NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 10, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 10, 2023

The Jets’ Connor Hellebucyk and Mark Scheifele and the Sabres’ Rasmus Dahlin sign contract extensions plus an update on Jake Guentzel and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets yesterday announced the signings of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and center Mark Scheifele to identical seven-year contract extensions with an average annual value of $8.5 million. The deals go into effect next season.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was surprising news from the Jets. Given their eligibility for unrestricted free-agent status next summer, Hellebuyck and Scheifele frequently appeared in trade speculation during the offseason. It was assumed one or both would be shopped before the March 8 trade deadline if the Jets were out of playoff contention by then.

Re-signing Hellebuyck and Scheifele is a big win for Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. He faced considerable criticism over the direction of the club in recent years, sparking calls for a roster rebuild from fans and pundits.

Cheveldayoff locked up this club’s two best players on long-term extensions with a reasonable average annual value, signaling that this club has no intention of rebuilding the roster. These moves also put a dent in the belief around the league that the small-market club can’t retain their best players.

Hellebucyk and Scheifele are both in their playing prime and would’ve earned considerably more from next summer’s free-agent market. By accepting less money to stick with the Jets, they’ve provided a big vote of confidence in Cheveldayoff’s plans.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).

However, it’s also a substantial investment by the Jets in two 30-year-old players who will be in decline by the second half of their seven-year deals. While the salary cap is projected to rise considerably over that period, having $16 million tied up in two aging stars still takes a big bite out of their payroll. It could become a salary-cap headache down the road.

TSN: Speaking of the Jets, defenseman Ville Heinola underwent surgery on his fractured left ankle and will be sidelined for a minimum of eight weeks.

CBS SPORTS: Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers has ruled himself good to go for his club’s season opener on Wednesday against the Calgary Flames. He’d missed preseason play with neck spasms.


THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres yesterday announced they reached an agreement with Rasmus Dahlin on an eight-year, $88 million contract starting in 2024-25. The average annual value is $11 million, making it the most lucrative contract in Sabres history.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a hefty new contract for Dahlin but one that should prove worthwhile for the Sabres. The 23-year-old defenseman is among the league’s elite puck-moving blueliners, reaching or exceeding 40 points in four of his five NHL seasons. Those include his 53-point performance in 2021-22 and last season’s career-best (to date) 73-point output.

Dahlin is the cornerstone of the Sabres’ blueline corps and one of their core players. He will play a key role in this club’s future as they attempt to transition into a perennial playoff contender. This deal ensures they’ll have Dahlin under contract throughout the prime of his career. $11 million annually makes him one of the league’s highest-paid defensemen but it could be worth it for the Sabres over the long term.


THE ATHLETIC: Jake Guentzel is hopeful of signing a new contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. “I’ve pretty much grown up in Pittsburgh,” he said. “I love this place so much. I really do. This is a great place, both for me and my family. I don’t want to be anywhere else.”

Guentzel is in the final season of his contract earning an AAV of $6 million. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Contract talks haven’t started yet but both sides seem confident that a deal will get done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins will have to pay Guentzel a raise if they hope to retain him. Perhaps they can convince him to accept between $8 million and $9 million for the security of a long-term contract.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs goaltender Matt Murray will be sidelined for six to eight months following bilateral hip surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray will likely spend the season on long-term injury reserve. He will become an unrestricted free agent next summer but his playing career is probably over.

The Leafs also announced Curtis McElhinney as their new director of Goaltending Development and Scouting, Jake Muzzin was named a pro scout and Chris Bourque was named a college free-agent scout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Muzzin is in the final season of his standard player contract with the Leafs but he is moving on to a post-playing career. He’s on what I call permanent LTIR due to a neck injury suffered during a game last October.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Sidelined forwards Roope Hintz, Wyatt Johnston and Radek Faksa remain questionable for the Stars’ season opener on Thursday against the St. Louis Blues.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Golden Knights defensemen Alec Martinez and Zach Whitecloud were placed on injured reserve yesterday.

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Flyers blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen was placed on IR with an undisclosed injury.

