NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 21, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 21, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s action, Capitals fined as four players violate the league’s COVID-19 rules, plus updates on Mika Zibanejad, Patrik Laine, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl’s third period snapped a 1-1 tie as the Edmonton Oilers downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. Auston Matthews had tied the game earlier in the period before Draisaitl tallied the winning goal. Leafs center Joe Thornton is expected to miss some time after leaving the game early in the third period with an apparent wrist injury.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was hyped as a showdown between Matthews and Oilers star Connor McDavid but it turned out to be a disappointingly dull contest that failed to live up to its billing. Oilers fans will be happy with the win following back-to-back losses to the Montreal Canadiens. Leafs fans will be unhappy over their club’s disorganized performance.

Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli’s hat trick wasn’t enough to defeat his former team as they fell 6-5 to the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout. Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat each had two goals and an assist, with Horvat also scoring the winner in the shootout frame. It was a costly win for the Canucks as defenseman Alexander Edler left the game with an upper-body injury in the second period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The return of J.T. Miller (three assists) to the lineup also played a crucial role in the Canucks’ victory. The Canadiens were their own worst enemies as their undisciplined play resulted in three power-play goals on six attempts for the Canucks. There was no post-game update on Edler’s status.

The Vegas Golden Knights rolled to their fourth straight victory by defeating the Arizona Coyotes 5-2. Alex Pietrangelo tallied his first goal with the Golden Knights while teammate Shea Theodore tallied twice and winger Alex Tuch scored and collected two assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo has wasted little time adjusting to the Golden Knights after signing with them last October as a free agent. His addition to the lineup is a contributing factor to their strong start to this season.

Tomas Hertl scored the only goal in a shootout as the San Jose Sharks edged the St. Louis Blues 2-1. The Blues’ Brayden Schenn and the Sharks’ Marcus Sorensen tallied the only goals in regulation. Blues defenseman Marco Scandella missed the game with an upper-body injury.

The Minnesota Wild edged the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on a third-period goal by Joel Eriksson Ek. Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen made 22 saves in his first game of the season while Ryan Miller kicked out 29 shots.


NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The NHL fined the Capitals $100K for a violation of its health and safety protocols by four players. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov recently gathered together in one hotel room without wearing proper facial coverings, which is prohibited by the league’s COVID-19 protocols for this season. Players must each have their own rooms on road trips and are not permitted to gather in each other’s rooms.

The four players were placed on the league’s COVID-19 absence list but it doesn’t mean they’ve tested positive for the coronavirus. Players can be added to the list as a precaution from possible exposure. It’s unknown if they’ll miss Friday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals and Ovechkin released statements acknowledging the incident, with the club expressing disappointment in the players’ actions and Ovechkin saying he regretted what happened and will learn from the incident.

Some observers questioned why the league is cracking down on players gathering in hotel rooms when they’re in close contact in the dressing room and on the ice during practice and games. The difference is the players stand a greater chance of catching COVID-19 away from the arenas, which are under strict health and safety controls to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

The NHL is doing everything it can to stage a 56-game schedule in the midst of a pandemic. Its’ COVID-19 protocols follow federal guidelines in Canada and the United States. They don’t want the possibility of repeated protocol violations potentially putting the season at risk if they fail to adequately prevent or minimize community spread.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes’ next two games against the Florida Panthers have been postponed after five of their players were placed on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list.

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders winger Josh Bailey was placed on the league’s COVID-19 list.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers center Mika Zibanejad is expected to return to the lineup for Friday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Zibanejad left Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils with an undisclosed ailment.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Patrik Laine (upper-body injury) remains doubtful for Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (arm) should be ready to play tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. He skated in practice with his teammates yesterday.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars placed defenseman Julius Honka on waivers.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 31, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 31, 2020

More on the league’s potential plans for 2020-21, no Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2021, plus the latest on Tyler Seguin, Roope Hintz, Vince Dunn, Alexander Steen and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league intends to take its time exploring its options for 2020-21 despite a tentative start date of Jan. 1. He also indicated it appears last season’s seven non-playoff clubs will get additional training camp time, though it hasn’t yet been finalized with the NHL Players Association.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly (NHL.com).

