NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 5, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 5, 2021

The latest on the Lightning and Canadiens on the eve of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, the latest on the Leafs and Blue Jackets, and an update on Stephen Johns in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Poised to win their second straight Stanley Cup, the Lightning realizes this could be the end of the current roster. Head coach Jon Cooper reminisced following Game 3 about the contributions of wingers Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn during their tenures with the Bolts. Salary cap issues are expected to bring about a restructuring of the roster following this season.

Alex Killorn could be among several players who won’t be with the Tampa Bay Lightning next season (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Lightning sitting $5.066 million over the $81.5 million salary cap for 2021-22 with 19 players under contract. Pending UFAs Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, David Savard and Curtis McElhinney aren’t expected to be re-signed. Management could attempt to shed $10 million to become cap compliant and have enough wiggle room for affordable depth signings.

Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois has a well-deserved reputation as a shrewd cap manager. This summer will be his biggest test since taking over as GM in 2018.

Johnson and Killorn were expected to be moved in cost-cutting moves during the last offseason. Nikita Kucherov’s hip surgery last December sidelined him for the regular season, allowing the Lightning to put him on long-term injury reserve. That bought the club a reprieve as they were able to keep almost all of their roster intact.

As the article pointed out, the Lightning cannot expect the same situation next season. Johnson is expected to be left unprotected in the expansion draft and could be selected by the Seattle Kraken. If not, he and Killorn could hit this summer’s trade block.

THE SCORE: Tampa Bay Mayor Jane Castor would like to see the Lightning lose Game 4 in Montreal so they can win the Stanley Cup back home in Tampa Bay in Game 5.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning would love to win the Cup back home in front of their fans, but they’re focused on wrapping this up tonight in Montreal.

The odds are against the Canadiens rallying back to win the Cup. Nevertheless, they could pin the mayor’s remarks to their dressing room bulletin board as motivation for tonight’s game.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens, meanwhile, are saying all the right things about being a close-knit group who’ve stayed positive and overcame long odds to get to the Final.

TSN: The Canadiens spent their formal practice yesterday focusing on special teams’ play, particularly their power play.

THE ATHLETIC: Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen could bring in adding a veteran coach to act as an advisor and mentor to their new coaching staff. Brad Larsen and his staff have a combined 15 years as assistant coaches at the NHL level but none as a head coach. Jacques Martin has surfaced as a possible candidate.

Former NHL defenseman Stephen Johns has completed his coast-to-coast rollerblading journey across America to raise awareness for mental health in his #MentalMiles mission. Johns recently retired and revealed he battled depression while recovering from head trauma that ended his career. He was joined at one point in his journey by Detroit Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Johns on his accomplishment for a worthy cause.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 14, 2021

The Islanders defeat the Lightning in Game 1 of their semifinal series, Quebec Premier Legault pushing for more fans at Canadiens home games, Stephen Johns retires and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: A 30-save performance by Semyon Varlamov carried the New York Islanders to a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of their semifinal series. Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock scored for the Islanders while Lightning forward Brayden Point spoiled Varlamov’s shutout bid. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves for the Bolts. Game 2 is Tuesday night in Tampa Bay.

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid defensive performance by the Islanders in shutting down the Lightning’s potent offense. This game marked just the second time in these playoffs the Bolts were held to just one goal.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Quebec Premier Francois Legault spoke with his public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda, about allowing more fans into the Bell Centre for the Montreal Canadiens’ semifinal home games against the Vegas Golden Knights.

I’m pushing Dr. Arruda but we have to be fair,” said Legault. “We have to look if we can (have) more people (while) respecting the rules that are necessary because we need to go gradually in order not to see a bump (in COVID-19 cases) in the next few weeks.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are currently allowed to admit 2,500 fans to their home games. Perhaps it’ll be doubled to 5,000. This push is linked to the fact the Vegas Golden Knights are now back at full capacity in their arena. However, it’s doubtful we’ll see a full house in the Bell Centre for this series.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman Stephen Johns announced his retirement yesterday via Instagram. He detailed his battles with depression after missing considerable playing time to post-traumatic headaches over the last three seasons. He intends to travel across the United States to help people struggling with their mental health.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johns’ playing career was cut short by head injuries. He spent just four seasons in the NHL, with 33 points in 167 games. Best wishes to him in his future endeavors and in his battle with depression.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed defenseman Eric Gelinas to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level. He last played in the NHL in 2016-17 with the Colorado Avalanche and spent the last three seasons with Rogle BK in the Swedish Hockey League.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 31, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 31, 2020

Zdeno Chara signs with the Capitals, seven clubs open training camp today, Ryan Callahan retires, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals yesterday signed Zdeno Chara to a one-year, $795K contract. The 43-year-old defenseman spent the last 14 seasons as captain of the Boston Bruins. He helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final three times (2011, 2013, 2019), winning the Cup in 2011. Chara was a five-time Norris Trophy finalist during his tenure with the Bruins, winning the award in 2009.

Former Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara signs a one-year deal with the Washington Capitals (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Chara’s contract also features an additional $730K in performance bonuses. He’s no longer a Norris Trophy contender but the big blueliner is expected to bring accountability to the Capitals roster after two disappointing first-round exits following their 2018 Cup championship. He’ll likely see second- or third-pairing minutes in Washington.

Chara’s departure from the Bruins wasn’t unexpected given their apparent reluctance to bring him back for another season. Nevertheless, his signing with the Capitals was still surprising. While Bruins fans knew Chara was past his prime, management’s unwillingness to bring him back didn’t sit well with some of them. He was one of the greatest defensemen in franchise history. His exit marks the end of an era.

No word yet from the Bruins as to who replaces Chara as team captain, but Patrice Bergeron likely becomes the leading candidate to take over the role.

NHL.COM: Last season’s seven non-playoff clubs – the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks open training camp today. The other 24 teams begin camp on Jan. 3.

TSN.COM: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly reiterated that Canada’s seven NHL teams have governmental clearance to hold training camp and open the season in their home arenas.

SPORTSNET: Ryan Callahan announced his retirement as an NHL player yesterday after 13 active seasons with the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning. Renowned for his two-way play, Callahan tallied 186 goals and 386 points in 757 NHL contests. After suffering a back injury in 2019, Callahan was traded to the Ottawa Senators, spending last season on injured reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Callahan and his family in their future endeavors.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes officially announced the signing of forward Derick Brassard to a one-year contract.

SPORTSDAY: Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns might not be playing this season. He’s listed as an injured player not participating in training camp. The Athletic cited sources claiming he’s out for the season but general manager Jim Nill said that would be determined by team doctors. Johns has a history of head injuries, missing 22 months to post-traumatic headaches.

NEW YORK POST: The New York Islanders haven’t invited Josh Ho-Sang to training camp, sparking another turn in the rocky relationship between the club and the former first-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ho-Sang spent all of last season in the minors. He was the subject of trade rumors but nothing came of them.

NEWSDAY: Speaking of the Islanders, the current ownership has bought the remainder of former owner Charles Wang’s shares from his estate. Wang, who passed away in 2019, held a 15 percent stake in the club.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators have decided to open the season without fans in their arena after getting approval from the city’s health department to allow limited crowds. The club hopes to gradually bring back fans over the course of the season.

THE AHL: yesterday announced a framework to open their season on Feb. 5 has been approved by their board of governors.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 10, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 10, 2020

The Devils sign Corey Crawford, the Flames land Chris Tanev, the Lightning place Tyler Johnson on waivers, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils last night signed goaltender Corey Crawford to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $3.9 million. The move came a day after the Devils bought out netminder Cory Schneider.

Corey Crawford signs with the New Jersey Devils (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable move by the Devils to boost their goaltending depth by providing an experienced mentor for Mackenzie Blackwood. I’m surprised that Crawford’s former club, the Chicago Blackhawks, didn’t sign him to a similar deal. Perhaps their offer was less than what he ultimately got on the open market from the Devils.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed defenseman Chris Tanev to a four-year, $18-million contract. Cap Friendly indicates the annual average value is $4.5 million. The deal also includes a modified no-trade clause in which Tanev submits a 10-team no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the second former Canuck the Flames added via free agency, having signed goaltender Jacob Markstrom yesterday. This deal is one year less than Tanev’s previous contract and slightly higher than his previous AAV ($4.45 million). He’ll replace T.J. Brodie, who signed yesterday with the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, the decline in Tanev’s performance and his injury history could be cause for concern among Flames fans.

Note: My list of yesterday’s notable unrestricted free agent signings can be found here.

TSN: The Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday placed winger Tyler Johnson on waivers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A surprising move by the Lightning that suggests a whiff of desperation to shed salary. We’ll learn at noon ET today if any club claims him.

