NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 24, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 24, 2017

The Nashville Predators could become the next NHL dynasty.

Check out the latest in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

ESPN.COM: Josh Cooper suggests the Nashville Predators could become the NHL’s next dynasty. They’ve signed many of their star players (notably Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis) to long-term, salary-cap friendly contracts, They’re also getting contributions from younger players on lower contracts (Kevin Fiala, Colton Sissions) and still have their first-round picks for the next three seasons.  

Cooper also notes they still must address the loss of winger James Neal to the expansion draft and the retirement of center Mike Fisher. Goaltender Pekka Rinne, who earns $7 million annually, turns 35 in November. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Predators general manager David Poile’s done a fine job putting the Predators into a position where they must be considered serious Stanley Cup contenders. I expect he’ll make some savvy moves to address the loss of Neal and Fisher and (if necessary) to bolster his goaltending depth. 

 NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils have invited unrestricted free agent right wing Jimmy Hayes to training camp on a tryout basis. 

TSN: Former Devils college prospect forward Alex Kerfoot is expected to sign with the Colorado Avalanche. 

NEW YORK POST: Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi bought Steve Yzerman’s former home in Tampa.

SPORTSNET:  A report from Russia claims Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello and head coach Mike Babcock recently traveled there to meet KHL defenseman Igor Ozhiganov. Undrafted by an NHL team, he still has a year remaining on his contract with CSKA Moscow, so the earliest he could sign with an NHL club is 2018-19.

NBC SPORTS: The New York Islanders have hired Chris Terreri as a goaltender development coach. 

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 8, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 8, 2017

Dan Girardi was surprised and disappointed by the New York Rangers’ decision to buy out his contract.

Latest on Dan Girardi, Marcus Johansson, Kevin Klein, Jussi Jokinen & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

SPORTING NEWS: Defenseman Dan Girardi admits he was surprised and disappointed by the New York Rangers buying out his contract last month, but said he has no hard feelings toward his former team.

After 11 seasons with the Blueshirts, he’s now looking forward to the next chapter in his career with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who signed him earlier this month to a two-year deal. 

NJ.COM:  Former Washington Capitals winger Marcus Johansson is looking forward to helping the underdog New Jersey Devils. The Caps dealt Johansson earlier in the week to the Devils in a cost-cutting move. 

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Back issues forced Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein to announce his retirement yesterday. He had one season remaining on his contract ($2.9 million AAV) which comes off the Rangers cap payroll for 2017-18. The 32-year-old rearguard played 12 years in the NHL, four with the Rangers and eight with the Nashville Predators. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Blood clots compelled Buffalo Sabres forward Cody McCormick to retire after 11 seasons with the Sabres, Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild, but he’s hoping to stay in the NHL in a player development role. McCormick’s condition forced him to miss the last two seasons, but he helped rehab sidelined Sabres players in the second half of the 2014-15 season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Klein and McCormick in their future endeavors. 

EDMONTON SUN: The Oilers signed free-agent winger Jussi Jokinen to a one-year, $1.1 million contract. Jokinen’s versatility could help Edmonton, plus he can help mentor prospect winger Jesse Puljujarvi. Jokinen is part-owner of Karpat, the Finnish club where Puljujarvi played before joining the Oilers.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks signed forward Dennis Rasmussen to a one-year, $725K contract. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Former Nashville Predators anthem signer Dennis K. Morgan said Friday he no longer wants to be associated with the club. He sang the anthem for the Predators more than 185 times until the club replaced him with famous country stars during their Stanley Cup run this spring. He also felt he “got played” by the media after saying he felt it was only going to be a one-time thing, expressing his displeasure over the situation during an interview in May. He believes his contract with the club (which has since expired) should’ve protected him from being replaced. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sure, it’s easy to bash Morgan for being overly sensitive about this, but put yourself in his shoes for a moment. You’ve sung the anthem for the Predators for years, including previous playoff appearances, only to be suddenly pushed aside throughout this year’s playoffs because the club wants to bring more star power to this year’s postseason run. I can understand why he’d be upset. His situation is also a good example about choosing your words carefully when speaking to the media, especially if you’re talking about an upsetting situation.

 











Analysis of Notable NHL Free Agent Signings – July 1, 2017

Analysis of Notable NHL Free Agent Signings – July 1, 2017

Joe Thornton re-signed a one-year deal with the San Jose Sharks on July 1, 2017.

