NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 26, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 26, 2022

Jacob Markstrom believes the Flames will be better this season, Phil Kessel talks about his time with the Coyotes and looks forward to joining the Golden Knights, the latest on Trevor Zegras and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: In an interview with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom weighed in on his club’s busy offseason. “In my mind and in my head, I really believe that we’re gonna be better this year,” said Markstrom.

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom (NHL Images).

The Flames finished first in the Pacific Division last season but lost leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau to the Columbus Blue Jackets via free agency and traded 100-point winger Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers after he decided he didn’t want to sign a long-term extension.

Markstrom praised Flames general manager Brad Treliving for his decisive moves to address those departures. He acquired playmaking winger Jonathan Huberdeau and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar in the Tkachuk trade and last week signed free-agent center Nazem Kadri.

He really went out there and took what he wanted,” said Markstrom. “I think we’ve got a great team on paper, and now we’ve got to put it together on the ice.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames’ success this season will depend on how well Huberdeau, Kadri and Weegar fit within their roster. It could take some time for the new additions to adjust to their new teammates and head coach Darryl Sutter’s system. If they adapt quickly, the Flames should remain among the top clubs in the Western Conference.

ARIZONA SPORTS: After signing a one-year contract with the Vegas Golden Knights, Phil Kessel reflected on his three seasons with the Arizona Coyotes. He praised his former teammates and those running the Coyotes but felt the club’s direction made it difficult for him after coming from a playoff club like the Pittsburgh Penguins.

They said we were going to win and try to win and compete and obviously that’s not what happened and it’s going to be nice to play on a team that wants to win,” said Kessel. He also felt a player’s value around the league can go down playing for a club like the Coyotes. “Obviously, I think, over the last couple of years you get lost here and people don’t view you anymore like you used to be viewed.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon believes Kessel will be a good fit with his club, suggesting the 34-year-old winger felt a little like he’d been forgotten about in Arizona playing for a rebuilding club.

It’s easy for most fans and pundits to overlook how well individual players perform with the Coyotes. Kessel tallied a career-low eight goals but also managed 44 assists to finish with a respectable 52 points in 82 games last season on one of the league’s lowest-scoring clubs. His production should improve skating with the Golden Knights.

DAILY FACEOFF: Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras and Team Canada forward Sarah Nurse were named the cover athletes for EA Sports’ NHL 23 videogame.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is newsworthy for me only because of some ridiculous negative reaction on social media to Zegras and Nurse being on the cover. In Nurse’s case, it was old-fashioned misogyny about (gasp!) a women’s hockey player being part of an NHL video game (the horror!). Meanwhile, the complaints about Zegras were in part based on his “Michigan” (lacrosse) style goals, which apparently offends the fragile sensibilities of so-called “purists” of the game.

Speaking of Zegras, he’s changed his number this season from 46 to 11 while teammate Jamie Drysdale is switching from No. 34 to No. 6. I hope those of you with a delicate disposition had your smelling salts handy at this news.

ZSC LIONS: announced they’ve signed Columbus Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier to a one-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Texier has taken a season-long leave of absence from the Jackets to be closer to his family in Grenoble, France for personal reasons. He has the permission of the Jackets and NHL to play with a European club this season.

DAILY FACEOFF: Former NHL coach Mike Babcock has resigned from his head coaching role with the University of Saskatchewan after one season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to reports, the plan was always for Babcock to do that job for a year or two. His son, Mike Jr., will remain in his role as an assistant coach.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers hired Ian McKeown as their new vice president of athlete performance and wellness.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Mike Vellucci agreed to a two-year contract extension earlier this week.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2022

The World Cup of Hockey is expected to return in 2024, the salary cap could significantly rise after 2023-24, Phil Kessel signs with the Golden Knights, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the league and the NHL Players Association are moving forward with plans to stage the World Cup of Hockey in 2024. The intent is to hold the tournament during a 17-day window in February 2024 featuring at least eight nations with games played in North America and Europe.

