NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 21, 2023
The Bruins name their new captain, Steve Stamkos hasn’t had any contract extension talks yet with the Lightning, plus updates on William Nylander, Mattias Ekholm, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins named Brad Marchand as the new captain, replacing Patrice Bergeron who retired in July. Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs praised Marchand’s development over his 15 seasons with the club, noting that he had the opportunity to learn from former Bruins captains such as Bergeron and Zdeno Chara.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marchand’s pesky style of play and his lengthy list of fines and suspensions from earlier in this career had some fans questioning this decision by the Bruins. However, the evolution of his game into an elite scoring winger combined with his lead-by-example performances made him an obvious choice as Bergeron’s successor.
For those who believed defenseman Charlie McAvoy would’ve been a better choice as Bruins captain, his day will come within the next several years. The 35-year-old Marchand will likely retire within the next five years. Marchand is also slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2025 if he and Bruins management fail to reach an agreement on a contract extension before then.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos told reporters yesterday that he was disappointed in the lack of contract extension talks with management. “It was something that I expressed at the end of last year that I wanted to get something done before training camp started,” said Stamkos. “There haven’t been any discussions.
Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said having Stamkos finish his playing career with the Lightning was in everyone’s best interest. However, his captain will have to wait until the end of this season before negotiations begin. “Steven and I share the common goal of bringing the (Stanley) Cup back to Tampa,” said BriseBois. “That’s our objective. In order for us to do that in future years, we’re going to need to spend our cap dollars as wisely as possible.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Re-signing Stamkos won’t be easy for the Lightning. They’ve been pressed for cap space in recent years due to the high cost of retaining their best players, resulting in a steady erosion of their overall roster depth.
With the cap projected to rise by $4 million next season, the Lightning have just over $12 million in cap space with 16 players under contract. I’ll have more on Stamkos in today’s Rumors update.
TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs intend to try William Nylander at center for the coming season. The club also announced that goaltender Matt Murray will soon undergo a “significant surgery” while defenseman Jake Muzzin will remain on long-term injury reserve with a cervical spine injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs experimenting with moving Nylander from the wing is to see if they can add more scoring to their third line while moving David Kampf down to the fourth-line center role. The move also comes with Nylander in a contract year as he’s slated to become a UFA next summer.
Murray will be joining Muzzin on long-term injury reserve with a combined $10.3 million.
DAILY FACEOFF: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm will miss the start of training camp with his hip flexor injury. There’s no timeline for his return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subsequent reports suggest Ekholm won’t be sidelined for long. He regularly skated with Evan Bouchard last season on the Oilers’ second defense pairing.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators general manager Pierre Dorion claimed he and Shane Pinto’s camp are inching toward a new contract for the 22-year-old center. The two sides have reportedly closed the gap in their negotiations but work remains to get a deal done.
Meanwhile, center Josh Norris will be skating with a non-contact yellow jersey as the Senators hit the ice for training camp. Norris tweaked his shoulder during a recent captain’s skate in Ottawa but it isn’t considered a serious injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators aren’t taking any chances with Norris. An injured shoulder requiring season-ending surgery limited him to just eight games in 2022-23.
TSN: Montreal Canadiens center Christian Dvorak will miss the opening month of the regular season as he continues to rehab from his March 15 knee surgery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That explains in part why the Canadiens brought back Sean Monahan for another series.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of the Canadiens, Paul Byron announced his retirement as a player and has joined the franchise as a player development consultant. In 521 games over 12 seasons, the 34-year-old two-way winger had 98 goals and 110 assists for 208 points with the Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames. He also had 11 points in 36 playoff games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hip injuries force Byron’s retirement after missing the entirety of last season. His energetic play and leadership made him popular with his teammates and a fan favorite in Montreal, especially during the Canadiens run to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: And speaking of players moving on to front-office roles, Patric Hornqvist joined the Panthers’ hockey operations department as a development coach and scout. Hornqvist, 36, announced his retirement in July due to season-ending concussions suffered in December.
NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: A DUI criminal charge against Predators head coach Andrew Brunette has been dropped. Brunette was accused of driving his golf cart under the influence in Florida earlier this year.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks confirmed defenseman Tucker Poolman will not play this season due to ongoing migraine symptoms plaguing him since 2021-22.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Saku Maenalanen has been released by the Avalanche from his professional tryout offer after failing his training camp medical.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed forward Jan Jenik to a one-year, two-way contract.