NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 30, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 30, 2024

The Panthers eliminate the Lightning, the Stars tie their series with the Golden Knights, the Vezina Trophy finalists are announced and the Kraken fire head coach Dave Hakstol. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-1 to win their best-of-seven first-round series in five games. Carter Verhaeghe and Aleksander Barkov each scored twice and collected an assist for the Panthers, who will play the winner of the Boston Bruins-Toronto Maple Leafs first-round series in the second round.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper was critical of two goalie interference calls that went against his club in this game. Those goals might’ve changed the outcome of this game had they counted but would’ve only delayed his club’s inevitable elimination. After years in the Lightning’s shadow, the Panthers emerged this season as the dominant NHL club in Florida.

This is the second straight season that the former Stanley Cup champion Lightning have been eliminated in the first round. The main reason is steady depletion of their roster due to salary cap constraints.

The future of Steven Stamkos is the biggest question facing the Lightning in this offseason. The long-time Tampa Bay captain is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Following this game, Stamkos said he hadn’t thought about it as he was focused on trying to help his team win this season. Cooper believes Stamkos knows he belongs with the Lightning. That will depend on whether he and Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois can agree to a new contract before free agency begins on July 1.

The Dallas Stars scored three unanswered goals as they overcame a 2-1 deficit to double up the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2 in Game 4 of their first-round series. Wyatt Johnston tied the game, Ty Dellandrea scored the winning goal and Jake Oettinger stopped 32 shots as the Stars tied this series at two games apiece. Michael Amadio and Jack Eichel scored for the Golden Knights.


NHL.COM: Sergei Bobrovsky of the Florida Panthers, Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks, and Connor Hellebucyk of the Winnipeg Jets are the finalists for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender in 2023-24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the three finalists. Hellebuyck seems the most likely to win this award, joining Bobrovsky as the only active goalies to win the Vezina at least twice.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken fired head coach Dave Hakstol after three seasons behind their bench. Hakstol guided the club to its first postseason in its second NHL season but they failed to qualify for the playoffs this season. Assistant coach Paul McFarland also won’t be returning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken’s disappointing follow-up to last season’s surprising performance isn’t solely on Hakstol. Matty Benier’s sophomore slump, another injury-shortened season for Andre Burakovsky and the offseason departures of Daniel Sprong and Morgan Geekie were contributing factors. Still, it’s usually the head coach who bears the responsibility when a team struggles.

There’s no shortage of candidates to replace Hakstol. They include former NHL bench bosses like Craig Berube, Todd McLellan, Gerard Gallant, and Dean Evason. The Times’ Geoff Baker suggested keeping an eye on Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour, whose current contract expires at the end of this season.

TORONTO STAR: The Maple Leafs are preparing to play Game 5 against the Bruins without Auston Matthews. The Leafs center missed practice on Monday with an ongoing illness and is questionable for tonight’s game.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark would love to start Game 5 against the Maple Leafs. However, he’s said he won’t be a “salty crybaby” if Jeremy Swayman gets the call. Swayman has played three of the four games thus far, winning all three.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins can advance to the second round with a win over the Leafs in Game 5.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet expects a better effort from his club as they look to eliminate the Nashville Predators in Game 5. He said his players were pleased with their comeback effort in Game 4 but they knew their play in that contest was average. Tocchet indicated they are focused on improvement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series would be tied at two games apiece if not for those frantic final minutes for the Canucks in Game 4. They can’t afford another average performance against a desperate Predators team in Game 5.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets forward Vladislav Namestnikov suffered a fractured cheekbone after being struck by a shot by teammate Nate Schmidt during Sunday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. However, he hasn’t been ruled out for Game 5 of the first-round series between the two clubs on Tuesday. The Avalanche hold a 3-1 series lead.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour is shaking up three of his lines for Game 5 against the New York Islanders. Jack Drury will move up to center the second line, winger Teuvo Teravainen drops down to the third line and Jesperi Kotkaniemi moves to the fourth line.

CBS SPORTS: New York Islanders forward Matt Martin will miss Game 5 against the Carolina Hurricanes with a lower-body injury.

