NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2019

Some fallout from the Penguins trading Phil Kessel to the Coyotes, Ryan Spooner, and Valeri Nichushkin to be bought out, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: cites reports indicating Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford and Phil Kessel disagree over the latter’s trade demands. After shipping Kessel last night to the Arizona Coyotes, Rutherford claimed the winger asked to be traded several times. Kessel claims Rutherford is mistaken, adding Rutherford met with him once and told him he would never be a Penguin again.

Phil Kessel disagrees with Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford over his trade requests (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regardless of who said what, the fact remains Kessel is now with the Coyotes and the Penguins got a decent return and freed up some valuable salary-cap space. 

VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks yesterday placed forward Ryan Spooner on unconditional waivers to buy out his contract. “By buying Spooner out, the Canucks reduce his cap hit to $1.033 million for each of the next two seasons. The Rangers, who had retained 22.5 percent of his salary when they traded him to the Oilers, will have their cap hit reduced to $300,000.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the Canucks are freeing up salary-cap room to make a significant signing when the unrestricted free agent market opens at noon ET tomorrow. It’s assumed they’re pursuing a defenseman like Tyler Myers or Jake Gardiner. 

SPORTSDAY: The Dallas Stars placed winger Valeri Nichushkin on unconditional waivers to buy out his contract. The move “allows the Stars to clear $2.25 million in cap space next season while adding $450,000 against the cap in 2020-21.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  The once-promising Nichushkin was never the same after suffering a knee injury in his sophomore season in 2014-15. This move will be seen as freeing up cap room to either re-sign pending UFA winger Mats Zuccarello or pursue Joe Pavelski in the free-agent market. 

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs hired former Philadelphia Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol as an assistant coach. They also re-signed defenseman Martin Marincin to a one-year, $700K contract.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames re-signed forward Alan Quine to a one-year, two-way deal worth $735K at the NHL level.

 

 










Flyers Fire Head Coach Dave Hakstol

Flyers Fire Head Coach Dave Hakstol

The Philadelphia Flyers have fired head coach Dave Hakstol. General manager Chuck Fletcher said Scott Gordon will take over on an interim basis.

The Philadelphia Flyers fired head coach Dave Hakstol. (Photo via NHL.com)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the rumors yesterday about a Flyers coaching change were half right. Hakstol indeed lost his job but wasn’t replaced by former Chicago Blackhawks bench boss Joel Quenneville. The fact Gordon is interim coach suggests management isn’t done seeking a full-time replacement, so don’t expect the rumors linking Quenneville to the Flyers to dissipate anytime soon.

Gordon was the head coach of the Flyers’ AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms since 2015-16, guiding them to the third round of the 2018 Calder Cup playoffs.  From 2008 to 2010, he was coach of the New York Islanders, who failed to reach the playoffs during his tenure. He also spent three seasons (2011-12 to 2013-14) as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Given the Flyers’ ongoing decline following last month’s firing of GM Ron Hextall, it’s not surprising that Hakstol got the ax. While they reached the playoffs twice during his three-and-a-half seasons behind the bench, they failed to advance beyond the first round. To be fair, the Flyers’ ongoing weaknesses in goal played a significant role in the club’s struggles this season. Still, their overall inconsistency led to Hakstol’s demise.

Should the Flyers surge back into playoff contention over the remainder of this season, perhaps Gordon will remain as head coach. Otherwise, he probably shouldn’t get too comfortable in that role. 

 










NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2018

Are the Flyers on the verge of replacing coach Dave Hakstol with Joel Quenneville? Get the details plus the latest Leafs and Sabres speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

Are the Philadelphia Flyers on the verge of firing head coach Dave Hakstol? (Photo via NHL.com)

QUENNEVILLE REPLACING HAKSTOL AS FLYERS COACH?

COURIER-POST ONLINE: Dave Isaac yesterday cited “multiple sources” claiming the Philadelphia Flyers would announce the firing of head coach Dave Hakstol “Sunday night or Monday morning.” Those sources also said Hakstol’s replacement would be former Chicago Blackhawks bench boss Joel Quenneville.

Following Isaac’s report, TSN’s Darren Dreger took to Twitter reporting there was “No communication with Joel Quenneville, yet. Anything is possible.”

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports Dave Scott, the CEO of the Flyers’ parent company Comcast Spectacor, said it wasn’t true that Quenneville had been hired.

