NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 1, 2021

No April Fooling as the Sabres end a long losing streak, Nathan MacKinnon is ejected during Coyotes-Avalanche game, the Canucks re-sign Thatcher Demko, Connor McDavid fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Buffalo Sabres snapped an 18-game winless skid by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. It was the longest stretch for a team without a victory in the shootout era. Brandon Montour scored twice, rookie Steven Fogerty tallied his first NHL goal, and Linus Ullmark made 31 saves for the win. The Sabres played without Dylan Cozens, who’s sidelined for about a week with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s good to see the Sabres finally bring that horrible losing streak to an end. Their playoff hopes are dashed but perhaps this can be something they can build on for the remainder of the season. As for the Flyers (38 points), this loss caps what’s been a horrible month as they sit three points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

A hat trick by Joonas Donskoi powered the Colorado Avalanche to a 9-3 mauling of the Arizona Coyotes. Colorado forwards Gabriel Landeskog and Andre Burakovsky each tallied two goals, while teammate Nathan MacKinnon was ejected in the final minutes of the third period after throwing a helmet at Coyotes forward Conor Garland following a brief scrum between the two. MacKinnon received a 10-minute misconduct and four minutes for roughing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacKinnon, the 2020 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner, picked up more penalities for that incident than he had throughout last season. Meanwhile, the Avalanche vaulted past the Vegas Golden Knights into first place in the Honda West Division with 50 points. The Coyotes remain in fifth place with 37 points, one point back of the St. Louis Blues.

Speaking of the Golden Knights, they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Los Angeles Kings. Cal Petersen kicked out 40 shots while Andreas Athanasiou had a goal and an assist for the Kings, who snapped a three-game losing skid and sit three points back of the Coyotes. Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves was a late scratch with a lower-body injury while Zach Whitecloud left the game in the third period.

The Toronto Maple Leafs strengthed their hold on first place in the Scotia North Division by downing the Winnipeg Jets 3-1. Leafs center Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 24 goals, Zach Hyman had a goal and an assist and Jack Campbell turned aside 26 shots. Jets captain Blake Wheeler left the game following the second period with an undisclosed injury. With 49 points, the Leafs are three up on the Jets with a game in hand.

The San Jose Sharks doubled up the Minnesota Wild 4-2. Tomas Hertl collected two assists and Martin Jones made 26 saves. The Wild remain in third place in the West with 44 points, five behind the Golden Knights.

Last night’s game between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks was postponed after two Canucks players and a member of their coaching staff were placed on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list.

THE PROVINCE: Speaking of the Canucks, they signed goaltender Thatcher Demko to a five-year, $25 million contract extension. The 25-year-old Demko is in the final year of a two-year, $2.1 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A hefty raise on a long-term deal for Demko but one that could prove worthwhile if his performance in last year’s playoffs and throughout March is any indication of his abilities as a starter. As The Province’s Patrick Johnston observed, Demko has a career .911 save percentage in 62 starts, slightly above the NHL average. He’s also outperforming his predecessor Jacob Markstrom this season.

Cap Friendly indicates Demko’s new deal leaves the Canucks with over $60 million invested in 12 players for 2021-22 with Elias Pettersen and Quinn Hughes coming off entry-level deals and in line for significant raises. They’ll have to shed some salary in the offseason to re-sign those two and fill out the remainder of their roster.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers captain Connor McDavid was fined the league maximum of $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for elbowing Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was a dangerous elbow by McDavid. Oilers fans would’ve been justifiably upset had the roles been reversed.

CBS SPORTS: Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury. He’s been out of the lineup since Saturday.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry missed practice yesterday and is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman was named GM for Team USA’s 2022 Olympic Mens’ hockey team. Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin was named assistant GM.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 30, 2021

Patrick Marleau reaches a significant milestone, the Panthers suffer a serious blow with Aaron Ekblad sidelined, the Senators and Kings make a minor deal, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Erik Karlsson scored twice in regulation and the winning goal in a shootout as the San Jose Sharks nipped the Minnesota 4-3. Kevin Fiala and Marcus Johansson each had two points for the Wild (44 points), who sit in third place in the West. Sharks winger Patrick Marleau played his 1,757th NHL game to move past Mark Messier into second place on the all-time games list. Marleau is just 10 games behind leader Gordie Howe with 22 games to play.

San Jose Sharks winger Patrick Marleau (NHL.com).

The Vegas Golden Knights maintained their grip on first place in the Honda West Division with a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Robin Lehner made 24 saves for the win and Jonathan Marchessault collected two assists as Vegas (49 points) have won eight of their last 10 games. They hold a one-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche.

Speaking of the Avalanche, Cale Makar had three assists as they downed the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. Colorado winger Mikko Rantanen tallied his 20th goal of the season. The Avalanche are 9-0-2 in their last 11 contests.

The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 on an overtime goal by Ivan Provorov. Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and Provorov each had a goal and an assist for the Flyers (38 points), who move within one point of the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division. Buffalo’s winless skid is now at 18 games. Sabres forward Dylan Cozens left the game with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those 18 defeats, this one is the cruelest for the Sabres, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

A 19-save performance by Casey DeSmith in relief of Tristan Jarry enabled the Pittsburgh Penguins to hold off the New York Islanders 2-1. DeSmith replaced Jarry after the latter left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury. Jared McCann scored what proved to be the winning goal for Pittsburgh (48 points), who moved into a tie with the New York Islanders. The Isles, however, holds second place in the East Division on the basis of regulation wins. Penguins winger Jason Zucker returned to the lineup after missing 18 games with a lower-body injury.

An overtime goal by Darnell Nurse gave the Edmonton Oilers a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Oilers captain Connor McDavid set up Nurse to extend his points streak to 11 games. Toronto center Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 23rd goal while Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist. With 47 points, the Leafs remain atop the Scotia North Division while the Oilers sit two back in third place.

Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers each collected three points as the Winnipeg Jets snuffed out the Calgary Flames 5-1. Scheifele scored twice and Ehlers had three assists. The Jets sit one point behind the Leafs and one ahead of the Oilers in the North Division. The Flames (35 points) remain two points back of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dropping five of their last six games, the Flames have missed a golden opportunity to overtake the idle Canadiens. They sit only two points behind the Habs but the latter have six games in hand after having four games postponed last week by COVID-19 protocols.

HEADLINES

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad will be sidelined for 12 weeks following surgery to repair a fractured lower left leg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing their top defenseman is crushing news for the Panthers, who are jockeying with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Discover Central Division. It could force general manager Bill Zito into the trade market for help.

CBS BOSTON: Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask could be sidelined most of this week with an upper-body injury.

TSN.CA: Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi came off the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Teammate Joel Armia remains on the list while new Hab Eric Staal is on the list as part of a seven-day quarantine before joining the club later this week.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators traded defenseman Christian Wolanin to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for minor-league forward Mike Amadio. Wolanin cleared waivers last week and was demoted to the Senators AHL affiliate in Belleville.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sun reporter Bruce Garrioch explains the reason the Kings didn’t claim Wolanin off waivers was that they wanted the ability to get a contract off their books. They were interested in Wolanin but wanted to be sure the Senators would take Amadio’s contract.

NHL.COM: Former NHL forward Bobby Schmautz passed away at his home in Arizona on Sunday at age 76. He spent 13 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks, Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Rockies. He tallied 20-or-more goals nine times, including two 30-plus goal campaigns. Schmautz spent over six seasons with the Bruins. In 764 games, he scored 271 goals and 557 points, along with 61 points in 84 postseason contests.

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










Why Don’t More NHL Teams Grow Their Own Goalies?

Why Don’t More NHL Teams Grow Their Own Goalies?

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 4, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 4, 2020

The Penguins re-sign Tristan Jarry, the Flyers re-up Brian Elliott, the Coyotes intend to buy out Michael Grabner, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday re-signed goaltender Tristan Jarry to a three-year, $10.5-million contract. The annual average value is $3.5 million. Jarry, 25, was slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable re-signing by the Penguins. Jarry is expected to take over as their full-time starting goaltender in 2020-21. The Penguins now have $78.8 million invested in 21 players.

This move has also ramped up speculation over Matt Murray’s future with the Penguins. It’s assumed the Penguins will trade him, but general manager Jim Rutherford indicated they’ll extend a qualifying offer this week and could take him to arbitration as a formality to retain his signing rights. However, Rutherford also admitted speaking with other clubs, though he hasn’t fully shut the door on re-signing Murray.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers re-signed goalie Brian Elliott to a one-year, $1.5-million contract. Elliott, 35, was due to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Elliott took a $500K pay cut to stay with the Flyers. He’s been a reliable backup and mentor to young starting goalie Carter Hart.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes placed winger Michael Grabner on waivers Saturday for the purpose of buying out the final season of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Coyotes will incur a cap hit of $833K for 2020-21, rising to $1.258 million in 2021-22.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens extended qualifying offers to Max Domi, Victor Mete, Charles Hudon, Noah Juulsen and Xavier Ouellet.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed prospect defenseman Lucas Johansen to a one-year, two-way contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 25, 2020

Penguins GM says there’s a “very, very good chance” he’ll trade Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry, plus the latest on the Blue Jackets and Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.

