NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 10, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 10, 2023

Erik Karlsson meets with the media following his trade to the Penguins plus the latest on Logan Couture, Tom Wilson, J.T. Miller and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW/SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Erik Karlsson met with the Pittsburgh media yesterday for the first time since being traded to the Penguins by the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.

Karlsson said he didn’t give the Sharks a list of preferred trade destinations but he wanted to go to a winner. He became interested when he learned the Penguins were looking into acquiring him. The 33-year-old defenseman said he’s excited to be playing alongside Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

Karlsson and Letang are both right-shot, right-side defensemen. However, he doesn’t believe he’ll have any difficulty co-existing with the long-time Penguins blueliner. He also denied a report from earlier this summer claiming there was tension between himself and former Sharks teammate Brent Burns. “We’re actually pretty good friends, personally,” he said.

NHL.COM: Speaking of the Sharks, team captain Logan Couture remains committed to the retooling club despite the departure of Karlsson. The 34-year-old center has spent his entire 14-season NHL career with the Sharks. He praised the management and coaching staff, adding that he wants to help reverse the club’s fortunes. “I want to turn this thing around here in San Jose,” said Couture.

San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Couture is signed through 2026-27 with an average annual value of $8 million. The article also noted that he and his family have stability in the Bay Area so he currently has no interest in seeking a trade to a Stanley Cup contender.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Armed with a seven-year contract extension, Capitals winger Tom Wilson is enjoying a healthy summer after rehabbing a torn ACL last year. He admitted he felt “behind the eight-ball” when he returned to action midway through last season after missing training camp last fall.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY INSIDER: Canucks center J.T. Miller remains determined to avoid social media and the sometimes toxic atmosphere that sometimes comes with it.

Appearing on the “Cam and Strick” podcast, Miller also admitted he couldn’t stand a portion of the local media base, noting two or three incidents that he claimed were misinterpreted by them as well as the spreading of unsubstantiated rumors.

Not all of them, I just can’t stand some of them, and to be honest, I think they know that I feel that way. So it’s not really something to hide,” said Miller.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed goaltender Martin Jones to a one-year contract worth $875K. However, he will have to pass through waivers to be sent to their AHL affiliate and there’s a risk he could be claimed by another NHL club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jones is likely to slot in as the Leafs’ No. 3 goaltender provided he doesn’t get plucked off the waiver wire at some point.

NJ HOCKEY NOW: The Devils signed defenseman Cal Foote to a one-year, two-way contract worth $800K at the NHL level.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The late Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz was remembered by family, friends, current and former Blackhawks and the club’s fans during two memorial services yesterday in Chicago. Wirtz died suddenly on July 25 at age 70.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2023

A look at some of the offseason’s notable trade targets in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli released his latest list of NHL Trade Targets on April 27.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m getting to this now only because of the usual surge in rumors involving teams eliminated from the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson and Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes sit first and second respectively.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both have featured prominently here in recent weeks, especially at the end of the regular season with their respective clubs long eliminated from playoff contention.

Seravalli believes Karlsson’s trade value may never be higher for the Sharks. However, his hefty contract and full no-movement clause will make him difficult to move. Hayes isn’t as expensive (or as talented) as Karlsson. Still, his contract remains a significant obstacle in the path toward a trade.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard checks in at No. 3. Seravalli believes the Avs don’t want to move Girard but could have little choice given their salary-cap constraints this summer.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Girard has surfaced in trade rumors before. With an affordable $5 million cap hit and his puck-moving skills, he’d attract plenty of interest. He’ll be the Avs’ most likely trade candidate unless they can find another way to clear cap space.

Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm and Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller are fourth and fifth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lindholm was non-committal about signing a contract extension this summer. Maybe he’ll change his mind after the Flames fired head coach Darryl Sutter.

Miller’s been floating around in the rumor despite having a seven-year contract extension kicking in on July 1. They need to clear cap space but I expect the Canucks will look at other options like Brock Boeser and Conor Garland.

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov and Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois sit sixth and seventh.

