NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2022

Kyle Dubas faces an uncertain future as Leafs GM plus the latest on Auston Matthews David Pastrnak, Jason Robertson and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas will not be receiving a contract extension this season. Michael Traikos speculates the decision could be a wait-and-see approach by his bosses after the Leafs failed to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs. He also suggested it could be because Dubas didn’t bring in a true No.1 goaltender or upgrade the defense during the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas downplayed the notion that this could be a make-or-break season for him, but there’s really no other way to look at it. For most of the past four seasons, the Leafs were among the top teams during the regular season but never staged a deep playoff run. Another early playoff exit (or worse) probably spells the end of Dubas’ tenure as Leafs general manager.

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas (NHL.com)

Speaking of the Leafs, Auston Matthews has two years remaining on his contract but that’s already sparking concern that he might depart Toronto as a free agent. Matthews told reporters he loves the city and considers it like home but won’t be entertaining any further questions about his contract. “There’s nothing that can be done for two more years,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: His critics will likely take him to task for not saying he would look forward to opening contract talks as soon as possible. However, he’s absolutely right that they can’t do anything about it now. The earliest Matthews and the Leafs can start contract extension discussions is July 1, 2023, so it’s pointless to badger him or Dubas about it during this season.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins GM Don Sweeney said he will continue to hold discussions with David Pastrnak’s representatives in hope of reaching an agreement on a contract extension. The 26-year-old right winger is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Pastrnak could start the coming season without an extension in place.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney was asked if Pastrnak might sign a team-friendly deal as some claim Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci did at Pastrnak’s age. He indicated that those players signed for what was market value at the time. Rising salaries during the course of their contracts made them seem like bargains over time.

In other words, Pastrnak’s camp will seek market value that could exceed $9.5 million annually based on his performance in the upcoming season. That could explain why the two sides haven’t reached an agreement on an extension yet.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Jason Robertson is expected to miss the start of the Stars’ training camp today. The 23-year-old winger was their leading goal scorer last season but remains an unsigned restricted free agent. GM Jim Nill said negotiations have been ongoing and he’s hoping an agreement can be reached as soon as possible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Stars have $6.3 million in cap space and could reportedly have $7-$8 million in salary-cap space for this season depending on their roster makeup. The Robertson camp could be angling for an expensive new deal but their client is coming off his entry-level contract.

Robertson’s only leverage is to refuse to report to training camp (and perhaps miss the start of the season) but that won’t do either side any good. The sooner Robertson’s in camp, the more effective he’ll be to their roster. The longer he holds out, the longer it’ll take for him to regain his form and that could hurt their production this season.

Speaking of the Stars, Ben Bishop’s front-office role will have to wait until next season. His career was ended by chronic knee injuries but he didn’t retire as he had a year remaining on his contract. The Stars traded that contract to the Buffalo Sabres in June to remove it from their books for this season. However, the league has informed the Stars it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to work for them while he’s still being paid by Buffalo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers raised the point that the NHL had no issue with permanently sidelined Chris Pronger working for their department of player safety while he was still under contract with the Arizona Coyotes.

Maybe the league realized its mistake with Pronger and didn’t want the Stars to repeat it with Bishop. Perhaps it’s a different story if a player is working for the department of player safety while still under contract with another club despite the potential for a conflict of interest.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres announced general manager Kevyn Adams has agreed to a multi-year contract extension. In a statement, team owner Terry Pegula praised Adams’ work over the past two seasons and believes the club is heading in the right direction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams’ lack of management experience raised questions over his suitability for the job when he was hired two years ago. Over that time, however, he’s made some good selections in the draft (including promising defenseman Owen Power) and got a solid return from the Vegas Golden Knights (including Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs) in the Jack Eichel trade. The Sabres also showed promising signs of improvement last season.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning center Brayden Point is “fully healthy” after recovering from a torn quad muscle suffered during the opening round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Andrew Copp is still recovering from off-season abdominal surgery and won’t be available until the start of the regular season. The versatile 28-year-old forward signed a five-year contract with the Red Wings in July.

THE ATHLETIC: Nicolas Hague isn’t expected to join his Vegas Golden Knights teammates when training camp opens for them today. The 23-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract. His agent, Murray Koontz, remains hopeful of getting a deal done with the Golden Knights but they’re not at that point yet.