NBC SPORTS: John Boruk and Jordan Hall report two team sources said no moves have been made regarding the club’s coaching staff. They also cited FOX Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland reporting Quenneville hadn’t taken the job.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Isaac isn’t a rumor monger and I don’t doubt his sources. However, the Flyers moved quickly to deny Quenneville was replacing Hakstol. Of course, we can’t rule out the possibility that the embattled Hakstol could be replaced and perhaps the Flyers have their eye on Quenneville. We’ll find out soon enough. 

WHICH DEFENSEMAN MIGHT BEST HELP THE LEAFS?

THE ATHLETIC: Ian Tulloch recently conducted an in-depth analysis of the defensemen linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the rumor mill to determine which one would best suit their needs on the right side. Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues is a legitimate No. 1 defenseman but the asking price could be comparable to what the New York Rangers got for Ryan McDonagh last season, which included two key prospects plus a first-round draft pick and a second rounder.

Tulloch considers Blues rearguard Colton Parayko one of the better two-way blueliners in hockey. He feels Parayko’s defensive skills could improve the Leafs’ shot suppression and cut down opponents’ scoring chances. The cost could be Kaspari Kapanen, prospect Timothy Liljegren and a 2019 first-round pick.

Tulloch also examined more defensive blueliners such as Chris Tanev of the Vancouver Canucks, Mark Pysyk of the Florida Panthers, and Radko Gudas of the Philadelphia Flyers, noting the decline of their respective performances. Other options include Brett Pesce of the Carolina Hurricanes, Nick Jensen of the Detroit Red Wings, and Jake Muzzin of the Los Angeles Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tulloch isn’t saying the Leafs are actively pursuing any of the aforementioned. He was also being realistic over the potential cost to acquire guys like Pietrangelo or Parayko. Time will tell if the Leafs attempt to bring in players of that caliber or opt instead for more affordable short-term options. 

LATEST SABRES SPECULATION

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington isn’t impressed with recent trade proposals by some in the Toronto media involving the Buffalo Sabres. He noted a recent Sportsnet column including the Sabres among potential trade destinations for Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, proposing “a deal of Conor Sheary, Marco Scandella, Lawrence Pilut and the 2019 first-round pick originally acquired from St. Louis in the Ryan O’Reilly deal in exchange for Pietrangelo and fellow defenseman Robert Bortuzzo.” Harrington considered it  “insanity” that the Sabres would give up so much for a player carrying a $6.5-million annual cap hit who’s due to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020.  

Harrington also noted a recent proposal in The Hockey News in which the Sabres acquire Buffalo native Patrick Kane from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Sam Reinhart, Jason Pominville, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Brendan Guhle, Victor Olofsson and three first-round draft picks. “No truth to the rumor the deal also includes a partridge in a pear tree,” he scoffed, pointing out Kane’s $10-5-million annual cap hit for the next four years would be a problem. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I realize the good folks at Sportsnet and The Hockey News were merely spitballing about players who’ve popped up in the trade-rumor mill. Still, Harrington makes a good point about the silliness of those Sabres trade proposals.  

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2018

Game recaps, injury updates, Sabres suspend Berglund, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM:  Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog each scored twice and linemate Nathan MacKinnon had a four-point game as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Dallas Stars 6-4. Rantanen’s personal point streak has reached 14 games. Tyler Seguin scored twice for the Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There seems no stopping the Avalanche’s top line. Rantanen (56 points) and MacKinnon (52 points) sit one-two in the NHL scoring race while MacKinnon and Landeskog (21 goals apiece) sit among the league’s leading goal scorers. 

Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov’s first career hat trick powered his club to a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo via NHL Images)

Aleksander Barkov’s first career hat trick, including the game-winner in overtime, lifted the Florida Panthers to a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mitch Marner scored twice for the Leafs, who overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to force the extra frame. The Leafs have dropped four of their last five games, including two overtime defeats.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his seventh goal in his last three games to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3. Ovechkin now has a league-leading 29 goals. Sabres captain Jack Eichel scored twice in a losing cause. Earlier in the day, the Sabres announced forward Patrik Berglund was suspended indefinitely for failing to report to the teams. It’s unknown when or if he’ll return and the reason behind the suspension is unclear.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Berglund joined the Sabres this summer from St. Louis as part of the deal that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the Blues. He has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.85 million. Berglund spent most of this season on the checking lines and was a healthy scratch for a couple of games. It remains to be seen if he’ll return to the club later this season or if we’ll find out the reason behind his suspension. 

The Calgary Flames picked up their seventh win in their last eight games by downing the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in a fight-filled contest. Matthew Tkachuk tallied the winner in the third period. Wild defenseman Matt Dumba left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury. An update on his status is expected later today.

