NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 23, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 23, 2020

Check out the latest on David Pastrnak, Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL PHASE 3 TRAINING CAMP NOTES

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins president Cam Neely doesn’t expect wingers David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase on the ice before the club flies to Toronto on Sunday for the upcoming playoff tournament under Phase 4 of the NHL’s return-to-play plan. Pastrnak’s been quarantined after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Kase, meanwhile, has been deemed unfit to play with no explanation as per league health protocols.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (Photo via NHL Images).

Both players were seen together socially in Boston’s North End and skating together locally before their disappearance from Bruins’ training camp. Neely said he wished both players had returned to Boston from the Czech Republic a little earlier but noted the club had no control over that. The previous phase of the return-to-play plan didn’t require players to be in their NHL cities until the days leading up to the July 13 start of Phase 3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pastrnak and Kase are expected to travel with their teammates to Toronto for Phase 4. Fortunately for the Bruins, both players will have roughly two weeks to get back into game shape. That because they’re already assured of a playoff berth and will be taking part in the round-robin seeding round during the qualifying round.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins fans can breathe a little easier. Captain Sidney Crosby returned to practice yesterday for the first time since leaving the ice during a scrimmage on Saturday. He skated on his own but didn’t take part in team practice. As per league protocols, coach Mike Sullivan did not explain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby’s absence was not COVID-related. He appears to be nursing what could be a minor injury.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Jonathan Toews was reportedly one of two NHLPA player reps to vote against the return-to-play plan and CBA extension. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Blackhawks captain was among the most vocal of the player reps, asking relevant questions and challenging whether it was safe enough to return to play. Carolina Hurricanes’ Jordan Martinook was the other PA rep to vote against it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews’ questioning shouldn’t be surprising. He also took an active interest in CBA negotiations during the 2012-13 lockout. By the sound of things, his position was well-intentioned. He now has more pressing concerns as he was listed as “unable to participate” since leaving practice on Monday.

CBS SPORTS: Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty has missed his club’s last three practices. Coach Pete DeBoer indicated Pacioretty was dealing with a minor issue and could resume skating soon.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar missed his third straight practice since leaving the ice on Saturday. Coach Jared Bednar provided no update as per league protocols.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Oskar Lindblom’s comeback from a rare bone cancer continued yesterday as the Flyers re-signed him to a three-year, $9-million contract. The annual average value is $3 million. Management also isn’t ruling anything out if the winger travels to Toronto with his teammates for the upcoming playoff tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could be the feel-good story of the postseason if Lindblom returns to action during the upcoming tournament. The Flyers will leave that decision up to him.

SPORTSNET: Andreas Johnsson will be joining his Toronto Maple Leafs teammates inside the team bubble for Phase 4. He intends to continue his recovery from knee surgery with the team and hopes to return to the lineup during the playoffs if the Leafs get that far.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The NHL’s Seattle expansion franchise is expected to reveal their team name later today. A live-streamed news conference is slated for 9 AM PT today for a “significant” event. The club teased the event on Twitter yesterday.

WINGING IT IN MOTOWN: The Detroit Red Wings are open to loaning winger Filip Zadina to the Czech League’s HC Ocelari. The Wings could be waiting until December at the earliest for the start of the next NHL season. Loaning out Zadina would allow the youngster to get in some meaningful gameplay before then.

NEW YORK POST: Swiss investment bank UBS has secured the naming rights for the Islanders’ new arena at Belmont Park. The arena is expected to be ready for the 2021-22 season.

IIHF.COM: Former Soviet defenseman Alexander Gusev passed away at age 73. Gusev was part of two World Championship clubs in 1973 and 1974, won gold at the 1976 Winter Olympics, and was part of two Summit Series with Canadian NHL stars in 1972 and WHA stars in 1974.