TSN: The Tampa Bay Lightning signed forward Austin Watson to a one-year, one-way contract worth just over $776K. He played four games with the Lightning during the recent preseason on a professional tryout offer.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: The Islanders placed forward Ross Johnston on waivers yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Johnston clears waivers he’ll likely be sent to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Ottawa Senators reclaimed defenseman Lassi Thomson off waivers yesterday from the Anaheim Ducks. Meanwhile, the Colorado Avalanche claimed goalie Ivan Prosvetov from the Arizona Coyotes, the Calgary Flames claimed forward A.J. Greer from the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins claimed defenseman John Ludvig from the Florida Panthers.

NEW YORK POST: The NHL has banned its teams from using Pride Tape during pregame warmups as it continues to move away from special initiatives that caused issues for a handful of players, including Pride Night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: “Hockey is for everyone.”

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 9, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 9, 2023

Several notable players hit the waiver wire before setting their season-opening rosters, an update on Penguins winger Jake Guentzel, the Leafs and Canucks make a trade,  and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

DAILY FACEOFF: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Martin Jones, Montreal Canadiens forward Joel Armia and Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Zach Bogosian are among 46 players to be placed on waivers Sunday as the 32 NHL teams make final preparations to set their season-opening rosters by 5 pm ET today.

Others on the list include (in order of team): Alex Stalock, Anaheim Ducks; Zach Aston-Reese, Detroit Red Wings; Raphael Lavoie, Edmonton Oilers; Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Los Angeles Kings; Mark Friedman, Magnus Hellberg, Vinnie Hinostroza and Colin White, Pittsburgh Penguins; Calle Rosen, St. Louis Blues; Simon Benoit, Kyle Clifford, and Dylan Gambrell, Toronto Maple Leafs.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of those 46 players will be heading to the AHL once they clear waivers. Some, like Armia, will probably go unclaimed because of their contracts and might not be sent down as doing so won’t clear much cap space for their respective teams.

White and Aston-Reese recently signed affordable one-year, two-way contracts with their respective clubs. Both could end up claimed by other teams before today’s noon ET deadline.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins winger Jake Guentzel could be in his club’s opening-night lineup on Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks. The 29-year-old winger underwent ankle surgery on Aug. 1 and was slated to be re-evaluated on Nov. 1. However, he began skating early in training camp and rejoined his teammates in full practice last week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s good news for the Penguins as they’ll have their first-line left winger back in the fold well ahead of schedule.

TORONTO SUN/THE PROVINCE: The Maple Leafs shipped forward Sam Lafferty to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per the reports, the Leafs made this move (along with putting six other players on waivers yesterday) to become cap-compliant before their season opener on Wednesday. Shipping out Lafferty removes his $1.15 million cap hit from their books, creating room to potentially sign free agent forward Noah Gregor off his professional tryout offer (PTO).

The Canucks, meanwhile, add more size, grit and speed to their checking lines for the coming season. Lafferty, 28, is in the final season of his contract and could become a useful bargaining chip later in the season if the Canucks are out of playoff contention by the March 8 trade deadline.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Canucks, defenseman Carson Soucy is listed as week-to-week after suffering an undisclosed injury during Friday’s preseason game against the Calgary Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The injury appeared to be to Soucy’s left knee after he became entangled with Flames forward Yegor Sharangovich.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Six noteworthy players were recently released from their professional tryout offers. They were Ryan Dzingel, who played with the Arizona Coyotes; Artem Anisimov by the Detroit Red Wings; Josh Bailey by the Ottawa Senators; Nick Ritchie by the St. Louis Blues; Scott Harrington by the Anaheim Ducks; and Nathan Beaulieu by the Carolina Hurricanes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Many players recently released from their PTOs will be scrambling to find work in other leagues or face the end of their playing careers. A handful, however, could land with other NHL clubs based on their preseason performances. I’d keep an eye on Bailey, who had six points in as many preseason contests with the Senators.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 4, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 4, 2023

An update on Jake Guentzel, the latest on the Oilers goaltending, Derek Stepan retires, recaps of Tuesday’s preseason action, waiver updates and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins winger Jake Guentzel is a step closer to returning to action as he joined his teammates in a full practice yesterday for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery in August. He’s been skating since training camp and joined the Penguins’ main practices last week in a non-contact capacity.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guentzel said it’s still too early to tell if he’ll be good to go for the Penguins’ season opener next week. Nevertheless, he appears to be on track to return to the lineup soon.

