NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2021

Alex Ovechkin looks forward to chasing Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, the Blue Jackets sign Zach Werenski to a long-term contract extension, and the Blues sign Brandon Saad. Get the details plus other notable trades and signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Alex Ovechkin said the opportunity to pursue Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record factored into his recent signing of a five-year contract with the Capitals. Ovechkin, 35, has 730 career goals and needs 165 more to break Gretzky’s record. To do it, he needs to average 33 goals per season.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The all-time goal-scoring record is the most reachable of Gretzky’s significant offensive achievements. Nevertheless, it’ll a daunting challenge for Ovechkin, who turns 36 in September.

Ovechkin’s still among the league’s elite scorers, tallying 24 goals in 45 games last season and 48 in 68 games in 2019-20. If not for the pandemic (and a half-season lost to a lockout in 2012-13), he’d be much closer to Gretzky’s record by now. However, he’s also at an age when his production will begin to decline.

The Capitals captain is currently sixth on the all-time list. A 37-goal performance this season would vault him over Marcel Dionne (731), Brett Hull (741) and Jaromir Jagr (766) into third overall, 34 behind Gordie Howe (801).

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed defenseman Zach Werenski to a six-year, $57.5 million contract extension. The annual average value is $9.583 million and takes effect in 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets consider Werenski among the NHL’s top defensemen over the past five seasons and are paying him accordingly. He’s tallied 189 points in 335 career games. Starting in 2022-23, he’ll be the third highest-paid defenseman in the league with a higher annual cap hit than Colorado Avalanche blueliner Cale Makar’s $9 million and just ahead of former defense partner Seth Jones’ $9.5 million AAV with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Werenski’s a skilled puck-moving defenseman but I don’t consider him worth more than Makar, a Calder Trophy winner in 2019-20 who was a Norris Trophy finalist last season. But after enduring a steady parade of talent departing Columbus via trades and free agency in recent years, the Jackets had to pay the price to keep Werenski in the fold.

His new contract lacks no-trade protection in 2022-23 and a full no-movement clause in 2023-24 through 2026-27, dropping to a modified no-trade in the final season.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues signed winger Brandon Saad to a five-year, $22.5 million contract. The annual average value is $4.5 million. The deal also comes with a full no-trade clause in the first four years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saad took a pay cut from the $6 million AAV he earned over six seasons on his previous contract. He joins a club undergoing a retooling of its roster since winning the Stanley Cup two years ago. He fills the vacant left wing spot on the Blues’ first line following the departure of free agent Jaden Schwartz to Seattle on Wednesday.

NEW YORK POST/LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights trade winger Ryan Reaves to the New York Rangers in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers acquired enforcer Reaves in yet another move to bolster their toughness. The Golden Knights, meanwhile, made this move to free up salary-cap space by shedding his $1.75 million cap hit.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed winger Corey Perry to a two-year, $2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry said he wanted to return to the Montreal Canadiens for another season. The opportunity to play two seasons with the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion, however, was too good to pass up.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Zach Werenski wasn’t the only defenseman the Blue Jackets signed yesterday, inking Jake Bean to a three-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $2.33 million. The Jackets acquire the 23-year-old blueliner from the Carolina Hurricanes last week.

MLIVE.COM: Long-time Detroit Red Wings forward Darren Helm signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Helm and Valtteri Filppula were the last remaining active members of the Wings last Stanley Cup championship in 2008 still with the team last season. Filppula is also an unrestricted free agent and isn’t expected to be brought back.

SPORTSNET: The Montreal Canadiens signed forward Mathiew Perreault to a one-year, $950K contract.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 19, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 19, 2019

Game recaps, the Devils re-sign Nico Hischier to a seven-year extension, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers picked up their seventh win in eight games by nipping the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. James Neal tallied his league-leading ninth goal while Darnell Nurse had two assists. The Wings have now lost five in a row. Earlier in the day, the league fined Wings forward Darren Helm $5000.00 for slashing Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm on Thursday.

Kris Letang scored twice in the third period as the Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the Dallas Stars 4-2. Patric Hornqvist had a goal and two assists as the Penguins have won five straight games. The Stars, on the other hand, have dropped five straight.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins continue to win despite their injury-ravaged forward lines. The Stars are healthier but lack sufficient production from their top scorers.

Nathan MacKinnon’s overtime goal gave the Colorado Avalanche a 5-4 win over the Florida Panthers (Photo via NHL Images).

The Colorado Avalanche edged the Florida Panthers 5-4 on an overtime goal by Nathan MacKinnon. Andre Burakovsky scored twice while Joonas Donskoi had three points as the Avs extended their points streak to seven games. Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice for the Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burakovsky and Donskoi have been fine additions to the Avs in the early going. Burakovsky sits third among their top scorers with eight points while Donskoi is fourth with six points.

T.J. Oshie scored two goals and John Carlson collected three assists to lead the Washington Capitals to a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers, handing the latter their third straight defeat. Earlier in the day, the Capitals placed winger Richard Panik (upper body) on long-term injury reserve.

Adam Henrique scored his fourth goal in the last three games as the Anaheim Ducks beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. Ducks winger Jakob Silfverberg celebrated his 500th career NHL game by scoring a goal while Rickard Rakell collected two helpers. The Ducks remain unbeaten at home this season. Hurricanes broadcaster Mike Maniscalco will be on an indefinite medical leave as he undergoes treatment for a large mass in his stomach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Maniscalco makes a full recovery.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews scored in overtime in a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each had two points for the Blackhawks.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils yesterday announced center Nico Hischier signed a seven-year, $50.75-million contract extension. The annual average value is $7.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils wasted little time re-signing the 20-year-old Hischier to an extension. In the final season of his entry-level contract, he’s established himself as their first-line center. A skilled, creative playmaker, he enjoyed a 52-point rookie campaign followed by 47 points in 69 games last season.

The Devils now have Hischier under contract for most of his playing prime. They also avoided what could’ve been a long negotiation period next summer that could’ve stretched into the preseason. Given Hischier’s skills, they should be a great long-term deal for the Devils.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 20, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 20, 2018

Game recaps, Blues fire head coach Mike Yeo, stars of the week and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM:  The St. Louis Blues fired head coach Mike Yeo following a 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. It was the third time the Blues were shut out in four games. Craig Berube takes over behind the bench on an interim basis.

St. Louis Blues replaced head coach Mike Yeo with Craig Berube. (Photo via NHL.com)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yeo is the third NHL coach to lose his job this month. This move seemed inevitable given the Blues’ stumbling start to this season. They’re currently sitting near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

There’s already speculation they could bring back Joel Quenneville as their full-time bench boss but The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports a source “close to the situation” claims Quenneville is in no hurry to return to the coaching ranks.

Quenneville would also prove a costly hire. Rutherford reports his former club, the Chicago Blackhawks, wants any team attempting to hire him to pick up a portion of his $6-million per season contract that he’s owed through 2019-20. 

Patrik Laine’s hat trick powered the Winnipeg Jets to a 6-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Kyle Connor also collected four points for the Jets. Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson netted his 12th goal of the season while teammate Jacob Markstrom made 43 saves.

Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau each got four points and Sean Monahan scored twice to lead the Calgary Flames to a 7-2 drubbing of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Two third-period goals by Zach Hyman and a 37-save performance by Frederik Andersen enabled the Toronto Maple Leafs to overcome a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2.  Jackets captain Nick Foligno rejoined the roster yesterday after a brief absence to tend to his ailing five-year-old daughter Milana.

The Buffalo Sabres collected their sixth straight victory by rallying from a 4-1 deficit to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4 on an overtime goal by Jack Eichel. The Penguins have dropped four straight games. They also learned earlier in the day that center Matt Cullen could be sidelined long-term with a lower-body injury.

Florida Panthers forward Mike Hoffman scored against his former club in a 7-5 win over the Ottawa Senators. Hoffman’s point streak has reached 16 games. The win was overshadowed as Panthers center Vincent Trocheck was stretchered from the game after twisting his right left awkwardly while battling for the puck along the boards.  Matt Duchene scored twice for the Senators, who honored former equipment manager Mike Foley with a video tribute. Foley passed away at age 61 on Saturday from colon cancer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Foley’s family, friends, and the Senators’ organization. 

