NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2019

The Avalanche re-sign Mikko Rantanen and the Jets ink Kyle Connor. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed winger Mikko Rantanen to a six-year, $55.5-million contract. Cap Friendly indicates the annual average value is $9.25 million. 

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed winger Kyle Connor to a seven-year, $50-million deal with an AAV of $7.14 million

The Colorado Avalanche re-signed winger Mikko Rantanen to a six-year deal (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And with that, the last two notable restricted free agents are finally under contract. Both players missed training camp and preseason action but are expected to rejoin their respective clubs as the curtain rises this week on the 2019-20 regular season. It’ll be interesting to see what effect their absences will have upon their early-season performance.

As for the contracts, they’re worthwhile long-term deals for the two sides. Both players get long-term security. Rantanen becomes the highest-paid player on the Avalanche on a front-loaded deal paying him $12 million annually this season and next in real salary ($34 million over the first three seasons) while Connor becomes the second-highest paid forward on the Jets. 

The Avs and Jets each get an important young player under a contract that could turn out to be a long-term bargain. Rantanen is coming off back-to-back 80-point performances while the two-way Connor netted 30-plus goals in each of the last two seasons. The 22-year-olds are core players entering their playing prime with their best seasons still to come. What looks expensive today could look cost-effective in a few years. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust suffered undisclosed injuries blocking shots in last night’s preseason loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Coach Mike Sullivan said both were being evaluated and more info could be available today. Speaking of the Sabres, Connor Sheary missed the game with a lower-body injury and remains day-to-day. 

VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks winger Brock Boeser and defenseman Oscar Fantenberg skated in practice with their teammates yesterday. Both have been sidelined by concussions since Monday. 

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny (hamstring) remains doubtful for the club’s season opener on Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL’s David Schoen reports Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch is week-to-week with an upper-body injury while Cody Eakin is day-to-day. 

THE SCORE: The Calgary Flames released Devante Smith-Pelly from his professional tryout offer. 

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs placed blueliners Ben Harpur and Jordan Schmaltz on waivers for the purpose of sending them to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 16, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 16, 2019

Golden Knights defeat the Coyotes in preseason play, the Bruins re-sign Charlie McAvoy, the Flames re-up Andrew Mangiapane, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Max Pacioretty tallied a hat trick as the Vegas Golden Knights downed the Arizona Coyotes 6-2 in the first game of the 2019 NHL preseason. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins yesterday re-signed defenseman Charlie McAvoy to a three-year contract with an annual average value of $4.9 million. 

Boston Bruins re-sign defenseman Charlie McAvoy (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a reasonable bridge deal for both sides. McAvoy blossomed into a top-pairing blueliner and will be in line for a significant raise at the end of this new contract. Indeed, he’s already guaranteed a qualifying offer of $7.3 million. Cap Friendly indicates that’s how much he’ll earn in actual salary in the final year of this deal. 

The Bruins, meanwhile, are able to fit him within their cap payroll. That should leave enough ($3.2 million) to re-signed Brandon Carlo without having to shed too much salary. 

Speaking of the Bruins, defenseman Kevan Miller (fractured kneecap) isn’t expected to be ready for the start of their season on Oct. 3. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the cost of re-signing Carlo pushes the Bruins over the $81.5-million cap, they can put Miller on long-term injury reserve to get some short-term cap relief. 

CALGARY SUN: The Flames re-signed winger Andrew Mangiapane to a one-year, two-way contract worth $715K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames have over $6.3 million in salary-cap space with Matthew Tkachuk to re-sign. It’ll likely cost much more than that to get Tkachuk under contract, meaning a cost-cutting trade could be in the offing. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny seems unlikely to particpate in preseason play. He’s still recovering from surgery in April to repair a torn hamstring. 

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 28, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 28, 2019

The latest on Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, Travis Hamonic, Jason Pominville, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice believes the pressure surrounding the contract negotiations of Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor will increase for those players and management as training camp approaches. Jets camp opens on Sept. 13. 

Winnipeg Jets wingers Patrik Laine (above) and Kyle Connor remain unsigned (Photo via NHL Images).

