NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 4, 2021

NHL players will participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics, the Senators sign Drake Batherson, the Red Wings ink Filip Hronek to a new deal, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league has reached an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) to take part in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. NHL players will be returning to the Olympics for the first time since the Sochi Games in 2014. The league will break from Feb. 3-22 to allow for the 2022 All-Star Game in Las Vegas followed by the Olympics.

NHL players will take part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics (NHL.com).

The agreement also provides the league and the NHL Players Association the option for a possible later decision to withdraw from the Beijing Games in the event COVID-19 conditions render participation to be impractical or unsafe.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some hockey fans and pundits believe the NHL should boycott the Beijing Games for a variety of reasons. That decision, however, isn’t up to the league.

The players wanted Olympic participation as part of the extension to the CBA. As a result, the league had to work with the PA, IIHF and the International Olympic Committee to reach an agreement on the Beijing Games. It appears the only thing that will prevent it will be the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators winger Drake Batherson to a six-year, $29.85 million contract. The 23-year-old winger’s annual average value is $4.975 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Batherson enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2020-21 after two short seasons with the Senators, tallying 17 goals and 34 points in 56 games. The report noted that the versatile two-way forward enjoyed terrific chemistry on a line with Brady Tkachuk and Josh Norris. That should continue in the coming years as the rebuilding Senators rise in the standings. Batherson’s new contract could also be a cost-effective deal if he continues to improve as management believes he will.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings signed Filip Hronek to a three-year, $13.2 million contract. That’s a $4.4 million annual average cap hit for the 23-year-old defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable new deal for Hronek, who developed into the Red Wings’ best blueliner over the past two seasons. He’ll likely be joined on their top pairing by Nick Leddy, who was acquired earlier this summer from the New York Islanders.

STLTODAY.COM: After signing an eight-year contract extension, Colton Parayko assured nervous Blues fans that he’s fully recovered from the back injury that hampered him last season. The 28-year-old defenseman missed 21 games but said he required minimal offseason treatment, relying instead on rest and building up the muscles around it.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins invited forward Brian Boyle and defenseman Matt Bartkowski to training camp on professional tryout offers. Boyle is attempting a comeback after sitting out last season while Bartkowski spent all but one game last season with the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Rocky Thompson has stepped down as an associate coach with the San Jose Sharks. Medical reasons prevent him from taking the COVID-19 vaccine, making it difficult for him to perform his duties under the league’s COVID protocols for the coming season.

USA HOCKEY: John Hynes, David Quinn, Todd Reirden and Ryan Miller will serve as assistant coaches to head coach Mike Sullivan for the 2022 USA Men’s Olympic hockey team.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2021

A look at the status of some of this summer’s top restricted free agents in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined where things stand with some of the top restricted free agents.

Negotiations are ongoing between the Vancouver Canucks and center Elias Pettersson and defenseman Quinn Hughes. They’re both represented by agents Pat Brisson and J.P. Barry. The latter had acknowledged the Canucks’ cap issues, saying they were exploring five years or under for Pettersson and longer for Hughes.

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

Because Quinn is a 10.2(c) RFA, he’s ineligible to receive an offer sheet. Canucks general manager Jim Benning has vowed to match any offer sheet for Pettersson. Fox wondered if a bridge contract is the only solution. Both players remain committed to signing with Vancouver.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Province’s Patrick Johnston reported Friday that Brisson said there is no holdup in negotiations with the Canucks. “Our goal is to get it done,” he said, adding that sometimes “these things take time.” He also said they’re open to long or short-term contracts.

Training camps start in late September so there’s plenty of time for both sides to hammer out agreements. An offer sheet for Pettersson is a remote possibility. If it was going to happen it likely would’ve taken place soon after the free-agent market opened on July 28.

Fox noted the recent report of Kirill Kaprizov having a tentative one-year, eight-figure contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow in case negotiations with the Minnesota Wild fall through. Wild GM Bill Guerin is willing to compromise with a five- or six-year offer to the 2021 Calder Trophy winner. He cited The Athletic’s Michael Russo reporting the Wild still expect to get a deal done despite the KHL threat from the Kaprizov camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A number of observers are skeptical the KHL contract is a serious one. They point to CSKA Moscow’s limited budget for the coming season plus Kaprizov’s apparent desire to play in the NHL. This staredown might not last long as the KHL deal is supposed to begin on Sep. 1.

Brady Tkachuk would be willing to commit to a long-term deal with the Ottawa Senators if ownership is willing to spend what it takes to deliver a Stanley Cup team. Elliotte Friedman recently suggested a three-year bridge deal might be the route here.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk reportedly likes his teammates and what the Senators are building in Ottawa. Still, it’s understandable that he wants assurance from ownership to invest in building and maintaining a winner. The length of his next contract could provide an indication of where he sees his future.

Contract terms seem to be the sticking point between the Carolina Hurricanes and Andrei Svechnikov. Nevertheless, the young winger expressed confidence a deal will be done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It usually takes most of the offseason to get the top RFAs under contract, especially for those ineligible for arbitration like most on Fox’s list. Both sides are going to take as much time as they can to work toward an acceptable deal. Things will pick up when the calendar flips to September and the start of training camp approaches.

The Detroit Red Wings remain flush with cap space after signing Jakub Vrana and Tyler Bertuzzi. Fox believes defenseman Filip Hronek could get more term on his new contract than any of his teammates.

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros’ arbitration hearing is set for Aug. 18. One way or another he’ll be under contract with the Predators for the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most who file for arbitration merely use their hearing date as an artificial deadline to negotiate a new contract with their teams. Few actually go before a hearing. I’ll be surprised if things reach that point for Saros.

Negotiations are underway between the Buffalo Sabres and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. Fox suggested the safe play for both sides could be a bridge deal. With the Sabres lacking a defenseman signed beyond 2022, he wondered if they could try for a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That depends on whether young Dahlin believes the Sabres are worth sticking with through yet another rebuild.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 29, 2020

The playoff schedule resumes today, former Panthers GM under investigation for uttering a racial slur, plus updates on Andrei Svechnikov, John Tortorella, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league has released its revised schedule for the resumption of the second round of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. Game 4 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins begins at noon ET, Game 3 between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders starts at 7 pm ET, and Game 3 between the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks begins at 9:45 ET. The Lightning holds a 2-1 series lead over the Bruins, while the Flyers and Islanders and the Golden Knights and Canucks are tied at a game apiece.

 SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin wonders what steps the NHL will take in the wake of the recent player protest against racial injustice to ensure the fight for equality isn’t forgotten. He cites TSN’s Rick Westhead reporting the Hockey Diversity Alliance has requested the league to invest $100 million over 10 years to fund anti-racism, education, and grass-roots initiatives. That works out to just over $312K per team or less than half the minimum salary of one player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a reasonable request by the HDA. It’ll also be interesting to see if the NHL Players Association will be working alongside the league in this matter or if they’ll be taking their own steps.

SPORTSDAY: Dallas Stars president and CEO Brad Alberts said his club lost season-ticket holders over its support of Black Lives Matter and protests over racial inequality. He claimed it was a mix of individual and company accounts. “But I/we stand by our organization’s commitment and support our players 100% to express their views,” said Alberts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the first report I’ve seen by a team regarding the loss of season-ticket holders over the players’ recent protests. Alberts didn’t specify how many season-ticket holders the Stars lost. It could’ve been a large number or a handful. He also said none of the club’s advertisers have pulled funding.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW(subscription required): George Richards reports the NHL is investigating whether former Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon used a racial slur while representing the team. Tallon has been accused of using racially-charge language at some point during the Panthers time in the Toronto playoff bubble.

Tallon denied the charge. “I am not a racist by any means,” he said. “I have never said anything of the sort. I am all for peace, am all for this alliance and what everyone is trying to do right now.”

