NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 24, 2020

The 2020-21 schedule is released, Nikita Kucherov sidelined for the season, plus a roundup of the latest notable signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league released the schedule for the 2020-21 season. It begins on Jan. 13 with five games, including the Tampa Bay Lightning raising their 2020 Stanley Cup championship banner before facing off against the Chicago Blackhawks at Amalie Arena.

The other four games see the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Philadelphia Flyers, the Montreal Canadiens face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Vancouver Canucks squaring off against the Edmonton Oilers, and the St. Louis Blues tangling with the Colorado Avalanche.

The league also announced the postponement of the 2021 Stadium Series slated for Feb. 20, 2021, featuring the Carolina Hurricanes.

Hip surgery will sideline Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All timings for those games have yet to be announced. Those will likely be revealed after the locations for the Canadian games are determined.

TSN reported last night the five Canadian provinces hosting NHL teams released a letter calling for increased testing of players, staff and close contacts as well as enhancing the schedule to group game into blocks to reduce inter-jurisdictional travel. The other option is reinstating a bubble model similar to the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which the league and the NHLPA aren’t keen to implement.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov has hip surgery scheduled for next week and is expected to be sidelined for the entire regular season. The club hopes to have him back in time for the 2021 playoffs beginning in May.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a big blow to the Lightning’s scoring punch but they will receive $9.5 million in salary cap relief by placing the former Art Ross Trophy and Hart Trophy winner on long-term injury reserve. That should free up sufficient cap space to sign restricted free agent Anthony Cirelli. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t need to make a cost-cutting deal. I’ll have more about that in the Rumors section.

The Lightning also signed forwards Mathieu Joseph and Alex Volkov to short-term, one-way contracts. Joseph inked a two-year deal worth $1.475 million while Volkov inked a one-year, $700K deal.

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood to a three-year, $8.4 million contract. The annual average value is $2.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable deal for the Devils. Blackwood will be their starting goaltender entering this season. A solid performance on his part over the course of this deal will ensure more lucrative terms on his next contract.

SPORTSNET: The Nashville Predators signed forward Erik Haula to a one-year, $1.75 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This signing comes on the heels of the Predators bringing back winger Mikael Granlund. It’s a good, cost-effective depth addition. Haula has an injury history but when healthy is a speedy, versatile two-way forward with a decent scoring touch who can skate on the wing or at center.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Goaltender Ryan Miller is returning for another season with the Anaheim Ducks, inking a one-year contract worth $1 million. He’s served as their backup netminder for the past three seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. Miller and his family live in the Anaheim area and he doesn’t want to relocate at this stage of his career.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens added more experienced depth to their forward links by signing winger Michael Frolik to a one-year, $750K contract.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed center Casey Mittelstadt to a one-year contract worth just over $874K.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers inked goaltender Sam Montembault to a one-year, two-way deal.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach suffered an apparent injury to his right wrist during Canada’s 1-0 win over Russia in a tune-up game for the upcoming 2021 World Junior Championship in Edmonton. Dach left the game, underwent X-rays and is undergoing other tests to determine the severity of the injury.

Meanwhile, Blackhawks forward Alex Nylander recently underwent knee surgery and is expected to be sidelined for four-to-six months.

SPORTSNET: The Vancouver Canucks hired Jason King as their new assistant coach and Chris Higgins as their new skills and development coach.

Notable Former NHL Stars Still Awaiting Induction Into Hockey Hall of Fame

Notable Former NHL Stars Still Awaiting Induction Into Hockey Hall of Fame


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2020

The league and several teams release statements against racism, Henrik Lundqvist talks about his future, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league released a statement sharing the sentiment expressed by their teams and players calling for racial justice and speaking out against “racism, hatred, bigotry and violence.”


TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs released a statement on Twitter yesterday speaking out against racism. Leafs star Auston Matthews, whose mother is from Mexico, shared his thoughts on Twitter.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (Photo via NHL Images).

As a Latino American it is impossible for me to understand and fathom what others endure,” Matthews said. “My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have lost loved ones and who have endured pain and suffering due to hateful racist attitudes and beliefs. The world must unite not divide. We need to stand together in support of justice, love and peace for all. We need change.”

THE SCORE: Tampa Bay Lightning forward Mathieu Joseph hopes the protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis will lead to positive societal changes.

It is not enough to be non-racist and events unfolding today have proven that. But violent protests are not the answers or a good way to be anti-racist … we need to focus on the solution. On making a change in the way we educate children.”

DKPITTSBURGHSPORTS.COM: Thirteen teams joined the league released statements yesterday addressing the nationwide protests and discussions over racial inequality sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. They include the Leafs, Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, San Jose Sharks, Vegas Golden Knights, Washington Capitals, and Seattle’s NHL expansion franchise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane called upon white athletes last week to take a stand against racial injustice. It looks like his message was heard by the league and individual players, particularly given the protests unfolding across America. Over the weekend, Sharks captain Logan Couture and Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler also spoke out.

I daresay we’ll see more teams and players add their voices to a growing chorus of condemnation against racism, bigotry, and violence in society. Perhaps this also signals a significant step toward addressing those issues within the sport at every level.

NEW YORK POST: Henrik Lundqvist told a Swedish newspaper he believes he can still play a few more years in the NHL. The long-time Rangers starting goalie fell into a third-stringer role this season behind Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev.

