NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 3, 2021

Mika Zibanejad and Victor Olofsson start training camp on the sidelines, Travis Hamonic signs PTO with the Canucks and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: cites the New York Post’s Larry Brooks reporting Mika Zibanejad is listed as day-to-day and won’t be taking to the ice for the Rangers’ first practice session on Monday. No word as to what’s ailing the 27-year-old center.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad listed as day-to-day (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zibanejad is the Rangers’ first-line center. He tallied a career-high 41 goals and 75 points in 57 games last season.

CBS SPORTS: Buffalo Sabres winger Victor Olofsson exited practice yesterday with an apparent arm injury after crashing into the net during a one-on-one drill. No details this morning as to the 25-year-old Swede’s condition but he’s considered day-to-day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres are also without captain Jack Eichel, who’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

TSN’S Rick Dhaliwal this morning tweeted former Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic will join the Vancouver Canucks in training camp on a professional tryout offer. Dhaliwal wonders how the Canucks will fit him in under their limited cap space if he makes the club. He also indicated they stopped calling the agent for free-agent defenseman Sami Vatanen two days ago.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamonic would be a welcome addition to the Canucks’ blueline. Cap Friendly shows the Canucks sitting above the $81.5 million salary cap by just over $1.5 million. However, they could get some cap relief if winger Micheal Ferland’s ongoing post-concussion symptoms keep him on the sidelines to start the season.

Placing Ferland on long-term injury reserve to start the season would give the Canucks about $2 million in wiggle room, enough to ink Hamonic to a cost-effective one-year deal. They could also free up additional space if necessary by placing a player on waivers and putting him on their taxi squad.

OTTAWA SUN: Following Germany’s elimination Saturday from the 2021 World Junior Championships, winger Tim Stuetzle headed to Ottawa to join the Senators. He’ll join his new teammates following a week of quarantine and four negative COVID-19 tests.

The Senators will be playing without a captain again this season, but they named Thomas Chabot, Erik Gudbranson and Brady Tkachuk as their three alternates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stuetzle was dazzling at the WJC, showing the world why he was such a coveted prospect in this year’s draft. If he adjusts well to the NHL game, the Senators will have a potential superstar in their midst.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators brought back defenseman Yannick Weber on a professional tryout offer. Weber played with the Predators from 2016-17 to 2019-20 before becoming an unrestricted free agent.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 1, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 1, 2021

The Blue Jackets signed Pierre-Luc Dubois but trade rumors persist, plus the latest on the Senators in the first NHL rumor mill of 2021.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline cites colleague Pierre LeBrun yesterday reporting a few NHL clubs were made aware that Pierre-Luc Dubois is looking at a change of scenery after just three seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dubois and the Jackets yesterday reached an agreement on a two-year, $10 million contract.

Despite re-signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets, there’s speculation Pierre-Luc Dubois wants to be traded (NHL Images).

Neither general manager Jarmo Kekalainen or Dubois’ agent would comment on the young center’s rumored request for a trade. Portzline cites a source claiming the relationship between Dubois and the organization changed during contract negotiations in the fall.

The Jackets apparently wanted a long-term contract but Dubois sought a short-term deal that would allow management sufficient time to trade him for a return commensurate with his value. It also keeps Dubois from being locked-in long term with the Jackets.

Dubois didn’t sign an offer sheet but Portzline indicates he did speak with other clubs. It was in those discussions that his desire to leave Columbus became clear.

Portzline suggests Kekalainen’s tendency to take a hard line in contract talks with young players has the consequence of damaging the relationship between the two sides. He cites former Jackets Ryan Johansen and Josh Anderson as notable examples.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll probably learn more in the coming days from various league insiders over Dubois’ situation, especially regarding the teams he spoke with during his contract negotiations. It’s also been suggested Dubois might not have the best relationship with head coach John Tortorella, who has a reputation as a tough-minded bench boss.

Whatever the reason, Dubois could become a subject of interest in the rumor mill over the course of this season. If there is friction between the center and Kekalainen and/or Tortorella, it could result in his departure via trade this year or next for a player of equal or potentially better value.

Kekalainen could make a one-for-one deal involving Dubois. He shipped Johansen to Nashville for defenseman Seth Jones in a move that proved to be a winner for the Jackets. Anderson was dealt in October to Montreal for Max Domi. Time will tell which club got the better of that move.

