NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 25, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 25, 2023

Attainable milestones for the upcoming season plus the latest on Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, Rangers center Mika Zibanejad and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: has a complete roundup of Sunday’s preseason action.

THE SCORE: Several NHL players are in line to reach league milestones this season.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is within one goal of becoming the first player in league history to tally 300 career power-play goals. He’s also just 15 points away from reaching 1,500 career points.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby needs 88 points to tie Phil Esposito for 10th on the all-time points list. Esposito has 1,590 points.

Phil Kessel, the league’s reigning Ironman record holder, is just eight points away from reaching 1,000 career points. That’s assuming the 35-year-old unrestricted free agent finds a new contract with an NHL club. Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares is 25 points away from 1,000.

Twenty players, including Nashville’s Ryan O’Reilly, Minnesota’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman, Vegas’ Alex Pietrangelo, Boston’s Brad Marchand and Pittsburgh’s Erik Karlsson, could reach 1,000 career games.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has yet to suit up for training camp as he deals with an undisclosed injury. Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said Vasilevskiy is “wrestling with some things right now physically” and is considered day-to-day.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers center Mika Zibanejad is listed as day-to-day after leaving scrimmage on Sunday with an upper-body injury.

CAP FRIENDLY: The Seattle Kraken have officially removed winger Andre Burakovsky off injured reserved. He’d been on IR since Feb. 9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken managed to adjust to Burakovsky’s absence as they reached the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Nevertheless, he helped set the stage for that success with 39 points in 49 games before suffering a torn groin.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk will be evaluated today after leaving Sunday’s preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres. He was struck in the right arm by a shot in the third period, left the game and didn’t return.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Alex Nedeljkovic is hoping a fresh start with the Pittsburgh Penguins will help reset his career after two unsatisfying seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. He was a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2020-21 with the Carolina Hurricanes but struggled to replicate that success after getting traded to the Red Wings.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2023

Could the Avalanche and Canadiens make a goaltending trade? Are the Senators any closer to re-signing Shane Pinto? What’s the latest on Phil Kessel? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

COULD THE AVALANCHE TARGET A CANADIENS GOALTENDER?

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the Colorado Avalanche appear to be exploring their options in the trade market seeking a potential replacement for Pavel Francouz. The 33-year-old backup goaltender is expected to miss training camp and the start of the season as he recovers from offseason adductor surgery.

Seravalli’s colleague Mike Gould suggested Casey DeSmith as an obvious trade target. He was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins by the Montreal Canadiens in last month’s three-team trade that sent Erik Karlsson to the Penguins.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Casey DeSmith (NHL Images).

Salary cap space could be an issue for the Avalanche. Gould pointed out that they are projected to start the season with $525K in long-term injury reserve space, though they might be able to add more by placing Francouz and his $2 million cap hit on LTIR. DeSmith, 32, carries an average annual value of $1.8 million.

TVA SPORTS: Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes recently said he was okay with his club starting the season with Casey DeSmith, Samuel Montembeault and Jake Allen as his goaltenders. However, he has also said that he’s open to moving DeSmith before the start of the season if an opportunity presents itself.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeSmith has plenty of backup experience with the Pittsburgh Penguins. That could make him enticing to the Avalanche if Francouz appears to be sidelined long-term. Putting him on LTIR would cover DeSmith’s cap hit for this season.

Montreal Hockey Now’s Marc Dumont doesn’t expect DeSmith, Montembeault or Allen would fetch much of a return in the trade market. Still, Hughes might be able to get a decent draft pick or prospect from the Avs if he agreed to retain part of DeSmith’s salary.

SENATORS GETTING CLOSER TO SIGNING PINTO?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators general manager Pierre Dorion acknowledged he still has to re-sign Shane Pinto. The 22-year-old restricted free agent has yet to reach an agreement with the club on a new contract.

Dorion remains hopeful of getting a deal in place before training camp opens next week. The two sides don’t want Pinto to miss any playing time because he’s expected to play a key role on the Senators this season.

Garrioch pointed out that the Senators are pressed for salary cap space. He believes they’ll have to shed a contract to accommodate a new deal for Pinto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pinto’s current contract situation has generated some trade speculation suggesting he could be moved if the two sides fail to hammer out an agreement. Dorion’s comments suggest that isn’t the case.

LATEST ON KESSEL

TSN’s Chris Johnston reports there’s some “percolating interest” from NHL teams on signing Phil Kessel to a contract this season. He indicates the 35-year-old forward isn’t in PTO (professional tryout offer) territory yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL’s ongoing Ironman record holder, Kessel recently said that he’s willing to accept a secondary role even if it brings his consecutive games streak to an end. That might account for the recent interest in his services.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 7, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 7, 2023

Could the Penguins reunite with Phil Kessel? What’s the latest on Elias Lindholm’s contract talks with the Flames? Could the Bruins pursue Senators center Shane Pinto? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

DON’T EXPECT THE PENGUINS TO BRING BACK KESSEL

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dave Molinari recently noted a segment of Penguins fans would love to see the club reunite with Phil Kessel. The winger played a key role in the club’s back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and 2017.

Now 35, Kessel is an unrestricted free agent after winning his third Cup last season with the Vegas Golden Knights. He’s let it be known that he’s willing to play a secondary role with whatever NHL team signs him even if it means jeopardizing his consecutive games-played record.

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

Molinari doesn’t see the Penguins pursuing Kessel. He pointed out that general manager Kyle Dubas has been reconstructing the club’s third and fourth lines. Kessel’s game doesn’t fit a checking-line role. The winger also had a strained relationship with head coach Mike Sullivan during his tenure with the Penguins.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Horwat suggested that Kessel could provide a bump to the Penguins’ offense and become a trigger man on their power play. Like Molinari, however, he observed that Kessel’s style of game doesn’t match those of the two-way or defensive-minded forwards brought in by Dubas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bringing back Kessel for a last hurrah in Pittsburgh would make a nice story. As Molinari and Horwat pointed out, however, his style of game wouldn’t fit on their Penguins’ checking lines. A reunion might be possible near the trade deadline if one of their top-six forwards becomes injured but even that seems remote at best.

UPDATE ON ELIAS LINDHOLM

NHL NETWORK (Stick tap to NHL Watcher): Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman discussed what type of contract Elias Lindholm could receive if he and the Calgary Flames reach an agreement on an extension.

Friedman initially felt Bo Horvat’s contract with the New York Islanders would be comparable. Horvat is starting an eight-year deal with an average annual value of $8.5 million.

The number for Lindholm, however, could be higher. Friedman heard it could be closer to $8.75 million annually or $9 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would be a substantial raise for Lindholm. The 28-year-old center’s AAV for this season is $4.85 million. His production fell to 22 goals and 64 points in 80 games last season following his career-high 42-goal, 82-point performance in 2021-22 when Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk were still with the Flames.

While that decline can be blamed on the departures of Gaudreau and Tkachuk last summer, the style of game the Flames played last season under head coach Darryl Sutter also likely played a part. With Sutter no longer behind the bench, Lindholm’s production and that of his teammates could improve this season.

Lindholm will be 29 when his new contract goes into effect next summer. He could prove to be an expensive risk for the Flames or any other club. Lindholm is currently among the league’s best two-way centers but his performance will inevitably decline over the course of an eight-year deal.

COULD THE BRUINS PURSUE PINTO?

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports a trusted NHL source claims teams are inquiring about the cost of Shane Pinto in the trade market. The 22-year-old Ottawa Senators center is a restricted free agent and it’s believed there is a wide gap in negotiations between the Pinto camp and Senators management.

The Senators are up against the salary cap this season. Murphy’s source claims the Senators would be willing to entertain trade offers because they believe prospect center Ridly Grieg is every bit as good or better than Pinto.

Murphy wondered if the Boston Bruins could get into the Pinto sweepstakes. The asking price could be high as the Senators would want prospects who could crack the roster this season. “That’s probably Fabian Lysell and Johnny Beecher,” said Murphy’s source.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication thus far out of Ottawa claiming the Senators are dangling Pinto in the trade market or listening to offers. Recent reports claim the two sides continue to work on a new contract.

That could change if Pinto isn’t re-signed when training camp opens on Sept. 21. If the Senators make him available, the Bruins’ depleted prospect pool would make it difficult for them to outbid other clubs.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 1, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 1, 2023

Patrick Kane provides an update on his status, Phil Kessel hopes to continue his NHL career, Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson is prepared for the coming season and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

TSN: Patrick Kane provided an update on his recovery from his hip resurfacing procedure in June. He said he’s been on the ice about 20 times and is well on track in his four-to-six-month recovery timeline.

Free agent winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Kane, 34, said he’s progressing so well that he’s at the point where he could return to action earlier than projected. However, he intends to stick with the six-month rehab schedule to ensure his complete recovery.