THE SCORE: Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft isn’t naming his starting goaltender yet for the club’s season opener on Oct. 11. He said that role remains an open competition between Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell.

We’re realists and we understand that we need both goalies – it’s a two-goalie league now,” said Woodcroft. “We have 1A and 1B, and they’re going to sort out who’s who.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner wrested the starter’s job away from Campbell over the course of last season. However, it was Campbell who had to relieve Skinner when the latter struggled in several postseason contests. Having healthy competition between the two could improve the caliber of the Oilers’ goaltending, which has been questionable in the past.

TSN: Veteran forward Derek Stepan announced his retirement yesterday. In 890 games over 13 seasons with the New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, Ottawa Senators and Carolina Hurricanes, the 33-year-old Stepan scored 182 goals and 333 assists for 515 points. He also had 55 points in 120 playoff games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stepan’s best seasons were the seven he spent with the Rangers from 2010-11 to 2016-17. He exceeded 50 points five times and two seasons with over 40 points.


NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard scored his first NHL preseason goal and collected two assists in a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Corey Perry tallied two goals and Taylor Hall had three assists for the Blackhawks. Joe Veleno scored both Red Wings goals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of the Blackhawks, forward Philipp Kurashev (wrist injury) is expected to be sidelined for another week.

The Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Florida Panthers 2-0. Lightning goaltender Jonas Johansson stopped 25 shots for his second shutout of the preseason. Tanner Jeannot and Nick Paul were the goal scorers. Sergei Bobrovsky made 20 saves for the Panthers.

Dallas Stars winger Jason Robertson scored the tying goal and teammate Joe Pavelski netted the winner in a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

The Washington Capitals downed the Boston Bruins 5-4 on an overtime goal by Matthew Phillips. John Carlsson had a goal and two assists for the Capitals while Boston winger Milan Lucic had a goal and an assist. Linus Ullmark stopped 36 shots for the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Bruins sent forward Fabian Lysell to their AHL affiliate in Providence. The 20-year-old winger is considered among their top prospects but this is the third straight year that he’s failed to crack their roster in training camp.

San Jose Sharks goalie Kaapo Kahkonen turned in an 18-save performance to blank the Vegas Golden Knights 2-0. Thomas Bordeleau and Jacob MacDonald scored for the Sharks.

The Los Angeles Kings rolled to a 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Adrian Kempe netted his fourth goal of the preseason for the Kings while teammate Carl Grundstrom had a goal and an assist.


DAILY FACEOFF: Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Cal Petersen and Ottawa Senators defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker were among the 13 players placed on waivers yesterday.

TSN: The Montreal Canadiens have loaned defenseman Logan Mailloux to their AHL affiliate in Laval.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: After recovering from his fourth knee surgery, Mason Shaw signed a one-year, one-way contract with the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa. The 24-year-old forward played 59 games for the Wild last season before suffering a season-ending ACL tear on April 1.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman believes the Arizona Coyotes could be close to resolving their arena situation. Bettman said the club is in the process of exploring several parcels of land that can host an arena and entertainment retail district project. He anticipates they’ll finalize something “in the next few months.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unlike the Coyotes’ ill-fated attempt to build a new arena in Tempe, they won’t require a referendum from the local population for approval to contract their venue.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 30, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 30, 2023

The Wild re-sign Mats Zuccarello and Marcus Foligno, updates on Cale Makar and Jake Guentzel, recaps of preseason play and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed forwards Mats Zuccarello and Marcus Foligno to contract extensions on Friday. Zucarrello, 36, agreed to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $4.125 million while the 32-year-old Foligno inked a four-year deal with an AAV of $4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players were slated to become unrestricted free agents next July. Zuccarello accepted a pay cut from his current AAV of $6 million while Foligno got a raise from his current $3.1 million AAV.