Johnson has a full no-trade clause but it doesn’t prevent him from being placed on waivers. He has four years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $5 million. TSN’s Frank Seravalli wondered if the Detroit Red Wings might claim him, given general manager Steve Yzerman’s ties to Johnson when he was GM of the Lightning.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks re-signed restricted free agent winger Dominik Kubalik to a two-year contract with a $3.7 million AAV and goaltender Malcolm Subban to a two-year extension with an $850K cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kubalik, a Calder Trophy finalist, was coming off his entry-level contract, giving Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman leverage to ink him to an affordable bridge contract. The Blackhawks still need a reliable starting goaltender as Subban is strictly a backup. I expect they’ll address that need via free agency or trade.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Bryan Little won’t play next season on the recommendation of the team’s doctors. He suffered serious head trauma after being struck in the head by a puck during a game last November and hasn’t played since.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets are expected to place Little on long-term injury reserve for 2020-21. That will provide them some wiggle room to exceed the salary cap if necessary by the equivalent of his $5.291 million cap hit. However, the greater concern is for Little’s future as an NHL player. This injury could cut short his playing career.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Joe Thornton confirmed he’ll return for his 23rd NHL season. However, he’s in no rush to sign with the San Jose Sharks or another club at the moment. He also indicated he might play in the Swiss League prior to the scheduled Jan. 1 start of the 2020-21 season.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars are uncertain about the future of defenseman Stephen Johns, who missed the final 23 games of the club’s playoff run. Johns was sidelined for nearly two years by post-traumatic headaches before returning to action for 17 games last season.

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders prospect Kieffer Bellows violated terms of the AHL/Professional Hockey Players’ Association performance-enhancing substances program. The matter has been dealt with and he will be allowed to play whenever the NHL or AHL are able to start their seasons.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2020

The Lightning down the Blue Jackets in a five-overtime marathon. Check out the details in the recaps of the opening round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning needed five overtime periods to edge the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series. Brayden Point tallied the winner at 10:27 of the fifth-overtime period, marking the fourth-longest game in NHL history, lasting over six hours and 13 minutes. The goal was Point’s second of the game. Pierre-Luc Dubois had a goal and an assist for the Jackets.




Tampa Bay Lightning center Braydon Point (NHL Images).

The two teams combined for a record 151 shots, with the Lightning firing a record 88. Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo set a record with 85 saves while Bolts netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 61. Jackets defenseman Seth Jones also set a record for minutes-played by a skater, logging 65 minutes and six seconds of ice time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the most entertaining multiple overtime game I’ve seen since the Buffalo Sabres edged the New Jersey Devils 1-0 in Game 6 of their 1994 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. These types of games usually turn into long, dull defensive slogs with few quality scoring chances. Not this game. Every period was fast-paced and exciting, with the Lightning having the bulk of the offensive opportunities. A tough loss for the Jackets, who’ll have little time to recover before Game 2 tomorrow.

Because of the length of the Lighting-Blue Jackets game, the NHL rescheduled Game 1 between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes to 11 am ET today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the right call by the league. It reportedly would’ve taken nearly two hours following the end of the Bolts-Jackets game to clean the dressing rooms and players benches and to prepare the ice surface for the Bruins and Hurricanes.

Rasmus Andersson’s second-period goal proved to be the game-winner as the Calgary Flames held off the Dallas Stars 3-2 in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series. Dillon Dube scored twice as the Flames jumped to a 2-0 lead but the Stars tied it on goals by Denis Gurianov and Jamie Benn nine seconds apart. Stars defenseman Stephen Johns left the game in the second period and is listed as “unfit to play.” Stars center Tyler Seguin was held without a shot.    


SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dube had a heck of a game for the Flames, especially with his second goal that looked like a Pavel Bure special. Teammate Milan Lucic is also playing well, picking up his fifth point (1-4-5) in as many games.

Reilly Smith scored twice and collected an assist to lead the Vegas Golden Knights over the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 in Game 1 of their opening-round series. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Mark Scheifele said he doesn’t believe Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk deliberately intended to injure him in Game 1 of their qualifying-round series. Scheifele suffered an injury to the back of his leg following a collision with Tkachuk, who reached out to the Jets center explaining he was skating too fast and lost control as he approached Scheifele along the boards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets coach Paul Maurice had thought otherwise, accusing Tkachuk of a dirty hit and doubling down a day later. It was obvious, however, that the collision was accidental. I think Tkachuk got a bad rap here because of his well-earned reputation for questionable tactics. If it had been Tkachuk’s teammate Johnny Gaudreau colliding with Scheifele, nobody would’ve thought it was dirty.

CBS SPORTS: Edmonton Oilers forward Tyler Ennis suffered a fractured leg and ligament damage near his ankle during an Aug. 5 game against the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s expected to be recovered in time for the 2020-21 season, but it might not be with the Oilers. Ennis is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Ivan Barbashev is expected to rejoin his teammates in Edmonton on Friday after traveling to St. Louis to be with his wife during the birth of his son.


2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists

2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists