NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2020

Potential playoff formats are under consideration, plans for the 2020 Draft remain uncertain and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LATEST NHL SCHEDULE AND DRAFT NEWS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL/NHLPA “Return to Play” committee discussed returning with 16, 20, or 24-team playoff formats. Of the three, the 24-team format appears to be garnering some traction. That format would see non-playoff clubs like Montreal and Chicago getting postseason berths. “But again, let me stress. Nothing is decided. These are just the conversations that are being had between both sides this week,” said LeBrun.

Darren Dreger suggests a “play-in” format that trims those 24 teams down to the traditional 16 playoff clubs, rather than playing out the remainder of the regular season. This format would allow the league to get through the process quickly in case there’s a second COVID-19 wave in the fall. “If the NHL once again has to shut down in September, maybe October, maybe drift into November, there’s a built-in break, and then they reset and get going on the 2020-21 season again as late as December,” he said.

Frank Seravalli said the cost of COVID-19 testing and sterilizing dressing rooms and the rest of the facility could reach tens of millions of dollars. “So far, to this point, the NHL has determined that the juice would be worth the squeeze but we’ll see as these continue to add up,” said Seravalli.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league and the PA had considered resuming the remainder of the 2019-20 schedule and the playoffs. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports one reason they’re exploring other options is it would avoid bringing back teams with no chance of reaching the playoffs and having them play a month’s worth of meaningless games.

He also said it would reduce how long players would have to spend in hub cities, especially those that go deep into the postseason. Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk recently said he and his fellow players with families aren’t keen to spend up to four months separated from their families. “Nobody with kids is going to want to be away for three or four months at a time. I think that’s a lot to ask out of guys.” Dubnyk missed part of this season to be with his wife while she was dealing with a serious medical condition, so he has an additional reason not to be away from his family for a long period.

Brooks added going directly to a playoff tournament would allow for a draft lottery in which the seven clubs that don’t make the playoff cut could be eligible for the first-overall pick in this year’s draft.

While I understand the league’s desire to recoup some of its losses by completing the regular season, returning immediately with a postseason format makes the most sense. Nevertheless, we still await a final decision. With the pandemic still ongoing, cancellation of the season and playoffs remains a real possibility.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports debate continues over the format of the 2020 NHL Draft. It appeared an early-June draft was a foregone conclusion, but deputy commissioner Bill Daly said everything is still on the table.

June 5 was believed the target date, though options later in the month are also under consideration. Some NHL teams are uncomfortable with staging the draft before resuming the season, while some general managers aren’t happy over being prevented from making trades involving active players while the schedule is paused.

TSN: Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said he’s among the majority of GMs who prefer staging the draft after the season is completed. “I think most of the managers would like it to happen in a natural order,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston’s colleague Elliotte Friedman believes no decision this week would mean the date to stage the draft would be pushed later than the June 5-6 timeframe originally proposed by the league. The fact there hasn’t been a decision yet suggests the league may have encountered more pushback from team owners and general managers or perhaps unforeseen issues arose that require more time to address.

WINNIPEG SUN: Ted Wyman cites an Angus Reid poll indicating one-quarter of hardcore Canadian sports fans polled indicate they wouldn’t attend a sports event in October or November until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed. “Another 40% said they would have to do some deliberating before making up their minds and 35% said they would attend with no reservations.” Wyman suggests this underlines the difficulty for pro sports in returning to normal following the pandemic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL revenue will likely feel the effects of this pandemic beyond 2020. That could take a toll on the salary cap for 2021-22. 

IN OTHER NEWS…

TSN: Montreal Canadiens star Carey Price reached out to give support to two boys who lost their parents during last month’s mass shooting in Nova Scotia.

THE SCORE: The New Jersey Devils interviewed Dallas Stars assistant coach John Stevens for their head-coaching job.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs center Alex Kerfoot’s family rink gives him a training advantage over his fellow players during their self-quarantine period.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell believes Brendan Leipsic’s recent offensive comments on Instagram could cost the winger his NHL career.

SPORTSNET: The Kontinental Hockey League will not name a champion after stopping its season part-way through the playoffs because of the coronavirus pandemic.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2020

Check out the recent speculation on the Philadelphia Flyers, Vegas Golden Knights, and Toronto Maple Leafs in today’s NHL rumor mill.

DOES GOSTISBEHERE HAVE A FUTURE WITH THE FLYERS?

NBC SPORTS: Examining the Philadelphia Flyers’ long-term needs last week, James O’Brien noted Shayne Gostisbehere surfaced in trade rumors this season. He pointed out the 26-year-old defenseman was hampered by injuries this season. He doesn’t feel they should sell low on a player who can generate offense, is reasonably young, and carries a generally cheap annual average value ($4.5 million) through 2022-23.

