NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 15, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 15, 2022

The Rangers need their young forwards to step up in 2022-23, Marc Staal looking forward to playing for a contender in Florida, Avalanche season tickets are popular again, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers’ success in the coming season could depend upon young forwards such as Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere and Filip Chytil to build upon their promising performance in the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs. They’ll also need Vitali Kravtsov to prove he’s worthy of top-six/top-nine minutes in the NHL.

New York Rangers winger Alexis Lafreniere (NHL Images)

Those youngsters will be expected to fill the gaps in their forward lines after Andrew Copp, Frank Vatrano and Tyler Motte departed via free agency this summer. The current roster accounted for 223 of the club’s 250 goals last season. That would’ve ranked 26th among last season’s teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those 223 goals, 103 came from Chris Kreider (52), Mika Zibanejad (29) and Artemi Panarin (22). The Rangers definitely need more production from those youngsters going forward.

Lafreniere seems the best bet for a breakout season. He had 19 goals in 2021-22, showing promising signs of blossoming into the scorer he was projected to become when the Rangers chose him first overall in the 2020 draft.

Injuries limited Kakko to just seven goals in 43 games last season. Chytil had eight in 67 contests, missing 12 games to injury and being scratched from six others. They could improve if they can stay healthy this season. Kravtsov played in the KHL last season so we don’t know if he’s truly ready to become an NHL regular.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Marc Staal is excited to be joining a Stanley Cup contender after signing with the Panthers last month. The 35-year-old defenseman spent the past five seasons with rebuilding clubs like the Rangers and Detroit Red Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal saw just three games of postseason action over that period as the Rangers fell to the Carolina Hurricanes in the qualifying round of the 2020 playoffs. He inked a one-year, $750K contract on July 13 with the Panthers.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche’s Stanley Cup run has had a positive effect on their season ticket sales. They’ve already reached their cutoff/capacity limit for the coming season which is thought to be around 13,500. There’s now a waiting list for season tickets.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Nolan Patrick is expected to begin the coming season on long-term injury reserve. The 23-year-old Golden Knights forward is still dealing with an upper-body injury that limited him to just 25 games last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The second-overall pick by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2017, Patrick battled migraine issues earlier in his career that cost him the entire 2019-20 season. It’s uncertain if his current injury is related to that.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Detroit Red Wings prospect Simon Edvinsson is enjoying a solid performance for Sweden at the ongoing 2022 World Junior Championship. Chosen sixth overall by the Wings in 2021, the 6-foot-six, 203-pound defenseman signed his entry-level contract in April. He’s expected to make his NHL debut this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Edvinsson plays up to his potential, he and current Calder Memorial Trophy winner Moritz Seider will give the Wings two of the best young defensemen in the league. They could become the foundation of a future Stanley Cup champion in Detroit.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2022

The Sharks will retire Patrick Marleau’s number, an update on Kirill Kaprizov and Jake Gardiner is ready to return to action after injuries sidelined him last season. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Patrick Marleau will become the first player in San Jose Sharks history to have his number retire. His No. 12 will be raised to the rafters of the SAP Center in San Jose in a ceremony before the Sharks’ game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 25, 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-deserved honor for Marleau. Selected second-overall by the Sharks in the 1997 NHL Draft, he holds the franchise records with 1,607 games played, 522 goals and 1,111 points during his 21 years with the club. He also holds the NHL record for most career games with 1,779.

THE ATHLETIC’s Michael Russo reports via Twitter that Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin remains confident that Kirill Kaprizov will return with the club before the coming season. He indicated it’s a delicate situation and he’d rather not comment on it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports earlier this month claimed Kaprizov was under investigation in his native Russia over accusations that he purchased a fake military ID several years ago.

NHL.COM: Jake Gardiner is ready to return to action after missing all of last season recovering from hip and back surgeries. The 32-year-old defenseman has one year remaining on his contract. Hurricanes GM Don Waddell expects Gardiner will report to training camp in September.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed winger Kaapo Kakko to a two-year, $4.2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Rangers followers were worried that Kakko might receive an offer sheet from a rival club that the cap-strapped Blueshirts couldn’t match. That he didn’t suggest the 21-year winger wasn’t interested in offers from other clubs or perhaps they didn’t think he was worth it.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators avoided salary arbitration with Mathieu Joseph, signing the forward to a four-year, $11.8 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators have $75.6 million invested in their salary-cap payroll for 2022-23 with winger Alex Formenton and defenseman Erik Brannstrom to sign.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens hired Stephane Robidas as an assistant coach.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: John MacLean is joining the New York Islanders as an assistant coach.

DAILY FACEOFF: Adidas will not return as the NHL’s jersey manufacturer after 2023-24.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 25, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 25, 2022

Check out the latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kaapo Kakko in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE LATEST ON DUBOIS

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Pierre-Luc Dubois’ desire to one day play for the Montreal Canadiens is hardly new. “Twice now he’s gone into a summer wanting (expecting?) an offer sheet from the Canadiens to help expedite his path to his preferred city,” he writes.

Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Portzline pointed out Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen traded defensemen Ryan Murray and Markus Nutivaara the night before free agency two summers ago. He suggests Kekalainen made those moves to clear cap space to thwart any attempt by the Canadiens to sign Dubois to an offer sheet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So Dubois’ desire to join the Canadiens apparently goes back to his days with the Blue Jackets. It was rumored in January 2021 that former Habs GM Marc Bergevin attempted to acquire Dubois before the Jackets shipped him to the Winnipeg Jets.

The Dubois-to-Montreal trade chatter has been ongoing for weeks during this offseason. There were reports the Canadiens and Jets discussed a trade that was rumored to go down at the draft in Montreal earlier this month. However, that deal failed to materialize.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks recently joked about the possibility of Dubois and Jonathan Huberdeau being on the Canadiens’ first line in 2024-25. Huberdeau is a year away from UFA and was recently traded by the Florida Panthers to the Calgary Flames.

We’ll learn by next summer whether Huberdeau will remain with the Flames. As for Dubois, he might have to wait until his UFA eligibility in 2024 to sign with the Canadiens. The Jets have justifiably set a high asking price in the trade market. His desire to go to Montreal will also dampen interest from other clubs.

WHY NO OFFER SHEET FOR KAKKO?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports there is no indication Kaapo Kakko and his agent have solicited interest from other clubs to tender the New York Rangers winger an offer sheet.

That’s good news for the Rangers that no one is trying to take advantage of their cap limitations by attempting to sign away Kakko. However, Brooks wonders why no other club believes the 21-year-old winger is worth the approximately $4 million a year it could take to sign him away from the Blueshirts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks suggests the reasons could be rival general managers could be sticking to business as usual with their unwillingness to go the offer sheet route, or perhaps Kakko’s intent to stay in New York. Perhaps the simple answer is other general managers looked at Kakko’s limited body of work and decided he’s not worth it.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 14, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 14, 2022

Mikko Rantanen hopes to maintain his scoring streak entering the Stanley Cup Final, an update on Brayden Point, the latest Rangers news, Mikko Koskinen heads to Switzerland and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen (NHL Images).

 THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen hopes to extend his four-game goal-scoring streak when the Stanley Cup Final begins on Wednesday.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lighting center Brayden Point (lower-body injury) was a full participant in practice on Monday for the first time since the first round of the playoffs. He’s hoping to play in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant explained his decision to make winger Kaapo Kakko a healthy scratch in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. “He’s a good young player, but we just thought that was the best lineup for trying to win that game,” said Gallant, who replaced Kakko with Dryden Hunt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation Gallant’s decision to sit Kakko might spur the 21-year-old winger to sign an offer sheet with a rival club as a restricted free agent this summer. However, he doesn’t believe that will affect his contract negotiations with the Rangers. “I don’t think so,” he said. “I like to play here, so I don’t think so.”

Gallant also dressed Ryan Strome for Game 6 but he played less than nine minutes before leaving the game with a pelvis injury. The 28-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13 but prefers to remain a Ranger. “My heart is here,” he said. However, he’s rumored to have rejected an initial offer from the Blueshirts worth between $5.25 million and $5.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have limited cap space for next season. Strome seems interested in the length of his next contract, pointing out that his three-year deal with the New York Islanders earlier in his career was the longest to date.

Strome also indicated he could require surgery for the pelvis injury that hampered him during the postseason. Meanwhile, Barclay Goodrow confirmed he fractured his ankle during Game 1 of the opening-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Defenseman Ryan Lindgren suffered an ankle injury during the Rangers’ final regular-season game.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen is leaving the NHL for Switzerland, signing a two-year contract with HC Lugano. He spent four seasons with the Oilers, sporting a record of 83-59-13 with a .907 save percentage and a 2.98 goals-against average.

TSN: The Oilers re-signed depth forward Brad Malone to a two-year, two-way contract paying him $762,500 at the NHL level.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators signed Jeremy Lauzon to a four-year, $8 million contract. Acquired from the Seattle Kraken at the trade deadline, the 25-year-old defenseman was slated to become a restricted free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Predators have $21.5 million in cap space with 19 players under contract for 2022-23. Left winger Filip Forsberg is the biggest name among their notable free agents.

SPORTSNET: A Winnipeg brewery is offering Barry Trotz free beer for life if he signs with the Jets. Little Brown Jug Brewing Company and a local sports show launched the campaign on Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t speak for Trotz but I know what my reaction would be to that offer.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 13, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 13, 2022

More speculation over the Rangers’ free-agent situation plus the latest on the Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHICH RANGERS FREE AGENTS WILL BE BACK NEXT SEASON?

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker looked at which Rangers’ free agents will be back next season and which ones could be playing elsewhere.

New York Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko (NHL Images).

Kaapo Kakko’s surprising scratch from Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals raises questions about his future with the Rangers. He’s a restricted free agent who would be an affordable fit with a two-year bridge deal between $2 million and $2.5 million. Should the 21-year-old winger entertain offer sheets between $4.2 million and $6.1 million, however, the Rangers wouldn’t be able to match.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Offer sheets are rare but there’s a chance Kakko could sign one. Walker’s colleague Larry Brooks pointed to the Carolina Hurricanes’ successfully signing away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens last summer. He acknowledged the Hurricanes’ move was based on a certain amount of payback because of the Canadiens’ failed attempt in 2019 to sign away Sebastian Aho.

Kakko could be upset enough over being scratched from Game 6 to perhaps entertain offer sheets from other clubs. However, it’s not a preferred tactic by most general managers. With limited salary-cap space for next season, they’re likely to invest their dollars this summer on more established talent.

Ryan Strome’s lack of production in this year’s postseason combined with the Rangers’ cap situation could see him depart as an unrestricted free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walker also noted Strome is among the Rangers’ alternate captains and one of his best friends is linemate Artemi Panarin. Those are good reasons for the Blueshirts to retain him, perhaps by freeing up cap space by making a cost-cutting move. If that’s not possible, Strome may have played his final season as a Ranger.

Walker considers Andrew Copp as the priority signing among their trade-deadline acquisitions. He could get more on the open market than the Rangers can afford to pay but perhaps he’ll accept less to remain in New York if he believes they’re close to winning the Stanley Cup.

Fourth-line forward Tyler Motte’s willingness to sign a team-friendly deal could come down to contract term. RFA Sammy Blais played well before suffering a season-ending injury in November. He’ll likely re-sign a deal that works for the Rangers.

UFA winger Frank Vatrano might not be the team’s answer to filling out their top-six. Depth forward Greg McKegg could also return on an affordable contract. Walker wonders if the Rangers can afford to bring back fourth-line Kevin Rooney.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walker anticipates UFA defenseman Justin Braun and RFAs Alexandar Georgiev and Julien Gauthier will likely be playing elsewhere next season.

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi reports multiple sources said the Pittsburgh Penguins’ priority is getting Kris Letang signed to a new multi-year contract. The 34-year-old defenseman is due to become a UFA on July 13.

Discussions between the team and the representatives of Letang and UFA center Evgeni Malkin are ongoing. However, the club wants to determine the cost of signing Letang before turning their attention more seriously to Malkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letang is coming off a career-best 68-point season. Recent reports suggest he could seek a new deal close to his current annual average value of $7.25 million. Malkin is reportedly willing to accept a pay cut from his current $9.5 million AAV. Whatever Letang wants could determine how much cap room they’ve got left for Malkin.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski recently reported some teams have contacted the Penguins to express interest in Pierre-Olivier Joseph. Sources said the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens were among the clubs that looked into the promising 22-year-old defenseman before the trade deadline.

Kingerski suggested Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry as a potential replacement for Kris Letang if the latter departs via free agency. Petry requested a trade earlier this season but reportedly reconsidered after Martin St. Louis took over a head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens could ask for Joseph as part of the return for Petry if they were to peddle the latter to the Penguins. Whether that happens remains to be seen. The Dallas Stars were also thought to have some interest in Petry.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 12, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 12, 2022

In this installment of the Sunday NHL rumor roundup, a look ahead to the Rangers offseason plus the latest Oilers speculation.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE RANGERS?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski examines the keys to the offseason for the New York Rangers following their elimination from the Eastern Conference Finals. They have some intriguing free agents heading into this summer.

Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 13. Copp is a more versatile forward but Strome has better chemistry with winger Artemi Panarin. They’ll need to find a creative way to free up cap space to retain both on multi-year contracts.

New York Rangers forward Andrew Copp (NHL Images).

One way could be signing restricted free agent winger Kaapo Kakko to a low-cost bridge deal. Another could be bringing in a backup goalie making less than what RFA netminder Alexandar Georgiev will make this summer.

Late-season pickup Frank Vatrano played well enough to earn an affordable extension. Fellow UFAs Tyler Motte and Justin Braun could depart this summer. Wyshynski also recommends adding a veteran defensive blueliner if they have sufficient cap space.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks acknowledged there will be questions hanging over the Rangers’ roster this summer, namely that of Strome’s contract status. However, he considers the performance of their young players may have changed that puzzle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have $13.5 million in salary cap space with 14 players under contract for 2022-23. Sammy Blais is another of their noteworthy free agents. The RFA winger spent most of this season sidelined by a knee injury.

Acquiring Copp cost the Rangers their first-round pick in this year’s draft. That could be an incentive to re-sign him over Strome if they can’t free up sufficient cap room for both players. It could cost over $5 million annually to re-sign Copp while Strome will seek a significant raise over his current $4.5 million AAV.

Rangers coach Gerard Gallant raised some eyebrows by making Kakko a healthy scratch for Game 6 of the Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. That could prompt some speculation over his future with the Rangers, perhaps even generate talk of him becoming a cost-cutting casualty.

However, Kakko’s coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. As Wyshynski speculates, they could simply sign him to a low-cost bridge deal to give them some wiggle room for another signing or roster addition.

LATEST OILERS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman reports the Edmonton Oilers have asked Mike Smith and Duncan Keith to inform them by July 1 if they intend to return next season or retire. Smith was banged-up during the postseason while Keith didn’t say much.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins believes Smith and Keith can still help the Oilers next season. Based on what he’s been told, Leavins would be very surprised if Keith hangs up his skates, adding the veteran blueliner might try to extend his playing career beyond 2022-23.

However, he can see Smith retiring. While the veteran goaltender’s talent and desire remain clear, age and injuries may be wearing down the 40-year-old.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith’s $2.2 million cap hit would come off the Oilers’ books if he retires. If he can’t physically play, they can place him on LTIR for the season. Keith’s cap hit is over $5.5 million but his actual salary is $1.5 million.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson looked at possible options to upgrade the Oilers’ goaltending next season. St. Louis’ Ville Husso, Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper and Toronto’s Jack Campbell are among the netminders potentially available via this summer’s free agent market. Anaheim’s John Gibson is a possible trade option.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen included Husso among his list of six potential value goalies for the Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs to consider. He also listed Pittsburgh’s Casey DeSmith, San Jose’s Kaapo Kahkonen, Detroit’s Alex Nedeljkovic, Winnipeg’s Eric Comrie and New Jersey’s Mackenzie Blackwood.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Husso, Kuemper and Campbell all have their strengths and weaknesses. I still expect the Leafs to re-sign Campbell while it’s perhaps 50-50 that Kuemper and Husso remain with their current clubs. The Oilers could face a bidding war for their services given the limited goalie options among this summer’s free-agent class.

Gibson is signed through 2026-27 with an annual cap hit of $6.4 million and a 10-team no-trade clause. He could be reluctant to waive it to join a Canadian team. The Sharks recently acquired Kahkonen so he’s not going anywhere. Neither is Nedeljovic after being acquired last summer from Carolina. Blackwood has been battling injuries and inconsistency over the past two seasons. Comrie could be an affordable backup signing.