NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 26, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 26, 2020

The Sabres avoid arbitration with Sam Reinhart and Linus Ullmark, the Red Wings and Tyler Bertuzzi await an arbiter’s decision, and Martin Hanzal retires. Check out the details in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Buffalo Sabres winger Sam Reinhart (NHL Images).

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres avoided salary arbitration with winger Sam Reinhart and goaltender Linus Ullmark. Reinhart agreed to a one-year, $5.2 million contract while Ullmark inked a one-year deal worth $2.6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both are affordable short-term contracts that could lead to more lucrative deals for both players following next season. Reinhart, 24, exceeded 40 points in each of his five NHL seasons, including 65 points in 2018-19 and 50 points in 69 games last season. Ullmark, 27, took over as the Sabres’ starting goaltender last season, finishing with 17 wins in 34 games with a 2.69 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings and Tyler Bertuzzi had their virtual salary-arbitration hearing yesterday and now await the arbiter’s decision. The Wings offered $3.15 million while Bertuzzi sought $4.25 million. The 25-year-old winger led the club with 21 goals and finished second in points with 48.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bertuzzi is the first player among the 26 who filed for arbitration this year to go before an arbiter. The report also notes the arbiter’s decision will be handed down within 48 hours of the hearing’s completion. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the team and the player can no longer continue to negotiate once the hearing is completed.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks opted not to use their second buyout window on Sunday to buy out the remaining season of Brandon Sutter’s contract. He’s earning an annual average value of $4.35 million. General manager Jim Benning cited the 34-year-old center’s leadership and defensive skills as justification for retaining him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Canucks are $1.5 million above the $81.5 million salary cap. The report suggested Benning has other options to become cap compliant for next season, such as putting Micheal Ferland (post-concussion symptoms) on long-term injury reserve if he’s unable to start next season. He could also demote a player or two to the minors.

THE SCORE: Martin Hanzal announced his retirement citing three back surgeries. The 34-year-old center spent 12 seasons in the NHL, with nearly 10 of them with the Arizona Coyotes. Traded to the Minnesota Wild at the 2017 trade deadline, he spent his final two seasons with the Dallas Stars, though injuries limited him to just 45 games. Hanzal finished his NHL career with 127 goals and 338 points in 673 games, as well as 13 points in 28 playoff contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hanzal in his future endeavors.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 15, 2020

Players mull over the idea of performing in arenas without fans, Ryan Reaves and Evander Kane put aside their differences to help form Hockey Diversity Alliance, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE CANADIAN PRESS (via CTV News): Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and teammate Darnell Nurse, Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, and Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler are among several NHL players pondering playing in arenas without fans under the league’s return-to-play plan later this summer.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (Photo via NHL Images).

NHL players are accustomed to playing in front of thousands of noisy fans, drawing energy and intensity from the crowds. That won’t be the case during the 24-team playoff tournament, as fans won’t be allowed into the two hub arenas due to COVID-19 concerns.

Nurse believes it will be a test for the players to create their own intensity. Tavares acknowledged it’ll be unlike what the players are used to, but pointed out the game between the boards remains the same.

Wheeler suggests players will have to push aside the distraction of silence and remember millions of fans will be watching them on television. McDavid, meanwhile, acknowledged it won’t be the same. “It’ll suck, but we gotta do what we gotta do.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The lack of fan noise will be a little disconcerting at first, but I expect the players will quickly adjust. As Nurse pointed out, the players will have to find other ways to create their own environment and draw sufficient motivation.

THE SCORE: Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane have a well-documented rivalry. However, the two put their differences aside to become part of the newly-formed Hockey Diversity Alliance, which seeks to eradicate racism from hockey.

I spoke to Evander and told him I want to jump in on this powerful message,” Reaves told the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Ed Graney. “We have to put aside our differences on the ice and come together for a much bigger cause.”

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said he and his staff intend to use their time leading up to the tournament in preparation to face the Edmonton Oilers, their qualifying-round opponent. They intend to work on improving their systems while ramping up their focus on the Oilers as the tournament draws near.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL coaches will have plenty of time to prepare. Late July is the earliest the tournament could begin, though early August seems the more likely time.

NJ.COM: Executives from the seven non-playoff clubs are hoping the NHL will allow them to spend some on-ice time evaluating their players during their long off-season. The New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators, and San Jose Sharks failed to qualify for the post-season tournament.

Devils interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald said those teams are hoping to get in some form of game action for their players.

Bring them in in any shape or form. It could be a mini-camp. It could be rookie camp. It could be a rookie tournament. Maybe the Eastern teams get together. Maybe there’s an appetite for all of us to somehow have some sort of mini-tournament. But there’s definitely going to be some push from us at least to be able to have the ability to work with our players in a smaller window, whatever that may look like. We all believe it’s not fair that we go nine months without being able to have contact with our players.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getting those teams together could be difficult as they’d all have to follow the same protocols as those participating in the playoff tournament. Perhaps mini-camps or rookie camps would be acceptable, though those clubs might have to pick up the costs of travel, accommodation, and COVID-19 testing.

HOKEJ.CZ: reports Dallas Stars forward Martin Hanzal is considering retirement after spending the past several seasons plagued by back injuries. He’s in the final year of his contract and spent the entire 2019-20 season on long-term injury reserve. With his contract still technically on the Stars’ books, he’ll likely wait until this season is over before making it official.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Craig Morgan reports Hanzal told him two months ago retirement was likely, but he’d wait until his contract expired to make an official decision. Morgan writes Hanzal’s back problems flare up whenever he plays hockey.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former Oiler Nail Yakupov, the first-overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, is bouncing around the KHL with the same frequency as he did during his final NHL seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I attributed Yakupov’s NHL woes to the revolving door of coaches during his four seasons with the Oilers. However, it appears his problems are much deeper than that. He has the dubious honor of being among the biggest draft busts in NHL history.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens mascot Youppi! is the first character from a Canadian-based sports team to be inducted into The Mascot Hall of Fame. He’s also the first two-sport mascot to be inducted, having joined the Canadiens in 2005 after serving with the Montreal Expos from 1979 until the MLB club was relocated in 2004. Youppi! is also the only mascot to be ejected from an MLB game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations, Youppi! One of my favorite mascots of all time.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 1, 2019

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 1, 2019

Updates on Jake Gardiner and Rasmus Ristolainen plus the latest Stars speculation in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman recently weighed in on the status of Jake Gardiner, who remains unsigned with training camp less than two weeks away. While Friedman believes there’s mutual interest between Gardiner and the Toronto Maple Leafs, he wonders how the 29-year-old defenseman could increase his value by rejoining the Leafs in a potential third-pairing role.

Is returning to the Maple Leafs still an option for Jake Gardiner? (Photo via NHL Images)

If returning to the Leafs isn’t an option, Friedman said he’s heard the Montreal Canadiens, Arizona Coyotes, and Winnipeg Jets have been linked to Gardiner. The Buffalo Sabres could be another if they trade away Rasmus Ristolainen. So could the Carolina Hurricanes, depending on what they do.

Luke Fox also believes Montreal could be a destination for Gardiner, as well as the Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils. He also noted Friedman naming the Jets as a possible destination.

Fox also wondered why it’s taking so long for Gardiner to land a new contract. Dominic Moore suggests part of it could be because NHL general managers could be letting the dust settle after a busy period from June into early July before determining their next moves.

TORONTO STAR: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin McGran speculated Gardiner could return to the Leafs if Mitch Marner agreed to a short-term deal worth around $9 million per season. The defenseman would also have to agree to an affordable salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most speculation this summer suggested Gardiner could have a verbal agreement with a team that’s waiting to make another move before officially signing him. When asked by pundits about his status, Gardiner has politely declined to elaborate, providing fodder for the “handshake agreement” theory.

Given the difficulty the Leafs seem to be facing getting Marner under contract, it appears unlikely they’ll bring back Gardiner. Still, general manager Kyle Dubas has proven capable of juggling his salary-cap space this summer so we probably shouldn’t fully dismiss that notion.

If Trevor van Riemsdyk takes longer to recover from shoulder surgery, perhaps the Hurricanes might consider Gardiner as a short-term replacement. However, they’ll likely give Haydn Fleury, Jake Bean or Gustav Forsling an opportunity.

The Canadiens and Jets could certainly use Gardiner. So could the Wings but GM Steve Yzerman could be willing to give his younger blueliners more playing time this season. If the Sabres trade Ristolainen it’s believed they’ll want a top-six forward in return. That probably won’t leave much cap room for Gardiner.


THE BUFFALO NEWS: During a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski was asked why the Buffalo Sabres haven’t yet traded defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. One reason could be the unusually large number of restricted free agent stars still unsigned by several teams. That includes the Jets, who seem an ideal fit for a Ristolainen deal.