Acknowledging the unusually high number of restricted free agent stars still unsigned around the league, Maurice believes once one or two sign the others could quickly follow. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of those RFAs are waiting to see who signs first. I anticipate a flurry of last-minute signings before mid-September. 

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic was unconcerned over his name popping up in this summer’s trade rumors. He spent his time preparing for the upcoming season and embracing family life. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hamonic rumors – and those surrounding T.J. Brodie – quieted after Juuso Valimaki suffered a serious knee injury during off-season training. Most of that speculation has less to do with Hamonic and more with Brodie. Regardless, it appears both blueliners will be staying in Calgary for the upcoming season. 

NHL.COM: Unrestricted free agent winger Jason Pominville, 36,  hopes to continue his NHL career but said he’s prepared that it could be over after 16 seasons. 

THE ATHLETIC: Washington Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny is progressing in his recovery from April’s season-ending hamstring surgery. He’s hoping to be ready for training camp but a return date remains uncertain. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Former Philadelphia Flyers Andrew MacDonald, Matt Read, and Michal Neuvirth are among several players heading to training camps on professional tryout offers. 

NEWSDAY: Scott Gomez has stepped down as an assistant coach with the New York Islanders. 

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild prospect Alexander Khovanov had surgery last Friday to remove a benign bone tumor from his leg.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Former NHL winger Darren McCarty credits medical marijuana with helping to save him from alcohol and drug addiction. He quit drinking four years ago, lost 60 pounds, is off most of his prescription medication and recently quit smoking cigarettes. 

SPORTSNET: Journeyman goaltender Mike McKenna has retired after stints with 15 NHL organizations and 22 professional teams. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 3, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 3, 2019

Game recaps, Stars clinch a playoff berth, Wild eliminated from postseason chase, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Nashville Predators (96 points) defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 to move into a tie with the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Central Division. P.K. Subban had a goal and an assist and Ryan Johansen tallied the winning goal. 

Brad Marchand became the first Boston Bruin to reach 100 points since Joe Thornton in 2002-03. (Photo via NHL Images)

Brad Marchand became the first Boston Bruin to reach 100 points since Joe Thornton in 2002-03 as his club beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-2. Marchand’s teammate Jake DeBrusk scored twice and set up another. With the win, the Bruins (105 points) secured second place in the Atlantic Division. The Blue Jackets (94 points) slipped into a tie with the Montreal Canadiens for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. 

The Canadiens, meanwhile, kept their playoff hopes alive by overcoming a 2-1 deficit to double up the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2. The loss means the Lightning no longer have a shot at breaking the NHL single-season record of 62 wins set by the Detroit Red Wings in 1995-96

The Carolina Hurricanes (95 points) moved back into the first wild-card spot in the East by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1. Dougie Hamilton scored two goals for the Hurricanes. The Leafs (99 points) have secured third place in the Atlantic. 

Tyler Bertuzzi became the first player in Detroit Red Wings history to tally three-or-more points in four straight games in a 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bertuzzi scored two goals and collected an assist while teammates Dylan Larkin had three assists and Anthony Mantha scored twice. Earlier in the day, the Red Wings formally announced head coach Jeff Blashill was re-signed to a two-year contract extension. The loss prevented the Penguins (97 points) from clinching a playoff position. They also played without defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.  

Despite defeating the Winnipeg Jets 5-1, the Minnesota Wild (83 points) was eliminated from the playoff race last night. Zach Parise scored two goals for the Wild. 

The Dalla Stars are heading to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 thanks to a 6-2 drubbing of the Philadelphia Flyers. Alexander Radulov led the way with two goals and two assists while Mats Zuccarello (one assist) returned to action after being sidelined for over a month with a broken arm. 

The Wild was eliminated because the Colorado Avalanche overcame a 2-0 deficit to thump the Edmonton Oilers 6-2. Alex Kerfoot scored twice for the Avalanche (88 points), who opened a four-point lead over the Arizona Coyotes for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference. 