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










NHL Rumor Mill – July 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 20, 2020

Check out the latest on the Leafs, Coyotes, and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, James Mirtle was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs can get a decent return if they trade Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alex Kerfoot or if it’ll be a salary dump because of the flat cap.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen (Photo via NHL Images).

Mirtle feels they could get a player or prospect for Kapanen, but injuries and so-so-seasons for Johnsson and Kerfoot will affect their value. Still, he feels a depth-depleted club like New Jersey or Ottawa could be interested in one of those players.

He also believes the Leafs could go cheap on defense for next season out of necessity because of their lower cap space, perhaps seeking an affordable UFA veteran like Vancouver’s Chris Tanev. He doesn’t see them moving out a core player for blueline help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Leafs have over $76.9 million invested in 16 players next season, with Kyle Clifford, Jason Spezza, Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, Travis Dermott, and Ilya Mikheyev to be re-signed or replaced. General manager Kyle Dubas did some impressive cap management last summer to free up room to re-sign Mitch Marner, but some of his deals received mixed results this season.

Dubas could pull off some more cap wizardry, perhaps acquiring one or two players on permanent long-term injury reserve status to provide more wiggle room. Nevertheless, there’s an expectation Kapanen, Johnsson, or Kerfoot could be moved in a cost-cutting deal. Such a trade doesn’t mean they won’t get an NHL-ready player back, but it would be one with much less than the $3-million or more cap hit of each of those three, with possibly less talent.

Dubas could surprise us with an interesting trade that brings in a top-four, right-shot defenseman. However, I think Mirtle’s assessment that they’ll stick with more affordable options for 2020-21 is the correct one.

A LOOK AT SOME POSSIBLE COYOTES TRADE OPTIONS

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan recently examined the short- and long-term effects of a flat cap upon the Arizona Coyotes.

Per Cap Friendly, the Coyotes have almost $80 million invested in 17 players for 2020-21, with star winger Taylor Hall among their notable free agents.

Morgan examined several possible cost-cutting trade candidates for ’20-’21, including center Derek Stepan, winger Michael Grabner, goaltender Antti Raanta, and defensemen Alex Goligoski and Jason Demers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morgan listed several others but these five appear the more likely trade options. They lack no-trade protection or have limited no-trade clauses, their contracts expire at the end of next season, and they could draw interest in the trade market.

Stepan’s $6.5 million annual average value is steep, but he’ll only get $2 million in actual salary for next season because the Coyotes recently paid out $3 million in a signing bonus. That could make him enticing for budget-conscious clubs looking for some affordable short-term experience and leadership.

Goligoski carries a $5.475-million AAV but receives $4 million in actual salary and has an eight-team no-trade list. Raanta has an injury history but could be a decent short-term option for clubs seeking goalie depth. Demers and Grabner would be affordable depth additions.

ATHANASIOU STRUGGLING TO FIT ON OILERS LINES

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports Andreas Athanasiou isn’t working out as hoped for the Edmonton Oilers. Since his acquisition at the Feb. 24 trade deadline, he failed to click alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Athanasiou is a restricted free agent at season’s end and must be qualified at $3 million. Spector doubts GM Ken Holland will pay the winger that much, speculating he’ll likely re-sign him for less on a one-year deal.

(NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou’s stock tumbled this season. His speed was supposed to be an asset alongside McDavid or Draisaitl but his skills are good enough to hang with those superstars. If he spurns less money to stay in Edmonton, Holland could try to trade his rights at the draft. Failing that, he could just cut Athanasiou loose via the UFA market at season’s end.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 16, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 16, 2020

Some potential Red Wings trade targets, the Predators’ cap crunch, and the latest on Ilya Kovalchuk in today’s NHL rumor mill.

POSSIBLE RED WINGS TRADE TARGETS

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan lists several potential trade options for the Detroit Red Wings. With only $46.2 million invested in 11 players next season, they have enough room to re-sign their key free agents and target cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary.

