NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 26, 2021

Tuukka Rask on when he expects to return to action, former Rangers GM Jeff Gorton talks about his firing, the Flyers sign Derick Brassard, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Tuukka Rask said his recovery from offseason hip surgery is going well and he’s hoping to return to action around Christmastime or January.

Tuukka Rask could return to the Boston Bruins by midseason (NHL Images).

Rask also stated he’s only interested in playing for the Bruins. While not engaged in ongoing contract talks with general manager Don Sweeney, the unrestricted free agent goaltender said the two had good discussions and he believes they’re on the same page. He also said money won’t be an issue, saying he’ll be a cheap goaltender for them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins are expected to start the season with Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman as their goaltending tandem. If Rask returns by midseason, Swayman can be sent to the minors as Cap Friendly indicates he’s exempt from waivers.

The performance of Ullmark and Swayman could complicate Rask’s potential return if they’re both playing well. Nevertheless, his comments suggest he’s going to be in the club’s plans at some point in the coming season. He’ll have to be an affordable signing as they’ve got $1.089 million in cap space without adding Swayman’s $925K.

NEW YORK POST: Former Rangers GM Jeff Gorton said he was surprised that the fallout from the Tom Wilson-Artemi Panarin brawl last season included his dismissal and that of team president John Davidson. “I didn’t know it was going to turn into that, it surprised me that it turned into what it turned into,” he told the “Cam & Stick” podcast.

Gorton also spoke about the statement the team released following that incident condemning the NHL department of player safety for only fining Wilson instead of suspending him. “You might have seen it the first time I did,” he said, adding it was crafted and released by the team’s PR staff. Gorton also said he, Davidson and now-former head coach David Quinn regularly discussed improving the club’s toughness over time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers’ reaction to Wilson’s manhandling of Panarin and the light punishment he received seems to have been driven by team owner James Dolan. He cited the club’s lack of toughness during the official announcement of the firings of Gorton and Davidson in May. It also accounts for shipping Pavel Buchnevich to St. Louis for Sammy Blais and the acquisition, and signing of rugged forward Ryan Reaves.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers signed forward Derick Brassard to a one-year, $825K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Brassard addition leaves the Flyers with just over $381K in cap space for the coming season.

WGR 550: Defenseman Robert Hagg is skating in Buffalo and settling in after being traded to the Sabres last month by the Flyers as part of the Rasmus Ristolainen deal.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Former Jets forward Mason Appleton is very excited about being part of the Seattle Kraken’s inaugural roster. He spent three seasons with the Jets before being selected by the Kraken in last month’s expansion draft.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed forwards Glenn Gawdin and Justin Kirkland to one year, two-way contracts.

 










Notable NHL Trades – July 23, 2021

Notable NHL Trades – July 23, 2021

A list of the noteworthy trades that took place leading up to, and including the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft along with my hot take on each. I will update this throughout the evening.

The Columbus Blue Jackets trade defenseman Seth Jones, the final pick in the first round of the 2021 draft (32nd overall) and a sixth-round pick in 2022 to the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Adam Boqvist, a first-round pick in 2021 (12th overall), a second-round pick in 2021 and a first-round pick in 2022. If the latter pick is top-two, it becomes a 2023 first-rounder.

Jones also signs an eight-year contract extension with the Blackhawks worth an annual average value of $9.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t say I’m surprised that Jones wound up in Chicago. The Blackhawks were among the early suitors and really wanted to bolster their defense, especially after shipping Duncan Keith to Edmonton earlier this month.

What I am surprised by is the shock on social media that Jones got that expensive contract extension. Folks, if I’ve said it once, I said it a thousand times: never underestimate the ability of NHL general managers to spend too much on talent. Even under a flattened salary cap, some just can’t help themselves.

Some believe this is a lousy deal for the Blackhawks, pointing to the decline in Jones’ play over the past year, or the drop in his offensive numbers over the last two years. I believe Jones’ play suffered last season because the Blue Jackets were falling apart. Maybe the reason behind the decline in his production was playing for a club with a popgun offense.

Jones is 26, still in his playing prime, with a contract taking him up to age 35, skating for a team with a lot more talent than the one he just left. True, the Blackhawks are rebuilding, but they’ve got a mix of established and promising talent. Adding Jones to their lineup could help him regain his form and accelerate their rebuild.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, got the best return they could for a player who wasn’t going to re-sign with them before next season. Boqvist, 20, is coming off his NHL sophomore season. He’s a promising offensive blueliner who could be very effective on the Blue Jackets power play.

Landing the Blackhawks’ first-rounder while giving up the 32nd selection still gives the Jackets three selections in that round. They’re in a good position to land some promising prospects as they commence their rebuild in earnest this summer.

The Arizona Coyotes trade defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and winger Conor Garland to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for winger Loui Eriksson, winger Antoine Roussel, center Jay Beagle, the Canucks first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2021 NHL draft, their second-rounder in 2022 and a seventh-rounder in 2023. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be the blockbuster of the day. The Canucks were one of just two teams Ekman-Larsson was willing to waive his no-movement clause for when the Coyotes tried to trade him last October. The two sides ran out of time to hammer out a deal before the blueliner’s deadline on Oct. 9.

Ekman-Larsson’s performance has declined over the past three seasons. The Canucks are betting he’ll regain his form on a promising team in Vancouver. The Coyotes retained 12 percent of his $8.25 million annual salary-cap hit but that could still be an expensive gamble with six years remaining on his contract at $7.26 million per season.

Garland, 25, is coming off back-to-back 39-point performances and should provide a boost to the Canucks’ secondary scoring. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights, he was pursued by several clubs in recent weeks.

The Canucks tried shedding Eriksson’s $6 million cap hit for the past two years. They’re finally rid of it when there’s just one year remaining. Beagle has a year left on his contract with an annual average value of $3 million. There was speculation he could miss 2021-22 with an undisclosed injury. Roussel also has a year left on his deal with a cap hit of $3 million. The Coyotes could use the physical winger as a trade chip at next year’s trade deadline. 

For the Coyotes, the real prize was that first-round pick. They forfeited theirs for violating 2020 Draft Combine rules under former general manager John Chayka. Current GM Bill Armstrong was willing to eat the remaining year on Eriksson’s and Beagle’s contracts to get a top-10 pick.

Canucks GM Jim Benning is getting roasted on social media for this move. If Ekman-Larsson improves in Vancouver and Garland bolsters their scoring he’ll come out of this smelling like a rose. If not, he’ll be smelling of something rather unpleasant.

The Buffalo Sabres trade defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Robert Hagg, a first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft and a second-round pick in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher continues to shore up his defense after acquiring Ryan Ellis last Saturday from the Nashville Predators. Expect Ristolainen to slot in behind Ellis as their second-pairing right-side defenseman. 

The Sabres begin what appears to be another rebuild. Ristolainen’s been a fixture in the rumor mill for a couple of years now. Prying a 13th overall pick from the Flyers was quite a coup by GM Kevyn Adams, especially for a player who’s slated to become a UFA next summer. Flyers fans are taking to social media expressing their unhappiness with Fletcher for parting with that pick for Ristolainen. 

The New York Rangers trade right wing Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues for winger Sammy Blais and a second-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could set the table for the Blues to trade Vladimir Tarasenko. It could also set the stage for the Rangers to make their much-rumored deal for Sabres center Jack Eichel. Or, it could simply be the Blueshirts being unwilling to invest too much for too long in Buchnevich when they’ve got two key players to re-sign next summer in Mika Zibanejad and 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks believed the Rangers had to bring in another physical winger to skate on the third line with recently-signed Barclay Goodrow. Blais will fill that role at an affordable cap hit of $1.5 million. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2021

Connor McDavid widens his lead in the NHL scoring race, Mikko Rantanen enjoys a four-point performance and Robby Fabbri tallies a hat trick. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid scored twice to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers have the same number of points (40) as the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Scotia North Division but the latter hold three games in hand. McDavid (58 points) extended his points streak to eight games and leads the NHL scoring race by nine points over teammate Leon Draisaitl.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is on pace for 98 points in 56 games this season.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen (NHL Images).

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen scored twice and added two assists in a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each had a goal and two assists as Colorado peppered Wild goaltender Cam Talbot with 55 shots. Avs defensemen Cale Makar and Bo Byram returned from upper-body injuries that had sidelined each from multiple games. Wild defenseman Matt Dumba left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. The Avalanche (38 points) moves one point up on the Wild into second place in the Honda West Division.

A hat trick by Robby Fabbri enabled the Detroit Red Wings to hold off the Dallas Stars 3-2. It was a costly victory for the Wings as goalie Jonathan Bernier left the game in the second period with an apparent injury to his right leg. An update is expected on his condition today.

The New Jersey Devils held off the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 thanks to goaltender Scott Wedgewood’s 40-save performance. Devils forward Jack Hughes had a goal and an assist. Wedgewood got the call after starter Mackenzie Blackwood suffered an upper-body injury during warmups. No update was provided for his status. Earlier in the day, the Penguins placed forwards Evgeni Malkin and Teddy Blueger (undisclosed) on injured reserve. The Pens sit in third place in the MassMutual East Division with 37 points.

A new head coach didn’t change the Buffalo Sabres fortunes as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Boston Bruins in their first game with Don Granato behind the bench. The Sabres fall to 0-11-2 in their last 13 games. David Krejci collected three assists for the Bruins, who sit one point behind the Penguins in the East Division.

The Philadelphia Flyers (33 points) moved to within three points of the Bruins by edging the New York Islanders 4-3. The Flyers blew a 3-0 lead but got the win on Oskar Lindblom’s second goal of the game late in the third period. Travis Konecny had three assists for the Flyers while Isles defenseman Nick Leddy had three helpers. Before the game, the Flyers announced defenseman Robert Hagg would be sidelined two-to-four weeks with a shoulder injury. The Islanders (42 points) remain in second place in the East.

An overtime goal by Seth Jones lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. It was Jones’ second goal of the game. Carolina center Sebastian Aho countered with two goals. The Hurricanes remain in third place in the Discover Central Division with 42 points while the Jackets (31 points) climbed to within two points of the fourth-overall Chicago Blackhawks.

Speaking of the Blackhawks, they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bolts goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 19 saves for his 10th straight victory while Victor Hedman had a goal and an assist. The Lightning (44 points) opened a two-point lead over the Hurricanes and Florida Panthers for first place in the Central Division. Chicago center Dylan Strome scored in his first game since being sidelined a month ago by a concussion. The Blackhawks have dropped three straight.

The Nashville Predators got two goals from Calle Jarnkrok and a 40-save effort from Juuse Saros to edge the Panthers 2-1. Jonathan Huberdeau scored for the Panthers, who remain in second place in the Central.

Anaheim Ducks rookies Jamie Drysdale and Trevor Zegras each scored their first NHL goals in a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Drysdale finished the game with two points while Adam Henrique tallied the game-winner. Clayton Keller and Conor Garland replied for the Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drysdale and Zegras offer what could be a promising look at the Ducks’ future depending on what moves management makes to rebuild the roster.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen admits he’s been battling a nagging lower-body injury for the past six games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That news won’t silence Andersen’s critics but it explains his struggles since returning to action from the same injury that sidelined him for two weeks in the second half of February.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2020

The Tampa Bay Lightning are the 2020 Stanley Cup champions, Victor Hedman wins the Conn Smythe Trophy, plus the latest on the Flyers, Blackhawks, Golden Knights and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning are the Stanley Cup champions after blanking the Dallas Stars 2-0 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, winning the series four games to two. Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 22-save shutout while Brayden Point and Blake Coleman were the goal scorers. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Tampa Bay Lightning are the 2020 Stanley Cup Champions (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Lightning for a well-deserved championship run under quarantine conditions in Toronto and Edmonton. The Bolts just get better as the playoffs progressed, using their deep roster and solid defensive play to defeat their opponents They never suffered consecutive losses during this postseason. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov finished with 34 points to lead all playoff scorers while linemate Brayden Point was the goal-scoring leader with 14 goals.

Give the Stars credit for getting this far. They gave everything they had against a strong Lightning club in this series but seemed to run out of gas in Game 6.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Interim Stars coach Rick Bowness deflected questions during the post-game press conference over whether he’ll return as Dallas’ bench boss. However, he said he still has the passion to coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stars owner Tom Gaglardi and general manager Jim Nill said Bowness earned the right to return as their full-time coach next season. I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t. Bowness did a fine job guiding the Stars to their first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years.

SPORTSNET: For the ninth straight week, the NHL reported no positive COVID-19 tests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everyone involved in the NHL return-to-play plan deserves a big round of applause. Their collective goal was to stage a safe environment for a playoff tournament to crown a Stanley Cup champion. Mission accomplished.

TSN: NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr doesn’t expect to see all of next season played under playoff quarantine conditions. However, he suggested the possibility of a hybrid bubble to start next season.

Frank Seravalli reports the league and the PA will meet soon to begin discussions. One concept could be starting the season in four-to-six bubbles in various locations, preferably cities where fans can be allowed into the arenas. At least one bubble would be in Canada, given the current restrictions at the Canada-US border.

Seravalli said the plan could see teams start the season in hybrid bubbles and gradually progress toward teams hosting games in their home arenas and cities with limited capacity before hopefully ramping up to full capacity in time for the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league and the PA won’t rush into anything. As they did with the return-to-play plan, they’ll take their time to evaluate all their options as they formulate a workable schedule for next season. They’ll also likely evaluate how the NFL and US college football handles their games with fans in the stands. As with the playoff tournament, player safety will be the priority.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers re-signed defenseman Robert Hagg to a two-year, $3.2 million contract extension. Hagg, 25, was a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. The Flyers also hired recently-retired forward Chris Stewart as a player development coach.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks traded forward Dylan Sikura to the Vegas Golden Knights for forward Brandon Pirri.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 4, 2019

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 4, 2019

Updates on the Oilers, Penguins, and Flyers in today’s Sunday NHL rumor roundup. 

OILERS

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell explored what could be in store for Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland over the next seven months. If Holland decides to add a forward via free agency, Mitchell listed Derick Brassard and Thomas Vanek among the affordable remaining UFA options. 

Could Derick Brassard be a good fit with the Edmonton Oilers? (Photo via NHL Images)

Holland will have to figure out what to do with Jesse Puljujarvi, who’s threatened to stay in Europe if he’s not traded before the start of the season. Mitchell notes Holland has a history of extreme patience in such matters, as he outwaited Jiri Hudler nearly a decade ago during his tenure as GM of the Detroit Red Wings. 

If the Oilers become sellers at next year’s trade deadline, Mitchell speculated Holland could gauge the trade value of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larson, who are slated to become UFAs in 2021. If Holland becomes a buyer, perhaps he’ll pursue a forward like Florida’s Mike Hoffman or Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland’s had a busy, largely productive offseason, including shipping Milan Lucic to Calgary for James Neal. It’ll be interesting to see what else he could have in store over the coming season. Of course, much will depend upon the Oilers’ on-ice performance. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins notes the Oilers could still use some help at center. He reports they have some interest in UFA Derick Brassard but his camp is “far in excess ($4m) of what the Oilers are willing to pay.” He’s also heard the Montreal Canadiens could have some interest. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brassard’s not getting $4 million from the Oilers or anyone else this summer. 

PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe recently reported of mutual interest between the Pittsburgh Penguins and defenseman Marcus Pettersson regarding a long-term contract. General manager Jim Rutherford said a deal will be completed soon but acknowledged he’ll have to do something to free up sufficient salary-cap space. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Penguins sit just over $157K above the $81.5-million salary cap. PIttsburgh fans would love to see defenseman Jack Johnson traded but that seems unlikely. Forwards Nick Bjugstad ($4.1-million annual average value) and Bryan Rust ($3.5 million AAV) frequently surfaced in this summer’s rumor mill. 

FLYERS

THE ATHLETIC: Charlie O’Connor recently observed the Philadelphia Flyers will have eight NHL-caliber defensemen on their blueline once restricted free agent Ivan Provorov is re-signed. They could end up moving one of them before the start of the season, leaving Samuel Morin or Robert Hagg expendable. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 21, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 21, 2019

Game recaps, Ducks re-sign Jakob Silfverberg, Flyers Radko Gudas receives a two-game suspension, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow this link for my reaction to the Minnesota Wild trading Charlie Coyle to the Boston Bruins. 