The Pittsburgh Penguins blew a two-goal lead but Phil Kessel’s overtime tally gave them a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Penguins goaltender Matt Murray made 38 saves in his first start since Nov. 17. Penguins winger Tanner Pearson commemorated his first game against his former club with a goal. Earlier in the day, the Penguins revealed defenseman Kris Letang (left-leg injury) is listed as day-to-day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That news on Letang comes as a relief for the Penguins, as there were fears his injury would sideline him for a lengthy period. With Justin Schultz out of the lineup until March, they cannot afford to lose their best defenseman. 

Four unanswered third-period goals gave the Montreal Canadiens a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators and head coach Claude Julien his 600th career NHL victory. Habs captain Shea Weber potted the game-winning goal after Artturi Lehkonen’s goal was overturned on a questionable diving call.

A three-goal first period enabled the Vancouver Canucks to cruise to a 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Canucks winger Brock Boeser had a goal and an assist. Flyers goaltender Anthony Stolarz left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury. The loss is stoking speculation over head coach Dave Hakstol’s future with the struggling club.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal scored the only goal in a shootout to give his club a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Barzal also had a goal and an assist in regulation play. Red Wings winger Thomas Vanek had a three-point night, including the game-tying goal.

Daniel Sprong scored twice to give the Anaheim Ducks a 2-1 overtime victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After struggling to crack the Pittsburgh Penguins roster, Sprong seems rejuvenated with the Ducks, netting three goals in five games. 

Nashville Predators goaltender Jusse Saros kicked out 33 shots in regulation and overtime and Ryan Johansen potted the game-winner in a shootout to defeat the New Jersey Devils 2-1.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom will miss six-to-eight weeks following surgery to repair an injured finger. 

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues re-signed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo to a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $1.375 million. He was slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a slight pay bump from the $1.15-million AAV of his current contract. This should also put to rest any speculation suggesting he could be a trade candidate. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights center Erik Haula underwent knee surgery last month and is unlikely to return this season. 

THE SCORE: A fan at the United Center got into a scrap with Chicago Blackhawks mascot Tommy Hawk following the club’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Police were notified and the team is looking into the incident. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tommy Hawk gave a good account of himself in this slobber knocker. You know the Blackhawks season is going poorly when a fan starts taking out his frustrations on the mascot. 

 










Updated Look At NHL Coaches on the Hot Seat

Updated Look At NHL Coaches on the Hot Seat

Earlier this month, I looked at several NHL coaches thought to be at risk of losing their jobs. Since then, the St. Louis Blues fired Mike Yeo while Todd McLellan was relieved of his duties by the Edmonton Oilers.

Yeo was among those on my previous list. Given the Blues ongoing struggles since then, it wasn’t surprising when his firing was announced last week.

McLellan wasn’t on my list because the Oilers at that time had recently overcome a slow start and seemed to be surging in the Western Conference standings. Their resulting slump led to his dismissal.

Given these recent developments, it’s time to revisit and revise the listing. Some who were on the original compilation have seen an upturn in their fortunes while others could still be feeling the heat.

Dave Hakstol, Philadelphia Flyers. While many of the Flyers faithful remain disenchanted with Hakstol, GM Ron Hextall remains patient with his coach and his roster. They’re playing .500 hockey right now as their performances continue to blow hot and cold. Their inconsistency continues to cast a harsh spotlight upon Hakstol.

Ottawa Senators coach Guy Boucher could be among several NHL coaches feeling the heat this season. (Photo via NHL.com).

Guy Boucher, Ottawa Senators. He’s in the final season of his contract and there’s no certainty he’ll be back after this season. Though the Senators defied expectations earlier this season, they’ve sunk in recent weeks toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference. With the club seemingly at the mercy of their unpredictable owner Eugene Melnyk, it wouldn’t be surprising if Boucher was handed his walking papers before the new year.

Bob Boughner, Florida Panthers. With a knee injury sidelining goaltender Roberto Luongo for the opening month of the season, the Panthers got off to a sputtering start. They’ve shown some improvement since Luongo’s return and aren’t out of playoff contention yet but remain at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. If they don’t gain ground in the standings soon, speculation could grow over Boughner’s job security.

Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins. With the Penguins sitting outside the Eastern Conference standings, GM Jim Rutherford is shopping around for trades to bolster his struggling roster. Sullivan can’t be faulted for injuries sidelining several key players, goalie Matt Murray’s shaky start and the lack of skilled depth among his checking lines. But if there are no season-saving trades on the horizon, perhaps Rutherford will consider a coaching change.