Regarding where he’ll play next, Kane said he’ll remain patient as he expects to receive offers when training camp opens later this month. He indicated he’d be willing to listen if a club made an offer and a situation that he would be excited about.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane probably won’t receive contract offers until later in the fall when clubs have had time to evaluate their rosters and salary-cap situations.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Phil Kessel hopes to land with another NHL team for the coming season and isn’t concerned if he isn’t an everyday player. The 35-year-old winger holds the NHL’s Ironman record of 1,064 consecutive regular-season games.

With 14 goals and 36 points last season, Friedman believes Kessel can still be a factor. He’s also just eight points away from 1,000 career points. He’d also be an affordable signing as he’s now eligible to sign a one-year 35-plus contract for the league minimum salary with bonuses that could slide to next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel could land with an NHL club for this season, especially since there wouldn’t be any pressure about whether or not to scratch him because of his Ironman record. He could be a very affordable addition for a club seeking some experienced depth on the wing.

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently reported that Rasmus Andersson is ready to “embrace the chaos” when he returns to Calgary next week to prepare for the start of the Flames training camp later this month. The 26-year-old defenseman is prepared for the barrage of questions he and his teammates will get from the local media over the club’s offseason changes and moves.

You can’t hide from it,” said Andersson. “You’ve just got to embrace it and stick with it, and believe in guys in management.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersson’s role as a team leader and his willingness to face the press has some observers calling him a candidate to be the club’s next captain. That role has been vacant since Mark Giordano was chosen by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL expansion draft.

THE SCORE: Charlie Coyle is looking forward to the challenge of taking on a larger role with the Boston Bruins following the retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.

During a recent appearance on WEEI’s “The Gresh & Fauria Show,” Coyle acknowledged that he and his teammates will miss Bergeron and Krejci. “We all wish they could play,” he said. “But those are job opportunities right now, right? That gets me fired up, it only gets our team fired up.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyle is saying all the right things as his club faces the daunting task of overcoming the absence of their top two centers. He’s under no illusions that this season will be more difficult for the Bruins, admitting that they will have to work harder this season. We’ll find out in the coming months whether he and his teammates are up to the challenge.

TSN: The Seattle Kraken signed forward Devin Shore to a one-year, two-way contract worth $775K at the NHL level. Shore, 29, spent the past three seasons with the Edmonton Oilers.

Speaking of former Oilers, the Anaheim Ducks signed forward Zack Kassian to a professional tryout offer.

CAROLINA HOCKEY NOW: The Hurricanes announced the addition of Daniel Bochner as a development coach. He spent five seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with SKA St. Petersburg.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 21, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 21, 2023

A look at players who could reach significant milestones this season, the favorites to win the Selke Trophy following Patrice Bergeron’s retirement, the highest-scoring UFAs still available, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ian Kennedy looked at several NHL players who could reach significant career milestones in 2023-24. Among the notables:

Free agent Phil Kessel (992 points) and Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (975 points) are within reach of 1,000 career regular-season points.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand could achieve 500 career regular-season assists, 1,000 career regular-season PIMs and 1,000 career regular-season games.

Marc-Andre Fleury of the Minnesota Wild needs just 15 more games to become the fourth goaltender in NHL history to play 1,000 career regular-season contests.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin can reach the 500-goal plateau. He currently has 471.

THE SCORE: Kayla Douglas recently sized up the favorites to win the Selke Trophy this season in the wake of Patrice Bergeron’s retirement. Among them are Vegas Golden Knights winger Mark Stone, Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner, Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov and New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier.

DAILY FACEOFF: The pickings are slim for scorers in what’s left of this summer’s unrestricted free-agent class. Nevertheless, a few familiar names remain, including Patrick Kane, Tomas Tatar, Phil Kessel, Zach Parise and Eric Staal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane is the biggest name on this list. If he wasn’t rehabbing from a hip resurfacing procedure in early June he would’ve been signed within hours of the free-agent market opening on July 1. The 34-year-old winger is expected to be ready to return to action in December and intends to sign with a team that gives him the best chance to win the Stanley Cup.

Tatar is coming off a respectable 20-goal, 48-point performance with the New Jersey Devils last season. He has been linked to the Penguins in the rumor mill. Parise tallied 21 goals last season at age 38. The New York Islanders are waiting to find out if Parise, who turned 39 on July 28, intends to return or retire.

