NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 26, 2021

The Canucks crush the Senators, last week’s three stars are announced, the latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois and David Pastrnak, plus injury/illness updates and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brandon Sutter tallied his first career NHL hat trick and Thatcher Demko made 35 saves as the Vancouver Canucks thrashed the Ottawa Senators 7-1. Bo Horvat collected two assists while Tanner Pearson had a goal and an assist. The Senators have dropped five straight games.

Vancouver Canucks center Brandon Sutter (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win for the Canucks as their recent struggles were cause for concern among their followers. The two clubs meet again on Wednesday and finish their three-game series on Thursday.

Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli, Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski and Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 24.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen refuted any notion that last year’s contract negotiations with Pierre-Luc Dubois led to the 22-year-old center being traded on Saturday to the Winnipeg Jets.

Dubois suggested in a recent interview that those discussions led in part to his trade request. “That’s just flat out not true at all and he knows that, so I don’t know why he would say that or even insinuate something like that, because it’s not true,” said Kekalainen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The real reason for Dubois’ trade request will be a hot topic for some time. Some believe it was his relationship with Jackets coach John Tortorella but Dubois has denied this.

There are also lots of guessing behind the trade request of Patrik Laine, who the Jackets swapped for Dubois. Some condemn Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, head coach Paul Maurice and Jets leaders Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele for creating a supposed toxic atmosphere that drove Laine away. Others blame the winger’s perceived lackadaisical approach.

CBS SPORTS: David Pastrnak could return to action with the Boston Bruins as soon as Saturday. The 24-year-old winger has been sidelined by offseason hip surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s good news for a Bruins’ offense that has been inconsistent without their leading goal scorer.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat and defenseman Adam Boqvist were added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on Monday. There’s no confirmation either player has tested positive for the coronavirus.

THE SCORE: The NHL postponed Tuesday’s games between the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s the fourth consecutive Hurricanes game to be postponed. The club currently has five players on the COVID-19 protocol list with three confirmed to have tested positive. The league has released new dates for each of the postponed contests.

TSN: Edmonton Oilers winger Tyler Ennis and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Greg Pateryn were placed on waivers Monday. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Mitchel Stephens is sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury while defenseman Erik Cernak is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evan Rodrigues is sidelined indefinitely with an apparent lower-body injury suffering during a collision with New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil on Sunday.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Former Coyotes GM John Chayka has been suspended to the end of 2021 by the NHL for conduct detrimental to the league and the game. The suspension is reportedly due to Chayka’s departure from the Coyotes last summer.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators goaltender Connor Ingram will be away from the club for an indefinite period as he voluntarily entered the league’s player assistance program.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Goaltender Scott Darling has signed a professional tryout offer with the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate in Rockford, Illinois. Darling spent three seasons with the Blackhawks from 2014-15 to 2016-17, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2015.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2021

The latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois, Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger reports Pierre-Luc Dubois’ apparent trade request is dominating the start of Columbus Blue Jackets’ training camp. Despite signing a two-year contract last week, the 22-year-old center reportedly wants a change of scenery.

Trade speculation continues to swirl about Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen addressed the rumors yesterday, saying GMs talk about trades all the time, rumors start from there and it’s just part of the business. He also said the familiar line that if Wayne Gretzky could be traded, anybody could be traded.

Hedger felt Kekalainen, Dubois, and head coach John Tortorella’s remarks during yesterday’s press availability essentially confirmed the rumors without confirming them. Tortorella said things would be handled internally within the dressing room similar to how they addressed the final seasons with Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky.

What’s in my head’s in my head,” said Dubois. He stressed he’ll be a good teammate as well as the best player and person he can be.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline also reported on the comments made by Kekalainen, Dubois and Tortorella. He felt the Jackets GM doesn’t appear to have any urgency to trade his first-line center.

Portzline also noted the occasional clashes between Dubois and Tortorella, including a well-publicized one on the bench during a game in last summer’s qualifying-round series against Toronto. However, that’s no indication their relationship is untenable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: From a contract standpoint, Kekalainen doesn’t have to hurry to move Dubois. The young center becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in the summer of 2022. As long as he performs well and maintains a good relationship with his teammates, the Jackets GM can take his time and see if the youngster changes his mind regarding his trade request.

Nevertheless, this is an unwelcome distraction for a club trying to build toward Stanley Cup contender status. Things could go downhill quickly if Dubois struggles or his relationship sours with Kekalainen, Tortorella or his teammates.

Kekalainen might not be in a rush to move Dubois but that doesn’t mean he won’t entertain offers. A suitable pitch, such as a one-for-one swap for another center or a package of picks and prospects that could be used to pry away a quality center from another club in a separate deal, could tempt him to move Dubois.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre reports the Jets have told the media Patrik Laine is off-limits until later in camp for undisclosed reasons. The 22-year-old winger has become a hot topic for trade rumors after his agent suggested last fall it would be mutually beneficial to his client and the Jets if a trade could be arranged.

Accusing the Jets of slapping a gag order on Laine, McIntyre wonders if the club is worried about what the winger might say or if he doesn’t want to talk to the press. He feels it puts Laine’s teammates in the awkward position of having to address the questions about his future with the Jets.

McIntyre wonders if Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff might contact Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen to discuss swapping Laine for Pierre-Luc Dubois. “Maybe throw in (Jack) Roslovic, to play for his hometown team, and call it a day.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McIntyre admits he’s merely playing armchair GM with that trade suggestion. However, he’s not wrong in his view that the Jets should put Laine front and center to speak for himself and address the speculation. Like Dubois in Columbus, the questions about Laine’s status in Winnipeg ensures he’ll remain a fixture in the rumor mill during this season.

Speaking of Roslovic, Anthony Scultore of The Daily Goal Horn said he spoke with agent Claude Lemieux regarding his client’s situation. Lemieux seemed confident the 23-year-old center will be traded but where remains to be seen.

Scultore said he was told at least half-a-dozen teams expressed interest in Roslovic, suggesting the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild among the possible destinations.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 1, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 1, 2020

The latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cory Schneider, the updated salary-arbitration list and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Michael Arace recently reported contract talks between the Blue Jackets and Pierre-Luc Dubois have stalled. The 22-year-old center is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images)

Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, however, isn’t concerned by the lack of progress in contract talks with the Dubois camp. “It’s funny how everyone’s worried about RFAs, because I’m not worried at all,” he said on Tuesday. “They get done when they get done.” He pointed out contract talks for defenseman Zach Werenski weren’t settled until right before training camp last year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen has every reason to be unconcerned. Dubois lacks arbitration rights plus there’s uncertainty over what league revenue will look like over the next couple of years. Those factors alone give the Jackets GM the hammer in contract talks.

The Jackets have over $12 million in cap space so there’s plenty of room for Dubois’ next contract. I think Kekalainen will attempt to get Dubois under a short-term bridge contract with the promise of a bigger payday down the road.

NHL.COM: New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello said Friday he’s considering signing Cory Schneider. The goaltender had his contract bought out by the New Jersey Devils, making him an unrestricted free agent. “There’s a good sort of chance of that transpiring,” said Lamoriello.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported on Oct. 12 the Isles were finalizing a one-year, $700K deal with Schneider. Lamoriello gives nothing away, of course, but LeBrun is a well-respected, well-sourced NHL insider. He probably got that info from someone close to the Isles’ front office or the Schneider camp.

I suspect the Islanders’ limited cap space explains why this hasn’t been finalized yet. They’ve got $8.9 million remaining but Lamoriello must also re-sign RFAs Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock. Once that’s sorted out, the Schneider contract will be probably be finalized.

NHLPA.COM: Only six players of the 26 who filed for arbitration this year are slated for hearings. Carolina’s Warren Foegele’s is on Nov. 4, the New York Rangers’ Ryan Strome on Nov. 5, the Rangers’ Brendan Lemieux and the Islanders’ Ryan Pulock are on Nov. 6, Ottawa’s Christian Jaros is on Nov. 7, and Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar is on Nov. 8.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Only one – Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi – went before an arbiter. There’s a good chance the rest could be settled before their respective hearings.

