NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 2, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 2, 2020

Details on the league’s proposal to stage the 2020 Draft next month before a potential resumption of the schedule, the Bruins re-sign Jaroslav Halak, an update on Brent Seabrook and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL’S PROPOSED PLAN FOR THE 2020 DRAFT

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the NHL issued a position paper Friday on the possibility of staging the draft next month. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly authored the report. Despite earlier pushback against a June draft before the resumption of the season, there’s a sense of resignation among the teams that this will happen.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly (Photo via NHL.com).

Daly indicated the league needs a month to prepare. It’s rumored the target date is June 5, meaning a decision will have to be reached by next week. Daly also said the broadcast networks are on board with the plan.

If the draft isn’t moved up, the best-case scenario would be a short window following awarding the Stanley Cup in September and before the start of 2020-21. The worst-case scenario is canceling the remainder of this season, after which the draft lottery and the draft itself would be held at an uncertain time before next season.

Regarding conditional trades, the league would propose solutions, such as both teams reforming the terms of the deal or accepting the league’s proposals. Team point percentage would be used to determine the order of selection, as well as changing the draft lottery format for this year only by picking just one winner and limiting any move-up to a maximum of four spots.

Friedman and Chris Johnston detailed potential lottery outcomes under that scenario. “Detroit would pick no lower than second. Ottawa (with San Jose’s top selection), could do no worse than three and four. New Jersey, Buffalo, Montreal, and Chicago couldn’t jump above two, three, four, and five, respectively.” A June draft would prevent teams from trading players they’ll need if the season resumes.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun took to Twitter reporting the league reviewed 15 trades involving conditional picks with playoff implications and would be ready to suggest solutions to each trade or have both teams agree to reform the terms of the trade that would be acceptable to both parties.

The league memo acknowledged most NHL general managers would prefer maintaining the status quo, meaning holding the draft after the season. The league will decide either way next week. There is a Board of Governors’ conference call slated for Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: When Bettman and Daly first floated this idea last month, LeBrun was the first to say this would be something the teams should prepare for because it was likely going to happen. Unless the board of governors rejects this plan, or the league decides to scrap the season, we’ll see a modified virtual NHL draft sometime next month.

NHL headquarters want to hold the draft in June to drum up fan interest before resuming the season in July. Part of the fun of the draft for hockey fans is the possibility of established NHL players getting traded. Without that buzz, I’m not sure how long casual NHL fans will stick with following this year’s draft beyond the opening round.

LATEST ON THE NHL’S PLANS TO RESUME THE SEASON

NHL.COM: Daly indicated coronavirus testing is a key part of any plan agreed upon by the league and the NHL Players’ Association to resume the season. “We’re going to need to have access to testing, and we’re going to make it a point that we’re not accessing testing, even in a private way, if testing availability is an issue in the community,” he said. The actual protocol testing has yet to be determined.

The deputy commissioner said several NHL clubs have offered to host games if the league decides to play in centralized locations. He admitted Edmonton is among those in the mix.

He also indicated this situation could provide an opportunity for the league and the PA to resume negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. “While we’re not there substantively yet because we have a lot of other things we’re working on, I think there’s a willingness and an interest on both sides to pursue that.”

Daly said the league has told the players it understands their concerns about the possibility of long family separations if teams play in centralized locations. “We understand the importance of kind of family interaction, and we’ll find a way to accommodate that,” he said.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks cites sources claiming the league could be pivoting away from its centralized locations plan and is investigating the possibility of resuming games in its teams’ home cities after the players expressed their concerns about lengthy family separations.

“(This) would create an entire new set of issues for the league and union to confront and solve, most notable of which would be travel considerations and the means with which to test players and attendant personnel who live in disparate locations under divergent coronavirus-related government policies,” wrote Brooks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The best plan to resume the season remains four regionalized host cities in areas where COVID-19 cases are low and suitable testing protocols are in place. Trying to reopen the season in all 31 cities will be too difficult to pull off right now. 

 

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins re-signed goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a one-year, $2.25-million contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the Bruins want to keep their roster intact as much as possible for another shot at the Stanley Cup next season. The 34-year-old Halak has formed a solid goaltending tandem with starter Tuukka Rask. Without any suitable replacements within their pipeline, it made sense to keep him around for another season on an affordable deal.

The Bruins have over $63.5 million invested in 18 players for 2020-21. Defensemen Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, and Kevan Miller are their notable unrestricted free agents, while their restricted free agents include Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, and Anders Bjork.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook claims he’s feeling great after recovering from surgeries on both hips and his right shoulder earlier this season. He said he’s looking forward to skating again.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators re-signed defenseman Ben Harpur to a one-year, two-way contract.