As the opening day of the 2017 NHL free-agent market winds down, here’s a brief look at the day’s notable signings.

San Jose Sharks re-sign defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (eight years, $7 million annual average value) and goaltender Martin Jones (six years, $5.75 million AAV). Both contracts kick in on July 1, 2018. The Sharks also sign center Joe Thornton (reportedly one-year deal and around $6.5 million).

Vlasic’s an elite NHL defenseman and his new contract puts him among such notables as Drew Doughty of the LA Kings and Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’d say he belongs there. He’s a crucial part of the Sharks defense corps.

Jones’ new salary places him around fifteenth among the highest-paid goalies. If the 27-year-old returns to his solid form of 2015-16, this could prove a bargain for the Sharks over the long run.

Despite all the speculation linking Thornton to other clubs leading up to July 1, it wasn’t surprising that he re-signed with the Sharks. He was seeking a three-year deal but apparently was willing to accept a one-year deal for a full $6.5 million salary.

It’s been reported Thornton’s future in San Jose was tied to long-time Sharks teammate Patrick Marleau. Thornton’s signing could signal Marleau’s return.

Anaheim Ducks re-sign defenseman Cam Fowler (eight years, $6.5 million AAV) and goaltender Ryan Miller (two years, $2 million AAV).

Like Vlasic’s and Jones’ new contract, Fowler’s kicks in next July. Though he was the subject of frequent trade speculation last summer, it’s apparent the Ducks consider him the key cog of their blueline. Th 25-year-old’s new contract is comparable to that of St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo.

As for Miller, his days as an elite netminder are in the past. He’ll take on a backup/mentor role for starter John Gibson.

New York Rangers sign defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (four years, $6.65 million AAV). The biggest name in this summer’s UFA market lands where he was always expected to go. He finished among last season’s leading scorers among blueliners though he’s earned criticism for his defensive game.

The 28-year-old will be skating on the right side of the Blueshirts top pairing with Ryan McDonagh. He’s being overpaid for his services but the Rangers at least didn’t lock him up for too long.

Pittsburgh Penguins re-sign defenseman Justin Schultz (three years, $5.5 million AAV). Schultz rejuvenated his NHL career with the Penguins, playing a role in their consecutive championships in 2016 and 2017. Tallying a career-high 51 points last season, he was among the league’s highest-scoring blueliners. That ensured the Pens would keep the mobile rearguard in the fold and give him a healthy raise to boot.

Montreal Canadiens sign defenseman Karl Alzner (five years, $4.65 million AAV). The Canadiens land themselves a quality replacement for Alexei Emelin, who was plucked away by Vegas in the expansion draft. The 28-year-old Alzner is a durable, physical shutdown defender. The Habs got him for a reasonable deal.

Dallas Stars sign center Martin Hanzal (three years, $4.75 million AAV). The 6’6”, 226-pounder brings size and two-way skills at center for the Stars. However, he also has a long injury history and only two 40-point seasons on his resume. The salary’s a little pricey but the Stars didn’t saddle themselves with a lengthy term.

Carolina Hurricanes sign right wing Justin Williams (two years, $4.5 million AAV). Williams, 35, returns to the team where he won his first Stanley Cup in 2006. He gets a nice pay raise over the $3.25 million per season of his previous two-year deal. Despite his age, he remains a reliable second-line right wing. The rebuilding Canes should benefit from his skills and leadership.

Nashville Predators sign center Nick Bonino (four years, $4.1 million AAV) and left wing Scott Hartnell (one year, $1 million AAV). Bonino’s two championship seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins bolstered his free-agent value. The Pred needed two-way depth at center and willingly ponied up for him. This move likely means they’re out of the bidding for Avalanche center Matt Duchene.

The Predators also shipped Colin Wilson to the Colorado Avalanche to make room for Hartnell, who was recently bought out by Columbus. He’s returning to the club where his NHL career began. While the 35-year-old is in decline, he could be a worthwhile checking-line depth addition for the Preds.

Winnipeg Jets sign goaltender Steve Mason (two years, $4.1 million AAV) and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (three years, $4.33 million AAV). Mason’s earning the same annual cap hit as he did on his previous three-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Jets needed an experienced goalie to carry the bulk of the workload until promising Connor Hellebuyck is ready for the full-time starter’s job. As with former Jets starter Ondrej Pavelec, however, consistency is an issue for Mason.