Lars Eller’s overtime goal capped a three-goal rally as the Washington Capitals defeated the Montreal Canadiens 5-4. Alex Ovechkin scored twice and Braden Holtby got the win after relieving Pheonix Copley in the second period, stopping 22 shots.

Filip Chytil’s third-period goal proved to be the game-winner as the New York Rangers edged the Dallas Stars 2-1. Stars goaltender Ben Bishop left the game in the second period and is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Ryan Johansen had a goal and an assist as the Nashville Predators beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2.

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson, Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford, and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Nov. 18, 2018.

TSN: Detroit Red Wings forward Darren Helm will be sidelined six-to-eight weeks with an upper-body injury. 

NBC SPORTS: Broad Street Bullies no more? The Philadelphia Flyers are one of two clubs with no fighting majors thus far this season. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 18, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 18, 2018

Game recaps, injury updates and more CBA optimism in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Anthony Cirelli scored in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Philadelphia Flyers 6-5 following a wild third period that saw the Flyers rally from a 5-1 deficit to force the extra frame. Brayden Point scored twice for the Lightning while James van Riemsdyk had a three-point game for the Flyers.

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist moved into seventh place on the NHL all-time wins list for goaltenders. (Photo via NHL Images)

Henrik Lundqvist picked up his 438th career victory to move ahead of Jacques Plante into seventh on the all-time goaltender wins list as the New York Rangers doubled up the Florida Panthers 4-2. Rangers winger Chris Kreider had a goal and two assists.

Erik Karlsson scored his first goal with the San Jose Sharks while Aaron Dell turned in a 30-save shutout to blank the St. Louis Blues 4-0. Joe Pavelski scored twice and Logan Couture had three assists.

Cam Atkinson’s hat trick powered the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-1 win over the slumping Carolina Hurricanes. Artemi Panarin also collected three assists for the Jackets while Sergei Bobrovsky kicked out 30 shots.

Calle Jarnkrok potted his first career NHL hat trick as the Nashville Predators beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-3.

Carey Price turned in his second straight solid performance (35 saves) backstopping the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, handing the latter their fifth straight loss. Jonathan Drouin scored the winner while Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson netted his 11th goal of the season.

The Ottawa Senators ran up a 5-1 lead and held on for a 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Mark Stone and Matt Duchene each scored twice for the Senators, who chased Penguins goalie Matt Murray from the net after he gave up three goals on 10 shots. Penguins forward Derick Brassard returned to the lineup after missing nine games with a lower-body injury. 

The Buffalo Sabres picked up their fifth straight win by overcoming a 2-0 deficit to beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Rasmus Dahlin and Jason Pominville tallied the tying and winning goals.

The Calgary Flames won the latest round in the Battle of Alberta by overcoming a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. Elias Lindholm scored two goals for the Flames, handing the Oilers their fifth loss in six games.

Dylan Larkin’s overtime goal gave the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. The Wings have won eight of their last 10 games. Wings forward Darren Helm could be sidelined for some time after leaving the game in the first period with an injured right arm.

Jaroslav Halak turned aside 32 shots and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson tallied his first NHL goal to give the Boston Bruins a 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The injury-ravaged Bruins lost another key player, as Patrice Bergeron (suspected shoulder injury) returned to Boston for medical evaluation. 

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman John Klingberg (broken hand) could be sidelined for longer than four weeks, as coach Jim Montgomery suggested the blueliner could be out six weeks. 

SPORTSNET: The Anaheim Ducks placed defenseman Luke Schenn on waivers. Forward Patrick Eaves was placed on injured reserve suffering from back spasm. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL is doing everything it can to dodge another labor dispute with the NHLPA, with the two sides engaged in ongoing preliminary talks “aimed at extending the CBA before either party can exercise its reopener in September 2019.”  Brooks cites multiple sources claiming league commissioner Gary Bettman hopes to avoid the prospect of a fourth lockout in 17 years under his watch.