Kessel said he has no plans for retirement but there’s no word if he’s any closer to landing with a new team. The same goes for the 38-year-old Staal.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Hall of Fame defenseman Slava Fetisov is auctioning some of his memorabilia with the proceeds going directly to a special fund to assist in the care of former Detroit Red Wings teammate Vladimir Konstantinov’s ongoing non-medical care.

Konstantinov’s career was ended by a debilitating brain injury suffered in 1997. The state of Michigan is still covering his health insurance but he and his family need help with his other therapy costs.

Czech hockey greats of the past and present gathered in Litvinov on Saturday for a charity hockey game honoring the memory of Petr Klima, who passed away in May at age 58. Boston’s David Pastrnak and Carolina’s Martin Necas were among the current NHL players who took part along with former stars such as Patrik Elias, Ziggy Palffy, and Robert Reichel.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Former Sharks defenseman Ryan Merkley has signed with KHL club Kunlun Red Star.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 1, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – August 1, 2023

The top remaining unrestricted free agents, Sharks speculation that has nothing to do with Erik Karlsson, and the latest on the Oilers in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

TOP REMAINING UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

DAILY FACEOFF: Patrick Kane and Matt Dumba sit first and second on Frank Seravalli’s list of the top remaining NHL unrestricted free agents.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane won’t be entertaining contract offers until he’s recovered from his recent hip surgery. That’s expected to be sometime in early December. Dumba, meanwhile, is the top defenseman in the market and has been linked to the Arizona Coyotes and San Jose Sharks.

Forwards Max Comtois, Tomas Tatar and Jonathan Toews sit in positions three through five on the listing.

Former Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Comtois recently said that he’s received calls from interested clubs but no contract offers yet. He indicated that the Montreal Canadiens have not contacted him. There’s been no rumors of late linking Tatar to any NHL club but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t received any calls.

Toews, meanwhile, has been silent except for releasing a statement in response to the recent death of Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz. The agency that represents him did not have his name on their list of clients who are free agents this summer, fuelling speculation that he’s mulling retirement.

Forward Pius Suter, winger Noah Gregor, goaltender Jaroslav Halak, center Paul Stastny and winger Phil Kessel rounded out the top 10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Suter said he doesn’t intend on returning to his native Switzerland and hopes to sign an NHL contract. Kessel, 35, has indicated he wants to continue his NHL career. So does the 38-year-old Halak. No word on Stastny or Gregor.

UPDATE ON THE SHARKS

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For those of you who are weary of all the speculation about Erik Karlsson, here’s the latest on the San Jose Sharks that has nothing to do with the 33-year-old defenseman. Enjoy!

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng observed that Sharks general manager Mike Grier has been pursuing devalued assets this summer that still appear to possess real upside. He’s acquired goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood and wingers Anthony Duclair and Filip Zadina and made a failed attempt at signing Vladimir Tarasenko.

Peng listed defenseman Matt Dumba, winger Tomas Tatar and winger Max Comtois as three free agents that he believes Grier should target.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks have over $5 million in projected cap space for 2023-24. They will have more if they somehow manage to trade a certain expensive Norris Trophy-winning defenseman this summer. That will give Grier more room to perhaps add a free agent or two such as those listed by Peng.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Max Miller wondered if the Sharks might consider trading Alexander Barabanov. The 29-year-old winger has been a good player, netting 93 points in 147 games. However, he could become the odd man out among their top-six forwards with the additions of Duclair and Zadina and with promising William Eklund expected to crack the lineup this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller suggested that Barabanov, who is slated to become a UFA next July, could be an enticing target for playoff contenders at the March trade deadline. He carries an affordable $2.5 million cap hit but his 10-team no-trade clause could affect the number of possible trade partners for the Sharks.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins reported on Sunday that he’d heard the Oilers were closing in on new contracts with defenseman Evan Bouchard and center Ryan McLeod. The latter has an arbitration hearing on Aug. 4.

Leavins believes the goalposts have been slightly moved in terms of what it might cost to sign them. That leads him to conclude that the Oilers might have to go the professional tryout offer (PTO) route to add a center or two rather than signing UFAs. He also doesn’t rule out an in-season trade, suggesting Washington’s Nic Dowd and Montreal’s Jake Evans as possible trade options.

Robert Tychowski, meanwhile, believes the Oilers have dodged a “potential grenade” of an offer sheet for Bouchard. If it was going to happen, he thinks it would’ve by now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed regarding the Bouchard offer sheet. There aren’t many teams with the cap space to pull it off. It also remains a rarely-used tactic that most general managers tend to avoid.