 

Does Shayne Gostisbehere still have a future with the Philadelphia Flyers? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Flyers have over $69.5 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21. They have enough to re-sign restricted free agents like Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom, Philippe Myers, and Robert Hagg, and should have sufficient space to re-sign or replace unrestricted free agent goalie Brian Elliott. If they want to add to their lineup, however, they’ll have to make a cost-cutting trade. The preference could be to get a player of decent value for Gostisbehere, but they could sell low and use the cap savings to pursue another player via a separate trade or free agency.

WHICH GOLDEN KNIGHTS UFAS MIGHT DEPART AFTER THIS SEASON?

THE ATHLETIC (SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED): Jesse Granger recently examined which Vegas Golden Knights’ free agents will stay or go. He believes keeping UFA goalie Robin Lehner will mean moving a big piece of their lineup because they cannot afford to invest $13-$14 million in Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury. Granger predicts UFA forward Ryan Reaves could re-sign for one more year at $1.5 million. The emergence of Nicolas Roy could make Tomas Nosek expendable. It might be time to move on from Deryk Engelland and Jon Merrill.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Golden Knights pull a swerve and trade Fleury, they’ll bid adieu to Lehner following this season, whenever that might be. If Reaves is discussing a two-year extension, perhaps it’ll be for $1.5 million annually.

LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox addresses some Toronto Maple Leafs speculation in a recent mailbag segment. He doubts the Leafs can land St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo via free agency. He noted the Leafs prefer dealing for players with term left on their contracts, suggesting Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen, and Minnesota’s Matt Dumba as possible trade targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Pietrangelo were willing to sign with the Leafs, they cannot afford him. It’s believed it could cost over $9 million annually to sign him. Assuming a flat cap for next season, the Leafs have nearly $77 million invested in 16 players for next season. Unless they shed significant salary, they won’t have sufficient cap space to invest in Pietrangelo.

As for Manson, Ristolainen, and Dumba, the asking price for each will likely be a top-six scorer, preferably a center. That’s what the Ducks, Sabres, and Wild need. And no, I don’t believe Alexander Kerfoot will address that need.

Fox believes Andreas Johnsson could be the player Leafs GM Kyle Dubas would be most comfortable trading, but he doesn’t consider him the one most likely to be moved. He feels Kerfoot or Kasperi Kapanen would be more enticing to GMs with defensemen they’re willing to trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnsson’s sophomore slump and injured right knee hurt his trade value. It could take parting with Kapanen or Kerfoot to land that top-four blueliner the Leafs desperately need after this season.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 17, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 17, 2020

Recent speculation on the Leafs, Senators, and Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS MOST LIKELY TO BE ON THE MOVE THIS OFF-SEASON

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel and James Mirtle consider Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci as the most likely not to return with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both defensemen are unrestricted free agents who underwhelmed during their one-season tenures with the Leafs. They also considered forwards Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, and Alex Kerfoot among the Leafs’ likely trade chips as the club seeks to shed salary and bolster their blueline depth.

Don’t expect to see Tyson Barrie with the Toronto Maple Leafs next season (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of Leafs Nation will agree Barrie and Ceci won’t be back. It just didn’t work out for either guy.

Kapanen, Johnsson, and Kerfoot frequently surfaced as trade candidates through this season. General manager Kyle Dubas didn’t have to move them during this campaign but could have no choice during the off-season.

The Leafs have over $76 million invested in 16 players. They desperately need to bolster their defense. Dubas surprised most observers with his slick moves last summer to free up sufficient cap room to re-sign Mitch Marner. Unless he’s got another trick or two up his sleeve, Kapanen, Johnsson, or Kerfoot could be shopped for a top-four defenseman.

COULD THE SENATORS WEAPONIZE THEIR CAP SPACE?

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes a flat or reduced salary cap for next season could work in favor of the rebuilding Senators as cap-strapped clubs attempt to shed salary in the off-season. The Sens only have around $41.9 million invested in next season’s cap payroll. They don’t need any more draft picks, but Warren believes they should listen if some promising prospects are packaged into the deal.

NBC SPORTS: Scott Charles believes the Senators should look for short-term players that other clubs no longer have the patience for, such as the New York Islanders’ Joshua Ho-Sang. Charles points out Anthony Duclair turned into a successful reclamation project for the Sens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators also have 13 picks in the 2020 NHL Draft, including three in the first round, four in the second, and two in the third. They also hold three second-rounders in next year’s draft.

Their first-rounders are off the table, but GM Pierre Dorion could offer up a couple of those other picks to take on a toxic short-term contract that’s packaged with prospects or young NHL-ready players, or perhaps a player who could accelerate the rebuild. He can even afford to acquire someone like Ho-Sang on an affordable contract that can be easily buried in the minors if that player doesn’t work out.

WILL THE SHARKS MAKE A BIG MOVE THIS OFF-SEASON?

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: During a recent interview long-time San Jose Sharks broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky told Brodie Brazil he believes the club needs to make a big change or two, partly for salary-cap reasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s easy to see why Rusanowsky feels this way. Despite spending to the cap ceiling to ice a star-studded roster, the Sharks were among this season’s worst clubs.

Making a big cost-cutting change, however, won’t be easy. The Sharks have over $66.6 million tied up in 13 players for 2020-21. Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Brent Burns, and Martin Jones all have three-team trade lists, while Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have full no-movement clauses.

Timo Meier ($6 million annually through 2022-23) lacks no-trade protection, but GM Doug Wilson could be reluctant to peddle the 23-year-old winger. Winger Tomas Hertl ($5.625 million AAV through 2021-22) also lacks no-trade protection for this season, but his long injury history could scare off potential suitors.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 18, 2020

The NHL regular-season may be paused, but the trade and free-agent rumor mill churn on. Check out the latest on the Leafs and Sharks.

LEAFS WOULD BE AFFECTED BY FLAT SALARY CAP

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox examined the effect of the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million could affect the Toronto Maple Leafs. He wondered if pending UFA forwards Kyle Clifford and Jason Spezza would accept something near the league minimum to re-sign with the Leafs.

UFA defenseman Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci aren’t expected back. Their spots could be filled by affordable youngsters like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, but that would leave only Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin as established veterans. Fox wonders who they could add via trade or free agency and what the price would be. Re-signing RFAs like Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott, and Frederic Gauthier will also eat up valuable cap room.

A flat salary cap could force the Toronto Maple Leafs to swap a forward like Kasperi Kapanen for a defenseman (Photo via NHL Images).

A nuclear option to address their blueline needs would involve trading a top forward like William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews or John Tavares, but Fox doesn’t detect any desire from Leafs management to go that route. Instead, they could be forced to swap a middle-class forward such as Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot for a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every NHL team will be affected by a flat cap for 2020-21. Teams like the Leafs with limited cap space will feel the pinch more than others. They have over $76 million invested in 16 players next season

Clifford and Spezza probably won’t get much more than offers that are close to the league minimum from other clubs, so they could be open to staying in Toronto. Bringing in one or two veteran blueliners will cost more than the Leafs can afford right now.

If they’re unwilling to move one of their top-four forwards for a blueliner, a deal involving Kapanen, Kerfoot or Johnsson seems the only viable option. Unless they can free up the additional salary, such a move could end up being dollar-for-dollar.

LATEST SHARKS SPECULATION

THE MERCURY NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Curtis Pashelka was asked if the San Jose Sharks might move a big contract in the off-season. While general manager Doug Wilson insists he likes the core of his team, he hinted after the trade deadline that there could be a deal made in the off-season. The effect of the current health crisis upon league revenue will also affect the salary cap, which could hamper any potential deals by the Sharks unless it’s a “money-in, money-out” move.

Regarding their next head coach, Pashelka thinks they could take a long look at former Nashville Predators bench boss Peter Laviolette if they decide not to keep interim coach Bob Boughner in that role. He also thinks they could consider adding more grit to their lineup.

Asking if former Sharks Brenden Dillon or Patrick Marleau might return via free agency, early indications are Marleau will be back next season. Pashelka doesn’t see Dillon coming back after the Sharks re-signed Radim Simek to a four-year contract extension.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt reports long-time Sharks center Joe Thornton intends to return next season. “”I have years to go!” Thornton recently texted The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $66 milion committed to 13 players, the Sharks will have around $15 million to work with under an $81.5 million cap. While all their core players are under contract, upgrading their roster could prove difficult. Wilson has proven adept in the past in retooling a roster quickly through trades and free agency, but this off-season could prove challenging.

If Wilson moves a big contract, I suspect it’ll be for a return that provides immediate roster help. It won’t easy. Timo Meier is the only high-salaried Shark lacking any form of no-trade protection. Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have no-movement clauses, while Logan Couture, Brent Burns, Evander Kane and Martin Jones each have modified no-trades listing three preferred trade destinations.

Interesting that it appears Marleau could return with the Sharks next season. He’ll have to a pay cut to do so, but at this stage in his career, I don’t think that’s a concern for him. The same goes for Thornton. If they want to return to the Sharks and if Wilson wants to bring them back, it’ll be under affordable, one-year deals.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – February 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – February 14, 2020

The latest on Alec Martinez. Tyler Toffoli and Jake Muzzin plus updates on the Wild, Islanders, Devils, and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill

WILD GM FACES TOUGH DECISIONS AS DEADLINE NEARS

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo believes Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin must decide if he’ll be a seller by the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Teams are showing interest in defensemen Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin and winger Marcus Foligno, though Russo wouldn’t be surprised if Foligno stays put. He believes Toronto, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Vegas, Winnipeg, Columbus, and Montreal are among the teams with interest in Dumba or Brodin.

Are the Toronto Maple Leafs eyeing Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba? (Photo via NHL Images)

The Maple Leafs seem the most interested in Dumba, but Russo feels they’ll have to part with a center like Alexander Kerfoot, and Russo doubts he’d be enough. The asking price from the Lightning could be Anthony Cirelli.

Russo doesn’t see the Hurricanes parting with Martin Necas for either rearguard. He also thinks the Canadiens could part with Max Domi for Brodin as they have a surplus at Domi’s position and need a left-shot defenseman. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Since trading Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh earlier this week, Guerin has warned his players that other moves could be coming if they fail to play up to his expectations. Nevertheless, he’s not going to move Dumba, Brodin, Foligno or anyone else simply for the sake of making a trade.

Unless someone offers up a first-line center or a second-line center and something else for Dumba, he’s not going anywhere. The asking price for Brodin could be a second-line center. If Guerin doesn’t get any suitable offers, he’ll wait until the off-season for something he likes. 

COULD INJURIES FORCE ISLANDERS INTO THE TRADE MARKET?

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple recently suggested the pressure could be on New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello to make a move as injuries pile up. Staple suggested Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau as one option, but doubts Lamoriello would part with a first-round pick to get him.

New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac could be another target. Lamoriello drafted and signed him to his current contract when he was Devils GM, but Zajac already rejected a trade offer and could remain reluctant to move. More affordable options could include Anaheim’s Derek Grant, Los Angeles’ Trevor Lewis, or Detroit’s Luke Glendening.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello is the NHL’s most secretive GM, so we have no idea what he’s planning. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes a move before the deadline. With over $23 million in projected deadline cap room, he has more than enough to swing a significant deal. We’ll find out soon enough what he has in store.

UPDATE ON THE DEVILS

TSN: Bob McKenzie cites colleague Pierre LeBrun’s recent report claiming the Vancouver Canucks might have interest in New Jersey Devils winger Wayne Simmonds. However, that could depend upon the performance of physical winger Micheal Ferland when he returns to the lineup. Ferland is currently skating with the Canucks’ AHL affiliate as he works his way back from an upper-body injury.

Darren Dreger expects Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald will be busy leading up to the trade deadline. There could be “a ton of activity” involving pending UFAs such as Simmonds, Andy Greene and perhaps Sami Vatanen. There’s also interest in players signed beyond this season, such as Kyle Palmieri and Blake Coleman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NJ.com’s Chris Ryan acknowledged teams could call about Palmieri and Coleman, but he feels the Devils would need a big incentive to move them. In other words, you won’t be getting either guy at rental prices.

LEAFS COULD RE-SIGN MUZZIN BEFORE TRADE DEADLINE

TSN: Darren Dreger speculates the Toronto Maple Leafs could re-sign Jake Muzzin before the upcoming trade deadline. The 28-year-old defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a trade rumor and the Leafs aren’t a seller as the deadline nears. Nevertheless, whatever Muzzin’s gets on his next deal will affect the Leafs’ salary-cap payroll for 2020-21. They already have over $71.3 million invested in 15 players, with notables such as Tyson Barrie, Travis Dermott, and Jason Spezza to re-sign or replace. Muzzin’s new contract won’t leave much room to fill out the rest of the roster. 

LATEST ON MARTINEZ

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the Los Angeles Kings’ asking price for defenseman Alec Martinez appeared to be a second-round pick and a prospect. He said the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers, and Carolina Hurricanes have varying degrees of interest in Martinez, who has a year remaining on his contract.

LIMITED INTEREST IN SENATORS UFAS.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports there hasn’t been as much interest as we might think in the Ottawa Senators’ pending UFAs. Contract talks between Senators GM Pierre Dorion and a couple of those UFAs, like Mark Borowiecki, could pick up next week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those UFAs include Borowiecki, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Craig Anderson, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ron Hainsey, Tyler Ennis, and Dylan DeMelo. Perhaps the limited interest is due to the Senators’ intention to re-sign some of them. It could also be that those players are low down on the priority list for most buyers.

 










Can the Maple Leafs Address Their Weaknesses Before the NHL Trade Deadline

Can the Maple Leafs Address Their Weaknesses Before the NHL Trade Deadline