Kulikov, meanwhile, hopes to get his career back on track after a back injury hampered him during his brief tenure with the Buffalo Sabres. When healthy, he’s a mobile, big-minute defender. But if his back woes flare up again, this could become a costly error for the Jets.

Vancouver Canucks sign forward Sam Gagner (three years, $3.1 million AAV) and defenseman Michael Del Zotto (two years, $3 million AAV). Gagner’s 50-point bounce-back performance last season with the Blue Jackets earns him a big raise over his one-year, $650K deal in 2016-17. If he can maintain his usual 40-point production, he could provide a decent boost to the Canucks offense.

Del Zotto, meanwhile, takes a bit of a pay cut for two seasons in Vancouver. He’ll provide the retooling Canucks with experienced puck-moving depth, buying time to allow their younger rearguards to develop.

Tampa Bay Lightning sign defenseman Dan Girardi (two years, $3 million AAV) and winger Chris Kunitz (one year, $2 million). The Bolts get older, but perhaps not necessarily better. They sought an experienced top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot. However, the 33-year-old Girardi has a lot of miles on him and has lost a step or two. That’s one reason the Rangers bought him out.

Same goes for Kunitz, who’s also getting $1 million in bonus money. He helped the Penguins win three Stanley Cup titles since 2009 but saw his production decline over the past two years. Yzerman’s taking a couple of gambles here, but at least they’re affordable and only short term.

Toronto Maple Leafs sign defenseman Ron Hainsey (two years, $3 million AAV). Hainsey reached the playoffs last season for the first time in his career, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup. The Leafs expect he’ll bring experienced depth to their defense corps, but it remains to be seen how much the 36-year-old has left in the tank.

Philadelphia Flyers sign goaltender Brian Elliott (two years, $2.75 million AAV). After washing out with the Calgary Flames last season, the 32-year-old Elliott will try to get his career as an NHL starter back on track with the Flyers. His deal is a reasonable one, but he’s unlikely to end the Flyers’ seemingly never-ending carousel of mediocre goaltending.

Florida Panther sign right wing Radim Vrbata (one year, bonus-laden contract, $2.5 million base salary). The 36-year-old Vrbata will replace now-departed winger Jaromir Jagr. He was the Coyotes’ leading scorer last season with 55 points and could be a decent short-term addition to the Panthers’ scoring lines.

Los Angeles Kings sign winger Mike Cammalleri (one year, $1 million AAV). After being bought out by the New Jersey Devils, Cammalleri returns to the city his NHL career began. The 35-year-old still has a decent scoring touch, but injuries in recent years have limited his effectiveness.

Chicago Blackhawks sign winger Patrick Sharp (one year, $800k AAV). The 35-year-old tallied 20 goals and 55 points in 2015-16 but injuries limited him to just 18 points last season. Having recovered from hip surgery, perhaps a return to Chicago, where he had his best seasons, can help him regain to form. It’s an affordable risk for the cap-strapped Blackhawks.

 











Notable NHL Free Agent Signings – July 1, 2017

Notable NHL Free Agent Signings – July 1, 2017

New York Rangers sign Kevin Shattenkirk to a four-year contract.

The NHL free-agent period opened at noon ET today. Here’s a look at the day’s notable signings thus far. Analysis of the most noteworthy signings will follow later today in my Soapbox section.

Pittsburgh Penguins re-sign defenseman Justin Schultz to a three-year contract worth $5.5 million per season. 

San Jose Sharks have reportedly re-signed center Joe Thornton to a one-year, $6.5 million contract. 

Tampa Bay Lightning sign winger Chris Kunitz to a one-year, $2 million contract. 

Anaheim Ducks signed goaltender Ryan Miller to a two-year deal worth $2 million annually. 

Los Angeles Kings sign winger Mike Cammalleri to a one-year, bonus-laden contract with a $1 million base salary. 

Anaheim Ducks re-sign defenseman Cam Fowler to an eight-year, $52-million contract extension. The deal kicks in on July 1, 2018. 

San Jose Sharks re-signed defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to an eight-year, $56 million contract extension and re-up goaltender Martin Jones to a six-year, $34.5 million extension.  Both deals commence on July 1, 2018. 

Pittsburgh Penguins sign goaltender Antti Niemi to a one-year, $750K contract. 

Buffalo Sabres sign goaltender Chad Johnson to a one-year, $2.5 million contract. 

Carolina Hurricanes sign winger Justin Williams to a two-year, $9 million contract.  

