NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 15, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 15, 2022

The notable players still available in the unrestricted free agent market, the latest on Johnny Gaudreau and Carey Price, the Senators sign Josh Norris to an eight-year deal, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

DAILY FACEOFF: Center Nazem Kadri and defenseman John Klingberg top Matt Larkin’s list of the best players still available in the unrestricted free agent market. Other notables include winger Nino Niederreiter, center Paul Stastny, and winger Phil Kessel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kadri and Klingberg could come off the market as early as Friday or perhaps by the end of this weekend. It could take a little longer for the other to find new contracts.

In the case of aging players such as Stastny and Kessel, they could be waiting weeks for new contracts as younger talent gets snapped up in the opening days of free agency. As the dust settles, teams will take time to evaluate their remaining needs and salary-cap space.

SPORTSNET: Calgary fans and pundits remain in shock over winger Johnny Gaudreau rejecting a more lucrative offer from the Flames to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets. In his introductory press conference with the Jackets, the 28-year-old Gaudreau said Columbus made the most sense for him and his wife.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It sucks when a star player departs via free agency. Usually, it’s because of money. In Gaudreau’s case, he and his wife wanted to move back East to be closer to family.

It was assumed Gaudreau would sign with the Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils or New York Islanders to be closer to his family home in New Jersey. However, the Flyers couldn’t afford him, the Isles couldn’t free up sufficient cap room, and the Devils made a contract pitch that apparently wasn’t as good as what the Jackets were offering.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

The Flames faithful are understandably puzzled and perhaps upset over Gaudreau’s decision. Regardless of the reason, it’s clear that he wanted to move on. That’s what the Flames, their fans, and the Calgary media also need to do now. It’s the business of NHL hockey and sometimes it hurts.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The future of Canadiens goaltender Carey Price remains uncertain as the club still awaits clarity over his ongoing recovery from last summer’s knee surgery. The 34-year-old Price was limited to just five games last season.

Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes said yesterday Price didn’t encounter swelling in his knee when working out but it would occur when he was doing goalie movements on the ice. He’s slated to meet with a Montreal doctor in August.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price hopes to return to action next season. If he can’t play, the Canadiens can place him and his $10.5 million salary-cap hit on long-term injury reserve.

With the Habs pressed against the $82.5 million cap, putting Price on LTIR would enable them to exceed the cap by the total amount of his average annual value. Until there’s more certainty over his status, Hughes’ has limited ability to make offseason additions unless he makes a cost-cutting move elsewhere.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday signed Josh Norris to an eight-year, $63.5 million contract. The average annual value is $7.95 million, making the 23-year-old center the third highest-paid player on the club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In just two NHL seasons, Norris rose to become the Senators’ first-line center. He had a respectable 35 points in 56 games as a rookie during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season followed by 55 points in 66 games during his injury-shortened sophomore campaign.

That new contract will put Norris under additional pressure to meet the expectations of his new contract. His ongoing development suggests he’ll have little difficulty rising to that challenge.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa suggests the Boston Bruins’ acquisition of Pavel Zacha gives winger David Pastrnak another reason to re-sign with the club. The two were linemates for the Czech Republic in the 2014 and 2015 World Junior Championships and got along well.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It couldn’t hurt, I suppose. Perhaps the long-term plan here is for Zacha to one day center Pastrnak once Patrice Bergeron finally retires. The former first-round draft pick struggled with the New Jersey Devils but perhaps he can regain his once-promising form with the Bruins.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: The Capitals signed center Dylan Strome to a one-year, $3.5 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is an affordable short-term insurance move in case second-line center Nicklas Backstrom misses the first half of the 2022-23 season (or more) recovering from offseason hip surgery.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers’ run to the 2022 Western Conference Finals made it easier for general manager Ken Holland to attract talent to his club via free agency. He brought back winger Evander Kane and inked former Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It helped that Kane had already spent a half-season with the Oilers and clearly enjoyed the experience. Oilers winger and former Leaf Zach Hyman also played a part in convincing Campbell to come to Edmonton.

TORONTO SUN: Speaking of the Leafs, they signed free-agent defensemen Victor Mete and Jordie Benn to one-year contracts worth $750K each.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Nashville Predators signed goaltender Kevin Lankinen and defenseman Mark Jankowski to one-year contracts.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 8, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 8, 2022

The Leafs down the Hurricanes, the Senators defeat the Devils, the three stars of the week, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAMES RECAPS

NHL.COM: Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews each scored twice as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3. Marner tallied the winner in overtime to extend his goals streak to eight games while Matthews moved into third place (31 goals) in the NHL goal-scoring race. The Leafs (63 points) have won six straight and sit three points behind the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

Ottawa Senators forwards Connor Brown and Nick Paul each had a goal and an assist while goaltender Matt Murray made 32 saves in a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils, handing the latter their seventh straight loss. Brown has missed nine games with a broken jaw.

HEADLINES

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux, Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner and Florida Panthers forward Mason Marchment are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb.6, 2022.

SPORTSNET: Jack Eichel skated in practice with the Vegas Golden Knights without a non-contact jersey yesterday for the first time since they acquired him last November from the Buffalo Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s debut with the Golden Knights reportedly remains several weeks away. He could suit up by late February at the earliest but there’s talk his first game could take place in March.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins have shut down goaltender Tuukka Rask for the remainder of this week with a lower-body injury.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Netminder Mike Smith has come off injured reserve but his age and injury history suggest the Oilers cannot rely on him to carry the starter’s duties for the remainder of this season. He’s only appeared in six games this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers could turn to inexperienced Stuart Skinner if Smith gets hurt again and/or if Mikko Koskinen continues to struggle. General manager Ken Holland could also try to add a goalie before the March 21 trade deadline.

CBS SPORTS: The Ottawa Senators will be without center Josh Norris for two more weeks as he recovers from a shoulder injury.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers signed top prospect goalie Mack Guzda to a three-year entry-level contract. Guzda, 21, is an undrafted netminder with the Barrie Colts who was the OHL’s top goalie in December and January. He’ll continue to play for the Colts but could join the Panthers or their AHL affiliate in Charlotte at the end of the OHL season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Guzda signing prompted some observers to wonder if this move means the Panthers could shop young goalie Spencer Knight, perhaps to the Arizona Coyotes as part of a package for Jakob Chychrun before the March 21 trade deadline. However, I think that conjecture is premature. Trading away Knight this season would leave the Panthers without a reliable backup for Sergei Bobrovsky. They won’t toss an inexperienced kid into that role.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 30, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 30, 2022

Seven-goal performances by the Oilers and Leafs during Hockey Day in Canada, Jonathan Huberdeau takes over the scoring race, and Hockey Night in Canada pioneer Ralph Mellanby passes away. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman each scored twice as the Edmonton Oilers crushed the Montreal Canadiens 7-2. Evander Kane also scored in his debut with the Oilers (46 points), who have four straight wins and sit two points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a bad start for Kane with his new club in his first game of the season. Meanwhile, Draisaitl moved into second place in the NHL scoring race with 61 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Michael Bunting collected a hat track as the Toronto Maple Leafs rolled to a 7-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Toronto tallied five unanswered goals in the third period with Bunting tallying two of them. With 57 points, the Leafs remain in third place in the Atlantic Division, seven points back of the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning.

Speaking of the Lightning, they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights on a goal by Mark Stone in the seventh shootout round. The Bolts were down 2-0 but rallied on third-period goals by Ross Colton and Corey Perry. With 65 points, they sit two behind the first-overall Florida Panthers. The Golden Knights (55 points) remain one up on the Anaheim Ducks for first in the Pacific Division.

Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau (NHL Images).

Jonathan Huberdeau took over the lead in the scoring race with a goal and two assists as the Panthers defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-4 on an overtime goal by Sam Bennett. Jonathan Dahlen tallied twice and Nick Bonino collected three assists for the Sharks, who sit one point out of the final Western wild-card berth with 47 points.

The Carolina Hurricanes (62 points) moved one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins into first place in the Metropolitan Division by nipping the New Jersey Devils 2-1. Antti Raanta made 24 saves in his first game since Jan. 1 while teammates Jordan Martinook and Andrei Svechnikov scored. Jesper Boqvist replied for the Devils.

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom needed just 15 saves to extend his league-leading shutouts for this season to seven in a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Johnny Gaudreau netted the winner in overtime while Vancouver netminder Thatcher Demko turned aside 31 shots. The Canucks picked up a point to sit four back of the Flames (48 points) for that final Western wild-card spot.

The Winnipeg Jets (43 points) picked up a big win by beating the St. Louis Blues 4-1 as they snapped a six-game losing skid to sit five points back of the Flames. Paul Stastny scored two goals while goalie Eric Comrie made 28 saves for the win. The Blues (57 points) sit one back of the second-place Nashville Predators in the Central Division.

Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry potted his 25th goal of the season and John Gibson stopped 44 shots in a 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Rickard Rakell also scored for Anaheim while Tyler Ennis replied for the Senators. With the win, the Ducks (54 points) move one point behind the Golden Knights in the Pacific Division.

An overtime goal by Scott Laughton lifted the Philadelphia Flyers over the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 to snap their 13-game losing skid. Flyers winger Cam Atkinson scored twice and collected an assist while Viktor Arvidsson tallied two goals for the Kings, who sit three points back of the Ducks in third place in the Pacific.

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Craig Anderson made 27 saves in his first game since Nov. 2 to backstop his club over the Arizona Coyotes 3-1. Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs each had a goal and an assist for the Sabres.

HEADLINES

TSN: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price skated in full equipment for 10 minutes during practice yesterday but didn’t face any shots. He’s still recuperating from offseason knee surgery. Canadiens goalie coach Eric Raymond said Price is looking forward to returning to action later this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word on when Price will be back. His return won’t save the Canadiens’ dreadful season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Paul Byron is expected to make his season debut tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets following offseason hip surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have missed his two-way experience and leadership this season.

SPORTSNET: Canadiens defenseman David Savard will miss the next eight weeks with an injured right ankle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been that kind of season for the Habs. Injuries have decimated their lineup and contributed to their woeful performance.

SPORTSNET: Ottawa Senators center Josh Norris is likely sidelined by a shoulder injury until after the All-Star break.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a tough week for the Senators, losing their leading goal scorer in Norris (18 goals) and their points leader in Drake Batherson (34 points) earlier in the week.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks center Kirby Dach removed social media from his phone back in December to get away from the noise and pressure he felt from fans. “Obviously you miss out on news, what’s going on and stuff cause that’s how you get it nowadays but I’ve enjoyed it. I like the break from it,” said Dach.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars owner Tom Gaglardi admitted he’s felt frustrated by his club’s inconsistent performance this season. Nevertheless, he’s preaching patience over the second half of the season and prefers not to make midseason changes. He also remains confident that his coaching staff and management can find a way into the playoffs.

TSN: Canadian sports broadcasting pioneer Ralph Mellanby has passed away at age 87. He was the creative force behind CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada as its executive producer from 1966 to 1987. He introduced new camera angles in arenas, slow-motion replays, telestrators and on-air graphics to Hockey Night broadcasts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mellanby helped make Hockey Night in Canada a sports institution in Canada. My condolences to his family, friends and broadcast colleagues.