Daly indicated the plan is to play a preliminary round pool in Europe and a preliminary round in North America, with the semifinals and the final held in a North American city.

There is uncertainty over Russia’s participation in the tournament. The NHL has suspended all business operations with that country over its invasion of Ukraine. That’s in alignment with the International Ice Hockey Federation suspending Russia from all international tournaments until further notice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL’s decision not to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics due to COVID-19 concerns pretty much guaranteed a World Cup of Hockey for 2024 thanks to the extension to the collective bargaining agreement. The NHL is also expected to participate in the 2026 Olympics.

It’s interesting that the league is willing to shutter its operations in midseason for a World Cup. One of the main reasons why they stayed out of the 2018 Olympics was the supposed unhappiness among team owners over “lost revenue” from a two-week pause in February for the Olympics every four years. It’s a different story for a league-run international tournament where they get the bulk of the revenue.

ESPN.COM: Speaking of Russian players, Daly said the league isn’t anticipating that they’ll have any difficulty obtaining work visas for the coming season. Russian players reapplying for visas encountered some difficulties earlier this season. Minnesota Wild star Kirill Kaprizov was twice denied entry to the United States before successfully returning earlier this month.

Several European players played without work visas last season after the NHL worked out an exemption with the U.S. Government due to the pandemic.

SPORTSNET: Daly also believes the NHL salary cap will significantly increase following the 2023-24 season. That will be a year earlier than previous forecasts. He said revenue projections for the coming season are very solid. The salary cap rose by just $1 million to $82.5 million for 2022-23

Vegas Golden Knights sign winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cap was artificially set at $81.5 million for the past two seasons due to revenue losses caused by the pandemic. It is to rise by $1 million again in 2023-24 and was supposed to rise by another $1 million in 2024-25 until the players paid back their share of hockey-related revenue through escrow.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Golden Knights signed Phil Kessel to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. The 34-year-old winger played the past three seasons with the Arizona Coyotes, netting 44 assists and 52 points last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights needed some offensive depth among their top-six wingers after trading away Max Pacioretty and Evgenii Dadonov this summer in cost-cutting moves. Kessel could end up skating alongside first-line center Jack Eichel. He also needs just eight more games to set the NHL’s Ironman record, currently held by Keith Yandle with 980 games.

NHL.COM: Timo Meier said he hasn’t held contract extension talks yet with San Jose Sharks general manager Mike Grier. The 25-year-old winger is a year away from restricted free agent status.

Meier said he’s focused on preparing for the upcoming season. He looks forward to meeting with Grier and new Sharks head coach David Quinn when he returns to San Jose for training camp next month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Re-signing Meier should be Grier’s priority if he’s retooling the roster rather than rebuilding it. The winger enjoyed a career-best performance last season with 35 goals and 76 points in 77 games.

Meier’s earning an annual average value of $6 million but his actual salary is $10 million. That’s what it will cost the Sharks to qualify his rights next summer unless the two sides can reach an agreement on a new contract at an AAV below $10 million before then.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Alexandre Texier will not be joining the Blue Jackets for the coming season as per the advice of the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. He will not be paid his $1.525 million NHL salary for 2022-23 and it won’t count against the club’s salary cap. Texier will be permitted to sign a one-year contract with a European team for this season.

Texier was granted an indefinite leave of absence from the Blue Jackets last March after being sidelined by a fractured finger in January. In a statement, he indicated that he’s experienced personal issues and challenges that require him to be close to his family. He expressed his appreciation to the Blue Jackets and their fans for their support and empathy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Texier receives the help he needs and can maintain his playing career either in the NHL or in Europe.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders defenseman Sebastian Aho was arrested on Aug. 13 in Sweden for drunk driving and had his license suspended as a result. Aho blew .03 on the breathalyzer, putting him over the .02 limit. He was fined 40,000 Swedish Krona.

The incident occurred at 10:30 am after Aho and his wife had visited friends the night before. His agent, Claude Lemieux, said his client was surprised he was still over the limit by the next morning and is very sorry about the mistake.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 23, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – August 23, 2022

A look at five stars who could hit the trade block this season plus three potential destinations for Phil Kessel in the NHL Rumor Mill.

