deadline.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Sebastian Aho is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury suffered during Saturday’s game against Boston. 

NBC SPORTS: The coaches for the 2018 NHL All-Star Game were revealed on Sunday. Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper will coach the Atlantic Division squad, Nashville’s Peter Laviolette will guide the Central Division team, Washington’s Barry Trotz will be the bench boss for the Metropolitan Division and Vegas’s Gerard Gallant will coach the Pacific Division. 

LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: Former LA Kings play-by-play announcer Bob Miller will be honored with a statue and a banner before Saturday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks.