Patrik Laine is happy he’s staying with the Blue Jackets while the Canadiens’ Paul Byron assists in a plane crash rescue. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Patrik Laine is happy to have a new contract with the Blue Jackets and excited about the club’s recent signing of winger Johnny Gaudreau.
Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine (NHL Images).
Laine learned of the Gaudreau signing while negotiations were ongoing for his own contract. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited to play hockey and maybe be able to play with this kind of guy,” he said.
Regarding his own new contract, Laine said he enjoys playing in Columbus and is happy he’s staying put. “Personally, I don’t know why guys, big names, have left before,” he said. “For me, that was never in my head that I wanted to go somewhere else.” Laine went on to say Columbus feels like home and there was no place he’d rather play in the NHL.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine’s new four-year contract and Gaudreau’s seven-year deal with the Blue Jackets is changing the impression of Columbus as a city that NHL stars prefer to avoid or leave at the first opportunity. It could become a prime destination for future stars if Gaudreau and Laine can help to turn the Blue Jackets into a contender.
SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron was part of a group of people who rescued the pilot of a seaplane that crashed in Lac des Sables in the Laurentians on Sunday.
Byron downplayed his role, crediting Serge Labelle with rescuing the pilot, who was the only person on the plane. He also praised his father-in-law, brother-in-law and a friend who also assisted in the rescue.
TSN: The Seattle Kraken avoided salary arbitration with forward Morgan Geekie, signing him to a one-year, $1.4 million contract. Geekie, 24, had seven goals and 22 points in 73 games with the Kraken last season. He’s among the group of players selected by the Kraken in last summer’s expansion draft.
CBS SPORTS: Speaking of the Kraken, they signed Michal Kempny to a one-year, $750 contract. The 31-year-old defenseman spent over three seasons with the Washington Capitals, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2018.
GOPHNX.COM‘s Craig Morgan reports former Arizona Coyotes winger Loui Eriksson hopes to continue his playing career. The 37-year-old is looking at opportunities in Sweden and Switzerland for 2022-23.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eriksson’s NHL career appears to be over after 16 seasons. His most productive campaigns were with the Dallas Stars with three straight 70-plus point seasons from 2009-10 to 2011-12. He also had a 63-point season with the Boston Bruins in 2015-16.
Alexis Lafreniere tops the first-round selections in the 2020 Draft, the NHL and NHLPA target Jan. 1 as the start date for the 2020-21 season, the Capitals re-sign Brenden Dillon, the latest contract buyouts and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
Alexis Lafreniere was selected first overall by the New York Rangers in the 2020 NHL Draft (NHL.com).
NHL.COM: The New York Rangers selected Alexis Lafreniere with the first-overall pick in the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft last night. The Los Angeles Kings selected Quinton Byfield with the second-overall pick while the Ottawa Senators selected Tim Stuetzle with the third-overall selection. Rounds two through seven will be held today starting at 11:30 am ET. (Stick tap to NBC Sports for the list below):
1. New York Rangers – Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rimouski (QMJHL) 2. Los Angeles Kings – Quinton Byfield, C, Sudbury (OHL) 3. Ottawa Senators (from SJS) – Tim Stuetzle, C/LW, Mannheim (DEL) 4. Detroit Red Wings – Lucas Raymond, LW, Frolunda (SHL) 5. Ottawa Senators – Jake Sanderson, D, USNTDP (USHL) 6. Anaheim Ducks – Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL) 7. New Jersey Devils – Alexander Holtz, RW, Djurgardens (SHL) 8. Buffalo Sabres – Jack Quinn, RW, Ottawa (OHL) 9. Minnesota Wild – Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (OHL) 10. Winnipeg Jets – Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw (OHL) 11. Nashville Predators – Yaroslav Askarov, G, St. Petersburg (VHL) 12. Florida Panthers – Anton Lundell, C, HIFK (SM-liiga) 13. Carolina Hurricanes (from TOR) – Seth Jarvis, C, Portland (WHL) 14. Edmonton Oilers – Dylan Holloway, C/LW, Wisconsin (NCAA) 15. Toronto Maple Leafs (from PIT) – Rodion Amirov, LW, Ufa Salavat Yulayev (KHL) 16. Montreal Canadiens – Kaiden Guhle, D, Prince Albert (WHL) 17. Chicago Blackhawks – Lukas Reichel, LW, Eisbaren Berlin (DEL) 18. New Jersey Devils (from ARZ) – Dawson Mercer, C/RW, Chicoutimi (QMJHL) 19. New York Rangers (from CGY) – Braden Schneider, D, Brandon (WHL) 20. New Jersey Devils (from VAN via TB) – Shakir Mukhamadullin, D, Ufa Salavat Yulayev (KHL) 21. Columbus Blue Jackets – Yegor Chinakhov, RW, Avangard Omsk (KHL) 22. Washington Capitals (from CGY via NYR via CAR) – Hendrix Lapierre, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL) 23. Philadelphia Flyers – Tyson Foerster, RW, Barrie (OHL) 24. Calgary Flames (from WSH) – Connor Zary, C, Kamloops (WHL) 25. Colorado Avalanche – Justin Barron, D, Halifax (QMJHL) 26. St. Louis Blues – Jake Neighbours, LW, Edmonton (WHL) 27. Anaheim Ducks (from BOS) – Jacob Perreault, RW, Sarnia (OHL) 28. Ottawa Senators (from NYI) – Ridly Greig, C, Brandon (WHL) 29. Vegas Golden Knights – Brendan Brisson, C, Chicago (USHL) 30. Dallas Stars – Mavrik Bourque, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL) 31. San Jose Sharks (from TB) – Ozzy Wiesblatt, RW, Prince Albert (WHL)
The NHL and NHLPA issued a joint statement targeting Jan. 1, 2021 for the start of the 2020-21 season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be great if the league and PA can safely start next season on New Year’s Day. Whether they can is another matter. COVID-19 will ultimately decide if that start date can be met. The priority is the safety of everyone involved in the games.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals re-signed defenseman Brenden Dillon to a four-year contract worth an annual average value of $3.9 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable signing by the Capitals. They acquired Dillon before the trade deadline and he quickly fit in well on their blueline.
THE SCORE: Speaking of the Capitals, defenseman Michal Kempny will be sidelined six-to-eight months following surgery to repair an Achilles tendon.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kempny will likely go on long-term injury reserve for 2020-21. It would give the Capitals $2.5 million in wiggle room if necessary to make other moves.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens placed defenseman Karl Alzner on unconditional waivers yesterday for the purpose of buying out the remaining two years of his contract. It will count as $3.9 million for 2020-21 against their cap hit, dropping to $1.9 million in 2021-22, and $833K per season for the final two years of the buyout
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Habs could’ve waited another year to buy out Alzner when it wouldn’t have counted as long against their cap. It’s believed they did this to allow the veteran blueliner an opportunity to try and sign with another NHL club.
THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings placed forward Justin Abdelkader on unconditional waivers yesterday for the purpose of buying out the final three years of his contract. It’ll count as $1.8 million against their cap in 2020-21, $2.3 million annually for the next two seasons, and $1.05 million for the final three years of the buyout.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers general manager Ken Holland decided not to tender qualifying offers to Andreas Athanasiou and Matt Benning. Both players will become unrestricted free agents on Friday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland is catching flak from Oilers supporters because he gave up two second-round picks as part of the return to the Detroit Red Wings last February for Athanasiou. The Oilers GM was hoping the speedy winger could regain his 30-goal form but he managed just two points in 13 games in Edmonton. The cost of qualifying his rights was $3 million, which would’ve been too expensive for the cap-strapped Oilers.
SPORTSNET: The Vancouver Canucks re-signed winger Zack MacEwen to a two-year contract worth $825K per season.
Per source, the Coyotes will not tender a qualifying offer to RFA forward Vinnie Hinostroza. He will become a UFA.