Lundqvist, 38, said he understood the situation but intends to fight for his place in the Rangers’ net. He will become an unrestricted free agent next summer and there’s speculation the Rangers could buy out his contract. Lundqvist said he’s not thinking about that, focusing instead on his training.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lundqvist will have an opportunity to win back the starter’s job when his Rangers take part in the 24-team playoff tournament set for this summer. A strong performance should put to rest any talk of a contract buyout, perhaps instead sparking talk of Georgiev hitting the trade block.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Terry Jones examines the economic benefits to the city of Edmonton if it’s selected as a host city for the playoff tournament, particularly in the Ice District section around Rogers Place.

TVA SPORTS: A Pittsburgh Penguins conditional first-round draft pick will be affected by the Penguins’ qualifying-series matchup against the Montreal Canadiens. The Penguins included a conditional first in the package they sent to the Minnesota Wild to acquire winger Jason Zucker in February. The Penguins could decide to hold onto their 2020 pick if they’re eliminated by the Canadiens, as it would be part of the eight placeholder picks in the 2020 draft lottery.

NHL Breakout Candidates in the Atlantic Division

NHL Breakout Candidates in the Atlantic Division


Penguins Trade Kessel to Coyotes

Penguins Trade Kessel to Coyotes

The Pittsburgh Penguins tonight traded right wing Phil Kessel, defenseman Dane Birks, and a fourth-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for center Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins trade Phil Kessel to the Arizona Coyotes (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After weeks of trade speculation surrounding Kessel, the Penguins finally find a team he was willing to waive his no-trade clause for. They also get themselves a decent return in the process.

Kessel, 32, is a point-per-game winger who helped the Penguins win consecutive Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017. However, his rumored clashes with coach Mike Sullivan and sometimes difficult relationship with center Evgeni Malkin became issues as the Penguins struggled this season.

Some might question the Coyotes adding Kessel to their young lineup. However, they were reportedly among the clubs on his eight-team trade list. He also had a good relationship with Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet during the latter’s tenure with the Penguins. 

The Coyotes need some experienced offensive skill, which Kessel can still provide. Playing for Tocchet with the Coyotes promising youngsters away from the harsh media spotlight could prove beneficial for the veteran sniper.

Birks, 23, played three seasons at Michigan Tech and his first full pro season in the ECHL. He’ll likely spend next season with the Coyotes’ farm team. 

This is the second time in as many years Galchenyuk’s been traded. Last summer, he was shipped to the Coyotes by the Montreal Canadiens for Max Domi. In 72 games, the 25-year-old tallied 19 goals and 41 points this season. He’s a former 30-goal scorer who might reach those heights again skating with teammates like Malkin and Sidney Crosby.

Joseph, 19, was also a nice addition by the Penguins. The former Charlottetown Islanders defenseman exceeded 45 points in the QMJHL for the second straight season. A first-round pick (23rd overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft, the 6’2″ Joseph is a mobile rearguard with solid offensive skills. He could blossom into a top-four d-man with the Penguins. 

The Penguins also freed up valuable cap space. Kessel has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.8 million. Galchenyuk has one year left at $4.9 million and becomes a UFA next summer. This frees up $1.9 million for the Penguins, giving them over $5 million to invest in the free-agent market on Monday. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 17, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 17, 2018

Game recaps, Corey Crawford sidelined by a concussion, Marc-Andre Fleury reaches another milestone, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brent Burns collected three assists as the San Jose Sharks downed the Chicago Blackhawks 7-3. Sharks goalie Aaron Dell made 16 saves in relief of Martin Jones, who was pulled after giving up three goals on four shots. It was a costly loss for the Blackhawks as goalie Corey Crawford left the game in the first period after suffering a concussion following a collision in the crease. There’s no timetable yet for his return. 

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford suffering a concussion as his club fell 7-3 to the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As if things couldn’t get any worse for the floundering Blackhawks, they lose their starting goaltender to another head injury. Crawford missed half of 2017-18 to a suspected concussion. Another lengthy absence could seal the Blackhawks’ fate this season. 

Alex Tuch scored in overtime as the Vegas Golden Knights edged the New York Rangers 4-3. Golden Knight goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 423rd career victory to move into a tie with Tony Esposito for ninth on the all-time wins list. Kevin Hayes collected there assists for the Rangers, who have dropped three straight games. Earlier in the day, the Rangers announced winger Jesper Fast will miss two-to-four weeks with a suspected shoulder injury

Mark Scheifele’s overtime goal lifted the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning to extend their winning streak to five games while snapping the Lightning’s win streak at eight games. Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers (two goals) each had a three-point night. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the best game of the night, as two of the league’s top teams went back and forth in an entertaining contest. This could be a preview of a potential 2019 Stanley Cup Final. 

A four-goal first period powered the Calgary Flames to a 7-2 thumping of the St. Louis Blues. Johnny Gaudreau and Alan Quine each scored twice for the Flames, who chased Blues goalie Jake Allen from the game after he gave up four goals on 16 shots. Earlier in the day, the Flames activated Mikael Backlund off injured reserve and recalled forward Kerby Rychel. 

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel had a hand in all of his club’s goals in a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. Eichel scored twice and added two assists while linemate Jeff Skinner also scored twice, including the game-winner.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser scored and set up two others as his club doubled up the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. 

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek kicked out 23 shots to shut out the Arizona Coyotes 3-0. Calvin de Haan had two assists.