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane scored twice, including the winner in overtime, to lead his club to a 5-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Kane’s point streak now sits at 19 games, the second-longest by an American-born player in NHL history. He also owns the record for the longest streak by an American player (26 games). Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou each scored twice for the Wings, who overcame a 4-1 deficit to force the extra frame.

With the win, the Blackhawks are tied with the Colorado Avalanche in points (61), but the Avs hold the final Western Conference wild-card spot because they hold a game in hand. 

Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane has extended his points streak to 19 games (Photo via NHL Images).

Speaking of the Avalanche, they vaulted into the final wild-card spot by crushing the Winnipeg Jets 7-1. Carl Soderberg and Tyson Jost each had a goal and two assists while Nathan MacKinnon tallied his 30th of the season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets (76 points) hold a one-point lead over the Nashville Predators for first in the Central Divison but they’ve won only four of their last 10 games. Last night’s humiliation could push general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff into swinging a big trade before Monday’s deadline. 

The Calgary Flames blew a 2-0 lead but third-period goals 29 seconds apart by Austin Czarnik and Johnny Gaudreau lifted them to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders. The Flames sit atop the Western Conference with 81 points. 

Shootout goals by Jake DeBrusk and David Backes gave the Boston Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, extending their winning streak to seven games. With 80 points, the Bruins hold a four-point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs for second in the Atlantic Division. Golden Knights defenseman Colin Miller was a healthy scratch but coach Gerard Gallant said the move was related to Miller’s poor play in his previous game and tied to any potential trade. 

HEADLINES

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks have reached an agreement with winger Jakob Silfverberg on a five-year contract extension. The deal cannot be officially announced until after Monday’s NHL trade deadline due to salary-cap “tagging” rules. The deal is expected to be worth an annual average value of $5.25 million, a considerable raise over his current $3.75 million per season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to Elliott Teaford, the Ducks are currently sitting over $1 million above the $79 million salary cap. GM Bob Murray must either shed salary by the deadline or wait until March 1 to formally announce the deal, as that’s when teams get a 10 percent “tagging bump”. The “tagging rule” means a team cannot spend more on next season’s payroll than they’re spending on their current one.

As for Silfverberg, he’s a good two-way winger and a streaky scorer, who reached the 40-point plateau in each of the last two seasons. The raise seems a tad high but evidently, Murray values his skills and experience. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals have placed forward Devante Smith-Pelly on waivers. Initial reports had Dmitrij Jaskin’s hitting the waiver wire but management soon changed that to Smith-Pelly. It’s assumed the switch was made because a possible trade could be in the works. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Capitals tipped their hand with his move, speculating they could be working on a possible deal to acquire winger Carl Hagelin from the Los Angeles Kings. We’ll find out for certain later today. 

**UPDATE** The Capitals acquired Hagelin from the Kings in exchange for a third-round pick in 2019 and a conditional 2020 draft pick. Smith-Pelly, meanwhile, cleared waivers today, making room for Hagelin, who’ll provide speed and experience to the Capitals’ fourth line. 

NBC PHILADELPHIA: The NHL department of player safety handed a two-game suspension to Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas for a high-sticking infraction to the head of Tampa Bay Lighting winger Nikita Kucherov on Tuesday. Flyers blueliner Robert Hagg also received a $3,091 fine for interference on Lightning center Cedric Paquette. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league agreed with Gudas’ contention that the slash wasn’t excessively forceful or violent. To critics of the department of player safety, it’s another example of the league’s unwillingness to crack down forcefully on repeat offenders. 

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill shot down rumors Sabres coach Phil Housley might be fired because of the club’s recent collapse in the standings. Botterill said there won’t be a coaching change. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes re-signed defenseman Jordan Oesterle to a two-year contract extension with an annual average value of $1.4 million. 

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks claimed forward Micheal Haley off waivers from the Florida Panthers. 

CBS SPORTS: The Dallas Stars re-signed defenseman Joel Hanley to a two-year, two-way contract extension. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Former NHL winger Scott Hartnell has become a studio analyst for the NHL Network.