NHL Morning Headlines & Rumor Mill – September 21, 2020

NHL Morning Headlines & Rumor Mill – September 21, 2020

The latest on Steven Stamkos and Jimmy Howard in this morning’s NHL headlines, plus updates on the Devils, Flyers, Senators, and Hurricanes in the NHL rumor mill.

NHL MORNING COFFEE HEADLINES

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Steven Stamkos is inching closer to returning to action, but he doesn’t expect his captain to suit up for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final tonight against the Dallas Stars. Stamkos has been sidelined since July with a core-muscle issue.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Goaltender Jimmy Howard wants to continue his NHL playing career but acknowledged it probably won’t be with the Red Wings. Howard, 36, is an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings are likely in the market for a starting goaltender, something Howard is no longer capable of being. He could land elsewhere on a one-year deal as a backup and mentor to a younger starter.

TSN: Former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Albert (Junior) Langlois passed away over the weekend at age 85. He spent four seasons with the Canadiens from 1957 to 1961, winning three Stanley Cups. He also spent three seasons with the New York Rangers, two with the Boston Bruins, and one with the Detroit Red Wings, followed by one season with the WHL before retiring in 1967.

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

NHL RUMOR MILL

TSN RADIO VANCOUVER: TSN analyst Ray Ferraro speculated Devils defenseman Damon Severson may have “soured” in New Jersey. Ferraro noted Severson is a right-hand shot, praising his skating and shot. He believes the 26-year-old blueliner would be more affordable than Minnesota’s Matt Dumba if the Devils are willing to move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have been quiet since hiring Lindy Ruff as head coach and removing the interim tag from Tom Fitzgerald’s title as general manager in early July. Their most notable move since then was hiring Mark Recchi earlier this month as an assistant coach.

We don’t know if Fitzgerald has any intention of shopping Severson, who has three years remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $4.166 million and lacking no-trade protection. The Devils have $55.2 million invested in 13 players. Unless they have an internal cap lower than the league’s $81.5 million, Fitzgerald won’t be under pressure to shed salary. Nevertheless, it could be worth keeping an eye on Severson and the Devils in the coming weeks as activity builds up in the trade market.

PHILLY.com‘s Sam Carchidi believes the Philadelphia Flyers will try to move defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and winger James van Riemsdyk. He believes Gostisbehere will draw more interest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players are signed through 2022-23 and lack no-trade protection. Gostisbehere, however, carries an annual average value of $4.5 million while van Riemsdyk’s is $7 million. So yeah, there will probably be more interest in Ghost Bear than JVR in this economic climate.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch expects the Senators will receive plenty of calls from clubs looking to shed contracts in exchange for draft picks. The Sens have nine picks in the first three rounds and 13 in total.

Garrioch doesn’t expect them to take on bad contracts but maybe they can use this situation to their advantage to bolster their roster. It’s believed they’ve been in talks for a veteran goalie, including Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Arizona Coyotes could also be shopping goaltenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sens have three first-round picks, including the third and fifth overall, in this year’s draft. I don’t see them moving either of those (or both) unless they’re getting a terrific player in return. They could, however, entertain offers for the first-rounder they acquired from the New York Islanders in the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade at the February trade deadline.

The Blue Jackets could move either Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins. The Coyotes, meanwhile, could shop Darcy Kuemper or Antti Raanta.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): With the Carolina Hurricanes carrying limited salary-cap space next season, Sara Civian wondered if they’ll go the free-agent or trade route to upgrade their goaltending.

Free-agent options could include Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom or Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, though Civian doesn’t expect an encore with the Hurricanes for the latter. If the Golden Knights re-sign Lehner, she suggests the Hurricanes look into acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury.