OTTAWA SUN: Earlier this week, Ken Warren examined how the recent moves by the Senators have created a logjam at center and on defense. The additions of Derek Stepan and Cedric Paquette gives them five centers. Because there’s limited room to move a center to the wing, Warren suggested moving on from Artem Anisimov. He also believes they’ll have to make a decision on Logan Brown, who’s heading into his third pro season trying to win a permanent spot on the roster.

Warren also pointed out it’s a packed house on the blueline, “with Thomas Chabot, Nikita Zaitsev, Erik Gudbranson, Braydon Coburn, Mike Reilly, Josh Brown, Christian Wolanin, Erik Brannstrom, Artem Zub, Lassi Thomson and Christian Jaros all searching for playing time.” He speculates some of the veterans could be moved by the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Warren believes it could be difficult moving Anisimov because he’s slowed and there might not be many takers for the $1.5 million in actual salary remaining on his contract. Perhaps not now, but he could draw some interest from a playoff contender leading up to the Apr. 12 trade deadline. I expect pending UFA blueliners like Gudbranson, Coburn or Reilly could also hit the trade block later in the season.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 20, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 20, 2020

Some recent Bruins and Senators speculation in today’s NHL rumor roundup.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty was asked if there’s any truth to recent rumors linking the Bruins to Mike Hoffman. While Haggerty believes the Bruins could be interested in the free-agent winger he doesn’t believe they’re close to signing him unless he’s willing to accept a one-year, $3.5 million contract. They only have $3.6 million in cap space.

Hoffman reportedly seeks a one-year deal starting at $5.5 million. Haggerty feels he could get something in the $5 million range from somebody. He acknowledged the Bruins could put sidelined winger David Pastrnak on long-term injury reserve to start the season to free up sufficient wiggle room to sign Hoffman. However, he doesn’t see them going that route with Pastrnak due to return in February.

No truth to a rumor linking Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin to the Boston Bruins (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Hoffman agrees to a more affordable salary or the Bruins make a cost-cutting deal, I don’t see him suiting up for Boston this season. I still think their priority is addressing the left side of their blueline.

Haggerty cites colleague Jimmy Murphy shooting down a rumor suggesting the Bruins ship winger Ondrej Kase to the Calgary Flames for defenseman Noah Hanifin. Murphy indicates that rumor was an idea proposed by a reporter and not actually discussed by the Bruins and Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That proposal would certainly help the Bruins shore up the depth on the left side of their blueline. However, it makes no sense for the Flames.

Kase has one 20-goal season during his short, injury-ravaged NHL career. He really struggled to adjust with the Bruins after they acquired him from the Anaheim Ducks last season, with one assist in six regular-season games and four assists in 11 playoff contests.

THE ATHLETIC: Hailey Salvian was recently asked in a mailbag segment who she thought would become the first Ottawa Senators player to be traded this season. She observed they have five potential unrestricted free agents, which are the type of players typically moved before the trade deadline.

She points out goaltender Anders Nilsson is battling concussion issues, defenseman Erik Gudbranson carries a big cap hit ($4 million) for what he brings to the ice, while forward Artem Anisimov also has a significant cap hit ($4.45 million) and struggled with injuries last season.

That leaves Alex Galchenyuk and Mike Reilly. The latter could be the most likely trade candidate as he’s shown he can be a capable puck-moving defenseman with the Senators. Galcheyuk could also attract some interest if he had a good offensive season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We shouldn’t rule out Gudbranson or Anisimov also becoming trade candidates near the deadline. Much will depend upon their performances this season but they could be enticing to a playoff contender.

Everyone writes off Gudbranson’s value but teams still keep trading for him. I can see him landing with a playoff contender if the Sens agree to pick up part of his cap hit. A healthy season could make Anisimov worthwhile as an experienced depth forward.