SPECTOR’S NOTES: These two have also come up frequently in recent rumors. Capitals management is said to be unhappy with Kuznetsov’s performance this season. However, his $7.8 million cap hit through 2024-25 is a stumbling block.

Dubois, meanwhile, is a restricted free agent who’s a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility. He’s frequently linked to the Montreal Canadiens. Much will depend on the Jets’ asking price and where the Habs land in the draft lottery, where the prize is highly-touted center Connor Bedard.

One of the following St. Louis Blues defensemen (Colton Parayko, Justin Faulk, Nick Leddy or Marco Scandella) comes in at No. 8. One of them could be moved as a cost-cutting measure.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Plenty of speculation about that after the Blues were eliminated from playoff contention. Scandello has the most affordable cap hit ($3.275 million) and only has a modified no-trade while the others have full no-traded contracts. However, he also missed most of this season to injury.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ross Colton and Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall round out the top 10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli points out that the Lightning have less than $10 million to fill eight roster spots. Colton is a restricted free agent this summer. I still see him replacing Alex Killorn, who’s expected to depart as a UFA. The Bolts will find a way to keep him.

Hall made this list because the Bruins, like so many other NHL clubs, must free up space this summer if the salary cap only rises by $1 million as projected to $83.5 million.

The 31-year-old left winger carries a $6 million cap hit through 2024-25 plus a 16-team no-trade clause and a no-movement clause that prevents him from being demoted to the minors. I’m not saying he won’t be traded but I don’t see many teams wanting to add that contract to their books.

Anaheim Ducks center Adam Henrique, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers, Los Angeles Kings blueliner Sean Walker, Bruins rearguard Matt Grzelcyk and Vegas Golden Knights defender Alec Martinez fill slots 11 through 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’re now in the tier of depth players who should be more affordable to move though there is some contract sticking points to address.

For example, Myers is a 33-year-old blueliner with a year remaining on his contract and a cap hit of $6 million. $5 million of that will reportedly be paid to him in September as a signing bonus. That might make him easier to move by that point but his 10-team no-trade list could also be an issue.

Edmonton Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Mikael Granlund, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov, Winnipeg Jets rearguard Logan Stanley and San Jose Sharks winger Kevin Labanc complete the remainder of the list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All of these players at one point in their careers would’ve attracted lots of attention in the trade market. Their recent struggles and (for some like Granlund and Provorov) their contracts could make them difficult to sell if the salary cap remains flattened for next season.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2023

A look at possible offseason moves by the Canucks and Sabres in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST CANUCKS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Harman Dayal and Thomas Drance recently looked at who stays and who could go for the Vancouver Canucks.

They don’t see the Canucks buying out the remainder of Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s contract but aren’t ruling it out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates that buying out Ekman-Larsson would count against their cap for the next eight seasons. It would be particularly expensive in years three and four when the cap hit would be $4.76 million annually.

General manager Patrik Allvin will listen if teams express an interest in J.T. Miller but praised his performance over the final 30 games of the season. Dayal and Drance don’t see the Canucks moving him just to shed his contract or to blow another big hole in their depth at center after moving out Bo Horvat this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t rule out a Miller trade but it would have to be one heck of an offer to convince them to do it. If they’re going to pull the trigger it’ll have to be before July 1 when his no-movement clause kicks in.

Brock Boeser, Conor Garland, Anthony Beauvillier and Tyler Myers could be the Canucks’ cost-cutting trade candidates.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser (NHL Images).

How much talent is available among right wingers in this summer’s trade market could determine how much interest there is in Boeser, who carries a $6.65 million cap hit through 2024-25. He recently stated that he was glad he wasn’t moved at the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dayal and Drance suggest it could come down to moving Boeser or Garland, whose average annual value is $4.95 million through 2025-26. They believe the club needs to reallocate cap dollars toward adding a third-line center and improving the blueline.

The Canucks acquired Beauvillier in the Bo Horvat trade. They’d likely prefer to keep him but his speed, work ethic, playoff experience and his expiring contract could give him more trade value than Boeser or Garland.

Myers only has a year left on his contract but moving him won’t be easy. He carries a $6 million cap hit of which $5 million is a signing bonus to be paid out on September 1. He also has a 10-team no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think moving Beauvillier would be a desperate last-resort move if they can’t move any of those other candidates. As for Myers, they’re likely stuck with him until the trade deadline.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE SABRES?

THE ATHLETIC: Matthew Fairburn looked at several questions facing the Buffalo Sabres this offseason.

Addressing their goaltending could be the priority. It would be risky riding a goalie in his first full NHL season like Devon Levi unless they have another reliable option.

The Sabres still have Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Eric Comrie under contract for next season. They’ll have to part with one or both of them if they seek an upgrade between the pipes.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski reported Sabres head coach Don Granato said he’d be very comfortable going into next season with Levi and Luukkonen as their tandem. However, he added that nobody has earned the net (the starter’s job) yet, suggesting that could be determined by internal competition among his goalies.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Inconsistent goaltending contributed to the Sabres’ inability to clinch a playoff berth this season. A young tandem could fly or become the anchor that drags them down.

Levi played well in his late-season debut but it’s difficult to determine if he’s ready yet for the rigors of a full-time NHL starter. Luukkonen showed flashes of promise this season but also had his difficulties.

Pursuing a reliable veteran to mentor Levi seems the wisest course of action but that could mean parting ways with Luukkonen, Comrie or both. Adams could end up forced to stick with his young netminders if he can’t find a suitable veteran option via the trade market or fails to woo any of the limited options in the free-agent market.

Fairburn also wondered what the future holds for winger Victor Olofsson as younger Sabres emerge as scorers. He’s a year away from UFA status and carries a $4.75 million cap hit for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Olofsson is going to become the odd man out with the emergence of young forwards like Casey Mittelstadt, JJ Peterka and Jack Quinn. He could become a trade candidate this summer, perhaps to add a goalie or an experienced top-four defenseman.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 18, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – April 18, 2023

Check out the latest on J.T. Miller, John Gibson, Thatcher Demko and Ross Colton, plus an update on the Flames in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

RUMOR TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman weighed in on the rumors leading up to the trade deadline that had the Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks discussing a trade of Canucks center J.T. Miller. He believes the Canucks sought two first-round picks and a good prospect but the Penguins didn’t want to go there.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Horwat writes there were reports that Jason Zucker and a pair of first-round picks would’ve headed to Vancouver in that proposed deal. He believes the Penguins’ management changes last week likely mean they won’t be pursuing Miller this summer.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance recently pondered whether the Canucks need for salary-cap flexibility could lead them to peddle Miller again as they reportedly did at the March 3 trade deadline. He feels it’s a now-or-never proposition given his new contract (with its full no-movement clause) kicks in on July 1.

Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller (NHL Images).

Drance also suggested Conor Garland could be a cost-cutting candidate for the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t rule out a Miller trade before July 1 but it will be much harder to pull off after that. The Canucks won’t just give him away. If there’s no suitable return to be found for Miller, they’ll look at moving out someone like Garland, who’s on a more affordable contract.

Speaking of Zucker, Friedman believes the Penguins want to re-sign him but he doesn’t see how that’s possible. They have the cap space to do so but the new management could prefer adding younger, more affordable talent.

Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion talked about trading for a goaltender. Friedman believes the Anaheim Ducks’ John Gibson would be a good fit. He wants to play for a winner and the Ducks are willing to accommodate him.

Gibson has four years and $25.6 million remaining on his contract. Friedman acknowledged that issues like Gibson’s health, his willingness to go to Ottawa and the type of deal are among the considerations.

Speaking of the Senators, they would be interested in bringing back pending UFAs Austin Watson and Travis Hamonic on one-year contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson’s supposed unwillingness to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs has also sparked speculation that he wouldn’t be interested in playing for any Canadian team. Perhaps we’ll find out this summer if that’s the case. He could become a target for the Penguins as they’re not expected to bring back pending UFA Tristan Jarry.

Speaking of the Canucks and goaltenders, Friedman believes there was a time they would’ve considered trading Thatcher Demko this summer. However, that’s over considering how well he played following his return from injury.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ross Colton is a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights who is also a year away from UFA eligibility. Friedman suggested he could become a trade candidate given the Lightning’s tight salary-cap situation for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Colton, 26, is a versatile two-way depth forward for Tampa Bay who’s completing a two-year deal worth $1.125 million annually. Cap Friendly indicates the Lightning have just $2.4 million in projected cap space for 2023-24 with 15 roster players under contract.

The Bolts will free up another $6.875 million by placing permanently sidelined Brent Seabrook on long-term injury reserve. They must also re-sign RFA winger Tanner Jeannot and re-sign or replace UFAs Alex Killorn, Corey Perry and Brian Elliott. That could make Colton an enticing trade option or perhaps a tempting target for an offer sheet.

There’s no truth to the rumor that former Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette would retire instead of coaching again.

Friedman expects Buffalo Sabres captain Kyle Okposo wants to play in 2023-24 rather than retire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I mentioned yesterday, the Sabres have the cap space to bring him back for another season on an affordable short-term 35-plus contract.

UPDATE ON THE FLAMES

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis believes the list of potential replacements for departed Flames GM Brad Treliving will be a long one, and will include assistant general managers Craig Conroy and Brad Pascall. He felt the club’s culture needs fixing, making this hire one of the most important in franchise history.

Francis noted the bulk of seven core players could depart the Flames next summer via free agency. How many of them will need to be traded this summer will be among the priorities facing the new GM.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those pending UFAs include Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, Tyler Toffoli, Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov. Lindholm and Backlund were non-committal about their futures while Toffoli and Zadorov expressed interest in contract extensions.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 6, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – April 6, 2023

Could the Canucks and Penguins revisit their trade talks regarding J.T. Miller? Could the Leafs face another summer goalie change? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

COULD THE CANUCKS AND PENGUINS RESUME THEIR J.T. MILLER TRADE TALK?

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance considers the clarification of J.T. Miller’s future should be on the Vancouver Canucks’ offseason “to-do” list.

Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller (NHL Images).

Miller’s seven-year contract extension with its full no-trade clause begins on July 1. Drance wondered if the Canucks could revisit trading the 30-year-old forward based on the rumors that swirled about him leading up to the March 3 trade deadline.

A number of sources reported the Canucks had substantive talks with the Pittsburgh Penguins about Miller. It’s believed they initiated those discussions with the Penguins.

Drance believes the Miller trade speculation could increase during the lead-up to the 2023 NHL Draft in late June. However, he’s skeptical about his trade value given the $56 million contract attached to him.

SPORTSNET 650: Mike Halford and Jason Brough also discussed Miller’s uncertain future in Vancouver and the rumors linking him to the Penguins. They believe the speculation linking Miller to Pittsburgh made perfect sense given that club’s inevitable decline and their need to eventually replace Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins could retool their roster this summer to build up the supporting cast around Crosby, Malkin and Letang. Cap Friendly shows them with over $20 million in projected cap space for 2023-24 with 14 roster players under contract. They must also address their goaltending situation with Tristan Jarry eligible for unrestricted free-agent status.

The Penguins could afford to take on Miller’s $8 million cap hit but I think they’ll want the Canucks to take back a contract as well. Maybe they try to get them to take on Mikael Granlund’s $5 million cap hit through 2024-25.

Granlund lacks no-trade protection and has struggled to adjust to the Penguins system since joining them at the trade deadline. Maybe the Canucks take him on simply because he’s only got two years left on his contract and would cost $3 million less per season than Miller.

Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, and Rikard Rakell have been mentioned as trade candidates. I don’t see them parting with Guentzel and Rikard while Rust has a full no-movement clause.

ANOTHER SUMMER OF GOALIE CHANGE FOR THE LEAFS?

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs might attempt to move Matt Murray and go with a goaltending tandem of Ilya Samsonov and Joseph Woll for next season.

Fox believes they could depending on how their current goalies perform in the playoffs. He pointed out that the Leafs aren’t afraid to pay to correct a mistake as they did last summer bundling a first-round pick with Petr Mrazek to ship him to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Murray could be traded to a team needing to reach next season’s salary-cap minimum. The Leafs could also buy out the final season of his contract, which would be more affordable thanks to the Ottawa Senators retaining part of his annual average value. A buyout would cost the Leafs just $687,500 for 2023-24 and $2 million in 2024-25 when the salary cap is expected to spike.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s frequent absences due to injuries could make him difficult to move this summer even to a budget club looking to stay close to the cap floor. A buyout could be the easiest route provided he’s not on long-term injury reserve when the first buyout window opens on June 15.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 15, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – March 15, 2023

More speculation over the futures of Canucks forwards J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser plus concern over what next season’s salary cap will look like in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST CANUCKS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Thomas Drance was asked about the chances of the Vancouver Canucks moving J.T. Miller before his no-trade clause kicks in on July 1.

Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller (NHL Images).

Drance believes Miller’s hefty contract (seven years, $56 million commencing July 1) would make teams wary of adding a liability of that size to the books. However, he also suspects there could be some clubs that might sense a potential bargain and hope to get paid a sweetener by the Canucks to take Miller’s contract off their hands.

Suspecting Miller’s trade value could be limited before his NTC begins, Drance thinks Miller is moveable in a package where the Canucks retain part of his salary, pays a sweetener, or takes back a lesser player on an inefficient contract. However, he’s skeptical the Canucks will move him when they’re prioritizing winning in the short term.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t disagree with those scenarios. A Miller trade is possible and, as Drance pointed out, there were reports before the trade deadline that the Canucks were looking into it.

However, that’s a contract that might not be easy to move before July 1. Given their reluctance to retain salary to move Brock Boeser before the trade deadline, they’ll likely want an interested club to take the full amount of Miller’s contract. They won’t want to part with a first-round pick or a top prospect as a sweetener, but they also don’t want to take back a bad contract in return.

Asked about the best routes for the Canucks to clear cap space for next season, Drance suggested buyouts as one method. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Brock Boeser and Conor Garland could be worth watching when the first buyout window opens on June 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are more likely to try trading Boeser or Garland than buy them out. Ekmar-Larsson is a prime candidate but, as Cap Friendly points out, it’ll be on their books for eight seasons, with a $4.76 million cap hit in 2025-26 and 2026-27.

THE PROVINCE: In a Q&A with Ben Kuzma, Canucks winger Brock Boeser revealed he’s working through “some mental stuff” on a personal level following the death of his father last year. He admitted that affected his game over the past two seasons. The 26-year-old winger also acknowledged seeing his name in trade rumors this season also affected his performance.

Boeser said it was a relief when he knew he would be staying in Vancouver. He’s in the first season of a three-year contract with an average annual value of $6.65 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s on-ice struggles this season affected his trade value but there were teams reportedly interested in him, including his hometown Minnesota Wild. However, the Canucks were said to be unwilling to retain a portion of his annual cap hit to facilitate a trade. General manager Patrik Allvin also said that he would be comfortable retaining Boeser and working with him to help him regain his scoring form.

WILL THE SALARY CAP REMAIN FLATTENED NEXT SEASON?

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli speculates NHL commissioner Gary Bettman could face some pressure from team owners about potentially increasing the salary cap above the projected $1 million raise to $83.5 million for 2023-24.

Seravalli doesn’t expect Bettman will provide any answers about that when he addresses the media today following the three-day meeting of NHL general managers. He anticipates the commissioner will say that calculations and projections for next season aren’t final or on track yet to reduce the players’ escrow debt to the owners to a negligible level.

Nevertheless, Seravalli thinks Bettman could get some heat from the NHL executive committee to get into negotiations with the NHL Players Association about finding a way to raise the cap by more than just $1 million for the fourth straight season. He pointed out that the players’ debt to the owners would likely be paid off within the first few weeks of next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An increase in next season’s cap by more than $1 million would have a significant effect on this summer’s trade and free-agent markets. Teams would suddenly have much more cap space to work with, which in turn will affect what moves they can make to improve their rosters for 2023-24.