** UPDATE** LEAFS TO TRADE KAPANEN TO PENGUINS

TSN’s Darren Dreger and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Toronto Maple Leafs are working on a trade that would sent winger Kasperi Kapanen back to the Pittsburgh Penguins. When the details are announced, I’ll have an analysis of the deal in the News section.

MURRAY OR JARRY ON THE MOVE?

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman cited The Athletic’s Josh Yohe reporting Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford admits his club likely cannot afford to retain Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry. Both goaltenders are restricted free agents with arbitration rights following this season.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (NHL Images).

We know that there’s a very, very good chance that we’re going to have to move one of them,” said Rutherford. He also indicated he’s spoken with other NHL general managers, though he hasn’t reached the point where serious trade discussions have started. “There is already interest,” he said. “And it looks like we’re going to have to move one of them.”

Wegman reports the Penguins will have $12.4 million in salary-cap space this off-season. They also have six RFAs in addition to Murray and Jarry to re-sign, as well as decisions to be reached regarding UFAs Conor Sheary, Patrick Marleau, and Justin Schultz.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yohe listed the Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, and Edmonton Oilers as possible trade partners.

Wild GM Bill Guerin indicated he wasn’t happy with his goaltending following his club’s qualifying-round elimination by the Vancouver Canucks. Cap Friendly indicates he’s got $65.7 million invested in 17 players next season, but he’ll have to find a trade partner for Devan Dubnyk ($4.33 million annual average value through 2020-21, 19-team trade list) or dump the more affordable Alex Stalock ($785K through 2020-21).

The Flames could be in the market if Cam Talbot departs via free agency. The Sabres need an experienced starter but we don’t know the intentions of new GM Kevyn Adams. The budget-conscious Hurricanes could stick with their affordable tandem of James Reimer and Petr Mrazek for another year. The Oilers definitely need help between the pipes, but their limited cap space ($70.4 million invested in 16 players) means they’ll have to shed salary to add a new goalie.

UPDATE ON THE BLUE JACKETS

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Michael Arace weighed in on the Blues Jackets offseason needs. He feels they need another top-six center or an impact scorer like the departed Artemi Panarin. He wondered if they’ll draw from their blueline and/or goaltending depth, or shop RFA winger Josh Anderson, or use some prospects as assets to upgrade the offense.

Arace also makes the point that the Jackets must convince defenseman Seth Jones that they’re capable of going deep into the playoffs so he doesn’t depart via free agency in 2022. They must also manage their salary cap accordingly to make Jones one of the league’s highest-paid blueliners.

NHL.COM: Craig Merz reports Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen plans to rebuild from within rather than through the free-agent market. “I don’t believe in the (free agent) signings to be the answer or recipe for success,” said Kekalainen. “We’ve done a good job building through drafting and having some depth.”

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox believes Josh Anderson will be used as a trade chip. He points out the Jackets are flush with middle-six wingers and Anderson’s game could be attractive to other clubs. His recovery timeline from shoulder surgery is Sept. 2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Jackets have $76.2 million invested in 23 players for next season, with Anderson and Pierre-Luc Dubois slated for raises as restricted free agents. Kekalainen recently indicated Brandon Dubinsky’s chronic wrist injury could keep the forward on long-term injury reserve next season, freeing up $5.85 million if necessary.

Kekalainen will have to go shopping in the trade market if he won’t go the UFA route for scoring punch. Anderson seems the most likely to go as his name’s been in the rumor mill for months, but his shoulder injury could dampen his trade value. The Jackets GM could peddle a blueliner like David Savard or Ryan Murray, but they won’t fetch a scoring forward. Goalies Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins played well this season, but their inexperience could also hurt their trade value.

LATEST ON THE FLAMES

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson reports Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau acknowledged hearing the calls for his trade from frustrated fans and pundits. However, he insists he wants to stay in Calgary, calling it his “second home.”  Meanwhile, pending UFA goaltender Cam Talbot indicated he’s “very open” to re-signing with the Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames GM Brad Treliving defended Gaudreau and told Talbot during the pause in the schedule he’s interested in talking contract with him. However, Treliving also acknowledged there will have to be some changes following yet another early playoff exit. Whether those involve Gaudreau or Talbot remain to be seen, but we can expect both players will feature prominently in the Flames rumor mill in the coming weeks.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 12, 2020

Could the Rangers shop the first-overall pick? Are changes coming for the Penguins? What’s the latest on the Leafs and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE RANGERS LISTEN TO OFFERS FOR FIRST-OVERALL PICK?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton will spend the coming weeks deciding if he’ll use the first-overall pick to select top prospect Alexis Lafreniere or shop it for the No. 2 center his club badly needs.

