NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 14, 2020

A roundup of notable news from the opening day of Phase 3 training camp, including the latest on Auston Matthews, David Pastrnak, Corey Crawford, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: The league revealed a total of 30 positive COVID-19 tests from 4,934 tests administered to over 600 players taking part in the Phase 2 voluntary training period (June 8 to July 12). They’re also aware of an additional 13 players who tested positive outside the Phase 2 training. All players who tested positive were/have been self-isolated and followed CDC and Health Canada protocols.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league will continue testing players in Phase 3 and will release weekly updates. Bear in mind this doesn’t mean all the players with positive tests remain sidelined. A number of them may have already recovered. 

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews confirmed he tested positive for COVID-19 last month. He said he was asymptomatic during his two weeks of self-quarantine at his Arizona home and is now fully healthy. Matthews indicated he couldn’t really pinpoint how and when he contracted the virus.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews remains the only player to be publicly identified as testing positive for the Coronavirus.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were missing from the opening day of Bruins’ training camp. Their absence was due to their quarantine period since returning from the Czech Republic. They’re expected to join their teammates within the next couple of days.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford missed practice yesterday and was declared “unfit to play” by head coach Jeremy Colliton. Under the NHL’s return-to-play protocols, the Blackhawks cannot disclose the reason behind Crawford’s absence or how long he’ll be away. Center Zack Smith (back injury) was also absent. 

TSN: Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw opted out of participating in the return-to-play plan to recover from ongoing concussion symptoms. He hopes to return to action for the 2020-21 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deadline for opting out was 5:30 pm ET yesterday.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko and forward Robert Bortuzzo were absent from practice yesterday. General manager Doug Armstrong said he expects the duo will return soon.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Patric Hornqvist is among 11 players absent from Penguins practice yesterday The others include forwards Anthony Angello, Adam Johnson, Sam Miletic, Sam Poulin, Phil Varone, defensemen Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Juuso Riikola, goaltenders Casey DeSmith, Alex D’Orio, and Emil Larmi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nine of the players were reportedly sidelined because of exposure with a person who has been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, though the teams didn’t identify them as per league protocols. They won’t be participating in practices until they’ve passed additional screenings. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi and forward Colton Sissons weren’t with the main group at practice but skated earlier in the day.

THE ATHLETIC: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland was listed as unfit to play yesterday. It’s believed linked to post-concussion symptoms related to a head injury suffered nine months ago.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Martin Necas was the notable absence from the Carolina Hurricanes practice yesterday.

THE ATHLETIC’s Arpon Basu updated his story on three Montreal Canadiens reportedly testing positive for COVID-19, indicating two of those players tested were false positives.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: reported Brett Kulak, Xavier Ouellet, and Josh Brook missed practice yesterday. Max Domi is taking 7-10 days to decide if he’ll rejoin his teammates because he’s a type-1 diabetic with celiac disease.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Caleb Jones was listed unfit to play with the main group yesterday, but would skate with a smaller group working with extra goaltenders.

CALGARY SUN: Flames forwards Dillon Dube and Buddy Robinson were absent from yesterday’s practice.

TSN: Florida Panthers assistant coach Mike Kitchen opted out of the return-to-play plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We better get used to this lack of information regarding the absence of players throughout the return-to-play plan. Don’t be surprised if this trend continues beyond the return-to-play period. It could make one yearn for the days when a player was absent because of an “upper-body” or “lower-body” injury.

CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gotisbehere underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during the league’s hiatus. He was at training camp yesterday but admitted he’s not fully 100 percent.

TSN: Speaking of the Flyers, Nolan Patrick remains sidelined with a migraine disorder. He’s not expected to participate in the return-to-play plan.


MONTREAL GAZETTE/NEW YORK POST/TWINCITIES.COM: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov, New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin, and Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov signed their entry-level contracts (ELC) yesterday. They’re allowed to practice with their new clubs but cannot participate in the upcoming playoff tournament in Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan. They will also burn off the first year of their ELCs.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild removed the interim label from head coach Dean Evason’s title, signing him to a two-year contract extension.

SPORTSNET: Mikhail Grigorenko is returning to the NHL in 2020-21, signing a one-year, $1.2-million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He spent the past three seasons in the KHL.