FIVE NHL STARS WHO COULD HIT THE TRADE BLOCK THIS SEASON

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly and winger Vladimir Tarasenko topped Dan Kingerski’s list of five NHL stars who could get shopped this season. Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi, Arizona Coyotes defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and Anaheim Ducks blueliner John Klingberg round out the list.

St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly (NHL Images).

These five players are in the final season of their contracts and are eligible to become unrestricted free agents next summer. Kingerski suggested their respective teams would be wise to move them in order to avoid protracted contract talks ending with their departures via free agency. He cited what happened with the Calgary Flames and Johnny Gaudreau last season as an example.

Kingerski also believes Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller is among several players already on the trade block. He anticipates long-time Chicago Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews will also appear in trade rumors. Like the others, they’re also slated to become UFAs next summer

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be easier for those teams to shop those players if they’re not in the playoff chase when the 2023 NHL trade deadline rolls around. The Blackhawks, Coyotes and Ducks aren’t expected to be postseason contenders so it won’t be surprising if Kane, Toews, Gostisbehere and Klingberg hit the trade block in the New Year.

The Canucks and Red Wings could qualify for the playoffs. They could retain Miller and Bertuzzi as own rentals and take their chances on their possible departures next summer.

Most observers (including me) consider the Blues a postseason contender. Unless that changes over the course of the season, I don’t see O’Reilly or Tarasenko going anywhere.

WHERE COULD KESSEL END UP?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens suggested the Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings as possible destinations for Phil Kessel. The 34-year-old right winger is among the few noteworthy players still available in this summer’s UFA market.

The Oilers and Stars could benefit from Kessel’s playmaking skills. However, both clubs would have to do some salary-cap maneuvering to make it work. The Stars have over $10 million in cap space but most of that will go toward re-signing Jake Oettinger and Jason Robertson.

Stephens suggested Kessel might be a fit on the Kings’ third line. They have enough cap space to make it happen if they can convince him to accept a pay cut.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel’s been linked to the Oilers though some observers believe they could or should make a play for Patrick Kane. The former Coyotes winger would be a much more affordable option for them.

Kessel is going to have to accept a pay cut wherever he goes. At this stage of his career, he’s probably not that worried about it.

The chance to play this season and set the NHL Ironman record likely means more to Kessel now. He could be a good, affordable fit as a depth forward with a postseason contender.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 19, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – August 19, 2022

What now for the Islanders and Avalanche after missing out on Nazem Kadri? Where could P.K. Subban end up? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

WHAT WILL THE ISLES & AVS DO AFTER LOSING OUT ON KADRI?

NEW YORK POST: Ethan Sears reports the Islanders are left with a lot of maybes after Nazem Kadri signed with the Calgary Flames yesterday. Media gossip linked the 31-year-old former Colorado Avalanche center to the Islanders but general manager Lou Lamoriello had been silent about the rumors and his efforts to bolster his club’s offense.

Maybe things will turn around with the roster as is and a season unimpeded by the long road trip and COVID-19 outbreak that affected the Islanders at the start of last season,” writes Sears. “Maybe Anthony Beauvillier or Oliver Wahlstrom will take the next step forward. Maybe new head coach Lane Lambert will unlock something (former coach Barry Trotz) couldn’t in this team.”.

Sears believes Sonny Milano is the most viable free agent that the Islanders could add but he’d probably end up on their third line. There are no obvious trade candidates at this time that Lamoriello could target.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz noted Lamoriello and Lambert have spoken about their belief in the Islanders’ core. However, it was apparent last season that they were going to need a few pieces if they intend to contend this season. Signing someone like Sonny Milano won’t make anyone change their view of the Isles’ lineup the way Kadri would have.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner wonders if Lamoriello will revisit his interest in J.T. Miller. The Isles GM was reportedly interested in the 29-year-old Vancouver Canucks center during the 2022 NHL Draft last month. Free agent winger Phil Kessel could be a temporary, last resort option as he does provide offense.