Minnesota Wild winger Mats Zuccarello (NHL Images).

The Wild didn’t overpay to keep these two in the fold. Zuccarello remains productive with 67 points last season but there is a risk that his performance will decline given his age. It can also be argued that Foligno’s play will deteriorate given his physical game. Nevertheless, Wild management evidently believes they need their leadership and experience beyond this season.

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports Wild general manager Bill Guerin indicated forward Ryan Hartman will be next to have his contract extended. The two sides are in talks and Guerin claimed things are “heading that way.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hartman, 29, is eligible for UFA status next July. His current AAV is $1.7 million.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar practiced for the first time since training camp opened last week. He’s been dealing with a lower-body issue but remains confident he’ll be ready for the start of the season next month. Makar is hoping to play in one of the Avs’ three remaining preseason games.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins winger Jake Guentzel has returned to practice in a non-contact capacity. He is rehabbing from his Aug. 2 ankle surgery. He’s not expected to return to action until Oct. 24.

THE PROVINCE: The Columbus Blue Jackets claimed goaltender Spencer Martin off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks.

NEW YORK POST: Friday’s preseason game between the Rangers and Islanders at UBS Arena was postponed due to heavy rains causing flooding with a state of emergency declared in New York. The game will take place on Saturday at 7 pm.


NHL.COM: Vladimir Tarasenko scored his first goal with the Ottawa Senators in a 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of the Senators, they named Steve Staios as their new president of hockey operations on Friday. Staios has a long history with Senators owner Michael Andlauer as he served under Andlauer as president and general manager of the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs from 2016 to 2022.

The Philadelphia Flyers got shootout goals by Bobby Brink and Morgan Frost to nip the Boston Bruins 4-3. Brink had a goal and an assist in regulation while David Pastrnak scored twice for the Bruins.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson left in the second period with an upper-body injury and didn’t return as his club dropped a 4-3 decision to the Los Angeles Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word if Gibson was held out for precautionary reasons or if the injury was serious. The Ducks could release an update today.

The Toronto Maple Leafs got goals from Matthew Knies and Mikko Kokkonen as they held off the Montreal Canadiens 2-1. Josh Anderson replied for the Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs played without John Klingberg as the defenseman is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Three unanswered goals by Nicolas Hague, Brendan Bisson and William Karlsson rallied the Vegas Golden Knights to a 3-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy ruled out defenseman Zach Whitecloud with an undisclosed injury. No decision has been made as to whether he’ll be in their season opener next month.

An overtime goal by Brad Malone gave the Edmonton Oilers a 2-1 win against the Calgary Flames. Jack Campbell got the win with a 34-save performance.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Jonas Johansson kicked out 42 shots in a 4-0 shutout of the split-squad Carolina Hurricanes. Anthony Cirelli tallied twice for the Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It seems like Johansson is trying to send a message to management that he can fill the void while starter Andrei Vasilevskiy spends the next eight to ten weeks recovering from back surgery.

The Lightning also played without center Logan Brown and defenseman Roman Schmidt as both are sidelined indefinitely by injuries.

The other Hurricanes squad didn’t fare any better as they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Florida Panthers.

NHL Rumor Mill – August 31, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – August 31, 2023

How much could it cost the Bruins to re-sign Jake DeBrusk? Could Jake Guentzel get $10 million annually from the Penguins? Can the Pens bring in Tomas Tatar on a tryout basis? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


NHL.COM: Derek Van Diest reports Jake DeBrusk isn’t looking toward testing next summer’s unrestricted free-agent market. The 26-year-old winger hopes to sign a new contract with the Boston Bruins.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

Entering his seventh season with the Bruins, DeBrusk is in the final season of a two-year, $8 million contract with an average annual value of $4 million. He tied a career-best in goals last season with 27 and had a career-best 50 points but those stats would’ve been higher had he not been sidelined for 18 games.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy observed that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will have around $28.5 million in salary-cap space for 2024-25 thanks in part to the projected rise of the salary cap by $4 million.

Part of that cap room could be taken up with shoring up his top-two center depth if Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle don’t pan out in those roles this season. Murphy believes DeBrusk could seek a deal similar to the eight-year, $52 million contract ($6.5 million AAV) recently signed by Brandon Hagel with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins also have just 11 active roster players under contract for 2024-25. If they have to find suitable top-two centers it might not leave enough to re-sign DeBrusk and fill out the rest of the roster.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jacob Punturi recently pondered how much it could cost the Pittsburgh Penguins to re-sign Jake Guentzel. The 29-year-old left winger has been their top goal scorer over the past five seasons.

Slated to become a UFA next July, Guentzel will be due for a healthy raise after earning a team-friendly $6 million annually on his current contract. While he could easily justify seeking an AAV of $10 million, Punturi doubted he’ll get more from the Penguins than the $8.7 million AAV currently earned by team captain Sidney Crosby.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins are in “win-now” mode trying to win one more championship with Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. Ultimately, I think they’ll pay up to keep Guentzel in the fold.

Penguins GM Kyle Dubas could hold the line for Guentzel at between $8 million and $8.5 million. However, I don’t think Crosby’s AAV will be that much of a barrier.

Unless Guentzel is willing to accept as much or slightly less than Crosby, he could get between $9 million and $10 million from the Penguins. And I don’t think the Penguins captain would have an issue with that. After all, Malkin’s last contract had a higher AAV ($9.5 million) and that wasn’t a problem for Crosby.

Punturi’s colleague Nicholas Brlansky believes the Penguins still have a shot at signing Tomas Tatar. With some free agents starting to sign professional tryout option (PTO) contracts, Tatar is starting to run out of time to find a deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tatar could have a couple of contract offers on the table. One of them could be with the Penguins.

The 32-year-old winger could be waiting to see if he gets any better proposals before training camp. If he doesn’t, he could end up accepting the best existing offer.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 8, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 8, 2023

A promising prognosis for the Penguins’ Jake Guentzel, the Kings’ Quinton Byfield hopes for a healthy start, the Ducks sign Alex Stalock, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Jake Guentzel’s recovery from ankle surgery could be shorter than expected.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images)

Speaking with the press yesterday to discuss his acquisition of Erik Karlsson, Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas said Guentzel was expected to be sidelined until late October or early November. With the Penguins having a late schedule during that stretch, Dubas said the 28-year-old winger could end up missing just the first five games of the regular season.

Guentzel is to be reevaluated 12 weeks following his surgery last week. According to Dubas, he could be “ready to roll” if all goes well with his recovery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas cautioned that his five-game prognosis is “kind of a projected number, because it’s medical”, adding that they want to do what’s right for Guentzel. Nevertheless, it’s a more promising evaluation than the original assumption that he could start the season on long-term injury reserve.

NHL.COM: Quinton Byfield hopes for a healthy beginning to his third NHL season after injury and illness sidelined him from the start of his first two campaigns. The 20-year-old center believes those absences adversely affected his performance over those seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings had high hopes for Byfield after choosing him second overall in the 2020 NHL Draft. The 6’5”, 220-pound center was limited to 32 points in 93 games in his first two full NHL seasons but put up a respectable four points in six playoff games against the Edmonton Oilers in the opening round of the 2023 playoffs.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks added more depth between the pipes by signing goaltender Alex Stalock to a one-year, $800K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stalock will slot in as the Ducks’ third goalie behind starter John Gibson and promising Lukas Dostal.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars hired Misha Donskov as an assistant coach. He was an assistant coach with the Vegas Golden Knights from 2019 to 2023.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers hired Christian Hmura as a skills and performance coach.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Former NHL defenseman Bryan Berard was arrested on July 30 in Newport, Rhode Island, for his alleged involvement in a bar fight. He was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. His initial court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A first-overall pick by the Ottawa Senators in the 1995 draft, Berard played 619 NHL games from 1996-97 to 2007-08.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Former NHL player Sean Avery is having a complicated summer. On the plus side, he has a small role in the hit film “Oppenheimer.” However, his personal life recently made news after his estranged wife, model Hilary Rhoda, successfully extended the temporary restraining order she took out against him.