Daly also dismissed the idea that the NHL must crown a Stanley Cup champion before the Tokyo Summer Olympics begin on July 22, 2021. He said there’s a lot to be played out on the Olympic front, adding the league has models that extend beyond the Olympic period.

Border restrictions between Canada and the United States will also factor in what the 2020-21 schedule looks like. If travel for NHL teams remains difficult between the two countries, it could result in what Daly called a possibility to “create competition within the league among the Canadian clubs.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s interesting to note that Daly isn’t rejecting the notion of the NHL schedule coinciding with the Summer Olympics. However, I don’t think that’s going to benefit the league if the playoffs are going on during the two weeks when their main US broadcaster is putting its focus on the Tokyo Games. If the Olympics are canceled or the dates changed, however, it wouldn’t affect the league’s US TV coverage.

For now, of course, this is all speculation. We don’t know yet how long the NHL season will be, let alone when the puck drops for certain.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports Bruins defenseman and NHLPA representative Brandon Carlo said the PA and its members remain committed to staging a full 82-games schedule for 2020-21.

Murphy believes one reason behind the 82-game push is to avoid the possibility of the league looking to amend the new collective bargaining agreement to prorate player salaries if the season is shortened by COVID-19.

Carlo also suggested there would be some hesitancy among the players to play under quarantine bubbles again, though they are open to ideas. However, they would be reluctant to be separated from their families as they were during the 2020 playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One possibility recently raised is starting next season in several hub cities where the teams play for two weeks, followed by a week back in their home cities to practice and reunite with their families. That scenario could be acceptable to the PA membership.

SPORTSNET: The Hockey Hall of Fame announced it is postponing the induction ceremony for the Class of 2020 to next year and will not name a new class for 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The induction weekend is a significant event that involves a Hall of Fame game in Toronto on the Saturday prior to the actual induction ceremony gala, which takes place in the Hall with family, friends and former teammates of the inductees, as well as NHL executives and established Hall of Famers in attendance. The pandemic makes it impossible to safely stage those events.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars forward Tyler Seguin is expected to undergo hip surgery next week. His recovery period could take four months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seguin labored through that injury (and a lingering knee injury) during the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, during which he got some flak from fans and pundits for what they considered a sub-par performance on his part, with calls that he should “step up his play”. Once again, it’s worth remembering that an NHL player performing below expectations in the postseason could be nursing an injury that adversely affects their game.

Stars general manager Jim Nill said he hopes to have a new deal for Roope Hintz within the next week or two. The 23-year-old forward is a restricted free agent without arbitration rights. Nill said he’s had great discussions with Hintz’s agent. The Stars have about $4 million in cap space. Hintz’s new contract could carry an annual cap hit of between $2.5 million and $3 million.

The Stars also signed Julius Honka to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700K at the NHL level. The 24-year-old defenseman spent last season playing in Finland and had asked for a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Honka is well down the Stars’ blueline depth chart and faces a daunting challenge cracking the lineup. He must also clear waivers to be demoted to their AHL affiliate.

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong isn’t concerned over Vince Dunn remaining unsigned, indicating the 24-year-old defenseman is still part of their plans for next season. He pointed out it’s not unusual for restricted free agents to wait until training camp to sign contracts.

The Blues are about $1.1 million over the $81.5 million salary cap. However, Armstrong pointed out they’ll have “an abundance of cap space” given the Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen “situations”. Tarasenko will miss the start of the season recovering from shoulder surgery. Armstrong’s comments are a strong indicator Steen could miss the start of the season with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly lists Tarasenko and Steen on injured reserve. Their combined salaries ($13.25 million) provides the Blues with ample room to re-sign Dunn. It could also provide sufficient room to make a short-term addition to their roster if necessary.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed restricted free agent forward Joey Anderson to a three-year contract (two-way in the first two seasons) worth an annual average value of $750K. They also signed unrestricted free agent goalie Michael Hutchinson to a two-year, two-way contract worth $750K annually.