NHL Rumor Mill – April 24, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – April 24, 2024

The latest on Pavel Buchnevich, Trevor Zegras and Brock Faber plus updates on the Blue Jackets, Canadiens and Kraken in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reported the St. Louis Blues are expected to “try and extend” Pavel Buchnevich. The 29-year-old winger will be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2025.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Buchnevich was the subject of trade speculation leading up to the March deadline. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong wasn’t actively shopping the winger but set a high asking price for clubs that came calling about him.

St. Louis Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich (NHL Images)

Buchnevich carries an average annual value of $5.8 million with a 12-team no-trade list. He’s been a reliable scorer for the retooling Blues, netting over 25 goals and 60 points per season since his acquisition from the New York Rangers in 2021.

It could cost the Blues an AAV of $8 million on a long-term deal to keep Buchnevich in the fold. He’ll be 30 when that new contract begins.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Lou Korac reported the solid goaltending of Jordan Binnington and Joel Hofer kept the Blues in the playoff race until the final week of the regular season.

They formed one of this season’s best goalie tandems. It’s the one area of the Blues roster that is the least of their worries going forward. The duo also have a good relationship and push each other in the right areas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m mentioning this because Binnington was the subject of some season-ending trade chatter because of his improved play and calmer demeanor. Based on Korac’s report, it’s unlikely the Blues intend to break up this tandem.


Friedman noted that Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras had eight points in his last 10 games. Sorting out his future could be “the most fascinating summer decision in the NHL”.

The Ducks challenged Zegras to show them something when he returned from injury and he did. However, Friedman believes there’s “a nagging sense not everyone’s comfortable with each other here”, referring to the relationship between the Zegras camp and general manager Pat Verbeek.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens reported Zegras has been linked to the Montreal Canadiens in speculation stretching back to midseason. The young forward said he’s seen it and it’s taken some of the fun out of social media for him. He also hasn’t spoken to Verbeek about it.

Stephens also noted that Zegras sees the composition of the Ducks and wonders where he fits into the picture and the club’s plans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rumors about Zegras will likely persist, especially after Verbeek said he’ll be shopping for a top-six right-shot forward and a top-four right-shot defenseman in the offseason. He could use the young winger as a trade chip to address one of those needs in the trade market.


Friedman believes the Minnesota Wild will throw Jake Sanderson money at Brock Faber following the rookie defenseman’s stellar performance this season. He has one year remaining on his entry-level contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would be an eight-year, $64 million contract with an AAV of $8.05 million. Don’t be surprised if it ends up being close to $9 million annually.

Filip Gustavsson wonders if he’s going to be traded.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild re-signing Marc-Andre Fleury to a one-year deal could set the stage for a Gustavsson trade if they believe Jesper Wallstedt is NHL-ready.

The Wild’s priority could be to find more scoring help for superstar winger Kirill Kaprizov. He’s two years away from UFA eligibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild currently have just $5.9 million in projected cap space with 19 active roster players under contract next season. Trading Gustavsson and his $3.75 million cap hit for next season could help provide some additional wiggle room to add another scoring forward.


Friedman noted the Columbus Blue Jackets took a hard look at veteran centers earlier this season. He wondered if that might still be a priority.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It should be, the Jackets have lacked skilled depth at center for a long time.

Turning to the Canadiens, Friedman anticipates they’ll attempt to sign winger Juraj Slafkovsky and defenseman Kaiden Guhle to contract extensions.

Friedman noted the recent speculation about Dave Hakstol’s future as the Seattle Kraken’s head coach. He’ll be shocked if Hakstol is fired. “That’s not (GM) Ron Francis’ way, and the coach was rewarded after last season’s playoff win with an extension.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Francis left open the possibility of some changes behind the bench in his recent remarks to the media about his offseason plans. He’s said he’s still examining what happened with his team this season.

NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – April 20, 2024

Check out the latest on the Flyers, Kings, Blues and Kraken in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


DAILY FACEOFF: Scott Maxwell reports Philadelphia Flyers general manager Daniel Briere said his club is open for business if there’s a trade that makes sense.

During his end-of-season press conference on Friday, Briere indicated the Flyers’ competitiveness this season won’t change his plans for a long-term rebuild. However, he’s open to making moves that improve his roster right away.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall reported Briere backed his head coach John Tortorella, claiming the two sides have “a great relationship”.

Philadelphia Flyers general manager Daniel Briere (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That should snuff out speculation over Tortorella’s future with the Flyers that arose as the club stumbled down the stretch.

Briere provided no immediate update on goaltender Carter Hart, who’s on a leave of absence due to the Hockey Canada sexual assault case. The trial reportedly won’t begin until after the start of the 2024-25 season. For now, the Flyers intend to start next season with Samuel Ersson and Ivan Fedotov as their goaltending tandem.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both young goalies did their best but the additional workload after Hart’s departure in January wore them down, especially Ersson. They might be better prepared for next season but don’t rule out the possibility that they add an affordable veteran on a short-term contract.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Before Briere’s press conference, Sam Carchidi speculated over the Flyers GM’s plans for the offseason.

Carchidi wondered if Briere would trade for a true No. 1 defenseman or attempt to bring back former Flyer Sean Walker as a free agent. He believes their lack of a first-line center is a glaring need. He wondered if Briere might roll the dice on Vancouver Canucks center Elias Lindholm, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers only have $3.8 million in projected cap space, though they could get $4 million in cap relief if Ryan Johansen ends up on long-term injury reserve next season. They’ll get another $6.25 million with Ryan Ellis on permanent LTIR.

There’s enough cap room to pursue someone like Lindholm. Based on Briere’s comments, however, he seems more interested in the trade market than signing expensive free agents. Don’t expect Lindholm to suit up for the Flyers next season.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Spencer Lazary believes the Los Angeles Kings must make improving their goaltending a top priority this summer, especially if they make an early exit from the playoffs.

There were reports that the Kings attempted to acquire goalie Linus Ullmark from the Boston Bruins before the March 8 trade deadline but he vetoed the trade. Lazary noted there are few options available in this summer’s free-agent market. Current Kings starter Cam Talbot is among them.

Possible trade targets include Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom, St. Louis’ Jordan Binnington, Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry and Anaheim’s John Gibson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’d include Nashville’s Jusse Saros depending on his contract extension talks with Predators management. If the Kings stage a deep playoff run I expect they’ll still be in the market for a new starting goalie to replace the 36-year-old Talbot.

Lazary also believes forward Arthur Kaliyev may be in his final season with the Kings. The 22-year-old winger has been slowly phased out of the lineup and isn’t seeing much ice time when he does play.

Barring a strong playoff performance, Kaliyev could become a trade candidate. He’s completing his entry-level contract and might make a good reclamation project as a trade candidate.


THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford looked at the St. Louis Blues’ offseason priorities. Finding a second-line center, adding secondary scoring and making a move on the blueline are among the issues facing general manager Doug Armstrong.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have around $13 million in cap space. That’s going to hamper Armstrong’s efforts to address those issues.

Trading one of his high-salaried defensemen would help but the four (Colton Parayko, Torey Krug, Justin Faulk and Nick Leddy) have no-trade protection. Armstrong tried to trade Krug to Philadelphia last June but the blueliner spiked the deal.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Geoff Baker doesn’t see the Kraken replacing general manager Ron Francis but doesn’t rule out head coach Dave Hakstol losing his job.

Baker raised concerns over the regression of several Kraken players this season, including Jared McCann, Eeli Tolvanen, Andre Burakovsky, Oliver Bjorkstrand and 2023 Calder Trophy winner Matty Beniers.

NHL Rumor Mill – April 6, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – April 6, 2024

The latest on the Senators and Kraken in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch doubted the Senators’ recent five-game win streak will give general manager Steve Staios pause from making the necessary offseason changes for his club to take the next step toward playoff contention.

Garrioch believes the Senators’ top priorities are finding the right head coach and addressing their goaltending. Buying out the final four seasons of starter Joonas Korpisalo’s contract “seems far-fetched at best.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed, and it’s also unlikely they’ll be able to trade Korpisalo’s contract. They’ll keep him and have him work on improving his game in the offseason.

It’s expected the Senators will attempt to trade backup Anton Forberg, who has a year left on his deal.

