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.  










NHL Rumor Mill – May 23, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 23, 2020

Could the Sharks trade Tomas Hertl or Kevin Labanc? Should they make a pitch for Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev? Check out the latest Sharks speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked about the possibility of the San Jose Sharks trading Tomas Hertl. The 26-year-old forward carries a $5.625-million annual average value through 2021-22 and his modified no-trade clause (three-team trade list) doesn’t kick in until next season. While one can never say never, Kurz doesn’t see the Sharks moving Hertl.

Kevin Labanc Stats, News, Videos, Highlights, Pictures, Bio - San ...

San Jose Sharks winger Kevin Lebanc (Photo via NHL Images).

Kurz was also asked about how much Kevin Labanc could receive on his next contract. The 26-year-old winger is a restricted free agent completing a one-year, $1-million contract and has arbitration rights, but the decline in his production this season could hurt his efforts to land a lucrative new deal. Kurz wouldn’t offer more than $3 million to $4 million annually, but he wonders if the Labanc camp would accept it. He considers the winger a prime trade candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks general manager Doug Wilson could surprise us by moving Hertl before his modified no-trade goes into effect, but I doubt he’ll go that route. Even if he were so inclined, Hertl’s history of knee injuries could make him a difficult sell. Labanc bet on himself last summer and lost. With the Sharks carrying over $66 million invested in 13 players for next season, Wilson could peddle the winger if his contract talks become contentious.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Marcus White suggests the Sharks address their need for a reliable backup for starting goalie Martin Jones by pursuing a trade for Alexandar Georgiev. The 24-year-old New York Rangers goaltender is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights following this season.

Long-time Rangers starter Henrik Lundqvist has another year left on his contract while promising Igor Shesterkin is also signed for next season. White suggests offering up a second-round pick in the 2020 draft to the Rangers for Georgiev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Assuming Lundqvist doesn’t retire, accepts a trade, or has his contract bought out, the Rangers cannot go into next season carrying three goalies. They won’t move Shesterkin, leaving Georgiev the most likely candidate. He could be a good fit with the Sharks, but the Blueshirts could squeeze them for more than a second-rounder.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 22, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 22, 2020

The Devils interview Gerard Gallant for their vacant head-coaching position, the latest speculation on the 2020 Draft, a potential stumbling block for the league’s plans to resume the schedule, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Pierre Lebrun cites sources reporting the New Jersey Devils held a virtual interview last week with former Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant regarding their vacant head coaching position. Interim Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald has also spoken to several other candidates. Current interim coach Alain Nasreddine remains a legitimate candidate for the job.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Abbey Mastracco wonders if Fitzgerald conducting these interviews for a new bench boss indicates he’ll remain the Devils GM. She points out it would make little sense otherwise for him to be interviewing new coaches. The ownership group recently interviewed former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis for the management job. Fitzgerald last week said he hadn’t had discussions with ownership regarding the future of his role.

The New Jersey Devils interviewed former Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Devils all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention if the schedule resumes, it’s understandable that they would want to start interviewing potential coaching candidates now. Mastracco makes a good point about Fitzgerald’s role. A new GM usually wants to hire his coaching staff. Maybe this is an indicator that Fitzgerald will remain the general manager after this season.

LeBrun, Frank Seravalli, and SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reported the NHL is considering staging the 2020 Draft in June before the potential resumption of the schedule this summer. It would be unprecedented, as no draft has ever been held before the Stanley Cup playoffs.

While it would create some much-needed buzz for the league, potential complications – such as the draft lottery, conditional draft picks tied to playoff placement, and trading players on current rosters – would have to be addressed. Seravalli indicated this might not be universally embraced by NHL general managers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I get the NHL’s desire to draw attention back to its product at a time when there’s little actual sports news taking place. Nevertheless, staging the draft before the season resumes could create unnecessary headaches. Best to stage the draft following the playoffs and avoid unwanted complications.