The Senators won’t get much for any of those UFAs. Nevertheless, they will get some draft picks they can stockpile for off-season deals with cap-strapped clubs.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 28, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 28, 2020

The latest on Colton Parayko, Dylan Strome, Erik Gudbranson, and Jaromir Jagr plus speculation on when the 2020-21 season might begin in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo believes Colton Parayko is ready to still up and fill his spot on the St. Louis Blues. Pietrangelo, who signed a seven-year deal with the Golden Knights last month, believes his former teammate has what it takes to become the leader of the Blues’ defense corps. The Blues haven’t indicated yet what Parayko’s role will be but the 27-year-old blueliner said he’s looking forward to the challenge.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Parayko will have some big skates to fill. How well he adjusts to replacing Pietrangelo on the Blues’ top defense pairing will determine how the Blues perform in their own zone next season.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope reports the Blackhawks still plan to re-sign restricted free agent center Dylan Strome. One reason for the holdup could be due to Strome’s now-former agent, Mark Guy, left the hockey industry this week.

OTTAWA SUN: Ottawa native Erik Gudbranson is happy to be playing in his hometown after being recently acquired by the Senators. He and his wife are expecting their first child in March and are pleased to be close to family. Gudbranson is also looking forward to playing for what he considers a “really good, up-and-coming hockey team” in Ottawa.

NEW YORK POST: Former NHL great and future Hall-of-Famer Jaromir Jagr doesn’t want the pandemic to get in the way of his hockey planers. The 48-year-old winger hopes to continue playing for one more season in the Czech Republic with Kladno, the club which he is also the majority owner.

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman and Chris Johnston yesterday shared their thoughts on when they felt the 2020-21 NHL season might begin.

Return-to-play talks between the NHL and NHLPA cooled recently over the league’s requests for an increase in escrow and salary deferral rates. Nevertheless, Friedman believes the two sides will eventually work things out. He feels it would be disastrous for the owners and players if the NHL doesn’t play this season while other sports leagues (such as the NBA) are carrying on with their respective schedules.

Johnston said the players and coaches are preparing as though training camp could start on Dec. 15 but they want some clarity over when the season might begin. He feels the owners and players must start discussions soon.

Friedman postulates training camp could be shorter than we’re used to, suggesting it could be 10 days instead of 14 without exhibition games since the league can’t make money off them without fans. The players are already in good shape and ramping up in anticipation of camp. He also thinks there won’t be as many players invited to camp compared to previous years. If some players returning to Canadian teams miss the start of training camp because they have to quarantine for 14 days the teams may just have to live with it.

Johnston thinks it could take up to four weeks from the time an agreement is reached to when they drop the puck on the season. Friedman’s “educated guess” is the players are brought in right after Christmas and the puck drops between Jan 6 – 8.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A return-to-play on New Year’s Day or early January is possible if the NHL and NHLPA are willing to be flexible with the training-camp period. For now, discussions between the two sides have stalled for over a week. That could soon change coming out of the American Thanksgiving long weekend and the calendar flipping to December.

Many pundits maintain there’s a mutual desire among the NHL leadership and the players to stage a shortened season as soon as possible, with Jan. 1 often mentioned as the target date. The longer this stalemate between the two sides over escrow and salary deferral rates drags on, the less likely we’ll see a puck drop in early January.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 9, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 9, 2020

The Jets are reportedly close to acquiring Paul Stastny, Justin Williams retires, the Canadiens re-sign Josh Anderson, the Devils buy out Cory Schneider, and much more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck cites sources claiming the Jets are working on a trade that would bring Paul Stastny back to Winnipeg. Stastny was briefly part of the Jets in 2017-18, helping them reach the Western Conference Final before signing with the Vegas Golden Knights as a free agent. It’s believed the Jets will take on his full $6.5 million salary-cap hit on the final year of his three-year contract, with the two clubs also swapping draft picks.

**UPDATE** TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Stastny to Winnipeg for a 2022 fourth rounder and defenseman Carl Dahlstrom

Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Stastny could return to the Winnipeg Jets (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bringing back Stastny could address the Jets’ need for a second-line center. That suggests sidelined center Bryan Little’s status for next season remains in doubt while putting to rest the trade speculation swirling about winger Patrik Laine.