Speaking of the Coyotes (84 points), their playoff hopes took a hit by falling 3-1 to the Los Angeles Kings. Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper left the game in the third period after taking a stick to the face. His status for their remaining two games remains in doubt. Kings defenseman Kurtis MacDermid missed the game with an upper-body injury

The Vancouver Canucks rallied from a 2-1 deficit to beat the San Jose Sharks 4-2. Tanner Pearson scored twice and Markus Granlund tallied the winning goal. The Sharks have won just once (1-8-1) in their last 10 games. 

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, and Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand are the NHL’s three stars for the month of March 2019.  St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington was named rookie of the month for the second straight month. 

NBC SPORTS: Washington Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn left hamstring and is expected to be sidelined four-to-six months. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 26, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 26, 2019

Game recaps, Lightning win their 59th game, Predators clinch a playoff berth, stars of the week, Capitals visit the White House, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning became the fourth team in NHL history to win 59 games in a season by erasing a 4-2 deficit to beat the Boston Bruins 5-4. Steven Stamkos scored two goals and Anthony Cirelli netted the game-winner with 53 seconds remaining in regulation. Earlier in the day, the Lightning revealed defenseman Dan Girardi (lower-body injury) is sidelined indefinitely

Four goals by John Tavares helped the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Florida Panthers 7-5 (Photo via NHL Images).

A four-goal performance by John Tavares powered the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 7-5 victory over the Florida Panthers. With 45 goals, Tavares sits second among the league leaders. Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman each had three points for the Leafs while Jonathan Huberdeau and Jayce Hawryluk each scored twice for the Panthers. The Leafs (96 points) are five behind the Boston Bruins for second in the Atlantic Division. 

Zach Sanford had a goal and an assist as the St. Louis Blues downed the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1, preventing the latter from clinching a postseason spot. With 90 points, the Blues sit two points behind the Nashville Predators for second in the Central Division. 

The Nashville Predators secured a playoff spot by blanking the Minnesota Wild 1-0. Juuse Saros made 29 saves for the shutout and Ryan Johansen tallied the only goal. With 92 points, the Predators sit two behind the Central Division-leading Winnipeg Jets. The Wild (79 points) remain two back of the Colorado Avalanche for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Speaking of the Jets, they dropped a 5-2 decision to the Dallas Stars. Tyler Seguin and Radek Faksa each scored twice for the Stars (84 points), who opened a three-point lead over the Avalanche for the first Western wild-card berth. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins (95 points) moved to within a point of first place in the Metropolitan Division by defeating the New York Rangers 5-2. Teddy Blueger tallied twice as the Penguins overcame a 2-0 deficit. Phil Kessel also collected two assists. Earlier in the day, the Rangers announced winger Jesper Fast (shoulder injury) will be sidelined for the remainder of the season. 

Jack Campbell had a 42-save shutout as the Los Angeles Kings upset the Calgary Flames 3-0. The Kings played without winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who remained back in Los Angeles to work with the club’s development and skills staff. GM Rob Blake said the decision was not based on Kovalchuk’s comments last week complaining about his declining ice time under coach Willie Desjardins.

Earlier in the day, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty created a pre-game stir by saying he has no respect for Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk, who clashed with Doughty in previous contests. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk was going to be a healthy scratch during the Kings’ three-game road trip so apparently it was a mutual decision (based on his suggestion) to remain in Los Angeles. I’ll have more on Kovalchuk and the Kings later this morning in the Rumors section. 

The San Jose Sharks suffered their sixth straight defeat by falling 3-2 to the Detroit Red Wings. The loss leaves the Sharks six points behind the Flames for first place in the Pacific Division and the overall Western Conference standings.

New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider kicked out 45 shots backstopping his club to a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Pavel Zacha had a goal and an assist. The Sabres have dropped 12 consecutive road games. 

Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 25, 2019.

The White House and President Trump yesterday welcomed the Washington Capitals to commemorate their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny attended the event on crutches and is considered sidelined long-term with an injured left leg. 

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz became the fourth coach in league history to reach 1,600 regular-season games during his club’s 2-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 23, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 23, 2019

Game recaps, plus the latest on Braden Holtby, Ryan Kesler, Chris Kreider and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild regained hold of the final Western Conference wild-card berth by edging the Washington Capitals 2-1. Luke Kunin broke a 1-1 tie with the winning goal in the third period for the Wild (79 points), who hold a one-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes. The Capitals played without defenseman Michal Kempny, who is sidelined indefinitely with a leg injury.