Civian wondered what they’d be willing to trade for a goalie. Jaccob Slavin is off-limits, they don’t want to trade Brett Pesce or Martin Necas, and she doesn’t believe they’d move Dougie Hamilton even though he’s a year away from UFA eligibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t believe the Hurricanes can become a Cup contender next season with their current goaltending tandem of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer. Maybe they ride it out for another season with those two until their contracts expire next summer, but if the front office is serious about building a contender, they must look to the trade or free-agent market for an upgrade.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 7, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 7, 2020

Could the NHL schedule permanently change to run through the summer? Check out the latest in today’s Morning Coffee Headlines.

THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers reports hearing the NHL is looking into permanently beginning its regular-season schedule in late November, early December or possibly January. He said the league likes the idea of growing the game after the NFL and NBA seasons are over when baseball is the only major in-season sport.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont wonders if we’ll ever see regular-season games played in October and November again.

Could NHL summer hockey become a permanent thing? (Photo via NHL.com)

Dupont believes this year’s Stanley Cup could be awarded in early-October if the Return-To-Play Plan begins in early August, assuming there are no delays because of COVID-19. He envisions an off-season that would stretch from October into December, with the draft in late October, free agency perhaps starting on Nov. 1, and training camp opening in December.

Given the league’s intent to stage a full 82-game schedule for 2020-21, Dupont suggests the regular season could kick off on New Year’s Day. That would mean the playoffs would begin in July and finish in September. “Unless the virus has other things in mind.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s James Mirtle (subscription required) also reported of talk in some NHL circles about a permanent change to the NHL schedule. I don’t believe the league brain trust is seriously considering this option right now, but I daresay some executives will take a wait-and-see approach. If staging the Stanley Cup Playoffs this summer and next summer proves popular among sports fans, it certainly could become a permanent thing. It’s all just speculation at this point.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports it’s not official yet, “but it appears as though Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver are out as hub cities for the upcoming NHL games.” He claims Las Vegas is almost certain to be one of the two hub cities, with Chicago or Los Angeles as the other. He also reports hearing there will be no media, including game announcers, onsite.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the league wants to see what summer playoff hockey will look like, staging it in Las Vegas and Los Angeles will provide an interesting spotlight. Maintaining proper ice conditions in those warm-weather climates will be a significant challenge.

TSN: The NHL has suggested roster sizes of 28 skaters plus goaltenders for the 24-team Return-To-Play tournament. That number could change depending on negotiations with the NHL Players’ Association.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins captain Zdeno Chara wrote a heartfelt statement on Instagram after attending a Black Lives Matter protest in Boston on Friday.

“First thing is first and let me be clear: I stand with the Black community. Black Lives Matter,” Chara wrote. “There is no room in this world for racism. Period.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chara is the latest in a growing number of NHL stars to speak out against racial injustice over the past week. NHL executive Kim Davis believes it’s a “huge moment” for the league, suggesting it could take them “to yet another level of opportunity and change.”

THE SCORE: Despite the worst season of his career, Jimmy Howard isn’t considering retirement. The 36-year-old goaltender is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. While he’d love to stay with the Wings, he realizes that he probably won’t be re-signed. Nevertheless, he believes he can still play in the NHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Howard might have to accept a professional tryout offer. If he does well in training camp for next season (whenever that might be), he could earn a one-year deal from a club seeking experienced goaltending depth.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 6, 2020

Recent updates on the Red Wings and the latest on Chris Tanev in today’s NHL rumor mill.

RECENT RED WINGS SPECULATION

DETROIT FREE PRESS: In a recent evaluation of the Red Wings’ roster, Helene St. James doesn’t expect Jimmy Howard, Trevor Daley, Jonathan Ericsson will be back. They’re unrestricted free agents at the end of this season.

St. James believes restricted free agents Tyler Bertuzzi, Anthony Mantha, Robby Fabbri, and Adam Erne will be re-signed. Defenseman Madison Bowey was placed on waivers during the regular season, but there’s little risk in re-signing him for another year. RFA winger Brendan Perlini isn’t expected back.