It will also signal the Golden Knights are shedding salary to be busy in the free-agent market, which opens at noon ET today. The move could also be an indicator of the difficulty the Golden Knights are having trying to move goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in a cost-cutting deal.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Justin Williams announced his retirement yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Williams and his family in his future endeavors. He spent 19 seasons in the NHL with the Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals, winning the Stanley Cup with the Canes in 2006 and two Cups with the Kings in 2012 and 2014. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy during the latter run, earning the nickname “Mr. Game 7” by holding the record for most points (15) in Game 7 situations. In 1,264 games, Williams tallied 320 goals and 797 points. He also had 41 goals and 102 points in 162 playoff games.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Two days after acquiring winger Josh Anderson, the Canadiens re-signed him to a seven-year, $38.5-million contract. The annual average value is $5.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a hefty new contract for a 26-year-old winger who’s yet to suit up for the Canadiens,  has one good season (27 goals, 47 points in 2018-19) and missed most of last season to a shoulder injury that required surgery to repair.

General manager Marc Bergevin envisions the 6’3”, 222-pounder as a power forward. This will be seen as a worthwhile investment if Anderson has fully recovered from his surgery and plays up to expectation. Otherwise, it’ll provide additional fodder for Bergevin critics and turn up the pressure on Habs ownership to fire their GM.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils placed goaltender Cory Schneider on unconditional waivers yesterday for the purpose of buying out his contract. Schneider, 34, lost the starter’s job to Mackenzie Blackwood. He has two years left on his contract worth $6 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schneider was among the NHL’s top goalies from 2013-14 to 2015-16. Injuries, however, hampered his performance in recent years. His buyout will count as $2 million annually against the Devils’ cap through 2023-24.

NJ.COM: The Devils also acquired defenseman Ryan Murray from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray is a skilled defenseman plagued by injuries for most of his career. He has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.6 million. If he stays healthy he could be a worthwhile addition to the Devils’ blueline. They still have over $25 million in salary-cap space and could use some of it in the upcoming free-agent market.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets also traded defenseman Markus Nutivaara to the Florida Panthers for minor-league forward Cliff Pu. Nutivaara, 26, has two years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $2.7 million.

THE SCORE: The Jackets also placed center Alexander Wennberg on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a contract buyout. The 26-year-old has three years left on his contract worth $4.9 million AAV. For buyout purposes, however, he’ll be considered 25 as that’s what his age would’ve been during a normal regular season when the buyout period would be in June. That means his buyout will be calculated at one-third the remaining value, rather than two-thirds.

NHL.COM: The Jackets also re-signed goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks to a two-year, two-way contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The moves leave the Jackets with $14.2 million in cap space, more than enough to re-sign Pierre-Luc Dubois and perhaps leave enough for an addition or two via trade or free agency.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Long time Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is heading to the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford spent 13 seasons with the Blackhawks, 10 of those as their starting goalie. He backstopped them to two Stanley Cups (2013, 2015) but has been plagued by injuries over the past three seasons. Expect the Blackhawks to seek his replacement via trade or free agency.

SPORTSNET: The Ottawa Senators acquired defenseman Erik Gudbranson from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round pick. He has a year remaining on his contract with an AAV of $4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another short-term pickup by the Senators to take some pressure off their developing young defensemen. The Ducks, meanwhile, have $4.47 million in cap space and will get an additional $6.875 million in wiggle room should Ryan Kesler remain on long-term injury reserve.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Goaltender Tuukka Rask said he doesn’t want to play for anyone but the Bruins. Rask’s name recently surfaced in trade rumors, prompting GM Don Sweeney to claim the goalie is a “big part of the roster going forward.” Rask is a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.

TSN: The Dallas Stars lifted the interim tag from head coach Rick Bowness, who is expected to sign a new contract with the club.

SPORTSNET: The Stars also released a lengthy list of their injured players following the Stanley Cup playoffs. Among the notables was Jamie Benn (shoulder surgery before the schedule was paused), Tyler Seguin (knee, torn labrum), Ben Bishop (knee surgery in May), Roope Hintz (fractured ankle) and Anton Khudobin (arm surgery).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seguin received criticism for his offensive struggles during the postseason. This is yet another reminder that an NHL player failing to play up to expectations in playoff action is usually nursing an injury that would sideline athletes in other sports.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres are close to re-signing forward Zemgus Girgensons to a three-year contract worth around $2 million per season.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed forward Sam Lafferty to a two-year contract with an AAV of $750K.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed defenseman Noah Juulsen to a one-year, two-way contract.

 

 










NHL Trade Roundup: Lots of Big Names Moving After Busy Week of Dealing

NHL Trade Roundup: Lots of Big Names Moving After Busy Week of Dealing