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think there was a lack of effort on Lamoriello’s part to bolster his scoring. He was rumored to be pursuing Kadri and apparently attempted to sign Johnny Gaudreau last month before he accept a deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Lamoriello reportedly attempted to acquire Miller before the first round of the draft but for whatever reason, the deal fell through. He could try again but I don’t think the Canucks are keen to move the versatile two-way forward until perhaps close to the 2023 trade deadline if they’re out of playoff contention by then. At that point, the Isles will face plenty of competition for his services, driving up the asking price beyond Lamoriello’s comfort zone.

The bottom line here is Lamoriello struck out in the trade and free agent markets. Kessel or Milano would be affordable short-term options but won’t move the dial much offensively for the Islanders.

I think the Islanders still have a good team. They’ve got a strong goalie tandem in Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov plus what looks like a solid top-four defense in Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov. Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson and Anders Lee are proven scoring talents, while Beauvillier and Wahlstrom could step up this season.

Nevertheless, the offense remains an area of concern, one that Lamoriello will have to address at some point this season if the Isles are to be more than a playoff contender.

THE DENVER POST: Sean Keeler reports Nazem Kadri’s departure to Calgary leaves a big gap at their second-line center position that could prove difficult to fill.

Pickings are slim in the free-agent market. They include 36 -year-old former Avalanche center Paul Stastny. They might have to look to within and see if J.T. Compher or Alex Newhook can fill that role.

WHERE COULD SUBBAN LAND VIA FREE AGENCY?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens recently listed the Seattle Kraken, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres as three possible destinations for P.K. Subban. The 33-year-old defenseman could be an affordable short-term addition for clubs in need of an experienced, puck-moving right-shot blueliner.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng examines the pros and cons of whether Subban would be a good fit with the Sharks. While he’s no longer an effective top-four rearguard, he could have a role on the third pairing and would provide them with a right-handed shot from the point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban had a decent performance last season with the New Jersey Devils. He should end up with an NHL club on an affordable one-year deal before training camps open in mid-September.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 15, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – August 15, 2022

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill: The best bargains remaining in the free-agent market, possible trade destinations for the Sharks’ James Reimer, and the Canucks need for another defenseman.

BEST FREE-AGENT BARGAINS STILL AVAILABLE

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Paul Stastny, Phil Kessel and P.K. Subban top Mike Stephens’ list of the top 5 best bargain players in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market.

Stastny remains a reliable presence at both ends of the rink. Stephens observed there are rumors linking him to the Colorado Avalanche, suggesting the 36-year-old center could fit seamlessly in their lineup on a one-year contract for around $3 million.

Free agent defenseman P.K. Subban (NHL Images)

Kessel still has plenty left in the tank. While he managed a career-low eight goals, he also had 44 assists with the low-scoring Arizona Coyotes last season. A low-money, one-year deal could make him a worthwhile addition to a contender.

Subban isn’t the Norris Trophy contender of the past. However, he could be a good depth addition for a club seeking a veteran presence and puck movement for its blueline.

Forwards Evan Rodrigues and Sonny Milano round out Stephens’ list. Stephens expects Rodrigues gets snapped up once fellow center Nazem Kadri is finally signed. He doesn’t rule out Milano perhaps returning with the Anaheim Ducks after a solid performance with them last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rumors linked Kessel and Subban to the Edmonton Oilers though we don’t know if the club is interested in either player. Of the two, Kessel seems the best fit given their need for more offensive depth on right wing.

Some fans and pundits wonder if the Canadiens might bring back Subban to bring his career full circle. Anything’s possible but that doesn’t seem like the direction the rebuilding Habs are willing to take.

WHERE MIGHT REIMER LAND?

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Sheng Peng reports the San Jose Sharks have one goaltender too many. With Kaapo Kahkonen expected to become their starter in the coming season, James Reimer or Adin Hill could be the odd man out.