Ottawa Senators center Shane Pinto (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg’s struggles and his $2.75 million cap hit next season means Staios might have to package him with a sweetener like a draft pick or retain part of his cap hit to find a suitor.

A decision must be made regarding defenseman Jakob Chychrun, who becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season. The Senators also need better depth on their third and fourth forward line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chychrun wants to stay partly because of his family ties to Ottawa. However, I can see Staios shopping him for a top-four right-shot defenseman.

THE ATHLETIC: Ian Mendes is interested in what Shane Pinto receives on his next contract. The 23-year-old center signed a one-year, $775K deal shortly before returning from his 41-game suspension for violating the NHL’s sports wagering rules.

Since Pinto’s return, he’s scored eight goals and 25 points in 34 games, putting him on a prorated pace of 20 goals and 68 points. He’ll be a restricted free agent without arbitration rights as he needed one more season to become arbitration-eligible. Mendes suspects a bridge deal could be the outcome.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A two-year deal worth around $5 million annually should get it done. What say you, Senators fans? Let me know in the comments section.


THE SEATTLE TIMES: Geoff Baker believes some big offseason decisions are coming for the Kraken. After reaching the playoffs last season in just their second year of existence, they’ve been eliminated from contention this season.

Baker believes there will be an evaluation of head coach Dave Hakstol’s performance. If they intend to keep him beyond this month, they must retain him through next season and more or risk wasting time they don’t have. He believes the Kraken must convince their fans that they’re heading in a positive direction.

The Kraken could make one or two key additions this summer that won’t be cheap. Before making that commitment, they must ensure they have the right man behind the bench. They must also figure out why their offense bottomed out this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will be interesting to see how Kraken GM Ron Francis handles this situation.

Baker wondered if the scoring drought was due to Hakstol’s system or other factors. He pointed out that they let their high-scoring fourth-liners depart last summer via free agency to make room for incoming youth. They may have also put too much faith in Andre Burakovsky and Matty Beniers scoring at a 25-goal pace.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 20, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 20, 2023

Nicklas Backstrom talks about his recovery from hip resurfacing, the Leafs’ Ilya Samsonov and the Blackhawks’ Philipp Kurashev face arbitration, the latest notable contract signings and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is looking forward to playing a full season after his recovery from his hip resurfacing procedure last year.

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (NHL Images).

Backstrom, 34, indicated that he’d been dealing with chronic hip pain since 2015 which eventually worsened, affecting his play and quality of life away from the arena. Since the procedure, he said that he’s gotten his life back and is confident he’ll be even stronger for the Capitals in the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom missed the first half of last season recovering from the procedure, finishing with 21 points in 39 games. At the end of last season, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan expressed uncertainty over whether he could fully regain his form.

Backstrom’s performance will likely be the main focus when Washington’s training camp opens in September. Improvement in his play will be a significant factor in the outcome of the Capitals’ 2023-24 season.

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs and goaltender Ilya Samsonov are $2.5 million apart in their salary arbitration filings. Samsonov seeks a one-year contract worth $4.9 million while the Leafs countered with $2.4 million. The two sides have until Friday to reach an agreement on a new contract before the scheduled arbitration hearing.

THE ATHLETIC: The Chicago Blackhawks and forward Philipp Kurashev have yet to reach an agreement on a new contract with an arbitration hearing slated for Thursday. It appears that this will go before an arbitrator. Kurashev seeks a one-year, $2.65 million deal while the Blackhawks seek a two-year contract with an average annual value of $1.4 million.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets and Gabriel Vilardi have avoided arbitration as the two sides agreed to a two-year contract with an AAV of $3.437 million.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Golden Knights avoided arbitration with forward Brett Howden, signing him to a two-year contract with an AAV of $1.9 million.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The New Jersey Devils signed former Boston Bruins forward Tomas Nosek to a one-year, one-way contract worth $1 million.

SEATTLE HOCKEY INSIDER: The Kraken signed head coach Dave Hakstol to a two-year contract extension through 2025-26.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken’s performance this season landed Hakstol that extension. They reached the playoffs in just their second season of existence. He was a finalist in 2022-23 for the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year.

