NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 2, 2021

Update on new contracts for Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, no players opt-out of the coming season, Robin Lehner speaks out about Jack Eichel’s standoff with the Sabres, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE PROVINCE: New contracts for Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson and defenseman Quinn Hughes are expected to be formally announced over the weekend. Pettersson, 22, has reportedly agreed to a three-year contract worth an annual average value of $7.35 million while the 21-year-old Hughes’ new deal is for six years with an AAV of $7.85 million.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: General manager Jim Benning is garnering praise from the media for getting both players signed for less than they were seeking. Still, Pettersson and Hughes are being well-compensated as the Canucks’ two best players. They will be in a better position to garner bigger raises on their next contracts.

Speaking of the Canucks, defenseman Travis Hamonic has decided not to opt out of participating in the upcoming season by Friday’s deadline. He remains at home in Manitoba dealing with a personal matter. Benning released a statement indicating the club supports him but didn’t indicate when the 31-year-old blueliner will return to the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No NHL player took the opt-out option by yesterday’s deadline.

Meanwhile, Canucks winger Brock Boeser is out for at least a week with an undisclosed injury.

THE SCORE: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner called out the NHL Players Association on Twitter regarding the standoff between the Buffalo Sabres and Jack Eichel. The two sides are locked in a disagreement over medical treatment for a herniated disc in his neck.

A former Sabre and teammate of Eichel, Lehner criticized what he believes to be the PA’s lack of support for Eichel over what the goalie considers an attack on the players’ freedom of choice regarding their health. He also expressed disappointment for what he perceived as his fellow players’ unwillingness to stick up for each other.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The problem is the collective bargaining agreement gives the teams the final say over what treatment players receive for hockey-related injuries. The PA has been involved with the league in trying to find a solution to this standoff. Whether they’ll be part of any further action on Eichel’s part to address this situation remains to be seen.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The prospect of facing 14-day quarantines following every American road trip convinced Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith to get the COVID-19 vaccination. While not an anti-vaxxer, Keith believed his conditioning as an elite athlete and the steps he’s taken to strengthen his immune system would leave him facing little risk of contracting the coronavirus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This list of unvaccinated players who missed games last season for COVID-related reasons says otherwise. Not every player on that list contracted COVID-19 but a significant number of them did, missing several games or even undergoing a pause in their schedules as a result. 

WPLG MIAMI: Contract talks between the Florida Panthers and captain Aleksander Barkov are progressing slowly. The 26-year-old center is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next July. Barkov remains confident a deal will get done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers better be prepared to pay big bucks to keep their best player in the fold. Barkov’s camp could seek $10 million annually on an eight-year deal but Panthers management could try to sell him on Florida’s lack of a state tax as justification to accept a little less than that.

Whatever Barkov gets could leave the Panthers with a cap crunch for 2022-23. Cap Friendly shows them carrying a projected $66.9 million invested in 14 players.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan revealed he played through the second half of last season with a fractured left tibia. “I tried my best to stay in the lineup and stay healthy,” said de Haan. “It didn’t feel good”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As someone who also suffered a fractured left tibia, I agree with de Haan that it doesn’t feel good. However, I didn’t try to play hockey on it, or anything else for that matter until it fully healed.

ECHL.COM: The Allen Americans have entered into an affiliation agreement with the NHL’s Seattle Kraken.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 1, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 1, 2021

An update on Brady Tkachuk’s contract talks with the Senators, the latest on Jack Eichel, and trade speculation about the Canucks’ Travis Hamonic in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Darren Dreger reported last night on the contract talks of the Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes and the Ottawa Senators’ Brady Tkachuk. The trio is training together in Michigan as they await the finalization of their new deals.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk (NHL Images).

While the Canucks are making progress with Pettersson and Hughes, discussions are grinding on between the Senators and Tkachuk’s representatives. While the relationship remains amicable, Dreger indicates the structure of the deal remains the sticking point.