Could the Detroit Red Wings pursue Torey Krug in this year’s UFA market? (Photo via NHL Images)

Winger Justin Abdelkader could face waivers next season if his performance doesn’t improve.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin observed the Wings will have about $35 million in salary-cap space for 2020-21. With only 11 players under contract, general manager Steve Yzerman will still have to spend even after re-signing key players like Bertuzzi and Fabbri.

Larkin wondered if the stage was set for Michigan native Torey Krug to join his boyhood club. The 29-year-old Boston Bruins defenseman is an unrestricted free agent after this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larkin joins several pundits wondering if Yzerman might woo Krug home to the Wings. If the blueliner tests the UFA market and is keen to join the Wings, Yzerman could make a pitch.

Nevertheless, Yzerman recently said he’s looking at making sensible signings to provide his young core with some short-term experienced depth. If that’s the plan, he won’t be pursuing big-ticket UFA talent like Krug.

Even if Yzerman was willing to go that route, there’s no guarantee Krug or the other top UFA players will want to sign long-term deals with the rebuilding Wings.

LATEST ON CHRIS TANEV

SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports Chris Tanev feels at home with the Vancouver Canucks and hopes to stay. The 30-year-old defenseman has spent his entire NHL career with the Canucks, but he’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Before the pandemic struck and cast everything in doubt, including next season’s salary cap, Tanev was considered a second priority for the Canucks to re-sign following goalie Jacob Markstrom and winger Tyler Toffoli. The blueliner said he can see players sign one-year deals in the hope the league’s finances improve next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Canucks have over $63.4 million invested in 14 players. Along with Tanev, Markstrom and Toffoli, Jake Virtanen, Josh Leivo, Adam Gaudette, Troy Stecher, and Tyler Motte must be re-signed or replaced.

Unless the Canucks shed a salary or two, they won’t have room for everybody, especially if they re-sign Markstrom and Toffoli. However, uncertainty over the league’s revenue could work in their favor if some of those free agents are willing to accept one-year deals at affordable prices.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 17, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 17, 2020

A look at several players facing uncertain futures in this summer’s free-agent market in the Sunday’s NHL rumor roundup.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently examined several of this summer’s 30-or-older UFA  goaltenders, as well as several veteran UFA defensemen and forwards facing uncertain futures.

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford is among several pending UFAs facing uncertain futures (Photo via NHL Images).

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford isn’t far removed from recent career-threatening injuries and there appears to be some front-office turmoil in the organization. He’s also 35, which will hamper efforts for a multi-year term. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks could re-sign him.

Jimmy Howard’s days with the Detroit Red Wings are likely over. Despite a brutal season, he could become a backup option for another club. Meanwhile, 38-year-old Mike Smith’s NHL career could be winding down after two sub-par seasons, though his size and puck-handling skills could still make him enticing.

O’Brien expects Anton Khudobin and Thomas Greiss will attract considerable interest. Ryan Miller’s future depends on his choices and his wish to remain in California. Brian Elliott must keep his expectations modest to stay in the NHL. Maybe 39-year-old Craig Anderson regains some of his form on a more hopeful team. Aaron Dell’s struggles over the past two seasons could hurt his value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Blackhawks land an established starter via trade or free agency, they’ll probably re-sign Crawford to a 35-plus, bonus-laden deal. Howard’s experience could help him land a backup role. Some Edmonton pundits suggest Smith could return for one more season with the Oilers.

I expect Khudobin and Greiss will be quickly signed if they hit the open market. Elliott could return for another season with the Flyers. It’s probably the end of the road for Miller and Anderson, while Dell could have difficulty finding a new NHL club. 

O’Brien wondered if former Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will resume his NHL career and at what cost. Questions about his injured ankle will also be a factor.

Age and declining performance could hurt the stock of blueliners Mike Green and Roman Polak. Andy Greene, however, could have some value as a defense-first rearguard, while puck-moving Kevin Shattenkirk could be worth a low-risk contract.  O’Brien wondered if a desperate club might take a chance on Dmitry Kulikov or Zach Bogosian.