Among the highlights from Brooks’ column:

-The league and the PA are apparently interested in participating in the 2022 Winter Olympic in Beijing. The trade-off could be staging a World Cup of Hockey in 2020 (and possibly 2024) with most of the revenue going to the league. 

-Escrow isn’t the major sticking point it once was. While the players are having 11.5 percent of their salaries withheld this season, the PA expects a postseason refund of eight percent. 

-The PA seeks a change in the way long-term injury reserve payments are calculated against the cap. “If the league eliminates additional payroll dedicated to LTI as part of the mix, that would reduce escrow. It would also slightly tilt the 50/50, so the NHL obviously would need something tangible in return — perhaps a redefinition of Hockey-Related Revenue that would benefit the teams.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the second report in as many weeks suggesting the possibility another work stoppage might be avoided, perhaps before next September’s deadline for either side to re-open CBA talks. According to last weekend’s report by Hockey Night in Canada’s “Headlines” crew, the league needs to know by January if they can stage a 2020 World Cup of Hockey. If that tournament gets the green light,  a new CBA could be in place by next fall or the current one will remain in place until its expiry date in September 2022. 


Latest on the Red Wings, Sabres & Coyotes – April 12, 2017

Latest on the Red Wings, Sabres & Coyotes – April 12, 2017

Could the Red Wings move Justin Abdelkader in a cost-cutting deal this summer?

Looking at possible offseason moves for the Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes in your NHL rumor mill. 

THE DETROIT NEWS: Now that the Red Wings’ 25-year playoff streak is over, John Niyo believes it’s time for general manager Ken Holland to get serious about rebuilding the roster. One way could be trying to shed an expensive salary (“Darren Helm? Justin Abdelkader?”) before the expansion draft, even if it means “bribing” the Vegas Golden Knights by packaging one of those players with one of the Wings’ stockpiled draft picks. He advocates the Wings stand pat in the free-agent market rather than diving into a shallow pool of talent.

Perhaps there’s a bigger deal to be had this summer or next season, when they’ll have more rental players (such as Mike Green) to offer up at the trade deadline. “Everyone knows the Wings desperately need a workhorse, top-pair defenseman, and there shouldn’t be many, if any, untouchables on this roster,” said Niyo. Assuming a blockbuster deal isn’t possible, the rebuild will have to come from within. 

Ted Kulfan recently looked at which Wings could stay or depart. Those on the bubble include goalie Jimmy Howard, forwards Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar, Luke Glendening and Darren Helm, and defensemen Nick Jensen, Mike Green, Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul. He doubts UFA forward Drew Miller will be back. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what moves Holland makes this summer. During last year’s draft, he was able to shed the final season of Pavel Datsyuk’s supposedly unmoveable contract at last year’s draft. He was also reportedly interested in Anaheim’s Cam Fowler and Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba last summer. 

Holland could peddle one or two expensive salaries before the expansion draft or during the NHL draft weekend in June. I do expect he’ll be busy trying to swing a deal in the trade market for a defenseman. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nyquist or Tatar become trade bait.  I don’t see him making the plunge this summer for an expensive free agent, but perhaps he’ll look at an affordable depth signing.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Jerry Sullivan believes the honeymoon is over for Sabres GM Tim Murray, who must now prove he can bring in tough, winning players. “He systematically took apart the defense, leaving behind a thin unit that was weak in its own end, couldn’t make the long passes to initiate the offense and allowed the most shots on goal in the NHL (34.3 a game),” writes Sullivan. He singles out forwards Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart, two Murray acquisitions who “don’t seem especially passionate about winning.”

John Vogl notes there’s no easy answers regarding what the Sabres should do with Kane. “The left winger will give everything he’s got during the game, but good luck finding him when the clock isn’t running. He carries himself like he’s Sidney Crosby, yet he has the same number of playoff points as Taro Tsujimoto. He’ll treat children to a gift-filled Christmas, then end up on the police blotter. His megawatt smile will charm one person and appear fraudulent to another,” writes Vogl. 