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington (personal matter) and winger Andrew Mangiapane (undisclosed injury) will miss the start of training camp today.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: The Flames signed Adam Ruzicka to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $762K. It’s a two-way deal for this season and a one-way for 2023-24. Meanwhile, Brett Ritchie inked a one-year, $750K deal.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers restricted free agent Ryan McLeod remains without a contract but is expected to join his teammates for the start of training camp today. Management hopes to trade away some salary to clear up cap space to sign McLeod to a new deal.

The Oilers also announced defenseman Slater Koekkoek remains at home as he continues to work on improving his mental health.

DAILY FACEOFF: The New York Islanders signed UFAs Cory Schneider and Nikita Soshnikov and RFA Parker Wotherspoon to one-year contracts.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 14, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – September 14, 2022

An update on Jason Robertson’s contract talks with the Stars plus the latest on the Canadiens and Oilers in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks reports Stars general manager Jim Nill remains hopeful that Jason Robertson will be at training camp when it opens next week. Contract negotiations continue between Stars management and the 23-year-old restricted free agent winger.

Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson (NHL Images)

Robertson is coming off his entry-level contract and a career-best 41 goals and 79 points in 74 games. Nill indicated he’s in constant communication with the winger’s representatives. The club has around $7.2 million in salary cap room depending on the final roster makeup.

DeFranks suggests that means a long-term contract is off the table, speculating Robertson could get an average annual value of $7 million on a three or four-year deal. The Stars can create more cap room for the coming season by carrying a smaller roster or trading players such as goaltender Anton Khudobin ($3.33 million) or forward Radek Faksa ($3.25 million).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bridge deal seems the most likely option here. How much Robertson gets could depend on whether Nill can find a taker for Khudobin or Faksa.

Their respective AAVs aren’t that expensive. Nevertheless, it’ll be difficult finding a trade partner at this time of year when most clubs have limited cap room.


MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie reporting Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson is garnering interest in the trade market as training camp approaches. Lavoie claimed there’s a lot of interest around the league for a blueliner like him.

Lavoie doubts Edmundson, 29, will be traded now but thinks the 6’5”, 229-pound rearguard is drawing some attractive offers and could garner more as the season progresses. He missed most of 2021-22 with a back injury but can bolster his trade stock with a healthy, productive season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Murphy suggested, it’d doubtful he’ll be moved before the 2023 trade deadline. Unless the Canadiens get a mind-blowing offer they’re not trading Edmundson now. They recently made him an alternate captain and value his experience and leadership among their young blueliners.

TSN’s John Lu took to Twitter reporting Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen admitted he’s “had communication” with management regarding a contract extension. However, he offered no further comment on the subject.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Carey Price’s uncertain future and the ongoing development of Cayden Primeau, it’s unsurprising the Canadiens are interested in discussing a new contract with Allen. They’ll need some veteran stability in goal beyond this season if Price’s career is over and Primeau isn’t ready for prime time.

Lu’s colleague Ryan Rishaug tweeted on Monday that he thinks the Edmonton Oilers are waiting to hear an answer from winger Jake Virtanen regarding a professional tryout offer.

He also indicated they’re exploring all cost-cutting trade options for winger Jesse Puljujarvi. They can still start the coming season with what they have if they don’t move Puljujarvi but it could create salary-cap complications later in the season.

Rishaug doesn’t see Tyson Barrie as a trade candidate. He expects the Oilers will start this season with what they’ve got on their blueline and see how things go.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, avoiding arbitration with Puljujarvi by signing him in July to a one-year, $3 million contract provides cost certainty when attempting to trade him. It seems no team wanted to take on an unsigned restricted free agent with consistency issues with arbitration rights.

On the other hand, most teams have limited salary-cap space. Puljujarvi’s $3 million cap hit is a tight squeeze for many clubs right now.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 11, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 11, 2022

A recent look at the notable remaining restricted free agents in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined the status of the remaining notable restricted free agents.

Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson (NHL Images)

Topping his list is the Dallas Stars’ Jason Robertson. The 23-year-old winger has blossomed into a first-line scorer who was the Calder Trophy runner-up in 2021. Fox wonders if the Stars will attempt to sign Robertson to a long-term deal that could look like a bargain down the road or ink him to a bridge deal that hands the winger more leverage for his next contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes it’ll be a bridge deal, pointing out the Stars couldn’t do a long-term deal for Jake Oettinger, who recently signed a three-year, $12 million contract.

Cap Friendly shows the Stars carrying $6.3 million in cap space with 22 players under contract. My guess is Robertson agrees to a two-year deal worth $5 million annually to put himself in line for a major pay raise in 2024. That’s when the salary cap is expected to significantly increase.

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Sean Durzi and Ottawa Senators winger Alex Formenton are second and third on Fox’s list. He reported Kings general manager Rob Blake continues to negotiate with the Durzi camp. Meanwhile, Senators GM Pierre Dorion said his discussions with Formenton’s agent were positive and he expects the 22-year-old will be under contract prior to training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On Saturday, the Kings re-signed blueliner Mikey Anderson to a one-year, $1 million contract. With $1.3 million remaining in cap space, I wouldn’t be surprised if Durzi gets a similar deal. Both rearguards completed their entry-level contracts last season.

NHL training camps will start by Sep. 21 so look for the Senators to have Formenton’s new contract sorted by then.

Fox cited Arizona Coyotes insider Craig Morgan recently reporting center Barrett Hayton should have a new deal before training camp. He doesn’t see the two sides being far apart. Fox pointed out the Coyotes have plenty of salary-cap room. He recommended a bridge deal but observed the club has a tendency of signing their promising young players to long-term contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mikey Anderson was also on Fox’s list but he was re-signed on Saturday by the Kings.

Rasmus Sandin’s contract talks with the Toronto Maple Leafs reportedly remain at a standstill. Meanwhile, Vegas Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon recently said re-signing defenseman Nicolas Hague before training camp was his top priority.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I covered Sandin’s situation in yesterday’s Rumor Mill. As for Hague, McCrimmon reportedly has had little dialogue with Hague’s representatives since early July.

Both defensemen are coming off ELCs and have no leverage other than refusing to report to training camp. We’ll find out within the next 10 days if they’ll end up signing bridge deals before camps open on Sep. 21.

Edmonton Oilers center Ryan McLeod and Calgary Flames forward Adam Ruzicka complete Fox’s list. He reported there’s little concern in Edmonton over getting McLeod signed before training camp. Meanwhile, Fox believes Flames GM Brad Treliving must decide if Ruzicka is ready to be a full-time NHLer or if he will sign him to a two-way contract.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 1, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 1, 2022

Stars owner Tom Gaglardi on the status of contract talks with Jason Robertson and Jake Oettinger, the Wild trade Dmitry Kulikov to the Anaheim Ducks, the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

THE SCORE: During an appearance on “The Cam & Strick Podcast”, Dallas Stars owner Tom Gaglardi spoke about the contract talks with restricted free agents Jason Roberton and Jake Oettinger. Both players are restricted free agents coming off their entry-level contracts. 

Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger (NHL Images).

Gaglardi pointed out it takes time to get these deals done. “You’re an RFA, there’s really no deadline, there’s no hurry, and that’s kind of how things go,” he said. 

The Stars owner pointed out his club has the cap space to sign them but it’s finding the right fit in dollars and term. “These conversations are happening, I can’t tell you that a deal is imminent, but maybe one of them is more imminent, I don’t know.” 

Cap Friendly indicates the Stars have over $10 million in cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One or both players could be under contract before training camp opens later this month. That leaves roughly three weeks for both sides to sort this out. 

Robertson and Oettinger have no real leverage other than to withhold their services by not reporting to training camp until a deal is signed. Both are core members of the Stars roster so management would prefer to avoid them missing any valuable training time or have this situation drag on into the start of the regular season. 

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild traded defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to the Anaheim Ducks for future considerations. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a straightforward salary dump by the cap-strapped Wild, shedding Kulikov’s $2.25 million cap hit for the coming season. The rebuilding Ducks, meanwhile, bring in some additional veteran depth to take some pressure off their younger defensemen. 

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to a two-year, $1.675 million contract. 