UFA blueliners who could retire due to age or health issues include Jonathan Ericsson, Jay Bouwmeester, Deryk Engelland, or perhaps Andrej Sekera.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byfuglien will attract lots of attention if he decides to return. He won’t get an expensive long-term deal, but probably a 35-plus contract full of bonus clauses. Shattenkirk revived his career with the Lightning and shouldn’t have much difficulty finding another NHL team. Greene will also probably get a one-year deal.

Green and Polak, on the other hand, are likely done as NHL defensemen. The same goes for Kulikov, Bogosian, Ericsson, Bouwmeester, Engelland, and Sekera.

Aging former star forwards like Corey Perry and Jason Spezza also face uncertain futures following this season. Spezza’s defensively responsible play could earn him another contract.

Ryan Reaves’ gritty style could also ensure he remains in the NHL for another season. Carl Soderberg’s underlying stats were underwhelming this season. O’Brien noted 35-year-old checking-line forward Nate Thompson still remains in demand. Questions about Patrick Maroon’s health could leave him twisting in the wind for another off-season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry’s no longer as effective as he once was. The Stars took a chance on him this season and it didn’t pan out. He might not get another opportunity elsewhere. Spezza, on the other hand, earned praise for his leadership and defensive skills with the Leafs. I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to bring him back for another season.

Soderberg is 35 and his best seasons are behind him, but he still managed decent offensive stats with the Coyotes. He’ll probably get a one-year deal elsewhere. Reaves’ style of play will help him land another contract with another club. Despite his age, Thompson’s style of play should ensure he gets another NHL deal. I also wouldn’t rule out Maroon landing with another team. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 23, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 23, 2020

The latest on the league’s potential plans to resume the schedule in July, stage the draft in June and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL SCHEDULING AND DRAFT NEWS

NHL.COM: Commissioner Gary Bettman told Sportsnet the NHL is considering a scenario of resuming the season by staging three games per day in arenas without fans. He said the number of cities and locations hasn’t been determined yet, but indicated they would be in areas that aren’t COVID-19 hot spots.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (Photo via NHL.com).

The league also ruled out holding games in non-NHL neutral site cities because NHL arenas are best equipped to handle its needs if it decides to centralize games. Bettman stated the NHL isn’t in a race to resume action, stressing the importance of ensuring everyone involved is safe and healthy.

THE SCORE: Florida Panthers president Matthew Caldwell told a conference call yesterday the league is considering returning to action in July.

“At least for the NHL, we’re trying to target sometime in July and then when we feel that players are safe, we have enough testing, and have enough ways to get back on the ice, it’s probably going to be contained to playing at four or five neutral sites, so that’s all being discussed right now,” Caldwell said. “My guess is that we would start with either limited fans or empty arenas.” He added nothing’s been finalized, “but this is the direction things are going.”

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports it appears the league intends to complete its 82-game schedule divided into divisions and following an intradivisional schedule.

“Columbus and Carolina (Raleigh) would be options for the Metro Division; Tampa Bay and Florida (Sunrise) in the Atlantic; Minnesota and perhaps Colorado or Dallas in the Central and Calgary and Edmonton among those in the Pacific,” writes Brooks, who adds Las Vegas is also under consideration for a Pacific Division location.

Team presidents have been pushing for completing the schedule, rather than implementing an immediate, expanded playoff schedule. Plans also include expanding each team’s active roster to 30 players.

OTTAWA SUN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly remains optimistic about resuming the schedule this summer. “We have to be prepared for every eventuality. We need to do our due diligence so that the time it takes for us to respond to the circumstances is basically that the work is done and the only thing that needs to be implemented is the decision,” said Daly.

He added there’s been growing optimism over the past couple of weeks around the league. He also stressed holding those games would have to be done in a safe environment with plenty of readily-available testing.