NBC SPORTS: St. Louis Blues broadcaster John Kelly is donating plasma in hopes his antibodies will help other battling COVID-19. He contracted the illness in March but has been symptom-free for over five weeks.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2019

The Avalanche re-sign Mikko Rantanen and the Jets ink Kyle Connor. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed winger Mikko Rantanen to a six-year, $55.5-million contract. Cap Friendly indicates the annual average value is $9.25 million. 

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed winger Kyle Connor to a seven-year, $50-million deal with an AAV of $7.14 million

The Colorado Avalanche re-signed winger Mikko Rantanen to a six-year deal (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And with that, the last two notable restricted free agents are finally under contract. Both players missed training camp and preseason action but are expected to rejoin their respective clubs as the curtain rises this week on the 2019-20 regular season. It’ll be interesting to see what effect their absences will have upon their early-season performance.

As for the contracts, they’re worthwhile long-term deals for the two sides. Both players get long-term security. Rantanen becomes the highest-paid player on the Avalanche on a front-loaded deal paying him $12 million annually this season and next in real salary ($34 million over the first three seasons) while Connor becomes the second-highest paid forward on the Jets. 

The Avs and Jets each get an important young player under a contract that could turn out to be a long-term bargain. Rantanen is coming off back-to-back 80-point performances while the two-way Connor netted 30-plus goals in each of the last two seasons. The 22-year-olds are core players entering their playing prime with their best seasons still to come. What looks expensive today could look cost-effective in a few years. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust suffered undisclosed injuries blocking shots in last night’s preseason loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Coach Mike Sullivan said both were being evaluated and more info could be available today. Speaking of the Sabres, Connor Sheary missed the game with a lower-body injury and remains day-to-day. 

VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks winger Brock Boeser and defenseman Oscar Fantenberg skated in practice with their teammates yesterday. Both have been sidelined by concussions since Monday. 

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny (hamstring) remains doubtful for the club’s season opener on Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL’s David Schoen reports Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch is week-to-week with an upper-body injury while Cody Eakin is day-to-day. 

THE SCORE: The Calgary Flames released Devante Smith-Pelly from his professional tryout offer. 

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs placed blueliners Ben Harpur and Jordan Schmaltz on waivers for the purpose of sending them to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 1, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 1, 2019

Details of several anticipated free-agent signings leaked, Zaitsev-for-Ceci trade expected today, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

Matt Duchene will reportedly sign with the Nashville Predators today (Photo via NHL Images).

The NHL’s free-agent period begins at 12:01 PM ET today. However, details leaked last night regarding new contracts for several noteworthy unrestricted free agents. Here’s a summary of what was reported:

Matt Duchene is expected to sign a seven-year, $56-million contract with the Nashville Predators

Joe Pavelski will sign a three-year, $21-million deal with the Dallas Stars. They’ve also signed Corey Perry to a one-year, bonus-laden contract with a base salary of $1.5 million.

Mats Zuccarello is heading to the Minnesota Wild. His contract is expected to be for five years and worth $6 million annually. 

Richard Panik is joining the Washington Capitals on a four-year deal believed to be worth over $2.5 million per season. 

Cam Talbot returns to Alberta with the Calgary Flames. The former Edmonton Oilers goaltender will sign a one-year, $2.75-million deal. 

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev has waived his no-trade clause, setting the stage to ship him to the Ottawa Senators for blueliner Cody Ceci. Winger Connor Brown will also be heading to Ottawa. Other players and/or draft picks will also be part of this swap. The trade is expected to be finalized later today after the Leafs pay Zaitsev his $3 million signing bonus. 

**UPDATE** As per Cap Friendly:

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas deserves kudos for finding a taker for Zaitsev and his $4.5 million AAV through 2023-24. No surprise, however, that he had to include a sweetener (Brown) in the deal.

Ceci, 25, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who was qualified at $4.6 million for 2019-20. He was said to be seeking a five-year deal worth between $5 – $5.5 million per season. It remains to be seen if the Leafs will pay that much, take him to arbitration, or flip him to another club. I think he’s marginally better than Zaitsev but maybe his performance will improve with the Leafs. If the Leafs re-sign Ceci, they’ll still need replacements for Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey. Both are unrestricted free agents.

Zaitsev could also benefit from a change of scenery. Senators head coach D.J. Smith reportedly vouched for the blueliner, having worked with him when Smith was an assistant coach with the Leafs. Getting the versatile Brown in the deal is a nice boost to the Senators forward depth. 

In other Leafs and Senators news, Toronto plans to sign winger Kenny Agostino to a two-year, one-way contract. The Senators, meanwhile, hired former St. Louis Blues coach David Payne as an assistant coach. 










NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2019

The latest Penguins, Bruins, Senators, Capitals, and Flyers speculation, plus an update on Nikita Zaitsev, in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

PENGUINS NOT DONE DEALING?