Speaking of the Capitals, goaltender Braden Holtby said he will respectfully decline the invitation to the White House on Monday to celebrate the club’s Stanley Cup championship. “It’s one of those things that we have to think about, but with me, I’ve got to stay true to my values, and I’m going respectfully decline the offer,” Holtby said. Brett Connolly and Devante Smith-Pelly have also declined the invitation.

Jakob Silfverberg’s overtime goal gave the Anaheim Ducks a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL Images)

Jakob Silfverberg’s overtime goal gave the Anaheim Ducks a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Rickard Rakell scored twice for the Ducks, as he and Silfverberg each collected three points. The Sharks (95 points) sit four behind the Calgary Flames for first place in the Pacific Division and the overall Western Conference standings. Earlier in the day, Ducks general manager Bob Murray gave updates on forwards Ryan Kesler (hip) and Patrick Eaves (post-viral syndrome), indicating both players could be done for the season. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The NHL’s department of player safety suspected Lightning forward Yanni Gourde two games for a hit to the head of Carolina Hurricanes center Jordan Staal. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Turns out Oilers winger Tobias Rieder wasn’t okay with being singled out by team CEO Bob Nicholson for the club’s woes this season, despite Nicholson subsequently saying he and Rieder later laughed it off. “I think it’s kind of disappointing and I’m offended by it,” said Rieder, who added Nicholson spoke with him again and he’s accepted the CEO’s apology. Rieder said he wants to put this behind him and move on. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Rieder will be moving on all right. He’s a restricted free agent but Nicholson said the club won’t re-sign him. Rieder has the support of his teammates, who credit him for his hard work despite his offensive struggles this season. 

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Chris Kreider is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. 

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington has crossed the 28-game threshold, meaning he’ll become a restricted free agent this summer instead of a Group 6 UFA. “Binnington is 25 and in his sixth full season of pro hockey. But since he was under contract during the 2012-13 season, a lockout year in the NHL in which only 48 games were played, the number of games played to determine his free agency status was pro-rated down to 26.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, there’s no risk of Binnington hitting the UFA market if he and the Blues fail to agree to a new contract by July 1. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. While he could sign an offer sheet from a rival club, there’s a low probability of that happening. If he or the Blues file for arbitration he’d be ineligible to receive an offer sheet. 

TSN: Friday was another busy media day for Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. He called out his management for doing “a terrible job” in explaining the club’s rebuild plan to the fans, criticized Ottawa mayor Jim Watson for suggesting Melnyk was difficult to work with after negotiations for a new arena at LeBreton Flats fell through, and trolled the Toronto Maple Leafs rebuild by claiming they forgot about defense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Senators did a “terrible job” explaining their rebuilding plan, the responsibility lies at the top with Melnyk. He claimed he kept his mouth shut regarding Watson and in the same breath claimed Watson was lucky he did so while saying the mayor’s comments were counterproductive. That’s hardly going to win Melnyk any support among Senators fans or local voters.

Melnyk didn’t call out the Leafs by name but everyone knew who he was referring to with his remarks about a team that’s been patching up its roster “for 53 years.” While he has a point about the Leafs defense, he’s not in the best position to criticize a provincial rival that’s sitting 37 points ahead of his club in the standings. 

What appears to be fake Twitter accounts claiming to be Senators fans supporting Melnyk also popped up on Friday. So yeah, kind of a weird day for the Senators. 

TORONTO SUN: Speaking of the Leafs, head coach Mike Babcock dismissed rumors of a rift between himself and GM Kyle Dubas following Babcock’s recent complaints about the roster depth. “If there was any slap at anyone, it sure wasn’t intended and that’s not what I meant to say.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The club’s recent struggles and the absence of several injured players probably have folks looking too closely at Babcock’s remarks for signs of dissatisfaction with management. 

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Craig Custance with the story of how The Internet Hockey Database aka HockeyDB.com came into being and how it’s become the most reliable source for statistical information among fans and pundits. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I discovered HockeyDB 20 years ago and it remains among my most invaluable research tools. I highly recommend it.