ESPN.COM: New NHL Players Association executive director Marty Walsh is focused on getting NHL players involved in the 2026 Milano Cortina Olympic Winter Games in Italy. He indicated that he’s been working with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, collectively together with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL last participated in the Winter Olympics in 2014.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Former NHL defenseman Markus Nutivaara said he doesn’t miss playing hockey after a hip injury prematurely ended his playing career. The 29-year-old announced his retirement two weeks ago.

Nutivaara began to feel the effects of the injury in 2019-20. He said that when his hip failed to improve, his back started to fail and other problems flared up. “I skated on one leg for three years,” he said. He indicated that he underwent two operations to address osteoarthritis in his hip until the doctors informed him they could do no more.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: During the interview, Nutivaara said his hip is still pretty bad. He took the time to praise the San Jose Sharks for their support, singling out his Finnish teammates as well as Sharks icon Joe Thornton.

Nutivaara also warned young players off taking painkillers. He said that he took them often during the 2019-20 season, indicating that he felt stomach pain doing so. He said it wasn’t worthwhile to continue his playing career if he needed painkillers to do it.

TSN: Nate Thompson has announced his retirement following his 15-season NHL career. He last played in 2021-22 with the Philadelphia Flyers. The 38-year-old forward scored 65 goals and collected 99 assists over 844 career games with the Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets and Flyers.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 25, 2021

The Canadiens advance to the Stanley Cup Final, the Seattle Kraken introduce Dave Hakstol as their first head coach, the latest on Nikita Kucherov and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens are heading to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993. Artturi Lehkonen’s overtime goal gave the Canadiens a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6 to win their best-of-seven series four games to two. Habs goalie Carey Price made 37 saves for the win.

Montreal Canadiens pose with Clarence S. Campbell Bowl after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in six games (NHL.com).

Montreal captain Shea Weber opened the scoring in the first period but Vegas winger Reilly Smith quickly tied it. The Canadiens regained the lead in the second on a Cole Caufield goal but Alec Martinez tallied the equalizer in the third period.

The Canadiens were presented with the Clarence Campbell Bowl, usually awarded to the winner of the Western Conference Final. It’s the first time in franchise history they’ve won this award.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Canadiens for once again defying the odds and the doubters with another series victory over a very talented opponent. They’ve reached this point thanks to Price’s goaltending, a superior penalty kill, and a strong five-man system based on solid defensive play and a speedy transition game. They’re playing very well and deserve to be where they are.

The Golden Knights’ failure to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight year could bring about some roster changes in the offseason. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.

The Canadiens now await the winner of tonight’s Game 7 between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is slated for Monday, June 28.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken yesterday announced Dave Hakstol as their first head coach in franchise history. The former coach of North Dakota in the NCAA, he’s was the bench boss of the Philadelphia Flyers for over three seasons. Hakstol spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hakstol was rarely mentioned in media speculation as a candidate for the Kraken coaching gig. As the Times observed, he did have connections with the Kraken front office. He worked with general manager Ron Francis during their tenure with Team Canada at the 2019 World Championships. Jason Botterill was the GM of that squad and now works as an assistant general manager with the Kraken.

NHL.COM: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov’s status for Game 7 against the Islanders remains unknown. He left early in Game 6 with an undisclosed injury following a cross-check from Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield and hitting Mathew Barzal as his shift was ending. He’s this postseason’s leading scorer with 27 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning played with Kucherov throughout the regular season so they shouldn’t have much difficulty adjusting without him. Still, the potential absence of their leading scorer could be a crucial factor tonight.

ESPN.COM: Hall-of-Famer Mark Messier will join ESPN as a studio analyst beginning next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wonder if he’ll accept cold calls

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings signed Blake Lizotte to a one-year, $800K contract extension.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars signed center Rhett Gardner to a two-year deal worth $1.5 million.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports Dallas Stars assistant coach Todd Nelson will have a third interview with the Arizona Coyotes for their head-coaching position. More talks could also be in store with Ottawa 67s coach Andre Tourigny.

St. Louis Blues assistant coach Mike Van Ryn and Providence Bruins coach Jay Leach are no longer in the running for the job.