Could Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson became a trade target for the Detroit Red Wings? (Photo via NHL Images)

Kulfan suggests Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde, and Alex Killorn could interest the Wings. They could also set their sights on Pittsburgh Penguins goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry, St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen and winger Jaden Schwartz, and Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson and Gourde each have a full no-trade clause while Killorn carries a modified no-trade. They all know Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman from his days as Lightning GM. That could sway one of them to approve a move to Detroit, but it’s not a certainty.

Schwartz also has a modified no-trade clause. He could be reluctant to include the rebuilding Wings on his list of preferred destinations.

Murray, Jarry, Allen, Kapanen, and Johnsson would be easier targets because they lack no-trade protection.

PREDATORS FACING CAP CRUNCH

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Adam Vingan recently explored how the Nashville Predators could fill multiple holes on their roster with limited cap space next season. They have 17 players under contract for next season with roughly $9.3 million in cap room.

Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith are their notable unrestricted free agents. Vingan speculated the 28-year-old Granlund might be receptive to a two-year deal while the 31-year-old Smith could seek term, though the latter might be open to accepting less money.

Buying out center Kyle Turris could also free up some cap room. He has four years left on his contract worth $6 million annually. A buyout would see the Predators carry $2 million in dead-cap space through 2028. Vingan considered it difficult to believe GM David Poile will pull off a big trade to clear cap space, noting he’s never retained salary in a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Poile is willing to retain part of Turris’ salary in a trade, buying him out could be his only option to free up valuable cap space for next season. A rival club could take on Turris if some salary was retained, but Poile could be squeezed to add a draft pick or a quality prospect in the deal. The remaining four years on his contract, however, could be a deal-breaker.

LATEST ON KOVALCHUK

TVA SPORTS: Washington Capitals winger Ilya Kovalchuk said he’s stayed in contact with several of his former Montreal Canadiens teammates. Kovalchuk enjoyed a solid bounce-back performance with the Habs after they acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings. He was shipped to the Capitals before the February trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk enjoyed his brief time in Montreal. Speculation persists suggesting Kovalchuk could return to the Canadiens next season on a one-year, bonus-laden contract.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Toronto Maple Leafs

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Toronto Maple Leafs

 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 25, 2020

More Alex Pietrangelo conjecture plus some recent Devils speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE LATEST ON PIETRANGELO

STLTODAY.COM: In his latest Q&A live chat with his readers, Jim Thomas was asked how the St. Louis Blues could free up sufficient salary-cap room to re-sign team captain Alex Pietrangelo, who becomes an unrestricted free agent in the off-season. He feels the most likely scenario is trading goaltender Jake Allen and buying out the final season of veteran forward Alexander Steen’s contract.

What can the St. Louis Blues do to free up salary-cap space to re-sign Alex Pietrangelo? (Photo via NHL Images)

Thomas doesn’t consider buying out Justin Faulk as an option, in part because it would be more costly to the Blues for much longer than buying out Steen or Tyler Bozak. He also speculated the re-signing of Marco Scandella means at least two players must come off the current roster to re-sign Pietrangelo and doesn’t see Jaden Schwartz being moved in a cost-cutting deal.

If Pietrangelo wants the biggest possible deal, Thomas speculates the blueliner could move on. Despite the possibility of a flat cap next season, he feels there will be enough teams willing to pay big bucks for Pietrangelo. Thomas doubts the Toronto Maple Leafs will be among them, as they have over $76.9 million invested in next season’s cap payroll.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo wants to stay in St. Louis and the Blues want to keep him, but he also wants to be paid what he considers fair market value. Reports throughout this season suggest that’s over $9 million annually.

If he’s unwilling to come down from that or the Blues can’t free up sufficient cap room, he’ll be playing elsewhere next season. Unless the Leafs shed a considerable amount of salary, he won’t be coming to Toronto.

DEVILS

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Abbey Mastracco believes the New Jersey Devils could attempt to bring in a short-term veteran winger or two to bridge the gap until those in their farm system are ready to join the roster.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak suggested the Devils could attempt to add an impact defenseman in the off-season. He thinks they’ll try to do that via the trade route, like the New York Rangers last summer when they acquired Jacob Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets. If they shop one of their first-round picks, Masisak felt it could be for that impact blueliner or a first-line winger.

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs are two cap-strapped clubs the Devils could target in the trade market. The Lightning might be forced to part with winger Alex Killorn or Ondrej Palat to re-sign Mikhail Sergachev. Leafs wingers Kaspari Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson could be available, but Toronto would have to include something else if they want the Devils’ third first-rounder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Killorn and Palat have no-trade protection and probably won’t waive it to join a rebuilding club. Kapanen and Johnsson lack such protection and would be more viable trade options.

 

 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2020

Check out the recent speculation on the Philadelphia Flyers, Vegas Golden Knights, and Toronto Maple Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.

DOES GOSTISBEHERE HAVE A FUTURE WITH THE FLYERS?

NBC SPORTS: Examining the Philadelphia Flyers’ long-term needs last week, James O’Brien noted Shayne Gostisbehere surfaced in trade rumors this season. He pointed out the 26-year-old defenseman was hampered by injuries this season. He doesn’t feel they should sell low on a player who can generate offense, is reasonably young, and carries a generally cheap annual average value ($4.5 million) through 2022-23.

 

Does Shayne Gostisbehere still have a future with the Philadelphia Flyers? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Flyers have over $69.5 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21. They have enough to re-sign restricted free agents like Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom, Philippe Myers, and Robert Hagg, and should have sufficient space to re-sign or replace unrestricted free agent goalie Brian Elliott. If they want to add to their lineup, however, they’ll have to make a cost-cutting trade. The preference could be to get a player of decent value for Gostisbehere, but they could sell low and use the cap savings to pursue another player via a separate trade or free agency.

WHICH GOLDEN KNIGHTS UFAS MIGHT DEPART AFTER THIS SEASON?

THE ATHLETIC (SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED): Jesse Granger recently examined which Vegas Golden Knights’ free agents will stay or go. He believes keeping UFA goalie Robin Lehner will mean moving a big piece of their lineup because they cannot afford to invest $13-$14 million in Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury. Granger predicts UFA forward Ryan Reaves could re-sign for one more year at $1.5 million. The emergence of Nicolas Roy could make Tomas Nosek expendable. It might be time to move on from Deryk Engelland and Jon Merrill.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Golden Knights pull a swerve and trade Fleury, they’ll bid adieu to Lehner following this season, whenever that might be. If Reaves is discussing a two-year extension, perhaps it’ll be for $1.5 million annually.

LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox addresses some Toronto Maple Leafs speculation in a recent mailbag segment. He doubts the Leafs can land St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo via free agency. He noted the Leafs prefer dealing for players with term left on their contracts, suggesting Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen, and Minnesota’s Matt Dumba as possible trade targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Pietrangelo were willing to sign with the Leafs, they cannot afford him. It’s believed it could cost over $9 million annually to sign him. Assuming a flat cap for next season, the Leafs have nearly $77 million invested in 16 players for next season. Unless they shed significant salary, they won’t have sufficient cap space to invest in Pietrangelo.

As for Manson, Ristolainen, and Dumba, the asking price for each will likely be a top-six scorer, preferably a center. That’s what the Ducks, Sabres, and Wild need. And no, I don’t believe Alexander Kerfoot will address that need.

Fox believes Andreas Johnsson could be the player Leafs GM Kyle Dubas would be most comfortable trading, but he doesn’t consider him the one most likely to be moved. He feels Kerfoot or Kasperi Kapanen would be more enticing to GMs with defensemen they’re willing to trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnsson’s sophomore slump and injured right knee hurt his trade value. It could take parting with Kapanen or Kerfoot to land that top-four blueliner the Leafs desperately need after this season.