If Tkachuk accepts a long-term deal, Dreger believes he’ll want bonus money and some no-trade protection. If it’s a bridge deal, he speculates the annual average value could be too much for the Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports out of Ottawa claim the Senators have tabled an eight-year deal worth an annual average value of $8 million. The length and AAV could be fine with the Tkachuk camp, but they want a portion of his actual salary to come in the form of signing bonuses.

Players with signing bonuses in their contracts get that money upfront in one lump sum at the start of each season. More star players are insisting on that because of the flattened salary cap for the next several years. The Senators, however, don’t include signing bonuses in their contracts.

As per Cap Friendly, Tkachuk isn’t eligible for no-trade protection until he’s played seven NHL seasons because he made his NHL debut at age 19. That means it wouldn’t kick in under his new contract until after the fourth season.

The no-trade protection should be the easiest of those issues to hash out but that depends on whether the Senators will allow for a full no-trade or a partial one. Their position on signing bonuses could be the biggest stumbling block if they’re unwilling to relent.

Turning to the standoff between the Buffalo Sabres and Jack Eichel, Dreger reports the NHL and NHLPA have been speaking to all parties involved and have been for some time. An interesting twist is that teams with trade interest in Eichel are being given medical information as it comes in.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s heft contract, the Sabres’ expensive asking price and the ongoing uncertainty over his medical status remain significant impediments toward getting a trade done. Nevertheless, the fact interested clubs are being allowed access to Eichel’s medical records suggests they could allow him to undergo the disc replacement surgery he’s been pushing for. Whether that means we’ll see a deal made soon remains to be seen.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: Rob Simpson the Canucks have been shopping defenseman Travis Hamonic ahead of today’s opt-out deadline. It hasn’t been confirmed by Hamonic’s agent if his client would show up to play for an American team if traded or opt-out of this season regardless.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamonic hasn’t reported to Canucks training camp amid concerns over the league’s COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming season. Players have until today to opt-out of participating.

Hamonic passed on the 2020 playoff bubble because his then-infant daughter was hospitalized with a respiratory ailment. We’ll find out by the end of today whether he’ll be playing this season and if it’ll be with the Canucks.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 29, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 29, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, Vladimir Tarasenko and Travis Hamonic in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau believes it could take some time, perhaps until the March trade deadline, for the Buffalo Sabres to move Jack Eichel and the St. Louis Blues to deal away Vladimir Tarasenko.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

One reason is roughly half the teams in the league have less than $1 million in cap space. Most of those clubs are projected to be playoff contenders and thus would have the most interest in acquiring Tarasenko, who’s signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $7.5 million. He thinks the likelihood of the Blues winger waiving his no-trade clause for a rebuilding team is slim.

Given Eichel’s hefty contract ($10 million AAV for five seasons), the market is likely to include non-contenders with the cap space and depth in prospects and draft picks to meet the Sabres’ expensive asking price.

With term remaining on Eichel’s and Tarasenko’s respective contracts, the Sabres and Blues aren’t facing pressure to move them before this season’s trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The best opportunity to move either player was prior to the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft. After that round was completed on July 23, the chances of trading one or both declined as teams no longer had the first-round pick the Sabres wanted as part of the return.

Any realistic chance of moving them during the offseason all but vanished after the free-agent market opened on July 28. Many of the interested clubs no longer had sufficient cap space to take on those expensive cap hits.

Health was also a factor. Eichel’s situation was well-documented. Tarasenko, meanwhile, was coming off his third shoulder surgery in two years. It’s believed some teams with interest in Tarasenko want to see how he performs this season. The same holds true for Eichel depending on which procedure he eventually gets and the length of recovery.

SPORTSNET: During his latest “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman speculates it could take the NHL stepping in to resolve the impasse between the Sabres and Eichel over which medical procedure he’ll undergo to repair a herniated disc in his neck.

Friedman understands the NHL wants to protect the rules of the CBA, which gives teams control over the medical and health procedures of their players. Nevertheless, he feels this isn’t a good look for the league to have one of its star players being held back from playing because they can’t agree on a surgery.

He also suggested every team should see Eichel’s medical records if he agrees to it. It’s difficult to trade a player carrying a $10 million per season contract but it’s almost impossible to do so given the lack of information over his current condition.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Back in August, Friedman reported the league met with the Sabres, Eichel and his representatives, and the NHLPA in an attempt to help all sides reach an agreement but nothing was resolved. That could be the extent of the league’s involvement in this situation.

It’ll be interesting to see if the NHLPA pushes for players to have more control regarding the treatment of hockey-related injuries in the next round of collective bargaining.

 

 










NHL Rumor Mill – September 28, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 28, 2021

An update on the Senators’ contract talks with Brady Tkachuk plus the latest on the Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators remain in contract talks with Brady Tkachuk’s representatives as training camp continues without the 22-year-old restricted free agent winger.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk (NHL Images).

General manager Pierre Dorion has been in daily contact with Tkachuk’s agents Craig Oster and Don Meehan. It’s believed the Senators tabled an eight-year, $64 million contract. While the two sides aren’t far apart regarding the dollars, the structure of the deal remains a sticking point.

The issue is Tkachuk’s agents seek bonus money for their client and the Senators don’t want to go that route. TSN’s Darren Dreger wonders if a short-term deal could be the middle ground. While the Senators have plenty of salary-cap space, Garrioch believes they don’t want to sink 60 percent of their cap payroll into four or five players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Missing training camp will affect Tkachuk’s performance when he finally returns to the lineup. That could become a potential setback for the Senators’ hopes of playoff contention this season. There’s no indication how much longer this impasse could drag on though one phone call from either camp could quickly bring this to a resolution.

I’ve seen some fans musing over the internet over whether the Senators could trade Tkachuk if this standoff carries over into the regular season. I doubt they’ll go to that extreme. He remains a valuable member of their core. Garrioch also noted the deadline for clubs to get their RFAs under contract is Dec. 1. I’ll be surprised they reach that point without a resolution.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning addressed the ongoing absence of defenseman Travis Hamonic from training camp. He expressed confidence last week that the 31-year-old would report after missing medicals and the start of training camp.

It’s believed Hamonic’s absence is related to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols for unvaccinated players for the upcoming season. The deadline to opt-out of this season is Oct. 1. Hamonic took that option in the 2020 playoff after his infant daughter was hospitalized with a serious respiratory infection.

Benning said Hamonic is dealing with a personal issue and wants everyone to give the blueliner the space he needs to deal with it. He added he’s in constant contact with Hamonic’s agent. Kuzma said the Canucks GM didn’t want to dwell on the cause of the blueliner’s absence, the opt-out deadline, or what maneuvering he might have to do to reallocate Hamonic’s $3 million salary this season to add a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are also dealing with the ongoing absences of restricted free agents Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. If Hamonic opts out of this season, perhaps some of that $3 million he was supposed to earn will go toward new contracts for Pettersson and Hughes.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2021

The NHL finds no evidence Evander Kane bet on games, several players remain unvaccinated or partially vaccinated as training camps open plus the latest contract signings, injury updates & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NO EVIDENCE KANE BET ON GAMES, SAYS NHL

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The NHL announced Wednesday it found no evidence San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane bet on league games. The accusation was leveled by Kane’s estranged wife Anna several weeks ago, prompting the league’s investigation.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

However, the NHL is now investigating “additional unrelated allegations involving potential wrongdoing by Mr. Kane” linked to a domestic violence restraining order filed by Anna on Tuesday. The Sharks released a statement yesterday indicating the 30-year-old winger has agreed not to participate in training camp until further notice.

LATEST NHL COVID-19 NEWS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith will miss the opening week of training camp. He’ll be in quarantine until Oct. 1 after traveling to the United States to get a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccination.

