COVID-19 Hits Stars, Blue Jackets in NHL Training Camps
Bruins name Patrice Bergeron their new captain, Corey Crawford remains absent from training camp, the Devils bring back Sami Vatanen, an update on Kasperi Kapanen and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins named Patrice Bergeron as their new captain yesterday. He takes over from Zdeno Chara, who signed last month with the Washington Capitals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron was the natural choice to succeed Chara. He’s spent his entire 16-year NHL career with the Bruins and is among the greatest players in franchise history.
ELITE SPORTS NEW YORK: Corey Crawford has yet to suit up for practice with the New Jersey Devils. He missed every on-ice practice/scrimmages for maintenance days and personal days. The 36-year-old goaltender signed a two-year, $7.8 million contract with the Devils last fall.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford has had well-documented issues related to head trauma during his final seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks. That could explain his absence thus far.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: Speaking of the Devils, they signed free-agent defenseman Sami Vatanen to a one-year, $2 million contract. Vatanen spent the past three seasons with the Devils until traded to the Carolina Hurricanes at the 2020 NHL trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vatanen will bring back some much-needed experience to the Devils’ defense corps. He’s taking a big pay cut from the $4.875 million annual average value of his previous contract. The 29-year-old blueliner will hope for a better payday this summer with the Devils or another club via the unrestricted free agent market.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen is expected to be granted a visa today and fly to Pittsburgh from Finland on Saturday. Because of his immigration issues, he’ll miss the Penguins’ season-opener on Wednesday as he’ll have to self-quarantine for seven days upon his arrival in the United States per league rules.
CAP FRIENDLY: indicates the Colorado Avalanche placed defenseman Josh Anderson on unconditional waivers for the purpose of contract termination. He was set to enter the final season of his entry-level contract.
OTTAWA SUN: The province of Ontario has officially given the green light to the Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs to play their home games in their own arenas for the coming season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That leaves Manitoba to grant approval to the Jets to stage their home games in Winnipeg. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly recently indicated that the province is expected to give its blessing soon.
TSN: The Montreal Canadiens will still be allowed to play their home games at the Bell Centre despite a curfew that went into effect on Wednesday for the province of Quebec.
NHL.COM: The league released its detailed arena restart health and safety protocols for the upcoming season.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning named Dave Randorf as their new play-by-play announcer. He has over 30 years of broadcasting experience, including the past six seasons with Sportsnet.
NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes have entered into a partnership agreement with the Nashville Predators to share AHL affiliation with the Chicago Wolves.
The NHL is planning two outdoor games at Lake Tahoe, plus the latest on Jack Eichel, Kasperi Kapanen, Andrew Shaw and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the NHL is planning to stage two outdoor games at Edgewood Tahoe Resort at Lake Tahoe, Nevada during the upcoming season. The first would see the Colorado Avalanche face off against the Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 20, followed the next day by the Philadelphia Flyers facing the Boston Bruins. Fans will not be in attendance.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman said the NHL has been scouting locations to hold “natural wilderness” outdoor-weekend games this year. Since they cannot have fans in attendance owing to COVID-19, it makes sense to take the game closer to its roots for the television audience. As Friedman suggests, if it works out they could consider making such games an annual event.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel missed the opening day of training camp to an upper-body injury suffered during offseason training. He’s listed as day-to-day. Meanwhile, Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark missed practice while quarantining due to an immigration issue. He’s expected in camp in the coming days.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres need a healthy Eichel if they hope to secure their first playoff berth in a decade. Being listed as day-to-day sounds like the injury isn’t serious. Having not seen any meaningful ice time with his teammates in nearly 10 months, the Sabres captain can’t afford to miss too much training-camp time.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen will miss the Jan. 3 start of training camp because of an immigration issue. The 24-year-old winger was acquired by the Penguins last August in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’s expected to join his new teammate partway through camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kapanen won’t have much time to get acquainted with his new teammates before the season begins. He’s reportedly still in Finland and will need a mandatory seven-day quarantine as per NHL rules and four non-positive COVID tests before he can join the Penguins in training camp.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks forwards Andrew Shaw and Zack Smith are both healthy and ready to join their teammates in training camp on Sunday. Both players missed considerable time last season with injuries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach and Alex Nylander all sidelined for months, the Blackhawks need all the help they can get up front.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser is back on the ice with his teammates after missing all but eight games last season with a herniated disc. He worked with Filip Hronek as his defense partner and also skated with the Wings’ top power-play unit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A positive first step toward returning to action for DeKeyser. The rebuilding Wings will need him as they attempt to take a big leap forward in their overall development this season.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Former Los Angeles Kings forward Trevor Lewis has joined the Jets on a professional tryout offer.
What it might cost the Oilers to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Kasperi Kapanen’s role with the Penguins and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz examined how much it might cost the Edmonton Oilers to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The 27-year-old center/winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He’s averaged 29 goals and 69 points per 82 games over the last three seasons. Gretz suggests a $7 million annual average value would be within reason for the Oilers if they spend to the cap in 2021-22.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would be a $1 million raise over Nugent-Hopkins’ current annual cap hit. The short-term economic uncertainty could make him receptive to that pay bump on a long-term deal.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Speaking of the Oilers, Kurt Leavins reports there’s nothing new regarding Ethan Bear’s contract talks. That has less to do with the 23-year-old defenseman and more to do with the status of Oscar Klefbom and his LTIR status.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Oilers are over $242K above the $81.5 million cap for 2020-21. Klefbom could require season-ending shoulder surgery, allowing the Oilers to spend over the cap by the equivalent of his $4.167 million AAV if he’s placed on long-term injury reserve. The Oilers will likely sign Bear to an affordable short-term bridge deal.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan confirmed Kasperi Kapanen will skate on the club’s top line alongside Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. The Penguins acquired Kapanen from the Toronto Maple Leafs in August. Sullivan cited Kapanen’s speed that would make him complimentary to Crosby and Guentzel.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sullivan also noted Kapanen tallied 20 goals in 2018-19 as a secondary scorer with the Leafs. He’ll have the opportunity to tally much more if he clicks with his new all-star linemates.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro said the departure of Joe Thornton hasn’t fully sunk in yet. After 15 seasons with the Sharks, Thornton recently signed a one-year contract with the Maple Leafs. Ferraro believes his teammates are really going to miss the big center when they return for training camp.
THE SCORE: The Tampa Bay Lightning are the first team to have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup when each member of the club gets their day with the trophy.
THE PROVINCE: Two Vancouver Canucks fans are leading a campaign to have Gino Odjick become a member of the club’s Ring of Honour. Odjick, a popular enforcer with the Canucks from 1990-91 to 1997-98, is battling cardiac amyloidosis.
Updates on Phillip Danault and Kasperi Kapanen plus the latest notable contract signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
TVA SPORTS: Louis-Andre Lariviere reported Phillip Danault’s agent indicated his client wants to engage in contract talks with the Montreal Canadiens before training camp. “It would be Phillip’s preference to negotiate a contract at this point with the Canadiens,” said Don Meehan. “We are making efforts in this regard.” Danault is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The strong postseason performances of young centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi raised questions about Danault’s place in the Canadiens lineup next season and his long-term future in Montreal. The longer he goes without a contract, the more we’ll hear his name come up in trade rumors next season.
THE SCORE: cited Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford telling SiriusXM NHL Radio Network he believes Kasperi Kapanen could fit in well on the first line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. Kapanen was acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs in August. Rutherford is hopeful Kapanen’s speed and ability to track down pucks will make him a good fit on Crosby’s right wing.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins will have a lethal complete first line if Kapanen plays as well as Rutherford hopes alongside Crosby and Guentzel.
NESN.COM: The Boston Bruins avoided salary arbitration with Matt Grzelcyk, signing the defenseman to a four-year, $14.75 million contract. The annual average value is $3.687 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grzelcyk gets a big pay raise over the $1.4 million annually of his previous contract. He’ll be taking on more responsibilities on Boston’s blue line following Torey Krug’s departure via free agency. Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have over $6.6 million in salary-cap space with restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk to re-sign.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Speaking of the Penguins, they signed defenseman Cody Ceci to a one-year, $1.25 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ceci’s stock has tumbled as he’s now on his third team after being traded from the Ottawa Senators to the Maple Leafs in 2019. He earned $4.5 million on a one-year contract last season. A right-handed shot, he’ll likely skate on Pittsburgh’s third pairing. The Pens have $80.18 million invested in 23 players for 2020-21.
STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues signed Jake Neighbours to a three-year entry-level contract. The 18-year-old winger was the Blues’ first-round pick (26th overall) in this year’s NHL draft.