Will the New York Rangers keep the first-overall pick and select Alexis Lafreniere? (NHL.com)

The Rangers already have left-wingers Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider, making it difficult for Lafreniere to be an immediate fit in their roster. Garrioch expects Gorton will find a place for the youngster unless he gets an offer too good to refuse. He believes the Ottawa Senators (with the third and fifth overall picks), Montreal Canadiens, and Detroit Red Wings could come calling.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators, Canadiens, and Red Wings lack the type of center the Rangers would want as part of the return. I think Gorton will listen to offers but he might not get one to his liking. He could also surprise us by taking Quinton Byfield instead of Lafreniere with that pick, but I believe he’ll stick with the time-honored adage that you take the best available player.

CHANGES COMING FOR THE PENGUINS

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford indicated changes are coming during his end-of-season press conference yesterday.

Team sources indicate there could be an assistant coach change at some point this week. Rutherford indicated no changes are coming to the roster core. He expressed disappointment in defenseman Justin Schultz’s performance, an indication perhaps the pending free agent won’t be re-signed.

The Penguins GM also spoke about goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry. The pair are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. Rutherford acknowledged it would be difficult to keep both. He also feels his roster needs to get younger.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Penguins are leaning toward keeping this year’s first-round pick (15th overall) and sending next season’s first-round selection to the Minnesota Wild. As per conditions in the Jeff Zucker trade last February, the Penguins have seven days following the lottery to reach a decision.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford’s comments should put to rest recent suggestions that Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang should hit the trade block. Unless he can free up salary-cap space, he’ll have to choose between Murray or Jarry. I expect he’ll take the younger, affordable option with Jarry.

It won’t be surprising if Schultz doesn’t return. He hasn’t been the same since fracturing his leg last season.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas must decide if he’ll re-sign goaltender Frederik Andersen to a long-term deal given his recent history of giving up soft goals in the playoffs.

Do the Leafs really want to tie into Andersen for the long term? Can they afford to? Do people really think the Leafs will turn into Stanley Cup contenders if Dubas acquires Matt Murray?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: To answer those questions in order: No, they shouldn’t. No, they can’t. No, they won’t. Andersen has a year left on his contract. Unless better options appear via the trade market or free agency (provided Dubas can free up sufficient cap space), best to ride it out with Andersen for one more year and see what becomes available during next season or next summer.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports his understanding of Dubas’ no-trade promise after re-signing William Nylander last season was that it was solely for the immediate aftermath of the agreement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever Dubas promised Nylander, the young winger could soon find out that a general manager’s promises are easily broken for the good of the team or the GM’s ongoing employment.

Friedman also believes San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton could be on the Leafs’ radar, depending on what happens with Jason Spezza.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All due respect to Thornton, who’s had a wonderful career, but he’s well past his best-before date. Besides, the Leafs already had an aging former Sharks on their roster in Patrick Marleau and it cost them their 2020 first-round pick to get rid of the final year of his contract. They don’t need to repeat that mistake. Yes, I know, they could get Thornton to agree to a one-year, bonus-laden deal, but he’s not going to make the Leafs a better team next season. 

UPDATE ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Terry Jones reports Oilers GM Ken Holland indicated he’s got some decisions to make going forward after his club was eliminated from the qualifying round. Noting Holland spoke about the flat salary cap for next season, Jones speculates Andreas Athanasiou, Mike Smith, and James Neal might not be back.

Jones also thinks one of the Oilers’ top-four defensemen other than Ethan Bear could be shopped. He guesses Adam Larsson could be available in a “semi-major trade.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Holland could decide not to qualify the winger’s rights, making him a UFA. The Oilers GM could then attempt to sign him to a more affordable contract, or simply look for a better option elsewhere.

The 38-year-old Smith is no longer an effective NHL starting goalie. The Oilers need a better option to split the duties with the erratic Mikko Koskinen. Neal is signed through 2022-23 and his age (32), the cap hit ($5.27 million) and offensive inconsistency will be difficult to move. A buyout is possible here.

Larsson was acquired four years ago from New Jersey for Taylor Hall. Holland might have to bundle him with a draft pick or prospect or pick up part of his $4.16-million cap hit for next season. Larsson also has a modified no-trade clause.