THE SCORE: Ontario premier Doug Ford said Saturday his government is engaging with the Ontario Hockey League on a safe return-to-play plan for this season that must be confirmed by health experts. “To date no decisions have been made. I would like to see the OHL return as normal as possible with bodychecking.”

Ford’s remarks contradict comments made by Ontario sports minister Lisa MacLeod on Friday. She stated “prolonged or deliberate contract while playing sports is not permitted” to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wonder if Premier Ford got a phone call from NHL headquarters regarding MacLeod’s comments. The OHL is one of the NHL’s main development leagues. They would probably frown upon their promising prospects being forced to play an entire season without bodychecking.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2020

Logan Couture and Blake Wheeler speak out against racism, Nick Foligno weighs in on players who feel unsafe returning to play, the league issues a ruling on 2020 conditional picks, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA/TSN: San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture and Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler are the latest NHL players to speak out against racism.

San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture (Photo via NHL Images).

Couture expressed his appreciation and support for teammate Evander Kane and former NHL player Akim Aliu, who’ve spoken out against racism in hockey.

Wheeler, a Minnesota native, spoke out against the death of George Floyd, whose death last week sparked riots in Minneapolis and across America.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse was credited with saving a local cameraman who was being beaten by a group of protesters outside PPG Paints Arena yesterday. Morehouse dragged the cameraman to safety before he was transported to the hospital. Morehouse declined to comment through a Penguins’ spokesman.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno believes NHL players uncomfortable about returning to play shouldn’t be vilified. He said he would understand if a player put the priority on his health or his family’s well-being during this pandemic. “If you don’t feel safe because of a condition or just a belief, then you have every right as a human not to return to play until you feel comfortable about it,” said Foligno.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Players with medical conditions – such as diabetics like Montreal’s Max Domi or the New York Rangers’ Kaapo Kakko – could decide not to play if they feel their health could be at risk. Some with family members who’ve have or have had medical issues, such as Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk, could opt out if facing possibly eight-to-ten weeks separated from their families.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL sent a memo to its teams dealing with the status of conditional trades for the 2020 Draft. A club won’t be deemed as having reached the playoffs unless or until they’ve progressed into the 16-team playoffs, and playoff games or rounds will only include those in the round of 16.

For example, the Vancouver Canucks’ conditional first-rounder to the Tampa Bay Lightning in last summer’s J.T. Miller trade converts into a 2021 first-rounder if the Canucks miss the 2020 playoffs. The Lightning sent that pick to the New Jersey Devils in February as part of the Blake Coleman trade.

If the Canucks defeat the Minnesota Wild in the qualifying round of the 24-team return-to-play tournament, their 2020 first-rounder belongs to the Devils. If not, the Devils instead get the Canucks’ 2021 first-rounder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the eight teams eliminated from the qualifying round will be deemed as non-playoff teams.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL Players Association stridently opposes the league’s position that teams shouldn’t be permitted to sign players from their reserve lists to 2019-20 contracts so they can participate in the 24-team tournament. While deputy commissioner Bill Daly considered those players as “ringers”, Brooks noted no one had a problem with Cale Makar joining the Colorado Avalanche out of university last spring in the Stanley Cup playoffs, or Chris Kreider doing the same with the New York Rangers in 2012.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good point. If this has been going on for years with no complaint by the league, it doesn’t make sense to arbitrarily block it because of the change to the schedule wrought by the pandemic. As Brooks points out, it would only apply to a handful of players.

Brooks also reports the league’s return-to-play committee will likely be dissolved once the final details of the tournament are hammered out. Bracketing or re-seeding and whether the opening two playoff rounds will be best-of-five or best-of-seven are expected to be resolved this week. There’s been no talk of implementing new rules for the tournament or making full-face shields mandatory as a safety measure.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen believes Columbus has a good chance of being one of the tournament’s two host cities. He cited the number of available arena and training facilities, transportation, and the state of Ohio’s efforts to flatten its COVID-19 curve.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings have parted ways with Mike Stothers, the long-time coach of their minor-league affiliate.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2020

Reaction to the league’s proposal to stage the 2020 Draft before resuming the season and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports this week will be a big one for the NHL. A board of governors’ conference call will be held today to discuss stage the 2020 draft next month, perhaps on June 5 and 6.