Reimer. 34, could have the most value in the trade market. He had a strong campaign last season with the Sharks and is signed for the coming season with a $2.25 million cap hit and a five-team no-trade list.

Peng reported a source said the Sharks sought a second-round pick for Reimer. The Vegas Golden Knights and Arizona Coyotes could be among the suitors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Dallas Stars were also included as a possible destination should Jake Oettinger end up staging a contract holdout. However, I think those two sides will get an agreement in place before training camp opens in mid-September.

The Golden Knights could be in the market for a replacement for the sidelined Robin Lehner. Meanwhile, the Coyotes need a reliable backup for Karel Vejmelka.

CANUCKS NEED ANOTHER EXPERIENCED DEFENSEMAN

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston believes the Vancouver Canucks could benefit from the addition of an experienced depth defenseman. He noted The Fourth Period’s Irfaan Gaffar recently suggested UFA Calvin de Haan as an affordable option.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 14, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 14, 2022

Could the Flames attempt to trade Milan Lucic? Would there be room on the Bruins for his return? What’s the latest on P.K. Subban, Phil Kessel and Josh Bailey? Find out in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup

COULD THE FLAMES MAKE ANOTHER BIG MOVE?

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarlane recently observed Flames winger Milan Lucic was trending on social media last week after the Boston Bruins signed Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. He believes the Flames have no urgent need to move the 34-year-old power forward unless they’re planning on making another big trade.

Calgary Flames winger Milan Lucic (NHL Images).

The Flames made headlines last month with a blockbuster trade by shipping Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers for Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar. Macfarlane wondered if they might make another impact trade or free-agent signing.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy half-jokingly made the suggestion that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney should attempt to bring back Lucic after signing Bergeron and Krejci. He pointed to Lucic’s close friendship with those two as well as Bruins wingers Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.

Murphy wondered if Sweeney would be interested in acquiring Lucic if the Flames agreed to retain part of his $6 million cap hit. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins want a reunion with Lucic (and there’s no indication Sweeney is considering that) they’ll have to wait for next summer. Macfarlane pointed out he remains a key part of the Flames’ leadership core for the coming season as they hope to contend for the Stanley Cup.

Flames GM Brad Treliving could surprise us with another big off-season move. However, I think he’s already made his big splash for this summer.

SUBBAN AND KESSEL TO THE OILERS?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples reports oddsmakers have the Oilers as the potential destination for free agents P.K. Subban and Phil Kessel.

Staples also noted Oilers Now insider Bob Stauffer said the club could be a choice destination for some aging free agent players. Kessel has been frequently linked to the Oilers this summer in the rumor mill.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m no oddsmaker but I’d say Kessel has a better chance of joining the Oilers than Subban. They could use more offensive depth on right wing and he put up a respectable 52 points last season on the offensively anemic Arizona Coyotes. However, we don’t know if the Oilers are interested in him.

LATEST ON JOSH BAILEY

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz poured cold water on speculation suggesting the New York Islanders could move Josh Bailey to clear cap room to sign Nazem Kadri. He believes if that deal was going to happen it would’ve by now, pointing out most rosters around the league are now set. There are few teams that can afford the 32-year-old winger’s $5 million annual cap hit through 2023-24.

Kurz acknowledged the Isles could retain $1.5 million to $2 million of Bailey’s salary-cap hit to facilitate a trade. However, it wouldn’t make much sense for them to do that.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Bailey was in the final season of his contract it might make more sense to retain part of his cap hit. Doing so for two years, however, leaves dead cap space carrying over into 2023-23. Retaining part of his salary could still hamper efforts to sign Kadri, depending on how much they spend to re-sign restricted free agents Noah Dobson, Alexander Romanov and Kieffer Bellows.

Bailey lacks no-trade protection so he could be shopped to rebuilding teams with cap room such as the Arizona Coyotes or Chicago Blackhawks. However, the Isles will be expected to include a decent draft pick or prospect in the deal. There is also the question of whether those clubs want or need a veteran winger at this stage in their rebuilding process.