Friedman also reports the idea of staging neutral-site games could be a no-go. Instead, the league could consider using one NHL city per division for staging its games. The plan remains to resume the regular season.

TSN: Mark Masters reports Carolina Hurricanes goaltender James Reimer advocates for exhibition games if the league returns to action this summer. He feels it would be helpful for goaltenders to have a training camp and get in a couple of exhibition contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would also be beneficial for all players to get back into game shape before resuming the season, especially with the playoffs being staged soon afterward.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes integrating European players will be a stumbling block for the league’s plans to resume the schedule. Different countries have different responses to coronavirus pandemic.

Sweden, for example, has opted for a herd immunity strategy, meaning their social distancing restrictions aren’t as stringent as in North America. Some Swedish NHL players have resumed skating because rinks aren’t closed in their country. The NHL doesn’t intend on issuing a directive to stop them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Depending on where the returning players are coming from, they could be forced to self-quarantine for 14 days before rejoining their teammates. The league will also have to ensure mass testing of all its players before it can resume play.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward and NHLPA player rep Luke Glendening said he and his teammates would love to finish this season. Health and safety concerns remain important issues, but Glendening said his teammates were “chomping at the bit” to return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Critics of the NHL’s plans to resume the schedule often point to a perceived unwillingness of players on non-playoff clubs, like the Red Wings, to complete the season. It’s assumed they would lack sufficient motivation to return for a season that, for them, is already lost.

Glendening’s comments, however, suggest otherwise. If the players on the worst team in the league are keen to come back, it’s probably safe to assume those on the other non-contenders share that sentiment.

THE ATHLETIC (SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED): James Mirtle examined why NHL players opted to defer their final paycheck, pointing out it’s tied directly to the league’s financial health, hockey-related revenue (HRR), the salary cap, and the collective bargaining agreement.

Mirtle also points out the league’s escrow system wasn’t designed for huge drops in HRR. If it spills over into next season, the league and the players will have to come up with other solutions. He suggested a salary rollback combined with a salary-cap drop.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be very interesting to see what happens beyond this season. If there’s a second coronavirus wave that shuts down part or all of next season, it could have far-reaching consequences for the players and the team owners.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin looks at the leading candidates for this season’s major NHL awards. They include Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (Hart Trophy), Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson (Norris Trophy), Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (Vezina Trophy), and Colorado Avalanche rookie blueliner Cale Makar (Calder Trophy).

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Tomas Hertl said all is going well in his recovery from knee surgery. There’s no indication he’ll miss the start of next season.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 17, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 17, 2020

Recent speculation on the Leafs, Senators, and Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS MOST LIKELY TO BE ON THE MOVE THIS OFF-SEASON

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel and James Mirtle consider Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci as the most likely not to return with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both defensemen are unrestricted free agents who underwhelmed during their one-season tenures with the Leafs. They also considered forwards Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, and Alex Kerfoot among the Leafs’ likely trade chips as the club seeks to shed salary and bolster their blueline depth.

Don’t expect to see Tyson Barrie with the Toronto Maple Leafs next season (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of Leafs Nation will agree Barrie and Ceci won’t be back. It just didn’t work out for either guy.

Kapanen, Johnsson, and Kerfoot frequently surfaced as trade candidates through this season. General manager Kyle Dubas didn’t have to move them during this campaign but could have no choice during the off-season.

The Leafs have over $76 million invested in 16 players. They desperately need to bolster their defense. Dubas surprised most observers with his slick moves last summer to free up sufficient cap room to re-sign Mitch Marner. Unless he’s got another trick or two up his sleeve, Kapanen, Johnsson, or Kerfoot could be shopped for a top-four defenseman.

COULD THE SENATORS WEAPONIZE THEIR CAP SPACE?

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes a flat or reduced salary cap for next season could work in favor of the rebuilding Senators as cap-strapped clubs attempt to shed salary in the off-season. The Sens only have around $41.9 million invested in next season’s cap payroll. They don’t need any more draft picks, but Warren believes they should listen if some promising prospects are packaged into the deal.