TORONTO SUN: Canadian broadcasters are unhappy over NBC Sports serving as the world feed for all NHL games played in the hub city of Toronto. Sportsnet will provide the world feed for the hub city of Edmonton. The Stanley Cup Final, to be held in Edmonton, will have Canadian and American feeds for the individual rights-holders.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 21, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 21, 2020

Brendan Shanahan and Bill Guerin remain optimistic the season will resume, the latest on Chris Kreider, the league rejects the Blue Jackets’ signing Mikhail Grigorenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan believes the sidelined NHL 2019-20 season could resume at some point in the coming months. He indicated there’s plenty of determination between team owners and players to return to action, but he also stressed it would be determined by having health care services becoming better prepared to cope with and contain the coronavirus.

Nevertheless, Shanahan feels the NHL has more flexibility to resume its schedule than most people realize. “I don’t really believe stories of these crazy neutral sites. I still always think if we’re going to do this it’s going to be in a hockey market. A market where the infrastructure for putting on hockey and hockey games is available.” Shanahan doubts the season would resume with fans in attendance, but feels there would be an appetite for games on television.

NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin also believes the season will resume in empty arenas later this year. “The bottom line is, we’re not doing anything unless it’s safe for everybody. And if it is, I think we will, and I think it would be the right thing to do. It’ll be a little unusual, a little unorthodox, but that’s OK. If we just wrap our arms around it and accept it, it will be fine. Once we start playing hockey, you play hockey.”

New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider is recovering well from a foot fracture (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Critics will consider Shanahan’s and Guerin’s comments as wishful thinking. Perhaps it is, but it reflects the genuine desire among the league and the NHL Players’ Association to complete the season, award the Stanley Cup, and recoup some of their lost revenue. The course of the coronavirus, however, remains the determining factor.

ESPN.COM: New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider said his recovery from a foot fracture is going well. He anticipates he’ll be ready to return to the lineup if the NHL season resumes this summer.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blues Jackets signing Mikhail Grigorenko to a one-year, $1.2- million contract yesterday was rejected by the NHL Central Registry. The Jackets issued a statement indicating it was due to a misunderstanding over the window for filing contracts. “We have been in contact with the league and Dan Milstein, Grigorenko’s agent, and the contract will be re-filed on July 1.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grigorenko finished his contract with the KHL’s CSKA Moscow and is considered an unrestricted free agent. However, the Jackets cannot officially sign him until July 1, which is when the league’s free-agent period begins. That date could change depending on whether the league resumes its season this summer. Grigorenko could sign with another NHL club, but I think he’ll stick with the Jackets as they refile in July or later this summer.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford indicated everyone in his club’s various hockey operations departments have been regularly discussing contingency plans for the remainder of the season, including the draft and free agency. He said they’ve been talking four or five days a week.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes have held calls with their players to review the season and looking ahead. “We had 15, 20 minutes per guy, talking,” said head coach Rick Tocchet. “It’s not exit meetings because I still believe that we’re going to play in the next couple months, I’m trying to be optimistic. But I think it’s important that you stay connected with the team. I know it’s a little harder to do that.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I suspect every club is doing the same as the Penguins and Coyotes. Talking to their players while the hockey ops map out its plans for resuming the season and the off-season.

TSN: The Ottawa Senators hired Anthony LeBlanc as their president of business operations. The former Blackberry executive served as president, chief executive officer and alternate governor of the Arizona Coyotes from 2013 to 2017. LeBlanc replaced Jim Little, who was fired six weeks ago after less than two months on the job followed a heated disagreement with team owner Eugene Melnyk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best of luck ot LeBlanc in his new job. He’s gonna need it.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 4, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 4, 2017

Washington Capitals sign winger Devante Smith-Pelly to a one-year deal.

Collection of recent signings and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

Alexander Radulov inking a five-year contract with the Dallas Stars dominated yesterday’s free-agent signings. Here’s a look at several others. 

Two former New Jersey Devils landed with new teams yesterday. WGR 550 reports the Buffalo Sabres signed center Jacob Josefson to a one-year contract ($700K). CSN MIDATLANTIC reports the Washington Capitals signed winger Devante Smith-Pelly to a one-year, two-way contract worth $650K at the NHL level. 

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings re-signed defenseman Xavier Ouellet to a two-year deal worth $1.25 million per season. 

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-sign defenseman Mike Reilly to a two-year, $1.45 million contract. 

NBC SPORTS: The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed blueliner Slater Koekkoek to a one-year, $800K deal. 

PUCK DADDY Greg Wyshynski reports Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan had no plans to buy out Brooks Orpik’s contract. 

CSN BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks hired Rob Zettler as an assistant coach. 

TSN: Former Colorado Avalanche center Mikhail Grigorenko has reportedly signed a three-year contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow. 