Kane has a season left on his contract at an annual cap hit of $5.25 million and is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. Vogl believes Murray must either re-sign the 25-year-old winger to a long-term extension or or move him for a long-term asset. From Dec. 1 to season’s end, Kane scored 28 goals to rank ninth in the league over the period. However, his poor practice habits are considered part of the disconnect associated with the Sabres. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s obvious talent is offset by those issues noted by Vogl. Those issues raise questions over his future with the Sabres and also make him difficult to move via trade. Murray could take a “wait-and-see” approach to Kane for next season, but if there’s any takers for the winger’s services, he could seriously consider those offers. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: Craig Morgan reports Coyotes GM John Chayka identified adding a first-line center and a top-pairing defenseman that his club needs to address. Morgan notes those are also the two hardest positions to fill. With long-time captain Shane Doan and facing retirement, the departure via trade of Martin Hanzal and defenseman Zbynek Michalek unlikely to be re-signed, the Coyotes must add some veteran talent to bring in some experienced leadership for their younger players. 

AZCENTRAL.COM: Sarah McLellan reports the Coyotes could decide to wait until after the expansion draft before potentially re-signing him to a new contract. Vrbata was their leading scorer this season and is eligible for UFA status on July 1. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have the depth in promising youth and draft picks (including the Wild’s first-round pick plus three third-round picks in this year’s draft) to dangle as trade bait. They could target clubs forced to trade players they otherwise risk losing for nothing to the expansion draft. I expect they want to re-sign Vrbata to another one-year deal, but that could depend upon which players they acquire via trade and who they could pursue via free agency. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2017

Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie scores one of his three goals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Game recaps and injury updates in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals became the first NHL team to clinch a playoff berth this season. T.J. Oshie’s hat trick carried them to a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Caps are also the first club this season to reach 100 points.

The Lightning continue to battle for their playoff lives, but they won’t rush sidelined captain Steven Stamkos back to the lineup. Stamkos has missed nearly four months with a knee injury. 

Cam Atkinson’s overtime goal lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders. The Jackets have 98 points and sit second in the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference standings, two behind the Capitals. 

Ryan Hartman’s overtime goal gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Western Conference-leading Blackhawks (97 points) widened their lead over the slumping Minnesota Wild by five points, while the Leafs (79 points) maintain a one-point lead over the New York Islanders for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.  The Blackhawks played without winger Marian Hossa, who missed the game with a lower-body injury

Antti Raanta made 25 saves and Jimmy Vesey tallied the game winner as the New York Rangers edged the Minnesota Wild 3-2. The Wild (92 points) have lost four straight and six of their last seven games.

Paul Byron and Alex Radulov scored shootout goals to give the Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators. With 88 points, the Habs now hold a two-point lead over the Sens for top spot in the Atlantic Division. 

Connor McDavid scored a goal to regain the lead in the NHL scoring race (80 points) while Cam Talbot made 33 saves as the Edmonton Oilers blanked the Vancouver Canucks 2-0. The win moves the Oilers (85 points) into third spot in the Pacific Division, one ahead of the Calgary Flames. 

Jonathan Bernier made 33 saves and Jakob Silfverberg netted the game winner as the Anaheim Ducks nipped the San Jose Sharks 2-1. The victory gives the Ducks 87 points, moving them within four points of the Pacific Division-leading Sharks. 

Jake Allen had a 31-save shutout effort backstopping the St. Louis Blues to a 3-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The win moves the Blues into third place in the Central Division with 38 wins and 81 points. 

Jeff Skinner scored twice and Eddie Lack made 27 saves as the Carolina Hurricanes upset the Nashville Predators 4-2. With the loss, the Predators (35 wins, 81 points) hold the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference. 

Tomas Tatar scored two third-period goals as the Detroit Red Wings beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-1. Wings forward Darren Helm was forced to leave the game in the second period with a lower-body injury, possibly his left knee.  

TRIBLIVE.COM/ESPN.COM: Injuries continue to take a toll on the Pittsburgh Penguins. Center Evgeni Malkin (shoulder injury) is expected to miss today’s game against the Florida Panthers and defenseman Ron Hainsey (upper-body injury) is listed as week-to-week. The Pens are already missing blueliners Kris Letang, Olli Maatta and Trevor Daley. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets forward Shawn Matthias will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery.