NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 25, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s games plus updates on Artemi Panarin, Tomas Hertl, Jason Zucker and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 25-save shutout in a 3-0 blanking of the Carolina Hurricanes. Alex Killorn collected two assists and rookie Ross Colton tallied his first NHL goal as the Lightning (25 points) move to within one point of the first-place Florida Panthers in the Discover Central Division.

Speaking of the Panthers, they fell 3-0 to the Dallas Stars. Anton Khudobin kicked out 43 shots for the shutout and Joe Pavelski picked up two assists as the Stars snapped a six-game winless skid.

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux (NHL Images)

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux picked up three assists after coming off the COVID-19 protocol list as his club held off the New York Rangers 4-3. Rangers winger Chris Kreider tallied a hat trick and Mika Zibanejad has two assists.

William Nylander scored the tying and winning goals as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Calgary Flames 2-1 in overtime. Flame goalie David Rittich made 37 saves as he was denied his second straight shutout of the Leafs.

Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise tallied his 800th career point and teammate Mats Zuccarello got his 400th in a 6-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Nico Sturm also scored twice as the Wild (20 points) have won four straight games to sit one point behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes in the Honda West Division.

Speaking of the Coyotes, they overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Anaheim Ducks for the second straight game. Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist for Arizona as they took the game on a shootout goal by Christian Dvorak. Coyotes backup Adin Hill made 14 saves in relief of Darcy Kuemper after the latter left the game with a lower-body injury.

The Los Angeles Kings picked up their sixth straight victory by hanging on for a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. Cal Petersen turned aside 35 shots for the win on second-period goals by Alex Iafallo and Andreas Athanasiou.

HEADLINES

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports the Kontinental Hockey League said it had not been made aware of or received any complaint in relation to any incident involving Artemi Panarin back in December 2011.

Panarin’s former KHL coach Andrei Nazarov alleged the Rangers winger assaulted a young woman in a bar following a game in Riga, Latvia. The KHL said it would’ve investigated any such complaint as they take allegations of misconduct “incredibly seriously”.

To date, there’s been no corroborating evidence to support Nazarov’s allegation. No victim has come forward nor has there been any police record of the alleged incident. Kip Brennan and Jon Mirasty, two of Panarin’s former Vityaz teammates, both said they never knew or heard of the incident taking place.

Another former teammate, Mikhail Anisin, told Russian outlet Sport-Express the incident didn’t play out as Nazarov described, recalling Panarin “didn’t beat anyone, maybe pushed one girl a little bit, nothing more” in a karaoke bar. Anisin said police did come to the team hotel but left after determining the situation didn’t warrant charges. He also rejected the notion of the police being paid off as the players at the time didn’t have that type of money.

Panarin remains on a leave of absence from the Rangers as he deals with this situation. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is looking into the allegations. Kaplan said it would be uncharacteristic of the league to punish Panarin without corroborating evidence.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker also cited Anisin’s comments. She also spoke with Maxim Sitnikov, who briefly played with Panarin during that season. Sitnikov also denied the alleged incident took place, praising the winger’s character and rejecting what he called “villains” saying “all sorts of nonsense.” Walker cited two more former Vityaz players who requested to remain anonymous agreeing with Brennan’s and Mirasty’s version of events.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The allegation against Panarin is quickly falling apart. Unless Nazarov can produce evidence to corroborate his story he should withdraw his comments and issue an apology to the Rangers’ star.

SPORTSNET: The NHL postponed Thursday’s game between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights after a Sharks player tested positive for COVID-19. Sharks center Tomas Hertl was placed on the league’s COVID-19 list yesterday. New York Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller was also added to the list, which is now down to eight players, four of them members of the Flyers.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins winger Jason Zucker has returned to Pittsburgh for further evaluation for what appeared to be an injured knee or ankle suffered during their recent game against the Washington Capitals.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon is sidelined at least a month with a fractured hand.

TSN: The Penguins yesterday claimed defenseman Mark Friedman off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers.

CBC SPORTS: Vancouver Canucks forward Antoine Roussel was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL for roughing Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Pulujarvi on Tuesday.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes will soon be allowed to admit some fans to their games following North Carolina governor Roy Cooper’s announcement yesterday that indoor arenas can open to 15 percent capacity.

NHL.COM: Former NHL goaltender Gary Inness passed away on Feb. 23 from dementia at age 71. Inness played 162 NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals from 1973-74 to 1980-81. He also coached the AHL’s Hershey Bears from 1981-82 to 1984-85. Following his hockey career, he became a teacher and guidance counselor at Barrie North Collegiate Institute until his retirement in 2010.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Inness’ family, friends and former teammates.










The San Jose Sharks Facing Glum Future

The San Jose Sharks Facing Glum Future

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 28, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 28, 2020

Will the Blue Jackets shop for a scoring forward? Who could become trade bait if the Sharks become a lottery team again? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NHL.COM: Tom Gulitti wondered if the Columbus Blue Jackets will add a scoring forward before the start of 2020-21. It will depend upon the cost of re-signing Pierre-Luc Dubois because they’d prefer to know how much salary-cap space they’ll have once the 22-year-old center is under contract.

Could the Columbus Blue Jackets attempt to sign Mike Hoffman? (NHL Images)

The Jackets have an opening on their second line with winger Gustav Nyquist out 5-6 months recovering from shoulder surgery. They’ll explore internal options but general manager Jarmo Kekalainen didn’t rule out signing a forward if the right opportunity presents itself and they have the flexibility to do so. Wingers Mike Hoffman and Mikael Granlund remain available in the unrestricted free-agent market.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz cited NHL insider Elliotte Friedman recently saying the Jackets tried to move forward Brandon Dubinsky’s contract. Friedman also speculated they could be among the clubs that looked at Hoffman and/or Granlund.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Jackets have over $9.2 million in cap space. That’s more than enough to re-sign Dubois. Kekalainen has downplayed how long it’s taking to get the center signed, pointing out many notable RFAs usually aren’t signed until close to training camp.

Assuming it costs $6 million annually to sign Dubois, the Jackets would have around $3 million to add an affordable forward. They could get additional wiggle room to exceed the cap by placing Nyquist and his $5.5 million annual average value on long-term injury reserve, though they’d have to shed salary to become cap compliant if he returns during the season.

Kekalainen also hinted earlier in the offseason that Dubinsky ($5.85 million) could also end up on LTIR owing to a nagging wrist injury. Perhaps he’ll try to trade Dubinsky’s contract to a cap-strapped club in hopes of landing something worthwhile in return.

Hoffman reportedly seeks a one-year contract between $5.5 million and $6.5 million. His agent claimed 13 teams expressed various degrees of interest in his client. Most could be playing the waiting game hoping he’ll drop his asking price. The Jackets could be among them. Granlund might be a more affordable option.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked which member of the San Jose Sharks could be traded (apart from Brent Burns or Marc-Edouard Vlasic) if they’re a lottery club in 2020-21.

He doesn’t see any circumstance under which the Sharks would trade Tomas Hertl. Burns has a three-team trade list and Vlasic a full no-movement clause, making it very difficult to attempt to move either player. Kurz, however, speculates Burns might be open to moving if he believes the Sharks will struggle for the next couple of seasons, “especially with his beard buddy (Joe Thornton) now in Toronto.”

If the Sharks become sellers, Kurz feels the most likely trade candidates are pending UFAs like Devan Dubnyk, Stefan Noesen, Matt Nieto, Marcus Sorensen or maybe Patrick Marleau again.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks GM Doug Wilson is counting on his club to stage a bounce-back performance and be a playoff contender this season. If they’re not, the UFA selloff will begin as the deadline approaches. I agree with Kurz that they won’t move Hertl. I also doubt Burns and Vlasic will be going anywhere.

If Burns agreed to be moved his contract and age work against him. He turns 36 in March, his production dropped sharply last season (from 83 points in 2018-19 to just 45 in 70 games) and he’s carrying an $8 million AAV for five more years. Unless the Sharks agreed to pick up a healthy chunk of his cap hit, I don’t see many clubs agreeing to take on that contract. The same goes for the 33-year-old Vlasic and his $7 million AAV for six more years.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 18, 2020

The NHL seeks more financial concessions from its players, the latest on return-to-play plans for 2020-21, and much more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL RETURN-TO-PLAY UPDATE

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks cites multiple sources claiming the NHL is seeking financial concessions from its players in the form of a 13 percent deferral on their gross pay for 2020-21. The NHL Players Association agreed to a 10 percent deferral in the recent six-year extension of the collective bargaining agreement. That’s in addition to the 20 percent in escrow payments for this season being deducted from their salaries.

Brooks is unclear if this represents an ultimatum from the league or its initial position for a separate negotiation regarding player salaries for the coming season. He notes the CBA Memo of Understanding rules out prorating salaries for this season. It allows for clubs and players to negotiate additional deferments on a case-by-case basis, but what the NHL seeks is uniform and league-wide.

If the players agree to the 13 percent deferral, they would receive 61.6 percent of their ’20-’21 pay, with 23 percent to be returned at later dates.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman cited two sources saying the NHL hasn’t made an official proposal regarding an additional deferral. However, the subject did come up in conversations between the league and the NHLPA. It received a mixed reaction with some questioning altering a deal made several months ago while others believe that not playing is the worst result.

Friedman noted the short timeline to work out an agreement in time to reach the NHL’s tentative Jan. 1 start date. He sees this issue as part of the process of working toward an accord.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Deferral seems the only workable alternative if prorating salaries isn’t an option. While the PA membership has a right to question making changes to a recent agreement, this is not a normal situation.

The MOU was made in early July with an eye on starting the 2020-21 schedule by mid-to-late November. The pandemic, however, has changed those plans. All NHL teams face varying degrees of revenue losses even if they return on what’s expected to be a shortened ’20-’21 schedule with, at best, limited fan attendance.

Deferring payments could be better for the players than prorating their salaries. They’ll eventually get that money in installments over the latter years of the CBA extension as revenue improves once the pandemic has passed.

In a series of tweets, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the league and the PA continue daily calls to put together a plan for this season. The 16-player return-to-play committee has convened internally almost daily over the past week but not with the league. Talks between the NHL and NHLPA remain at higher levels.

LeBrun said both sides still hope for a Jan. 1 start date with an eye on awarding the Stanley Cup by no later than July 15. Most conversations have focused on a 60-game schedule. The next seven-to-10 days will be crucial toward achieving a puck drop on New Year’s Day.

The players on the NHLPA return-to-play committee are David Backes, Darren Helm, David Savard, Justin Faulk, Lars Eller, Sam Gagner, Justin Abdelkader, Ian Cole, Zach Hyman, Ron Hainsey, Claude Giroux, Ryan Dzingel, Andrew Copp, Alex Biega, Chris Kreider and Mark Scheifele.

NOTABLE HEADLINES

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers named Brett Peterson as assistant general manager, making him the first black assistant GM in the NHL. Peterson, 39, played five years as a minor pro defenseman with the AHL, ECHL and IHL from 2004-05 to 2008-09. He spent the last 11 years as a player agent.

THE ATHLETIC: San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl said he’s recovered from the devastating season-ending knee injury suffered in January. He began skating in August and has been on the ice three days a week. Hertl said he’ll be ready to go for the upcoming season.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Alex Pietrangelo purchased a $6-million mansion in Summerlin, Nevada. The former St. Louis Blues defenseman signed a seven-year, $61.6 million contract last month with the Vegas Golden Knights.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues hired Ryan Podell as their new strength and conditioning coach. Podell was the sports science/conditioning coach with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. He also spent two seasons with the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers and six seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers organization, including four years with the Flyers.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – August 27, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 27, 2020

The latest on Frederik Andersen and Corey Crawford plus updates on the Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ANDERSEN AND CRAWFORD

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Claude Lemieux, the agent for Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen, understands the recent trade speculation about his client is part of the territory when a team with high expectations like the Leafs suffers an early playoff exit. Lemieux also indicated Andersen has not requested a trade.

There’s media chatter suggesting Andersen is being shopped by the Leafs. Lemieux said the club hasn’t spoken to him about a trade. He also stated he hasn’t had contract extension talks for his client, whose contract expires at the end of next season. Rumors have linked the Leafs to Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray, a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

Corey Crawford hopes to return with the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs need a better goalie than Murray if they’re thinking about moving Andersen. While Murray has two Stanley Cups (2016 and 2017) on his resume, Andersen has had better health and better stats since 2017 with a heavier workload.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope recently reported Corey Crawford wants to stay with the Blackhawks. The 35-year-old goalie will become an unrestricted free agent on Nov. 1. He’d consider a three- or four-year deal if the Blackhawks prefer, but would also accept a short-term deal.

Crawford also indicated playing time matters more than his next salary. “I don’t want to play half the games and sit on the bench for stretches at a time,” he said. “I’m way more valuable playing games and playing consistently.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite his age (35) and injury history, Crawford proved his value as a starting goalie this season to the Blackhawks. His next deal won’t be worth $6 million annually like his current contract. I’ll be surprised if the Hawks commit to anything over two years.

Crawford’s age would allow him to sign a one-year, bonus-laden deal with a low base salary that could take him up to $5 million if he meets all bonus requirements. It would provide him with an opportunity to finish the season with a significant salary while giving the Blackhawks some cap flexibility. That depends, of course, on whether he would accept a one-year deal.

RANGERS

LOHUD.COM: Vincent Z. Mercogliano recently looked at several possible off-season trade targets for the New York Rangers. He believes they need a center and a left-handed defenseman.

Centers include Calgary’s Sam Bennett, Ottawa’s Logan Brown, Tampa Bay’s Anthony Cirelli, Montreal’s Phillip Danault, San Jose’s Tomas Hertl, and Toronto’s William Nylander. His defense options include Minnesota’s Jonas Brodin, Vancouver’s Olli Juolevi, and Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mercogliano lists his targets in descending order and explores the pros and cons of each player and the potential cost to acquire them. Follow the link above to get the details. I’m just going to briefly add my two cents.

The Flames won’t part with Bennett as he’s a versatile forward who always elevates his game in the playoffs. He’s among the few Flames who could hold his head high over his performance in this year’s postseason. I don’t believe the Senators will give up on Brown. The Bolts intend to re-sign Cirelli. Danault is the Habs’ best two-way center so he’s not going anywhere.

Hertl is very talented but his injury history makes him a risky acquisition. Nylander’s cap hit ($6.9 million) makes him too expensive for the Blueshirts under a flattened salary cap.

I believe the Canucks will remain patient with Juolevi. Brodin and Lindholm might be available but the asking price for Brodin could be a center (which the Rangers need) while the Ducks will likely want a top-six winger for Lindholm.

FOREVER BLUESHIRTS: Anthony Scultore cited Swedish reporter Johan Rylander wondering why Frolunda is one of only two Swedish league teams still holding closed-door practices. “Is it because (Henrik) Lundqvist is training for return? Or is it simply due to fear of covid-19 from two journalists 40 meters from the ice?”

Rylander confirmed Lundqvist is in town and practicing somewhere to stay in shape. Frolunda, meanwhile, issued a statement indicating their closed-door sessions are to protect their players as much as possible from the virus. The team stated it had no information on Lundqvist other than he is not a member of their roster or their team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report indicates Lundqvist is allowed to practice with the club as per IIHF rules. He spent several seasons with Frolunda before joining the Rangers in 2005-06. Perhaps he’s considering NHL retirement and finishing his career with his old team. Or he could simply be staying in shape before training camp opens later this fall.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 6, 2020

In today’s NHL morning coffee headlines, recaps of Wednesday’s games plus the latest on Jake Muzzin,  Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Micheal Ferland, and more.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jeff Petry scored his second game-winning goal as the Montreal Canadiens overcame a 3-1 deficit to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3, taking a 2-1 lead in their qualifying-round series. Habs captain Shea Weber led the way with a goal and two assists.

 

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens seemed done like dinner midway through the second period. They’re now poised to eliminate the Penguins in Game 4 on Friday. And speaking of potential upsets…

The Chicago Blackhawks got two unanswered third-period goals by Matthew Highmore and Jonathan Toews to nip the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 and take a 2-1 lead in their qualifier. Toews finished the game with two goals while teammate Corey Crawford made 25 saves to become the 20th goaltender in NHL history to record his 50th career playoff win. Leon Draisaitl scored twice and set up another for the Oilers. Edmonton defenseman Adam Larsson was unfit to play while Oilers winger Tyler Ennis left the game in the second period with an apparent leg injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bounces went the Blackhawks’ way as Highmore’s goal was a deflection from a point shot while Toews’ deflected shot bounced in off an Oilers’ defenseman. They’re now poised to eliminate the Oilers if they win Game 4 on Friday.

The Boston Bruins won’t be the top seed in the 2020 playoffs after dropping a 3-2 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning in round-robin play. Tyler Johnson tallied the winning goal late in the third period. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made 32 saves in his return to action after being unfit to play in their first round-robin game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the first time in NHL history the season’s Presidents’ Trophy winner won’t be the top seed in the playoffs. The Bruins are 0-2 in round-robin play. While they are guaranteed a playoff spot, they risk drawing a tougher first-round opponent the lower they sink in the round-robin seedings.

The Florida Panthers avoided elimination by hanging on for a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Third-period goals by Mike Hoffman and Brian Boyle broke a 1-1 tie while Sergei Bobrovsky made 20 saves for the win. A rare penalty by Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov for playing the puck beyond the trapezoid behind his net led to Hoffman’s power-play goal. The Isles hold a 2-1 series lead.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the Panthers’ first postseason victory since the 2016 playoffs. It certainly came at the right time. They also shook up their lineup yesterday, scratching Mike Matheson and Frank Vatrano after their disappointing performances in the first two games.

Three unanswered third-period goals by Conor Garland, Taylor Hall, and Carl Soderberg lifted the Arizona Coyotes over the Nashville Predators 4-1. The Coyotes hold a 2-1 series lead. Darcy Kuemper enjoyed a bounce-back effort in this contest with a 39-save performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes weathered the first-period onslaught from the Predators and opened the scoring on their first shot of the game. They finally got some productions from Hall and Garland, who’d been held goalless in the first two games.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz kicked out 27 shots to shut out the Dallas Stars 4-0 in round-robin action. Cale Makar tallied the game-winner while Joonas Donskoi and Andre Burakovsky each had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars were without starting goalie Ben Bishop and defenseman John Klingberg in this game. Both were declared unfit to play. Under league protocols, no reason was given for their absence, but it doesn’t appear as though it’s COVID-related.

HEADLINES TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin won’t be available for the remainder of his club’s qualifying-round series with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was injured in Game 2 and taken to hospital with what appeared to be a head or neck injury. Muzzin was released yesterday and returned to the Leafs hotel within the safety zone and will remain in quarantine until cleared. Martin Marincin will replace him in the lineup for today’s match with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois won’t face supplemental discipline for the hit that sent Muzzin to hospital after colliding awkwardly with Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstand.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets aren’t ruling out Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine for Game 4 of their qualifier with the Calgary Flames later today. Both players have been sidelined since Game 1. The Flames hold a 2-1 series lead and could wrap it up with a win today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets need some help following a dispiriting loss in Game 3. They also need Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor to start cashing in or this series will be over later tonight.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland is out of action and has returned to his home in Brandon, Manitoba. He’s been declared “unfit to play”, raising speculation it’s tied to the concussion symptoms that sidelined him for most of this season.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals forward Lars Eller returned to Washington to be with his wife as she gives birth to their second child. He’ll rejoin his teammates following a period of quarantine and testing in the first round of the playoffs.

SPORTSNET: A report from a Swedish media outlet indicates winger Oskar Lindblom will be traveling to the Toronto bubble to join his Philadephia Flyers teammates. He missed the bulk of this season battling a rare form of bone cancer and finished his treatment on July 2. He could return to action in September if the Flyers are still in the playoffs by then.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Tomas Hertl has resumed skating for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury in January.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi has re-signed a one-year contract with Finland’s Karpat. It’s believed the deal contains an out-clause should Puljujarvi return to the Oilers next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports suggest the relationship between Puljujarvi and the Oilers has improved after he spent last season in Finland. With the NHL tentatively planning a full 82-game schedule in December, it makes sense for him to get in some meaningful playing time in Finland before NHL camps open in November.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): The general managers of the seven non-playoff teams have submitted a proposal to the league allowing their clubs a two-week mini-camp before training camp for all clubs open in November.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like a reasonable proposal. Those teams haven’t played since the regular season was derailed in mid-March and they’re now amid an unusually long off-season.