The league will review bids on Tuesday for potential hub cities to host games should the season resume this summer. Carolina, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Las Vegas are believed among those expressing interest. The league must also address concerns raised by players regarding potentially lengthy separations from their families.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: J.J. Regan raised questions about staging the draft before the season resumes. He wants to know how the draft lottery will work, what happens with conditional picks, if teams will be allowed to trade players, and what happens with the investigation into claims the Arizona Coyote violated draft rules by fitness-testing at least 20 draft-eligible prospects before the league’s annual draft combine.

Las Vegas is believed among the cities interested in being a hub location for resuming the NHL season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regan pointed out deputy commissioner Bill Daly suggested using points percentage as a way of determining the draft order, as well as reverting to the previous draft lottery system where one winner is picked and can only move up four spots. However, he noted that it raises the possibility of a team winning the draft lottery and going on to win the Stanley Cup if the season resumes this summer.

Regan cited Daly’s suggestions that teams involved in previous deals involving conditional picks in this year’s draft could sort them out between themselves or the league would do it for them. I agree with his take that it’s a simplistic solution for a complicated issue. It doesn’t sound like the league will allow players to be traded.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes appear to have inside information on 20 prospects, giving them an unfair advantage in this draft. I’ll be very surprised if that isn’t raised during that conference call today.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson cites an NHL team executive expressing doubt that staging an early draft will be a TV rating bonanza. “I know we’re gung-ho to get on the airwaves but our draft isn’t like the NFL draft. Nobody knows our players. I don’t think we’ll have massive ratings. There’s no intrigue leading up to the draft if you can’t trade real players, either, it’s just picking at a draft.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Comparing the NFL and NHL drafts, Matheson notes that few Canadians follow junior hockey here or in Europe with the same intensity that Americans follow U.S. college football. As he also points out, this year’s draft will lack spice because of the inability to trade established NHL players. I agree with him that the league must aggressively market this year’s prospects to NHL fans if they intend to hold the draft a month from now.

TSN: NHL teams are preparing for an early draft despite incomplete information on this year’s prospects. Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning said it would be nice to see how those players perform in playoff situations. Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said they’re having to rely more on videotape, while Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff added they’ll have to count on the work put in by their scouts from September to early-March. Flames GM Brad Treliving said losing the draft combine means they can’t physically test the prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every club will be in the same boat, except for the Coyotes because of their early physical testing of several prospects. Nevertheless, the inability to scout those youngsters in late-season and playoff action and evaluate their physical conditioning could make this year’s draft more of a guessing game, especially in the later rounds.

THE SCORE: Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said NHL players flying into Canada from other countries while the border remains closed must follow quarantine procedures. “Certainly, at a strict minimum, anyone who arrives from another country will have to follow all the rules of quarantine in an extremely strict manner, but we’re not there yet in our discussions with the NHL.”

TORONTO SUN: Ryan Wolstat includes the Boston Bruins on his list of North American sports teams that would be hurt the most if their seasons are canceled because of the pandemic. With the NHL’s best record, the Bruins are considered this season’s Stanley Cup favorites.

Wolstat also thinks a cancellation of the season would spare the Toronto Maple Leafs the disappointment of another early playoff exit, while the last-place Detroit Red Wings wouldn’t have to complete the remainder of a meaningless schedule.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Being the best team in the NHL during the regular season is no guarantee of a Stanley Cup championship. Since the NHL awarded the Presidents’ Trophy in 1986 to the team with the best regular-season record, only eight of those teams went on to win the Cup.

As for the Leafs, they could also exceed Wolstat’s expectations. Should the season resume following a long layoff, teams won’t be in the same state as they were when the schedule was paused.

NBC SPORTS: San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton shaved off his iconic beard.










Blue Jackets in Reset Mode Following Free Agent Exodus

Blue Jackets in Reset Mode Following Free Agent Exodus