Speaking of the Sabres, they’re bringing back their black and red “Goathead” jersey for 12 games this season, starting in November. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At least it’s not the dreaded “Buffaslug”.

THE SEATTLE TIME: The Kraken signed defenseman Cale Fleury to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers recently signed winger Hayden Hodgson to a two-year, $1.6 million contract. The deal is two-way in the first season and one-way for the second. 

TORONTO SUN: Former NHL player and coach Orval Tessier passed away last Thursday at age 89. 

Tessier played 59 games with the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins between 1954-55 and 1960-61. He went on to a successful coaching career in Juniors and the AHL, winning the Memorial Cup in 1972 with the Cornwall Royals and the Calder Cup with the New Brunswick Hawks in 1982.

In 1982-83, Tessier became head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, winning the Jack Adams Award as that season’s NHL coach of the year. Fired midway through the ’84-’85 season, he became a scout and won the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Tessier’s family and friends as well as the players who were coached by him. 

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 28, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 28, 2022

In the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup: speculation over Dylan Larkin’s next contract and future with the Red Wings plus a look at the contract talks of Stars youngsters Jason Robertson and Jake Oettinger.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan mused over what center Dylan Larkin’s next contract with the Detroit Red Wings could look like. The 26-year-old Wings captain is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin (NHL Images)

Khan reports the two sides have been discussing a contract extension since mid-July. No deal is done, suggesting Larkin’s agent and Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman remain far apart.

Larkin is coming off a 31-goal, 69-point performance in 71 games last season, putting him in line for a substantial raise over the $6.1 million average annual value of his current contract. That could put him in the $8 million AAV range though Khan wouldn’t be surprised if the Larkin camp was seeking $9 million.

If talks extend into the coming season, Larkin’s performance could become a factor in determining his next contract, likely an eight-year deal. However, his name could surface in the rumor mill if there’s no contract in place leading up to the 2023 NHL trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could take time for Larkin’s representatives and Yzerman to hammer out an agreement. I’ll be surprised if a deal isn’t in place before the trade deadline.

Larkin is seen as a key member of the rebuilding Red Wings’ core. I think Yzerman wants to maintain some continuity within his roster, especially with homegrown talent to provide leadership to the youngsters already in the lineup and coming up from their system.

I’m not suggesting talks won’t fall apart or Larkin won’t be traded, though his full no-trade clause gives him plenty of leverage. However, I believe the two sides will get a deal done that keeps him in Detroit for the long term.

THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Saad Yousuf was asked how nervous Dallas Stars fans should be about Jason Robertson and Jake Oettinger not being signed right now. The two 23-year-olds are restricted free agents coming off their entry-level contracts.

Yousuf isn’t too concerned right now though he acknowledged the snail’s pace of negotiations given the lack of urgency at this time. “There was no arbitration hearing to contend with, there’s no imminent threat of an offer sheet and there has been no requirement for players to report anywhere,” he said.

Robertson and Oettinger are team-oriented players who don’t want to miss the start of training camp. However, that becomes a possibility if negotiations remain unsolved by that point. Yousuf suggests a bridge deal for both players might be best for both sides right now, speculating Robertson could get a $7 million AAV and Oettinger coming in at $4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The threat of an offer sheet remains but I doubt Robertson or Oettinger are going to get one. That’s a rarely used tactic that has only succeeded twice in the salary-cap era. If they were to receive offer sheets it likely would’ve happened after the free-agent market opened on July 13 when most teams still had sufficient cap room.

Cap Friendly shows 13 teams already over the $82.5 million cap for the coming season with another 11 having less than $5 million in cap room. Only three teams – Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes – have sufficient cap space to make the type of competitive bids to successfully pry away Robertson or Oettinger. If either of those three clubs were going to make that move they would’ve done so by now.

I also don’t see any team making a robust trade offer for Robertson or Oettinger. I’m sure some general managers have called Stars GM Jim Nill to see if either guy is available but he’s probably not interested in their trade pitches. Both youngsters are already part of the Stars’ core and will take on bigger roles over the next couple of years.