NBC SPORTS: Scott Charles believes the Senators should look for short-term players that other clubs no longer have the patience for, such as the New York Islanders’ Joshua Ho-Sang. Charles points out Anthony Duclair turned into a successful reclamation project for the Sens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators also have 13 picks in the 2020 NHL Draft, including three in the first round, four in the second, and two in the third. They also hold three second-rounders in next year’s draft.

Their first-rounders are off the table, but GM Pierre Dorion could offer up a couple of those other picks to take on a toxic short-term contract that’s packaged with prospects or young NHL-ready players, or perhaps a player who could accelerate the rebuild. He can even afford to acquire someone like Ho-Sang on an affordable contract that can be easily buried in the minors if that player doesn’t work out.

WILL THE SHARKS MAKE A BIG MOVE THIS OFF-SEASON?

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: During a recent interview long-time San Jose Sharks broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky told Brodie Brazil he believes the club needs to make a big change or two, partly for salary-cap reasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s easy to see why Rusanowsky feels this way. Despite spending to the cap ceiling to ice a star-studded roster, the Sharks were among this season’s worst clubs.

Making a big cost-cutting change, however, won’t be easy. The Sharks have over $66.6 million tied up in 13 players for 2020-21. Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Brent Burns, and Martin Jones all have three-team trade lists, while Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have full no-movement clauses.

Timo Meier ($6 million annually through 2022-23) lacks no-trade protection, but GM Doug Wilson could be reluctant to peddle the 23-year-old winger. Winger Tomas Hertl ($5.625 million AAV through 2021-22) also lacks no-trade protection for this season, but his long injury history could scare off potential suitors.










NHL Injury Outlook: Hertl tops list of February Hurts

NHL Injury Outlook: Hertl tops list of February Hurts

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 31, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 31, 2020

Game recaps, Predators GM David Poile reaches a historic milestone, Tomas Hertl out of the season, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Shootout goals by Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene gave the Nashville Predators a 6-5 win over the New Jersey Devils. Forsberg also scored twice in regulation, while Devils forward Pavel Zacha scored two goals and collected an assist. The Predators (55 points) are two points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the final Western Conference wild-card spot. The win was the 1,507th of Predators GM David Poile’s career, moving him past Glen Sather into first place for most victories for an NHL general manager.

Filip Forsberg scored twice as the Nashville Predators downed the New Jersey Devils 6-5 (Photo via NHL Images)

Al Iafallo’s hat trick lifted the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 overtime victory over the slumping Arizona Coyotes, who’ve won three of their last 10 games. The Coyotes (58 points) cling to the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Arizona captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson left the game in the second period following a knee-on-knee collision with Kings forward Dustin Brown.

The Montreal Canadiens kept their fading playoff hopes alive by downing the Buffalo Sabres 3-1. Winger Brendan Gallagher marked his return to the roster following a six-game absence by tallying the game-winning goal. Sabres captain Jack Eichel netted his 30th of the season. The Habs sit eight points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Coyotes, they acknowledged reports of employing illegal tactics recruiting tactics but declined to comment on any potential investigation. Some CHL teams accused the club of putting draft-eligible players through physical testing, which isn’t allowed before the annual NHL combine in June. They could face fines of $250K or more.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Bad news for the struggling San Jose Sharks, as winger Tomas Hertl is out for the season after suffering torn knee ligaments during Wednesday’s loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Sharks sinking toward the bottom of the Western standings, Hertl’s injury could be the final nail in the coffin for this season.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins announced winger David Backes won’t be reporting to the AHL affiliate in Providence after recently clearing waivers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears Backes simply won’t be playing for a while as the Bruins consider their options. He won’t be suspended, he’s not retiring, and his contract won’t be terminated. I’ll have more on his situation in the rumors section.

CBS SPORTS: The St. Louis Blues recalled forward Troy Brouwer.

VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks winger Tyler Motte (upper body) was placed on injured reserve.

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers placed Kris Russell and Joakim Nygard on injured reserve.