Pittsburgh Penguins sign defenseman Matt Hunwick to a three-year, $6.75 million contract. 

Winnipeg Jets sign goaltender Steve Mason to a two-year deal worth $4.1 million per season. 

Buffalo Sabres signed winger Benoit Pouliot to a one-year, $1.15 million contract. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed defenseman Dan Girardi to a two-year deal worth $3 million per season. 

The Detroit Red Wings signed defenseman Trevor Daley to a three-year, $9.5 million contract. 

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports defenseman Dmitry Kulikov is heading to the Winnipeg Jets. Three years, $4.33 million AAV.

Center Brian Boyle is reportedly heading to the New Jersey Devils on a two-year deal. (Update: It’s two years, $5.5 million)

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Toronto Maple Leafs are signing defenseman Ron Hainsey to a two-year deal. (Update: $3 million per season. )

TSN’S Darren Dreger reports center Nick Bonino is joining the Nashville Predators. Four years, $4.1 million AAV.

NBC SPORTS cites a report from NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes saying the New York Rangers signed defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to a four-year deal worth $6.9 million per season.  TSN’s Frank Seravalli, however, reports Shattenkirk’s agent calls this premature, claiming his client is still considering his options. 

TSN contributor Aaron Ward reports hearing  the Montreal Canadiens have agreed to a five-year contract with defenseman Karl Alzner worth roughly $4.5 million annually. (Update: It’s a five-year, $23-million contract. $4.6 million AAV).

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports it looks like the Vancouver Canucks will sign forward Sam Gagner (three years, $3.15 million per). Defenseman Michael Del Zotto (two years, $3 million) goaltender Anders Nilsson (two years, $2.5 million AAV) and forward Alex Burmistrov are also expected to join the Canucks. 

 Winger Patrick Sharp is rejoining the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s reportedly a one-year, $1 million contract. ($800K base salary, $200K in bonuses).

Center Martin Hanzal is expected to join the Dallas Stars. (Update: Three years, $4.75 million annually). 

Goaltender Jonathan Bernier is joining the Colorado Avalanche. (Update: Two years, $2.75 million per season)

Goalie Ondrej Pavelec is heading to the New York Rangers. (Update: One year, $1.3 million). 

 











NHL Rumor Mill – June 30, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – June 30, 2017

Could the Buffalo Sabres or New Jersey Devils try to land free-agent defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk?

On the eve of free agency, here’s a look at the latest on the notable potential UFAs in your NHL rumor mill. 

NJ.COM: Chris Ryan cites TSN’s Pierre LeBrun speculating the New Jersey Devils could make the highest offer for UFA defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. The Tampa Bay Lightning are also linked to Shattenkirk. The Leafs, Rangers, Sabres and Golden Knights could also be among his suitors. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Shattenkirk wants the big bucks, signing with rebuilding teams carrying lots of salary-cap space (Sabres, Devils) are his best bet. If he hopes to land with a playoff contender, however, I believe he’ll have to accept less money. 

CSN BAY AREA: Kevin Kurz reports forwards Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau haven’t closed the door on re-signing with the San Jose Sharks. However, there’s no indication the Sharks are close to a deal with either guy. The Los Angeles Kings are reportedly interested in Thornton, and he could also draw interest from “other teams like the Rangers, Blues, Predators, Penguins or Maple Leafs.” Marleau, meanwhile, was linked to “Ducks, Predators, Maple Leafs and Flames.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton and Marleau could indeed move on, but I also think they’re using this situation as leverage in contract talks with the Sharks. Wouldn’t surprise me if they field the best offers and then return to the Sharks to see if they’ll match. Both obviously prefer finishing their careers in San Jose. If they move on, however, their preference could be signing with clubs as close to San Jose as possible. 

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports defenseman Trevor Daley may be close to signing with the Detroit Red Wings while Dan Girardi could have a deal in place with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Regarding this summer’s notable UFA goalies, he predicts Chad Johnson signs with the Buffalo Sabres, Brian Elliott head to the Philadelphia Flyers, Steve Mason joins the Winnipeg Jets, Ryan Miller heads to the Anaheim Ducks, Antti Niemi inks with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anders Nilsson could land with the Vancouver Canucks. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins are indeed in the market for a veteran backup goaltender. Maybe they sign Niemi if the price is right. He really struggled in Dallas but perhaps he can regain his form in Pittsburgh. 

TSN: Reports out of Russia indicate winger Ilya Kovalchuk is meeting with KHL team SKA St. Petersburg. Kovalchuk has expressed interest in returning to the NHL if a sign-and-trade deal can be worked out with the New Jersey Devils, who still own his NHL rights. Pierre LeBrun reports Kovalchuk is merely keeping his options open in both leagues. He must wait until July 1 to sign with the Devils in order to be traded to another NHL club. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Kovalchuk will return to the NHL and he could be donning a Blue Jacket. Columbus team president John Davidson recently acknowledged his team’s interest in the veteran winger and they cleared some cap space yesterday with their buyout of left wing Scott Hartnell. 

Washington Capitals pending UFA winger Justin Williams is attracting considerable attention. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports up to 10 teams have spoken with him. He believes the Dallas Stars could be among the suitors. Newsday’s Arthur Staple said the New York Islanders could have interest. Chuck Gormley sees him signing with the Maple Leafs. The Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning could also kick the tires on Williams. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite his age (35), Williams remains an effective second-line right wing. Given the lack of quality depth in this summer’s UFA market, he won’t have any problem landing with a new NHL team. I’d add the Montreal Canadiens to that list of destinations, especially if they lose Alexander Radulov to free agency. 

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey reports the Penguins could hit the trade market to find a replacement for center Nick Bonino if he departs tomorrow via free agency. As many as 10 teams (including the Columbus Blue Jackets) have reportedly expressed interest in Bonino. Mackey doubts the Penguins will overpay to add a free-agent center such as Joe Thornton, Martin Hanzal or David Desharnais. He notes a rumor linking the Penguins to Colorado’s Matt Duchene, but “if you’re not going to pay Bonino $4 million, how much sense does it make to pay Duchene $6 million?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mackey sees the Penguins make a low-key deal like the one they made two years ago when they acquired Bonino from the Vancouver Canucks. While I wouldn’t fully dismiss a possible dip into the UFA pool, I agree that the trade market is likely the better route to address Bonino’s potential departure. 

BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy reports trade speculation regarding Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella continues to bubble. The Bruins are among the clubs linked to Scandella, who has three years remaining on his contract worth $4 million annually. His addition, however, could thwart the development of young blueliners within the Bruins system. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I get the sense the Bruins want to add a veteran left-handed d-man to their blueline. They’ll have to balance that addition with the youngsters in their system. If they add a free agent it could be to an affordable short-term deal that can be easily moved if one or two kids play their away onto the roster. 

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2017

San Jose Sharks veteran forwards (and pending UFAs) Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau attracting interest from rival clubs.

Updates on Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Jaromir Jagr and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

CSN BAY AREA: The Los Angeles Kings reportedly consider San Jose Sharks center a “priority” if he hits the unrestricted free agent market on July 1. 

THE ATHLETIC.com’s Craig Custance reports “Toronto, Anaheim, NYR, SJ, Carolina, Nashville, LA ” are all in the mix for Sharks forward and pending UFA Patrick Marleau.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite their ages (37) it’s apparent Thornton and Marleau remain enticing to general managers from rival clubs.  Neither player will get lucrative long-term offers but could receive two-year deals. 

NBC SPORTS: The Florida Panthers want to bring back 45-year-old right wing Jaromir Jagr, but for slightly less than the $4 million he earned last season. 

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports the Tampa Bay Lightning apparently expressed interest in former New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi, who was bought out of his contract earlier this month. 

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports hearing a dozen teams have reached out to Calgary Flames pending UFA winger Kris Versteeg. The Flames remain in discussions to bring him back.

SPORTSNET: Columbus Blue Jackets team president John Davidson acknowledged his club has interest in acquiring New Jersey Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who is interested in returning to the NHL after spending the last four seasons in Russia. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once Kovalchuk signs a new contract on July 1, the Devils can trade him if they wish. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers re-signed Eric Gryba to a two-year deal worth $900K annually. 

CALGARY SUN:  The Flames signed highly-prized college free-agent prospect Spencer Foo, who was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. 

ARIZONA SPORTS/AZCENTRAL.COM: The Coyotes received permission to speak with former Edmonton Oilers coach Todd Nelson. They’ve also parted ways with associate coach Jim Playfair. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres development coach Randy Cunneyworth and scouts Jon Christiano and Kevin Prendergast.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes re-signed forward Patrick Brown to a one-year, two-way contract. 

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks allowed forward Dennis Rasmussen to depart via free agency.