Randy Carlyle, Anaheim Ducks. Despite losing top defensemen Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm to recent injuries, the Ducks entered this week holding onto third place in the Pacific Division. Despite critics suggesting Carlyle’s tactics no longer work in a league trending toward youth and speed, Ducks general manager Bob Murray is sticking by his coach. Their recent improvement could reduce some of the heat Carlyle’s felt in recent weeks.

Jeff Blashill, Detroit Red Wings. After one of the worst starts in franchise history, the Red Wings rallied back in recent weeks. They’re now within striking distance of a wild-card berth, silencing Blashill’s critics. The Wings aren’t going to part with him now.

 










NHL Coaches Potentially On The Hot Seat

NHL Coaches Potentially On The Hot Seat

One month into the 2018-19 NHL campaign, two head coaches – Los Angeles’ John Stevens and Chicago’s Joel Quenneville – lost their jobs within 48 hours of each other. Stevens was fired by the Kings last Sunday while the Blackhawks axed Quenneville the following Tuesday.

That’s quite a contrast to 2017-18 when no coaches were fired during the regular-season schedule. Stevens and Quenneville join Alain Vigneault and Dave Tippett among several noteworthy former NHL bench bosses currently on the sidelines.

Some of them could end up behind an NHL bench in the near future.

Several struggling teams could opt for a coaching change later this season. Here’s a look at the current coaches on the hot seat.

Jeff Blashill, Detroit Red Wings. The Wings haven’t shown much improvement under Blashill, wallowing near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Granted, they’re still a rebuilding club with a mix of youngsters who’ve yet to reach their full potential and past-their-prime veterans. However, Blashill was supposed to advance the development of their young talent. For the most part, that hasn’t happened as quickly as hoped. The Wings could be willing to just let Blashill’s contract expire at the end of this season but the opportunity to bring in someone like Quenneville might hasten his departure.

The Ottawa Senators’ Guy Boucher could be among several NHL coaches potentially on the hot seat this season. (Photo via NHL.com)

 Guy Boucher, Ottawa Senators. From owner Eugene Melnyk’s cantankerous ways to the trading away of veterans Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, and Derick Brassard amid rumors of a divided dressing room, to several current players being secretly filmed recently mocking assistant coach Martin Raymond, the Senators have lurched from one disaster to another over the past 13 months. In the middle is Boucher, who’s in the final year of his contract trying to guide a retooled roster back to respectability. While the Sens are off to a better-than-expected start, Boucher still faces an uncertain future in Ottawa.

Bob Boughner, Florida Panthers. After narrowly missing the playoffs in 2017-18, the Panthers were expected to take a serious step toward playoff contender status during Boughner’s second season behind the bench. So far, however, they’ve stumbled out of the gate and find themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. A big reason was the absence of starting goalie Roberto Luongo for over a month with a knee injury. Boughner can’t be faulted for the poor play of backups James Reimer and Michael Hutchinson, but he could start feeling the heat if the Panthers fail to reverse their fortunes soon.

Randy Carlyle, Anaheim Ducks. With the Ducks transitioning toward youngster talent, they’re still struggling to adjust as the league shifts toward a faster-paced offensive style. That could cast Carlyle, who tends to favor a more physical defensive game, into a harsh spotlight. It hasn’t helped that aging forwards Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Corey Perry have been sidelined by injuries, with Perry out until March with a knee injury. Nevertheless, with the Ducks tumbling down the standings following a hot start, Carlyle could be on thin ice.

David Hakstol, Philadelphia Flyers. Hakstol’s success in the US college ranks hasn’t carried over into his NHL tenure. Under his coaching, the Flyers reached the playoffs in two of the last three seasons but failed to advance beyond the opening round. To be fair, Hakstol hasn’t had an established NHL starting goaltender and the defense is made up largely of still-developing youth. Still, the Flyers continue to struggle to find consistency. GM Ron Hextall is staying patient with Hakstol but he could be a lengthy losing streak away from losing his job.

Mike Yeo, St. Louis Blues. After bolstering their offense last summer, the Blues were expected to return to Stanley Cup contender status. Instead, they’re stuck near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. Following a 7-4 loss to Columbus, Yeo suggested his efforts could be in question, prompting speculation he’d be the first coach fired this season. Management has stuck by Yeo so far but if the Blues don’t improve soon, he could be out of the job by the end of November.