Meanwhile, Oilers general manager Ken Holland said winger Josh Archibald is the only unvaccinated player in training camp. If he remains that way for the coming season, he’ll need a 14-day quarantine to participate in road games in the United States. He will be suspended without pay during that period which won’t count against the club’s salary cap. Archibald could miss 30-plus games and forfeit $600k in wages.

Oilers goaltender Alex Stalock is expected to be sidelined for the entire season due to a heart condition (myocarditis) related to his bout with COVID-19 last November. Holland said there are no plans at this time to seek another veteran goalie.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman said winger Tyler Bertuzzi is the only player on his team to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine. He’ll be unable to travel to Canada under current border restrictions which require a 14-day quarantine for unvaccinated players traveling into the country. He could forfeit $400K of his salary based on those Canadian road games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland and Yzerman indicated they aren’t going to force anyone to get vaccinated. The league’s COVID restrictions and the prospect of lost wages, however, could eventually convince Archibald and Bertuzzi to change their minds. Their stance has the potential to create a rift among teammates who could consider them a risk to their health and safety.

Most NHL players are well-conditioned athletes with good odds of avoiding the worst serious symptoms of COVID-19. Stalock’s situation, however, should serve as a warning that they’re not totally immune.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander is not yet fully vaccinated but will be when the season opens next month. “I had a couple of medical things that I had to take care of but I’ll be vaccinated by the beginning of the season.”

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Travis Hamonic was reportedly not in training camp and his absence isn’t injury-related. That led to speculation his absence was related to the league’s COVID protocols but GM Jim Benning said he’ll be in camp.

Benning also acknowledged winger Justin Bailey has tested positive for COVID-19 before crossing the Canada – US border. He’ll have to wait another 10 days before he can join his teammates in Vancouver.

Speaking of the Canucks, they signed winger Alex Chiasson to a professional tryout offer.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens forward Jesse Ylonen has changed his mind and agreed to be vaccinated.

TSN: More than a dozen infectious disease and critical care doctors are calling on the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers to drop plans to stage games in full-capacity arenas this season. The province of Alberta is reeling through an unprecedented medical crisis amid the fourth wave of COVID-19.

The Oilers issued a statement indicating fans will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to gain entry to Rogers Place. They will also insist fans wear masks when not eating or drinking.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Calgary Flames have a mandatory vaccine policy in place for fans attending their games this season.

NOTABLE CONTRACT SIGNINGS

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed defenseman Rasmus Dahlin to a three-year, $18 million contract. The annual average value is $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fair signing for both sides. Dahlin gets a significant pay raise coming off his entry-level contract while the Sabres commit to a short-term bridge deal. His signing leaves Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes and Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk as the only remaining notable restricted free agents.

THE SCORE: The Los Angeles Kings signed goaltender Cal Petersen to a three-year contract extension with an annual average value of $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petersen is the heir apparent to long-time Kings starting goalie Jonathan Quick. He took over the starter’s role last season, appearing in 35 games to Quick’s 22. The latter is signed through 2022-23 with an annual cap hit of $5.8 million.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed right wing Logan O’Connor to a three-year, $3.15 million contract extension.

INJURY UPDATES

GOPHNX.com’s Craig Morgan reports Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel is sidelined two-three weeks with a foot injury suffered during offseason training.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews will miss the first part of the upcoming season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Cal Foote will be sidelined by a hand injury for the entire training camp and preseason as well as the first two-to-four weeks of the regular season.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TSN: The St. Louis Blues announced they’ve named Peter Chiarelli as their vice-president of hockey operations while Ken Hitchcock rejoins the club as a coaching consultant.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers confirmed their arena will be called the FLA Live Arena for this season. The club is looking for a new naming rights partner for 2022.










What Next For the Vancouver Canucks?

What Next For the Vancouver Canucks?