Lysowski also feels Ristolainen didn’t do the Sabres any favors by publicly voicing his frustrations, hurting the club’s leverage in the trade market. He points out they’re not going to move the blueliner unless they get “a high-upside, 24-year-old right-shot defenseman with a reasonable contract.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Timing is also another factor. Teams usually don’t swing trades involving a significant player during the off-season’s dog days. But with the calendar flipped to September and training camps opening next week, activity could pick up in the trade market. That would improve the Sabres chances of landing a decent return for Ristolainen.


THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks recently observed the Stars are expected to put Martin Hanzal on long-term injury reserve when the season opens. The 32-year-old center has been hampered by a chronic back injury and carries a $4.75-million salary-cap hit.

Placing Hanzal on LTIR could allow the Stars to acquire a pending UFA player carrying an annual salary-cap hit between $4 and $5 million. Options could include Calgary defenseman T.J. Brodie, New York Rangers’ winger Chris Kreider, and Los Angeles’ Tyler Toffoli.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Stars have around $970k in salary-cap space for the upcoming season with RFA blueliner Julius Honka to re-sign. It’s expected he’ll be traded or assigned to the minors if he accepts his qualifying offer.

Putting Hanzal on LTIR will give them some flexibility if they feel the need to bolster their roster via trade this season. It remains to be seen if they’ll go after someone like Brodie, Kreider or Toffoli but it could be worth keeping an eye on the Stars.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 9, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 9, 2019

Jacob Trouba’s arbitration hearing date set, Martin Hanzal mulling retirement, the Sharks re-sign Kevin Labanc, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith cites the New York Post’s Larry Brooks reporting Jacob Trouba’s arbitration hearing is July 25. Trouba was among 40 players who filed for arbitration last Friday. The Rangers acquired the 25-year-old defenseman last month in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets.

Jacob Trouba’s salary-arbitration hearing is set for July 25 (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those who filed for arbitration, Trouba’s situation could be the most interesting. Brooks believes it would be “stunning” if the process reaches that point. Trouba went through arbitration with the Jets last summer and was awarded a one-year. $5.5-million contract.

Coming off a career-best 50-point performance last season, Troub could seek between $7 – $8 million per season on his next contract. He’s also slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

The Rangers will want to ink him to a long-term deal but Cap Friendly indicates they only have around $8 million in cap space. They also have RFAs Pavel Buchnevich, Brendan Lemieux, and Tony DeAngelo to re-sign.

A new deal for Trouba will eat up most or all of their remaining cap space. A cost-cutting trade or contract buyouts will be necessary to free up sufficient cap space for the others. 

iDNES.CZ: A nagging back injury has Dallas Stars center Martin Hanzal considering retirement. The 32-year-old has already undergone three operations. He has a year remaining on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $4.75 million.

Hanzal said he has an agreement with the Stars to report to training camp in September. He intends to continue off-season training but if the condition persists he could hang up his skates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stick tap to Alexander Wirdzek for the link. When healthy, Hanzal is an effective two-way checking forward. Injuries, however, have frequently sidelined him in recent years. He played only 45 games over the last two seasons with the Stars. 

TSN: The San Jose Sharks re-signed forward Kevin Labanc to a one-year, $1-million contract. Labanc tallied 56 points last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a helluva re-signing by the Sharks. Labanc was coming off his entry-level contract and also posted 40 points in 2017-18. He was in line for a significant raise but left a lot of money on the table by accepting this offer.

With the Sharks pressed for cap space and looking to bring back Joe Thornton and perhaps Patrick Marleau for one more season, Labanc did them a big favor. I daresay general manager Doug Wilson promised a much bigger payday for Labanc next summer. 

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues re-signed forward Zach Sanford to a two-year, $1.5-million contract.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed defenseman Ryan Graves to a one-year, two-way contract.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 23, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 23, 2018

Game recaps, injury updates, Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret hospitalized, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron’s four-point performance (including two goals) gave his club a 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators, handing the latter their 10th straight road defeat. It was Bergeron’s first game since being sidelined by a rib injury on Nov. 16. One of his goals was the 300th of his NHL careers. Linemates Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak each had a goal and two assists.

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron made a triumphant return to action with a four-point performance in a 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators (Photo via NHL Images)

Los Angeles Kings winger Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice, including the winner in overtime, to give his club a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. It was Kovalchuk’s first game since undergoing ankle surgery on Dec. 1. Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson faces a hearing with the league’s department of player safety over an illegal hit to the head of the Kings’ Austin Wagner, knocking the latter from the game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson doesn’t have a history of this sort of thing. While the hit on Wagner wasn’t malicious, Karlsson could be fined or suspended a game or two.