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Aaron Portzline reports the $25,000 fine levied by the league on Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella is the 15th time he’s been punished by the league. Portzline estimates Tortorella has lost “well over $200,000” because of “his mouth and his temper.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think Tortorella is losing any sleep over those fines. While he’s mellowed a bit over the years, he remains outspoken and irritable. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov said he’d be ready to go if his club were still in the postseason. He was sidelined two weeks ago by a high-ankle sprain suffered in his club’s first-round series with the Boston Bruins. Svechnikov said he’s now feeling at almost 100 percent.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to a one-year contract extension worth $750K.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings loaned defenseman Filip Hronek to Mountfield HK of the Czech League. He’s the fifth player the Wings have loaned to European clubs. All are scheduled to return to the Wings once NHL training camps later this fall.

THE PROVINCE: The death of popular Vancouver sportswriter Jason Botchford was revealed to be caused by an accidental overdose of cocaine and fentanyl. Botchford died suddenly last April at age 48. He covered the Canucks for The Province from 2005 to 2018.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s still a tragic, heartbreaking loss for Botchford’s family, friends, and the hockey community regardless of the cause of death.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 17, 2020

The Oilers take over the top spot in the Pacific Division, the Stars caught up with the Blues for first place in the Central Division, the Sabres upset the Leafs, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Josh Archibald scored twice, including the game-winner in overtime, as the Edmonton Oilers edged the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3. Leon Draisaitl has a goal and two assists for the Oilers, while Carolina’s Sebastian Aho tallied two goals and collected an assist. Draisaitl (95 points) holds a 12-point lead in the NHL scoring race. With the win, the Oilers (70 points) vaulted into first place in the Pacific Division, one point ahead of the Vancouver Canucks. The Hurricanes (70 points) sit one point behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

Edmonton Oilers star Leon Draisaitl holds a 12-point lead in the NHL scoring race (Photo via NHL Images).

The Canucks, meanwhile, fell 5-1 to the Anaheim Ducks. Adam Henrique scored two goals as the Ducks handed the Canucks their seventh defeat in their last nine contests.

The Dallas Stars (74 points) dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Ottawa Senators but picked up a point to move into a tie with the St. Louis Blues for first place in the Central Division. Artem Anisimov scored in overtime while Brady Tkachuk had a three-point performance.

Kyle Turris’ late third-period goal enabled the Nashville Predators to nip the St. Louis Blues 2-1. Pekka Rinne made 38 saves for the Predators (69 points), moving them within a point of the Arizona Coyotes for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Blues have lost five straight. Earlier in the day, they activated Oskar Sundqvist off injured reserve and sent Troy Brouwer to the minors.

Patric Hornqvist scored twice and set up another as the Pittsburgh Penguins dropped the Detroit Red Wings 5-1. Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist for the Penguins (78 points), who moved within a point of the Washington Capitals for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. Red Wings defenseman Filip Hronek left the game in the second period after being struck in the head by a shot from the point. An update on his condition could be released today.

The Boston Bruins picked up their ninth win in their last 10 games with a 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers. Patrice Bergeron, Charlie Coyle, and Charlie McAvoy scored for the Bruins (86 points), widening their lead in the overall standings over the Tampa Bay Lightning by three points.

New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood kicked out 52 shots backstopping his club to a 4-3 shootout victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Before the game, the Devils traded defenseman Andy Greene to the New York Islanders and winger Blake Coleman to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Jackets (72 points) are winless in their last five games. They hold the first wild-card spot in the East.

A three-goal outburst within a minute and a half in the third period powered the Buffalo Sabres over the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2. Jack Eichel, Kyle Okposo, and Jimmy Vesey snapped a 2-2 tie to give their club their third straight win, leaving them eight points behind the Leafs (70 points) for third in the Atlantic Division.

Nathan Beaulieu’s first goal of the season was also the game-winner as the Winnipeg Jets downed the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2. With 65 points, the Jets are one point out of a Western Conference wild-card spot. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, are six points back.

The recently postponed game between the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks has been rescheduled for March 11. The game was put off after Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac incident on the bench.










NHL Most Important Players: Detroit Red Wings

NHL Most Important Players: Detroit Red Wings