Latest on the Flyers, Lightning and Avalanche – April 13, 2017

Latest on the Flyers, Lightning and Avalanche – April 13, 2017

Could the Philadelphia Flyers bring back Steve Mason?

Steve Mason open to re-signing with the Philadelphia Flyers plus a look at possible offseason moves by the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche. 

 CSNPHILLY.COM: Tim Panaccio recently reported goaltender Steve Mason is open to re-signing with the Philadelphia Flyers, but prefers a quick decision from the club. Mason is an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He also told Flyers general manager Ron Hextall he doesn’t believe the club’s current system of platooning their goaltenders is working and wants no part of it if he returns. 

PHILLY.COM: Mike Sielski reports Mason indicated Hextall left the door open for his possible return, but the goalie hopes they reach a decision quickly and not string him along through the summer. The Flyers have several issues to consider regarding their goaltending, including the salary cap and which goalie to protect in the June expansion draft. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be surprised if the Flyers bring back Mason. I expect Hextall will be busy in the trade market in the final two weeks of June. He could target teams that risk losing a goalie to the expansion draft, such as the New York Rangers (Antti Raanta) or Washington Capitals (Philipp Grubauer). He could also acquire the contract rights for a pending UFA, such as the LA Kings’ Ben Bishop or Chicago Blackhawks’ Scott Darling, in hopes of re-signing them before July 1, 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith recently examined possible offseason moves by the Tampa Bay Lightning. They have three key restricted agents to re-sign (Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat) and around $18 million in salary-cap space. GM Steve Yzerman said he expects to re-sign the trio. They will lose a player to the expansion draft in June.

Smith also speculated they’ll continue their search for a top-four defenseman via the trade market. He suggested they could speak to the Nashville Predators regarding Ryan Ellis or possibly target one of the Anaheim Ducks’ young defensemen. Yzerman must also add a backup goalie (possibly by re-signing Peter Budaj) and filling out the bottom-six forward spots. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman’s done a fine job convincing his key free agents to re-sign for usually less than market value. I expect he’ll re-sign Drouin to an affordable two- or three-year bridge deal with the promise of long-term riches after that.

Johnson and Palat, however, both have arbitration rights. Each earned over $3 million annually on their current contracts and will seek substantial raises. The rise of young center Brayden Point could turn Johnson into a possible trade candidate. It could take someone like Johnson to land the right-handed top-four rearguard they seek. 

THE DENVER POST: Terry Frei recently looked at what could be in store this summer for the Colorado Avalanche. Unless ownership cleans house, Joe Sakic will remain as general manager and Jared Bednar will return as head coach. Frei expected restricted free agents Nikita Zadorov and Sven Andrighetto will be re-signed but felt it’s time to part ways with Mikhail Grigorenko. He doubted Patrick Wiercioch and Matt Nieto will be back. Pending UFAs Fedor Tyutin, John Mitchell, Cody Goloubef and Rene Bourque won’t be back.

Committing to a youth movement would mean buying out the final season of veteran blueliner Francois Beauchemin’s contract. “Because of his age, the Avs still would be on the hook for his entire salary and it wouldn’t provide any cap relief, but it would open a roster spot,” wrote Frei. Disappointing forward Joe Colborne could also be a buyout candidate.

He considered oft-injured goalie Semyon Varlamov untradeable and doubted the Vegas Golden Knights will select him if left unprotected in the expansion draft. Frei also considered Carl Soderberg’s contract ($4.75 million cap hit) as their biggest contract albatross but a buyout would stretch six years. 

Mike Chambers recently reported University of Denver defenseman and Colorado Avalanche prospect Will Butcher isn’t interested in signing an entry-level deal with the club yet. The 22-year-old wanted to speak with his parents, as well as Sakic, before deciding on when he’ll sign a new contract.

Chambers suggested Butcher could become the second straight Hobey Baker Award winner not to sign with the NHL club that drafted him. Jimmy Vesey last summer decided not to sign with the Nashville Predators, forcing them to trade his rights to the Buffalo Sabres. He ultimately opted for unrestricted free agency and signed with the New York Rangers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Frei didn’t get into the possibility of Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog being shopped this summer, preferring instead to focus on other potential moves. A buyout of Beauchemin or Colborne is possible. A recent report out of Denver claims the Avs intend to protect Varlamov. If Butcher won’t sign, Sakic could end up peddling his rights. Perhaps he could toss him into a package deal along with Duchene or Landeskog in hopes of swinging a blockbuster move.