SPORTSNET: The Ontario government reaffirmed its stance that bodychecking and deliberate physical contact will not take place during sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) indicates it will follow scientific studies in crafting its return-to-play plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Bob McKenzie raises some important questions about the Ontario government’s plan:


NHL Rumor Mill – December 12, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – December 12, 2019

The latest salary-cap speculation, plus updates on Taylor Hall, Ilya Kovalchuk, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman declined to project next season’s salary cap, but Elliotte Friedman reports some clubs have the impression it could reach between $84-$85 million. Based on concerns over a lockout, he points out many players structured their contracts with low cash payouts for 2020-21. That means a lower escrow clawback, which could prompt the NHLPA to use their annual escalator clause to raise the cap ceiling by up to five percent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After several years of seeing annual cap projections coming in lower than anticipated, I think the clubs will make a conservative estimate for their cap payrolls next season. If it comes in higher than expected, they’ll have more flexibility to add or retain talent.

Could the New York Islanders get into the bidding for New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall? (Photo via NHL Images)

Friedman believes the New York Islanders could use a scorer. “But I’m not expecting Lou Lamoriello to tell me how he feels about Taylor Hall.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles are on my list of realistic bidders for the New Jersey Devils winger. Lamoriello never tips his hand and rival GMs know not to leak trade discussions at the risk of him shutting down negotiations. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s looked into the Devils’ asking price.

Speaking of Hall, TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie reports the Montreal Canadiens aren’t interested in acquiring Hall. He claims the fact the Devils don’t want to give Hall a six- to eight-year deal raises a red flag. Acquiring Hall this season would be a waste of assets for the Habs. He’d improve their scoring, but not their defensive depth, and that’s their biggest concern right now.

Friedman believes the Los Angeles Kings could attempt to work out some sort of contract termination for Ilya Kovalchuk once his final bonus is paid on Dec. 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings reportedly looked into trading the 36-year-old winger without success. Maybe they’ll have better luck after Sunday but I doubt it. He’s been a healthy scratch for a month now.

St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong isn’t sharing details on his contract talks with Alex Pietrangelo. He said they prefer keeping negotiations in-house. “I know it’s a long time until June 30, 2020.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo could depart next summer via free agency, but the Blues won’t trade him before the Feb. 24 deadline. They’re attempting to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, and Pietrangelo will play a key role in that quest.

Friedman has his doubts the Toronto Maple Leafs will upgrade their backup goaltending. He claims they’re not enamored with what’s available in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry and the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev have come up in media speculation, but I don’t believe either guy is available. Looks like the Leafs are stuck with what they’ve got for the time being.

Jarry’s played very well backing up starter Matt Murray. Given the latter’s injury history, they probably won’t part with Jarry or Casey DeSmith this season. Despite all the fuss over Georgiev becoming waiver-eligible soon, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton doesn’t sound like he’s keen to part with him.

Speaking of the Leafs, Friedman said a rival GM claimed they learned they could easily trade winger Kasperi Kapanen during their previous losing skid. However, they don’t want to move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs GM Kyle Dubas is proving adept at juggling his limited salary-cap space. At some point, however, he could face making a cost-cutting deal to address a roster need, such as their backup goaltending. That could force him into making a difficult decision about Kapanen or another salaried roster player.

Friedman reports the Pittsburgh Penguins were testing the market on winger Alex Galchenyuk. He believes the Buffalo Sabres looking into it. “There were rumblings about Ottawa, but a few sources pooh-poohed that,” said Friedman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators have had recent success with reclamation projects, such as Anthony Duclair. While it’s tempting to suggest Galchenyuk’s inconsistency scared them off, perhaps they’re simply unwilling to acquire a player slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Friedman believes the Carolina Hurricanes had interest in Dallas Stars free-agent defenseman Julius Honka before Dec. 1. He wonders what the summer might bring for Honka, who needs a fresh start.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 2, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 2, 2019

Mikko Koivu plays the hero in a milestone game, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl reach 50 points, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu celebrated his 1,000th career NHL game by scoring the winning goal in a 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars. He also collected an assist for his 700th career point. The Wild are 6-0-3 in their last 10 games.

Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu collected his 700th point in his 1,000th career game (Photo via NHL Images).

Edmonton Oilers stars Connor McDavid (two assists) and Leon Draisaitl (two goals) became the first players to reach 50 points this season in a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. McDavid sits atop the NHL scoring race with 51 points, with Draisaitl right behind him. Oilers defenseman Matt Benning left the game after being hit in the head by a puck.

David Pastrnak tallied his league-leading 25th goal as the Boston Bruins downed the Montreal Canadiens 3-1. The Habs are now winless in eight games.


Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, and Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane are the NHL’s three stars for November 2019. Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar was named rookie of the month.

THE SCORE: Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi and Stars defenseman Julius Honka are ineligible to play the remainder of this NHL season. The two restricted free agents were still unsigned by yesterday’s 5 pm ET deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars were reportedly working on trading Honka’s rights before yesterday’s deadline. I expect their rights will be traded in the off-season.

SPORTSNET: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski will miss the next four weeks with a shoulder injury.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Brian Dumoulin will be sidelined at least eight weeks following surgery to repair lacerated tendons in his left ankle.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights center Cody Eakin is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens Hall-of-Famer Guy Lafleur underwent surgery on Thursday to remove a lobe from one of his lungs. Lafleur was coming off quadruple bypass surgery in late September. The procedure went well and he’s under observation in the hospital before returning home to continue his recovery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Lafleur for a speedy convalescence.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 30, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – November 30, 2019

The latest on the Canadiens and Maple Leafs, plus updates on Jesse Puljujarvi and Julius Honka in today’s NHL rumor mill.


MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey observes a growing chorus among Canadiens fans who feel the struggling club should cut their losses and trade Carey Price. He feels that option disappeared when the goaltender signed his eight-year, $84-million contract. It would be tough shopping Price when he’s playing well, but no one’s interested in a struggling goalie with six years left on his contract and a $10.5-million annual average value.

Don’t expect the struggling Montreal Canadiens to put Carey Price on the trade block (Photo via NHL Images)

Hickey suggests general manager Marc Bergevin could help by bringing in a top-flight defenseman. The Habs carry over $8 million in salary-cap space, but that would mean parting with some of the prospects Bergevin has been reluctant to move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price’s no-movement clause is another deal breaker. Even if he agreed to waive it, the Habs would have to  absorb a significant chunk of his cap hit or take back a toxic contract in return.

Bolstering the blueline should be Bergevin’s priority. The Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly shopping a surplus defenseman. The Anaheim Ducks could also consider moving a rearguard. Chicago’s Erik Gustafsson and Calgary’s T.J. Brodie have surfaced in recent trade speculation.

Those clubs seek a forward, preferably a scorer, in return. They could attempt to squeeze Bergevin into parting with Nick Suzuki or Jesperi Kotkaniemi as part of the asking price.

Given the bad blood between Bergevin and Hurricanes management over his attempt to sign away Sebastian Aho, it’s doubtful a deal could be made between those two clubs. Brodie’s recent health scare probably sent his trade value plummeting, while Gustafsson isn’t the shutdown rearguard the Habs need.


THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman recently spoke with Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland over the possibility of trading winger Jesse Puljujarvi. The 21-year-old restricted free agent is playing in Finland awaiting a trade. If he’s not re-signed by 5 pm ET on Dec.1, he’ll be ineligible to play in the NHL for the remainder of the season.

Holland indicated he’d spoken with a few teams in recent days, but he’s not optimistic a deal can be done before tomorrow’s deadline. He confirmed he’ll want a young player for Puljujarvi, or maybe a younger player/prospect and a draft pick. “I’m not looking to trade him for somebody who’s old,” said Holland.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks recently reported Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka is maintaining a positive outlook as the Dec. 1 signing deadline approaches. Like Puljujarvi, Honka is a restricted free agent playing in Finland while waiting for a trade to another NHL club.