Nikita Kucherov had a five-point performance (one goal, four assists) as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Edmonton Oilers 6-3. With the win, the Lightning extended their points streak to 12 games (11-0-1). Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson both scored twice for the Bolts. Oilers captain Connor McDavid assisted on all of his club’s goals.

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark made 40 saves to blank the Anaheim Ducks 3-0. The win was overshadowed by the news of long-time Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret being stretchered from the press box during the third period and hospitalized after feeling lightheaded.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jeanneret, 76, had a pacemaker inserted in 2014. The Sabres said they will provide an update on his condition as soon as one becomes available. Here’s hoping he makes a quick recovery. 



A two-goal performance by Mitch Marner powered the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 5-3 win over the New York Rangers. Marner’s teammate Andreas Johnsson had a goal and two assists. Kevin Hayes had a goal and an assist for the Rangers. Leafs winger Tyler Ennis suffered a broken ankle after being struck by a slap shot by teammate Morgan Rielly.

Washington Capitals goaltender Pheonix Copley made 35 saves for his first NHL shutout as his club blanked the Ottawa Senators 4-0. The Senators were playing without starter Craig Anderson, who’s sidelined by an upper-body injury suffered during a 5-2 loss on Friday to the New Jersey Devils.

Sidney Crosby had three assists, Jake Guentzel scored twice and Matt Murray turned in a 39-save shutout to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. It was the Penguins’ third consecutive victory.

Phillip Danault tallied his first career NHL hat trick and Paul Byron scored in overtime as the Montreal Canadiens overcame a 3-2 deficit to edge the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3. Brandon Pirri scored twice for Vegas.

Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau collected two assists for his 11th multi-point game in his last 14 as his team squeaked past the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. Panthers netminder Roberto Luongo made 33 saves. The Wings played without Andreas Athanasiou, who’s nursing an upper-body injury.

Cam Atkinson scored two goals as the Columbus Blue Jackets held on for a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, handing Flyers rookie goaltender Carter Hart his first loss of the season. Jackets winger Artemi Panarin had a three-point game.

The Calgary Flames dropped their third straight game, falling 3-1 to the St. Louis Blues. David Perron collected two points while teammate Jake Allen made 28 saves for the win.

Brad Richardson netted two goals late in the third period to lift the Arizona Coyotes to a 6-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche, who had overcome a 4-1 deficit with three third-period tallies. Alex Kerfoot scored twice for the Avalanche.

Alexander Radulov’s goal in the dying seconds of overtime gave the Dallas Stars a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Stars forward Martin Hanzal missed the game due to soreness in his back.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanzal only recently returned to action after recovering from offseason spinal fusion surgery. While this could raise some concern, it’s also possible he doesn’t want to rush returning to game shape. He’s expected back in the lineup Sunday. 

Winnipeg Jets backup Laurent Brossoit picked up his first career NHL shutout by turning aside 40 shots to nip the Vancouver Canucks 1-0. Mark Scheifele potted the winning goal late in the third period.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 11, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 11, 2018

Check out the latest entering the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

Boston Bruins winger Rick Nash will return to action for Game 1 against Toronto (Photo via NHL Images).

 BOSTON HERALD: After missing 12 games with a concussion, winger Rick Nash will return to the Bruins lineup for Game 1 of their opening-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow night. Nash’s return means promising rookie forward Ryan Donato will be a healthy scratch

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals named Philipp Grubauer as their starting goaltender for Game 1 of their first-round series tomorrow against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grubauer has only two postseason games under his belt but had better stats this season than starter Braden Holtby. Makes sense to go with the hot hand to open the series.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson participated in practice yesterday but appears unlikely to skate in Game 1 of their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Johansson missed the final 35 games of the regular season to a concussion. Checking-line forward Stefan Noesen is expected to be in the lineup for the opening game tomorrow.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: As the Florida Panthers begin their offseason, veteran goaltender Roberto Luongo intends to return next season. “I’m not going anywhere,” said the 39-year-old netminder. 

NEW YORK POST: Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist admitted he played through a knee injury that plagued him since late-October. It was the same knee he injured playing for Sweden in last year’s World Championships. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lundqvist said he’d been managing the injury and was undergoing an MRI soon. There’s no indication he faces surgery. 

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko will undergo surgery today to repair a dislocated left shoulder suffered in the final game of the regular season. His recovery period is expected to be between four-to-six months, taking him up to the start of training camp in September. 

THE ATHLETIC: Dallas Stars center Martin Hanzal is cautiously optimistic he’ll be able to resume his NHL career after undergoing back surgery last month. It was the third back operation for the 31-year-old Hanzal. 

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings confirm Jeff Blashill will return next season as head coach.