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: In the wake of the Penguins trading Olli Maatta to Chicago for Dominik Kahan and a draft pick, Ron Cook believes there’s more work to do. Trading Maatta won’t return them to Stanley Cup contender status or resolve their team chemistry. General manager Jim Rutherford last week said he’d welcome back Phi Kessel. Cook, however, believes Rutherford is still trying to trade the winger.

Patric Hornqvist’s age, concussion history, and his lengthy contract make him difficult to move. Blueliner Kris Letang has as 12-team no-trade list, and Evgeni Malkin has a full no-movement clause. Cook considers Malkin the least likely to be traded but doesn’t rule it out if the right deal can be found. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel recently spiked a deal that would’ve sent him to Minnesota for winger Jason Zucker. If Rutherford wants to move the winger he must convince him to broaden his eight-team trade list.  I don’t see Hornqvist, Letang or Malkin going anywhere. 

MORE KRUG AND KREJCI TRADE SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty recently suggested defenseman Torey Krug and center David Krejci could become Boston Bruins’ trade bait. Krug, 28, is a year away from unrestricted free agent status and coming off a strong performance this season. Haggerty thinks he’d be the bait the Bruins need to land a top-six power forward but they’ll have to carefully consider that option.

Haggerty also feels Krejci is now at his peak value and could attract interest in the trade market. Moving his $7.25-million annual average value would clear up some potential salary-cap complications.

Could Boston Bruins center David Krejci become a cost-cutting trade candidate? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have a projected $14.3 million in salary-cap space. Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen are coming off entry-level contracts. Their new deals could eat up most of that cap room. They could buy out David Backes but would see only $333K in cap savings for 2019-20.

Krejci’s no-movement clause reverts to a modified no-trade on July 1. That could make him easier to shop. But after coming so close to winning the Stanley Cup this season, GM Don Sweeney could be reluctant to move Krug or Krejci. 

“ZAITSEV-TO-EDMONTON” MEDIA CHATTER CONTINUES

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples observes conflicting speculation out of Toronto linking Maple Leafs blueliner Nikita Zaitsev to the Oilers. He notes TSN’s Darren Dreger last week suggesting the Oilers and Vancouver Canucks could have interest in Zaitsev, a third-pairing rearguard earning second-pairing dollars ($4.5 million annually). Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman countered he’s heard the Oilers aren’t going down that route.

However, The Athletic’s James Mirtle considers Edmonton the top destination. He wondered if packaging Zaitsev with Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson would bring Adam Larsson to Toronto.

Staples doesn’t believe the Oilers would agree to that deal. “However you slice it, Edmonton can’t afford to have another big contract from a player who isn’t a top performer, not with Milan Lucic already on the books and Andrej Sekera, Kris Russell and Mikko Koskinen all iffy propositions.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m with Staples on this one. There’s a better chance of Lucic getting traded to Vancouver for Loui Eriksson than a package of Zaitsev and Kapanen or Johnsson going to Edmonton for Larsson. And I think Lucic-for-Eriksson is a long shot. 

CAPITALS CAP CONUNDRUM

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien points out the Washington Capitals’ limited salary-cap space following their re-signing of Carl Hagelin yesterday. They now have around $10.7 million in projected salary-cap room. Their restricted free agents include Jakub Vrana and Andre Burakovsky while Brett Connolly, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Brooks Orpik are unrestricted. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith-Pelly isn’t expected to be re-signed. NBC Sports Washington’s J.J.Regan believes their acquisition last week of Radko Gudas spells the end of Orpik’s tenure with the Capitals.

Vrana’s going to be re-signed and I think they want to keep Connolly if he’ll agree to accept less than market value. Burakovsky’s frequently come up in trade rumors this season and could be moved if things get tight cap-wise. 

FLYERS SEEK A BACKUP GOALTENDER

COURIER-POST ONLINE: Dave Isaac reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher has spoken with some teams regarding a potential trade for a backup goalie. Fletcher suggests that search could go into the upcoming free-agency period. It doesn’t sound like pending UFAs Brian Elliott and Cam Talbot will be back. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trade options could including James Reimer of the Florida Panthers and Garret Sparks of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both are reportedly being shopped by their respective clubs. 

UPDATE ON THE SENATORS

OTTAWA SUN: Given the Senators’ blueline depth, Bruce Garrioch wouldn’t be surprised if they put defenseman Ben Harpur on the trade block. His size and affordable $725K one-way contract could make him an attractive option. The Senators also wouldn’t mind moving veteran winger Mikkel Boedker. He has a year left on his contract with a $4-million cap hit. They’re also expected to qualify the rights of restricted free agents Cody Ceci, Colin White, and Anthony Duclair.