Daly said the league hasn’t closed the door on staging game in non-NHL cities, but felt it makes more logistical sense to play neutral-site games in NHL cities. He said the league has been in touch with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s office to keep them informed on the league’s plans for the seven Canadian franchises.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Alberta premier Jason Kenney said Bettman spoke to him about staging 2020 NHL playoff games in Alberta. Reports have suggested Edmonton as an option. The city has a high number of people tested for COVID-19 but a low number of confirmed cases and deaths per million.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes told the NHL it was interested in having its state serve as a host site to resume the schedule. The team has declined to comment on the matter.

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman, Daly, and Caldwell aren’t definitively saying the league is returning to action in July. Nevertheless, it appears their wish is to resume the schedule during that month in NHL cities with the highest COVID-19 testing and the lowest confirmed cases and deaths.

Health and safety, however, remain primary concerns. League officials appear to be hoping for a flattening of the coronavirus curve in the cities they’re looking at staging their games. They also want to make sure the players have a training camp period (perhaps in June?) to get back into game shape and avoid unnecessary injuries. There must also be a sufficient self-quarantine period for players returning from European countries.

As a freelancer, I’ll be thrilled if the NHL returns in July. My income has taken a substantial hit since the schedule was paused in mid-March, so a resumption of the season will benefit me. However, I don’t want to see the league rush its return, only to end up shuttering again within weeks because a player or a league official tested positive for COVID-19. They must be certain they can ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.

Bettman also said the league floated the idea to the general managers of holding the 2020 NHL Draft in June before the season ends. “No decision has been made. And I said as we were getting some feedback, ‘We don’t live in a world of perfect anymore. We’re going to have to make adjustments.’

SPORTSNET: Daly said the league must decide “relatively quickly” if it’ll hold the draft in June. He said the league will consult with all 31 teams before deciding on staging a virtual draft two months from now.

TSN: NHL general managers will be paying close attention to the NFL’s 2020 Draft, which begins today and runs through Saturday, April 25. League commissioner Roger Goodell will be hosting a virtual draft, with team executives making their selections remotely from their homes.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun examined the pros and cons of staging the NHL Draft in June ahead of the resumption of the schedule. While most team executives he spoke to seem cool to the idea, LeBrun speculates the league’s trial balloon was less to receive feedback and more of a heads-up of what is coming.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league could be trying to gin up some excitement among sports fans for their product with a June draft, especially if a resumption of the season gets pushed ahead to August. Doing so, however, means untangling several problems, such as sorting out the draft lottery and addressing the issue of conditional draft picks exchanged in previous trades. There won’t be trades involving NHL players in a June draft if the league is returning to action soon afterward.

IN OTHER NHL NEWS…

NATIONAL POST: NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr isn’t ruling out the possibility of working out a multi-year extension to the current collective bargaining agreement with the NHL.

“It’s easy to envision scenarios in which in order to resolve everything we need to resolve, it would be much easier to do it in the context of a multi-year arrangement rather than a single year,” said Fehr. “Whether that’s going to come to pass remains to be seen. But it is certainly conceivable.”

Fehr said he and league commissioner Gary Bettman speak almost daily about the issues currently facing the league amid the coronavirus pandemic. For now, their focus is on salvaging this season.

THE SCORE: Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka said the current NHL schedule hiatus won’t prevent his club from making a contract offer to Taylor Hall. The 28-year-old winger is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

TSN: Jacob Markstrom said his goal is to stay with the Vancouver Canucks. The 30-year-old goaltender will become a UFA following this season.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard donated $50K worth of N95 masks to the Detroit Medical Center.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights re-signed Nicolas Roy to a two-year contract extension worth an average of $750,000 a year.

NJ.COM: Devils interim head coach Alain Nasreddine hopes to stay on as their full-time coach after this season.

TWINCITES.COM: Minnesota Wild interim coach Dean Evason hopes he’s done enough to stay on as the club’s full-time bench boss.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Detroit Red Wings

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Detroit Red Wings