NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 25, 2020

Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa head the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame Inductees, plus the latest return-to-play news and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa are the former NHL stars topping the Hockey Hall of Fame’s class of 2020 inductees. Former NHL defensemen Doug Wilson and Kevin Lowe, Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland, and former Canadian women’s goaltender Kim St. Pierre were the other inductees.

Former Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla is among the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the HHoF Class of 2020.

It wasn’t surprising that Iginla and St. Pierre were inducted. With 625 goals, Iginla was one of the top goal scorers in NHL history, winning the Richard Trophy twice and the Art Ross in 2002. St. Pierre was perhaps the greatest goalie in women’s hockey history.

Hossa was also a first-ballot inductee. He tallied 525 goals and 1,134 points, won three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks, and developed into a strong two-way forward.

Holland got in as a builder for his work with the Detroit Red Wings, building on a solid foundation to turn that club into a league powerhouse and Stanley Cup champion.

Wilson’s induction was long overdue. He was one of the best defensemen of the 1980s, winning the Norris Trophy in 1982. He was also a first-team all-star in 1982 and a two-time second-team all-star while netting 827 points in 1,024 games.

Lowe had a fine NHL career, winning six Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers. Nevertheless, I don’t think he should have received the nod over more deserving former stars like Alexander Mogilny, Rod Brind’Amour, and Daniel Alfredsson.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston feels the NHL faces a formidable challenge maintaining momentum toward resuming the season as more players return to their respective teams this week. More players mean more COVID-19 testing, which could result in more positive test results. Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan sees training camps open on July 10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players are returning to their NHL cities by Friday to allow sufficient time to test and self-isolate those who test positive for 14 days. That would allow suitable recovery time before training camp.

The next month will determine if the 24-team playoff tournament begins in August as planned. A significant spike in positive tests could jeopardize the tournament.

THE SCORE: Older NHL coaches are putting their trust in the league’s restart plan despite being in a higher risk category for COVID-19. The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports 12 active members on NHL coaching staffs will be 60-or-older by the end of June. The league won’t impose age restrictions on the coaching staff, leaving it up to the individuals to determine if they wish to participate or not.

VANCOUVER SUN: Ben Kuzma reports a snag in local health protocols for positive COVID-19 tests could threaten Vancouver’s chances to become one of the two host cities for Phase 4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Thomas Drance reports the disagreement is in the details. Pierre LeBrun said the Canucks continue to work on this issue with the league, but he and Drance agree it could prove insurmountable.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning reopened its training facility Wednesday after five players and staff tested positive las Friday. Those individuals are now in quarantine.

Former Sportsnet pundit John Shannon reports the NHL Players Association wants the July 1 bonus payments to the players to proceed as scheduled. Shannon said he’s heard the league prefer deferring those payments to the end of the tournament. More than $300 million are owed in bonus payments.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shannon indicates the bonus payments are among the issues currently being discussed by both sides. They tentatively agreed to extend expiring contracts to Oct. 31.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: As coronavirus cases rise in Nevada, the Vegas Golden Knights are selling t-shirts encouraging fans to wear masks in public.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The slogan on the shirts is “Don’t Take A Chance”. Maybe it should read, “Don’t Take A Chance On Spoiling Our Hopes of Hosting The Playoff Tournament.”

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SCORE: Construction of the Calgary Flames’ new arena will begin in August 20201.

NEWSDAY: Despite the owner of Nassau Coliseum shutting down the arena as he seeks a buyer, a county executive suggests the New York Islanders could still use the building next season until their new arena in Belmont Park is ready.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 15, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 15, 2020

The latest on the Leafs, Jets, and Devils in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE MAPLE LEAFS PURSUE MORE LTIR CONTRACTS?

TSN: Frank Seravalli expects the Toronto Maple Leafs to acquire more players on long-term injury reserve. Under the NHL CBA, a player under a contract whose career is cut short by injury but doesn’t retire can be placed on LTIR. That allows a team sitting at the cap maximum to exceed it by an amount equal to the player’s annual average value.

Could the Toronto Maple Leafs try to acquire a potential LTIR player like Chicago’s Brent Seabrook? (Photo via NHL Images)

The Leafs previously acquired the contracts of all-but-retired players like Nathan Horton and David Clarkson to give themselves more salary-cap wiggle room. With both players coming off the books at the end of this season, Seravalli believes Leafs management will be on the hunt for more LTIR contracts.

His suggested targets include Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler, Ottawa’s Marian Gaborik, Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg, Arizona’s Marian Hossa, and Chicago’s Brent Seabrook. Others could include Vancouver’s Micheal Ferland and Chicago’s Andrew Shaw.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman doubts the Leafs are eager to go the LTIR route again. “They knew they were starting last year without Travis Dermott and Zach Hyman. It wasn’t an easy dance for them — or Vegas — last season.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I anticipate this loophole could be closed in the next collective bargaining agreement. Meanwhile, there’s nothing within the CBA preventing the Leafs (or anyone else) from doing this again. Several LTIR contracts (including those of Gaborik and Hossa) were traded in recent years to cap-strapped clubs seeking some payroll flexibility. Bear in mind it remains to be seen if Kesler, Seabrook, Ferland, and Shaw become permanent LTIR players. They haven’t ruled out returning to play next season. 