Stars GM Jim Nill said he’s still talking to teams, but he hasn’t liked the offers he’s received that far. Honka, meanwhile, is focused on improving his game in Finland.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players could be re-signed and traded to new clubs before tomorrow’s deadline. However, it doesn’t sound like either guy will be skating in the NHL this season. I expect they’ll be shopped by their respective teams next summer, probably during the 2020 NHL Draft weekend in June.


TORONTO SUN: After watching Michael Hutchinson drop his sixth straight game, Steve Simmons believes Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas must go shopping for a backup goaltender. “What he needs to do now is to find another option, a way to open salary-cap space, a way to alter his payroll, a way to find a backup goaltender who is both capable and ridiculously inexpensive,” said Simmons. “And around the league, nobody is about to do the Leafs any favors.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Toronto-based pundits suggested Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry as a trade target for the Leafs. He’s young (24) and carries an affordable $675K salary. The Penguins, however, aren’t in any hurry to part with Jarry, who’s done a good job spelling off Pittsburgh starter Matt Murray.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 1, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – November 1, 2019

A review of TSN’s first trade-bait board of the season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Martin Marincin, and Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi top Frank Seravalli’s first NHL trade-bait board of this season. Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka and Calgary Flames blueliner Travis Hamonic fill out the top-five spots.

New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider tops TSN’s first NHL trade-bait board of this season (Photo via NHL Images).

Kreider is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. With the Rangers still feeling its rebuilding pains, Seravalli wondered if the speedy winger might be a good fit with the St. Louis Blues now that Vladimir Tarasenko’s sidelined for five months.

Marincin could be moved as the Leafs clear salary-cap space for Zach Hyman’s return. Seravalli said Oilers general manager Ken Holland will be in Finland to check on Puljujarvi’s progress. The winger will be taking part in the Karjala Cup next weekend.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Rangers get an enticing offer I believe they’ll hang onto Kreider until February. The trade deadline is Feb. 24 and that means more suitors and better offers. Marincin could end up getting waived.

Puljujarvi is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract. Holland can take his time and evaluate offers for the 21-year-old winger. If Puljujarvi isn’t re-signed by Dec. 1, he’ll be ineligible to play the remainder of this NHL season. Nevertheless, Holland could be content to let him play the season in Finland and try again to re-sign or trade him next summer.

Honka’s status is similar to Puljujarvi’s, except there might not be as much interest in the young blueliner. Seravalli wonders if the Flames uneven start might prompt GM Brad Treliving to shake things up. He also suggests Hamonic, an unrestricted free agent next summer, could finish the season in Calgary if the Flames get back on track.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray, Leafs winger Nic Petan, Detroit Red Wings winger Andreas Athanasiou, New York Islanders winger Josh Ho-Sang and Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick fill spots six to 10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s currently sidelined three-to-four weeks with a broken hand. The Leafs are reportedly trying to trade Petan. Given their need to make room for Hyman, they could be forced to put him on waivers if not takers are found in the trade market.

Athanasiou’s slow start and restricted free agent status next summer are behind the chatter about his future with the Wings. However, reports out of Detroit indicate they’re optimistic he’ll snap out of his scoring funk soon. The Islanders are trying to move Ho-Sang but so far there are no takers.

Quick’s poor start has prompted trade conjecture. His hefty contract, declining performance and injury history makes him a tough sell.

Flames rearguard T.J. Brodie, Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris, Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Samuel Morin, Winnipeg Jets forward Jack Roslovic, and New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall round out the bottom five.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Hamonic, Brodie’s a UFA next summer. Despite the Flames’ recent struggles, I doubt either blueliner hits the trade block this fall. That could change, however, if they’re still struggling in the New Year.

The Predators reportedly tried moving Turris during the summer. Signed through 2023-24 with a $6-million annual salary, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Morin’s struggled to crack the Flyers lineup. He might benefit from a change of scenery.

Roslovic frequently surfaces in the rumor mill as trade bait for a defenseman. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff’s shown no interest so far in making that move.

Hall is the biggest name potentially available in next summer’s UFA market. With the Devils stumbling from the gate there are growing questions over his future in New Jersey. As long as he remains unsigned he’ll be a fixture in this season’s rumor mill.