The Stars have $10.3 million in cap space for 2022-23 and only Robertson and Oettinger to re-sign. They have the leverage to get those two youngsters under bridge contracts with the promise of more lucrative deals down the road, especially when aging Stars such as Jamie Benn ($9.5 million AAV) and Ryan Suter ($3.65 million) come off their books at the end of 2024-25.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 18, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 18, 2022

A look at some potential offer-sheet candidates but recent speculation on Nazem Kadri, John Klingberg and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.


RDS.CA: Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk could be a top candidate to receive an offer sheet. The Flames have the cap space ($18.45 million) to match any offer. However, the 25-year-old Tkachuk’s future in Calgary remains uncertain and it’s unclear if he’d want to sign a long-term extension with the Flames. A bid of $10.5 million for one season would cost four first-round picks as compensation to the Flames.

Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames could let Tkachuk go if a rival club made that bid and use those four first-rounders to put toward retooling their roster. The winger didn’t file for salary arbitration, making him eligible to receive an offer sheet.

That one-year offer sheet could also backfire on the team successfully signing Tkachuk away from the Flames. He could decide to test next summer’s unrestricted free agent market, leaving them without their first-round picks in the next four drafts. If a team is going to go for it, they’d better be sure that they can lock him up beyond 2022-23.

Dallas Stars winger Jason Robertson and goaltender Jake Oettinger could also prove tempting targets. The Stars have $11 million in cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players are key parts of the Stars’ future and they don’t want to lose either guy. The club can afford to match for one but not both unless they’re willing to shed salary before the start of the season.

Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois and Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine are two other possible offer sheet candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois’ reported desire to test the UFA market in 2024 has sparked speculation that the Jets could trade him for the right return. He’s been tied to the Montreal Canadiens as his agent recently admitted his client would one day like to play for them.

Some observers wonder if the Habs will go the offer sheet route if efforts to acquire Dubois via trade fall through. With just $1.2 million in cap room and ongoing uncertainty over whether Carey Price ($10.5 million AAV) will play next season, they don’t appear to be in a position to make a competitive bid.

The Blue Jackets’ signing of Johnny Gaudreau last week left them with just over $2 million in cap space. Management indicated its intent to continue negotiations with Laine, who opted not to file for arbitration. However, he could prove a tempting option if a club is willing to pony up a hefty deal for over $9 million per season.


SPORTSNET: In the final “32 Thoughts” podcast of 2021-22, Elliotte Friedman reported hearing that Nazem Kadri is waiting for teams to clear salary-cap space to sign him. He thinks the Colorado Avalanche and New York Islanders could be among his suitors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would explain why Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard ($5 million annual average value) has surfaced in trade rumors of late. Islanders winger Anthony Beauvillier ($4.15 million) was a fixture in the rumor mill last season but I haven’t seen his name being mentioned with their efforts to clear cap room for Kadri.

Speaking of the Islanders, Friedman believes they’re not done making moves. “They’ve been way too quiet,” he said.

Friedman also cast some doubt on reports suggesting the Calgary Flames could make Kadri a mega-offer. He thinks the two sides have talked but believes the Flames are trying to be careful in the aftermath of Johnny Gaudreau’s departure to Columbus via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve noted before, Kadri rejected a trade to Calgary by the Toronto Maple Leafs three years ago. Perhaps he feels differently now, especially if the Flames are willing to make a significant offer. That doesn’t seem to be the case based on Friedman’s assessment.

Jeff Marek believes the Detroit Red Wings could be the final destination for John Klingberg. However, he doesn’t think the Wings want to sign the 29-year-old free-agent defenseman to a long-term contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klingberg is the other remaining notable in this summer’s UFA market. There was speculation also tying him to the Seattle Kraken. Like the Wings, they have the cap space to sign him. I doubt he will get between $7.75 million and $8.5 million per season that Marek had him seeking from the Dallas Stars last fall.

Friedman reported the Edmonton Oilers were trying to move Jesse Puljujarvi for a draft pick. He indicated that it’s difficult right now because the clubs with an interest in him have little or no cap space and didn’t want to make that deal.

According to Friedman, the New York Rangers were talking to the Vancouver Canucks and the St. Louis Blues. He asked them at the draft about their conversations with the Blues and they said they had nothing going on with St. Louis. Nevertheless, Friedman said he’d heard they were talking for a while.