Friedman raises a good point about the difficulty the Leafs faced to pull this off this season. It could become more complicated if their roster starts next season healthier than they were at the start of 2019-20.  

BACKUP GOALIE OPTIONS FOR THE JETS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Ken Wiebe examined some backup goaltending targets for the Winnipeg Jets if they don’t re-sign pending free agent Laurent Brossoit. Trade targets could include St. Louis’ Jake Allen and Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk, while the UFA market includes the New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss and San Jose’s Aaron Dell. New Jersey’s Cory Schneider could be a long-shot option if the Devils buy out the final two years of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues could move Allen in a cost-cutting deal to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo, but they won’t just give him away. Their asking price could be a good, young, affordable NHLer.

Dubnyk has a modified no-trade clause containing 19 preferred trade destinations. There’s no certainty the Jets would be on it.

In addition to Greiss and Dell, Cam Talbot and Anton Khudobin are also potentially available. All but Dell, however, could cost over $3 million annually each.

LATEST DEVILS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked if the New Jersey Devils might go after a big-name free agent like St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo. While acknowledging the possibility, he considers the odds slim, suggesting it might not make sense to pay Pietrangelo huge money for a couple of seasons before the Devils are ready to become playoff contenders. He advocates pursuing a younger top-pairing blueliner in a trade. 

Asked if the Devils could shop one of their three first-round picks in this year’s draft, Masisak thinks it’s too early to tell. “I don’t think they would consider trading the Arizona pick or the Vancouver pick until we know if it’s being transferred in 2020 or is an unprotected 2021 choice,” he said. “The value of those picks changes depending on that information.”










Where Are They Now? 2010 Chicago Blackhawks

Where Are They Now? 2010 Chicago Blackhawks

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2019

The latest on Mark Scheifele, Zach Werenski, Marian Hossa, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele dismissed recent speculation suggesting there was discord among his teammates last season.

“People can claim whatever, but I know we have a tight-knit team,” he told NHL.com last week. “We have great guys in our room. And there’s no question in my mind about the character we have in our room, the unity that we have.” He went on to call the rumors “a bunch of baloney.”

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele denies rumors of discord among his teammates last season (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whether those rumors are true or not, it’ll be interesting to see how the departures of Jacob Trouba, Brandon Tanev, and Ben Chiarot affect the Jets’ performance this season. Trouba was traded to the New York Rangers last month while Chiarot and Tanev left via free agency earlier this month.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: There’s been little progress in contract negotiations between the Blue Jackets and Zach Werenski. The 22-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract. The Jackets hope to re-sign Werenski to a long-term deal but it’s possible a contract standoff could carry over into training camp and preseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The status of fellow RFAs like Toronto’s Mitch Marner, Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, and Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk overshadowed Werenski’s contract negotiations. Werenski skates on the Jackets’ top pairing alongside Seth Jones, who’s earning an annual average value of $5.4 million on a six-year deal (stick tap to Cap Friendly).

The Jackets could be hoping to re-sign Werenski to a similar deal but he could seek much more. With over $65 million invested in 21 players, the Jackets have sufficient cap room to re-sign him to a hefty raise. I’ll be surprised if he’s still unsigned when training camp opens in September.

THE SCORE: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman said he didn’t know he’d torn the ACL in his knee until after he and his teammates were eliminated from the opening round of the 2019 playoffs. He suffered the injury in Game 4 against the Boston Bruins but played the remaining three games in the series because the injury didn’t seem as severe as it was. He could return to action by late-October.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent interview with Scott Power, Chicago Blackhawks president John McDonagh said he feels Marian Hossa could one day return to a role within the organization. Hossa’s career was ended by a skin condition related to his hockey gear but remains under contract for the next two seasons. The Blackhawks last year traded his contract to the Arizona Coyotes.

NHL.COM: Former NHL defenseman Arnie Brown passed away on Saturday at age 77. He spent almost seven of his 12 NHL seasons with the New York Rangers (1964-65 to 1970-71). He also skated with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, and Atlanta Flames, as well as one season in the WHA before retiring in 1975.

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










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 19, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 19, 2019

Game recaps, stars of the week, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: NHL scoring leading Nikita Kucherov scored twice and set up three others to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Kucherov is now one point shy of 100 on the season. He was also named the league’s first star for the week ending Feb. 17. St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby were the second and third stars.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov’s five-point performance powered his club to a 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo via NHL Images).

The Lightning didn’t escape from the game unscathed as defenseman Victor Hedman left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury. However, Lightning coach Jon Cooper doesn’t think it’s too serious. 

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton tallied his first hat trick since 2010 but it wasn’t enough to prevent his club from dropping a 6-5 overtime decision to the Boston Bruins. Charlie McAvoy tallied the winner for the Bruins, who extended their win streak to six games. Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci each had three-point performances. 

Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat also had a five-point game (three goals, two assists) as the Chicago Blackhawks nipped the Ottawa Senators 8-7. Blackhawks star Patrick Kane collected three points to extend his points streak to 18 games. Colin White and Thomas Chabot each tallied twice for the Senators. The Blackhawks (59 points) sit one point out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. 

The Colorado Avalanche also moved to within a point of that wild-card spot by blanking the Vegas Golden Knights 3-0. Semyon Varlamov made 40 saves for the shutout. 

Alex Ovechkin scored twice and John Carlson collected his 300th career point as the Washington Capitals hung on for a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Ovechkin leads the league with 42 goals. 

The Calgary Flames (79 points) took over the top spot in the Western Conference by downing the Arizona Coyotes 5-2. Mark Giordano, Mikael Backlund, and Michael Frolik each had a goal and an assist.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo has returned to Buffalo for evaluation after not feeling well over the weekend. Defenseman Marco Scandella is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury. 

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen will be sidelined for a month with a fractured rib. 

NEW YORK POST: Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei is expected to return to the lineup tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes after suffering a minor leg injury over the weekend. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers placed forwards Jujhar Khaira and Jesse Puljujarvi on injured reserve, recalled defenseman Andrej Sekera and Josh Currie, and placed defenseman Brandon Manning on waivers

TSN: The Chicago Blackhawks acquired center Peter Holland from the New York Rangers in exchange for defenseman Darren Raddysh. 

THE SCORE: Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’amour doesn’t care what critics think of his club’s elaborate post-game victory celebrations. “It’s about our players engaging our fans and thanking them for sticking with us, being there (for us), and trying to provide a little levity to a pretty serious game. We push these guys pretty hard,” he said. 

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Powers interviewed former Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa, who explained how a serious skin condition changed his life and brought his playing career to an end. The condition began about six years ago and worsened over time, while the treatments also took a toll. Since he stepped away from the game in 2017, the condition has cleared up and Hossa said he can now lead a normal life. He’s also finally accepted that his playing days are over. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 13, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 13, 2018

Blackhawks ship Marian Hossa’s contract to the Coyotes in a multi-player deal, Jets re-sign Connor Hellebuyck, this summer’s salary-arbitration schedule and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

ARIZONA SPORTS:  The Arizona Coyotes yesterday acquired the contract of right wing Marian Hossa from the Chicago Blackhawks. They also received center Vinnie Hinostroza, defenseman Jordan Oesterle and a 2019 third-round pick from the Blackhawks in exchange for  center Marcus Kruger, Mackenzie Entwistle (Arizona’s 69th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft), prospects Jordan Maletta and Andrew Campbell, and a 2019 fifth-round pick to Chicago.

Chicago Blackhawks ship Marian Hossa’s contract to Arizona Coyotes in a multi-player trade (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, the Coyotes use their cap space to take on another team’s bad contract while also picking up some young assets in the deal. Hossa is as good as retired due to a skin condition. While his cap hit is $5.275-million per season through 2020-21, his actual salary is $1 million annually over the remainder of the deal. The Coyotes intend to place him on LTIR, meaning insurance will pick up $800K of his actual salary.

While the Blackhawks are getting back some assets in this deal, it remains a salary dump on their part. Cap Friendly indicates this move gives them $9.3 million in projected salary-cap space for 2018-19, providing room to perhaps make other moves in the coming weeks. I’ll have more on that later this morning in today’s Rumors section.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets yesterday avoided salary arbitration with goaltender Connor Hellebuyck by re-signing him to a six-year, $37-million contract. The annual average value is over $6.16 million, making the 25-year-old the sixth-highest paid goaltender in the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hellebucyk had a breakout performance last season. He was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, carrying the Jets to the Western Conference Final for the first time in franchise history. It’ll be money well spent by the Jets if he maintains or exceeds his 2017-18 effort over the course of his new contract.

NHLPA.COM: The 2018 NHL salary-arbitration schedule was released yesterday. Among the notables are Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba (July 20), Minnesota’s Matt Dumba (July 23) and Jason Zucker (July 28), Anaheim’s Brandon Montour (July 24), Ottawa’s Mark Stone (Aug. 3) and Vegas’ William Karlsson (Aug. 4). 

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins avoided salary arbitration with defenseman Jamie Oleksiak as he inked a three-year deal worth just over $2.137 million per season. 

EDMONTON SUN: Given the Oilers’ limited cap space ($4.98 million), defenseman Darnell Nurse could get a two-year bridge deal. 

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed forward Cody McLeod to a one-year, $750K contract. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed forward Lucas Wallmark to a two-year, two-way contract. 

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed forward Sean Malone to a one-year, two-way deal. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens have invited former NHL defenseman Simon Despres to training camp on a professional tryout basis. He spent 193 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks. Despres spent last season in the Kontinental Hockey League with Bratislava Slovan.