NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 13, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 13, 2020

In today’s NHL morning coffee headlines, the Stars are within a game of reaching the Stanley Cup Final, Lou Lamoriello is GM of the Year, an update on Brayden Point, and the Canadiens acquire Joel Edmundson from the Hurricanes.

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars are one game away from the Stanley Cup Final after edging the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1 to take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Final. Anton Khudobin made 32 saves for the win while teammates Joe Pavelski and Jamie Benn were the goal scorers. Alec Martinez tallied for the Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin flat out stole this game for the Stars, who were outshot 33-20 in this contest and outplayed for long stretches by the Golden Knights. He’s been Dallas’ most valuable player throughout this postseason and has to be considered among the leading candidates for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is this season’s winner of the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award. The off-season signings of Semyon Varlamov and Derrick Brassard, re-signings of Anders Lee, Anthony Beauvillier, Jordan Eberle and Brock Nelson, and acquisitions of Andy Greene and Jean-Gabriel Pageau were cited as factors in Lamoriello receiving the award.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello has his critics but there’s no question his moves ensured the Islanders remained a playoff club this season. His wheeling and dealing also got the Isles to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1993.

The Tampa Bay Lightning could be without first-line center Brayden Point for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Islander. Point left Game 2 with an undisclosed injury and missed Game 3. He participated in practice yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t be surprised if Point is a game-day decision.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens yesterday acquired defenseman Joel Edmundson from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2020. Edmundson, 27, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Habs will re-sign Edmundson, who earned $3.1 million on a one-year contract this season. They like his size and physical play on the left side of their blueline. This move leaves the Canadiens with 11 picks in this year’s draft.

If Edmundson is re-signed, it could set the stage for another move or two by the Habs. I have more on that in the rumors sections.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 7, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 7, 2020

Stars edge the Golden Knights in the opening game of the Conference Final, Matt Dumba wins the King Clancy Trophy, plus updates on Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM John Klingberg scored the only goal and Anton Khudobin had a 25-save shutout as the Dallas Stars blanked the Vegas Golden Knights 1-0 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final. Klingberg’s goal was also the Stars’ first shot on net, coming at 2:36 of the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights defeated the Stars in their opening game of the round-robin. Since then, the Stars have rounded into a physical club with a stingy defense and an aggressive forecheck. The Golden Knights had difficulty generating good scoring chances in this game.

Apart from two empty-net goals against the Canucks in Game 7 of the second round, the Golden Knights have tallied just twice against an opposing goaltender in their last four games. Three of those games were losses, two by shutouts.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba is this year’s winner of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, honoring his commitment to racial and social justice.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper confirmed captain Steven Stamkos remains unfit to play and won’t participate in the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Islanders. He’s still recovering from a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training in July.

Winger Nikita Kucherov will be in the lineup for Game 1 against the Isles. Defenseman Jan Rutta remains unfit to play after suffering a lower-body injury in round-robin play.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2020

Updates on Taylor Hall and Anton Khudobin plus the latest Sharks speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

UPDATE ON HALL’S MEETING WITH COYOTES OWNERSHIP

AZ COYOTES INSIDER (subscription required): Craig Morgan provided additional insight into Taylor Hall‘s recent meeting with Arizona Coyotes ownership.

Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall (Photo via NHL Images).

Hall’s agent, Darren Ferris, reiterated the two sides agreed to wait until the end of the season to discuss a new contract. However, Morgan reported it sounds like an offer for Hall was crafted and it appears it was below market value and mid-term in length. It may have been a starting point for the Coyotes, or it could be all they’re willing to pay. Hall’s market value is still believed between $8 million and $11 million.

There are also conflicting accounts over the absence of general manager John Chayka at that meeting. One source said it was a mutual agreement between Chayka and ownership, with the Coyotes GM wanting Hall to meet new club CEO Xavier Gutierrez, but another source said that’s inaccurate. Chayka and Gutierrez declined to comment. Ferris was also absent from the meeting.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe that meeting was for Hall to meet the new CEO and get a sense of the club’s direction. Maybe Chayka was bypassed to enable ownership to speak directly to the winger.

What’s more interesting is the supposed low-ball offer to Hall. It’s not unusual for a team’s initial offer to be below market value as part of the negotiating process as the two sides attempt to hammer out an agreement.

The Coyotes, however, have limited cap space and must shed some salary if they intend to re-sign Hall. If they don’t intend to move up into the market value range, Hall could be on his way out when the UFA market opens on Nov. 1.

LATEST SHARKS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked what it might take to acquire winger Brock Boeser from the Vancouver Canucks. He doesn’t see that happening, doubting the Canucks would trade Boeser within the division plus they’re not in a position to part with key core players or assets to acquire a player like him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s name was floated as a possible cost-cutting option for the Canucks, but I’ll be surprised if they went that route. If they do, I can’t see the Sharks landing him. Kurz cites good reasons, but I’d add their limited cap space (over $66 million invested in 13 players as per Cap Friendly), and several notable players carrying big contracts and no-trade clauses also make it difficult to pursue that type of deal.

Kurz was also asked what it would take for the San Jose Sharks to acquire a young goalie like Igor Shesterkin or Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers. He doesn’t see the Rangers parting with the promising Shesterkin. He’d be surprised if the Sharks pursue Georgiev, noting their recent signing of prospect Alexei Melnichuk from the KHL. Kurz thinks they’ll instead try to add a veteran goalie to compete with struggling starter Martin Jones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps it could be an experienced backup like Anton Khudobin. Speaking of the Stars’ pending UFA goalie…

KHUDOBIN HOPES TO REMAIN WITH THE STARS

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks recently reported Anton Khudobin hopes to re-sign with the Stars, though he’s leaving the negotiations up to his agent.

The 34-year-old netminder is due to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and is due for a raise over his $2.5 million annual average value. Contract term could also be an issue.

DeFranks indicates the Stars could have between $7.5 – $9 million in cap space after re-signing restricted free agents Radek Faksa, Roope Hintz, and Denis Gurianov. They could also need to add some depth players if they feel promising youngsters like Thomas Harley, Ty Dellandrea, and Jason Robertson aren’t NHL-ready.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin’s experience and solid goaltending stats will attract interest around the league in the UFA market from clubs (like the Sharks) seeking depth between the pipes in the off-season.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 27, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 27, 2020

A look at this year’s top UFA goaltenders in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, and Washington’s Braden Holtby top Sean O’Leary’s ranking of this year’s top-10 NHL unrestricted free agent goaltenders.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner (Photo via NHL Images).

O’Leary observes Lehner has better stats than teammate Marc-Andre Fleury, suggesting it’s possible Lehner could outperform Fleury and take over as the Golden Knights’ starting goalie in the playoff tournament. Nevertheless, he believes it will be difficult for the cap-strapped Golden Knights to re-sign Lehner with Fleury carrying two more years on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some media speculation suggested the Golden Knights pull a swerve by trading Fleury to free up sufficient cap space to sign Lehner. Fleury, however, has a 10-team no-trade list. His age (35) and $7 million annual average value could also make him difficult to move if Vegas wanted to go down that road.

I’ll be surprised if the Canucks part ways with Markstrom. He’s become a reliable starter in Vancouver and they want to keep him. I think the two sides can agree on around $6 million annually, but the term could be a sticking point. Markstrom is 30 and the Canucks could be leery of any deal beyond five years.

Some might be surprised to see Holtby slide to third despite being a former Vezina winner (2016) who backstopped the Capitals to their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2018. His struggles over the last two seasons account could hurt his value. 

Holtby will draw interest if he hits the open market, but he probably won’t get the type of big-money contract he otherwise would’ve had his numbers remained strong. Of course, that will change if he carries the Caps on another deep playoff run.

Chicago Corey Crawford and Dallas’ Anton Khudobin are fourth and fifth on O’Leary’s list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford and Khudobin could stay put. Crawford wants to remain in Chicago but he’ll have to accept less than his current $6 million AAV on a much shorter contract. The Stars, meanwhile, are believed interested in keeping their tandem of Khudobin and Ben Bishop intact. That could require a bump above Khudobin’s current $2.5 million annual salary.

The New York Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Edmonton’s Mike Smith, San Jose’s Aaron Dell, and Philadelphia’s Brian Elliott round out the top ten.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Greiss would be a fine backup for any NHL club. Talbot’s bounce-back performance this season could have him looking for a starter’s job.

Smith is in the twilight of his career, but some Edmonton pundits think the Oilers should bring him back for one more season. Dell’s had a rough couple of years as a backup in San Jose. Elliott could be re-signed by the Flyers for another season to back up Carter Hart.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 21, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 21, 2020

Check out the latest on the Devils and Stars plus an update on Jesse Puljujarvi in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

DEVILS DEFENSE SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC (Subscription required) In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak speculated Andy Greene could return to the New Jersey Devils if they see a veteran defenseman to mentor their young blueliners. He also doubts they’ll pursue this summer’s top UFAs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Greene spent nearly 14 full seasons with the Devils before he was shipped last February to the New York Islanders. If he’s still available later in the off-season perhaps he’d be willing to return to New Jersey on a one-year, bonus-laden deal.

Could the New Jersey Devils target a defenseman like Anaheim’s Josh Manson in the off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)

Turning to the trade market, Masisak looked at several defensemen that could be on the Devils’ off-season radar. His list of good options included Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Buffalo’s Colin Miller, Columbus’ David Savard, St. Louis’ Vince Dunn, and Tampa Bay’s Mikhail Sergachev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Masisak published a long list of options, but I wanted to focus on the notables.

I believe it’ll cost the Devils a scoring forward to acquire Manson, Miller, or Savard because their respective clubs need secondary scoring. Dunn and Sergachev made his list largely because of the cap constraints faced by their respective teams. However, it’s assumed the Blues and Lightning will make cost-cutting moves to free up salary-cap space to re-sign those two.

UPDATE ON PULJUJARVI

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins believes Jesse Puljujarvi will sign a one-year contract extension with Karpat of the Finnish Professional League. He expects that deal will include an NHL opt-out clause.

Puljujarvi spent this season in Finland after requesting a trade from the Edmonton Oilers. While the young winger hasn’t ruled out returning to the Oilers, Leavins wondered if his recent change of heart was to rehabilitate his trade value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt it’ll make Puljujarvi more attractive in the trade market. The Oilers reportedly listened to trade offers but didn’t get anything worthwhile.

Most teams consider the former fourth-overall pick to be at best a third-line winger. They’re unwilling to part with a first-rounder or a good young player to get him. Puljujarvi will likely have to return to the Oilers if he hopes to salvage his NHL career and boost his trade value.

STARS COULD TRY TO RE-SIGN KHUDOBIN.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Sean Shapiro said he believes the Stars will do everything they can to re-sign goaltender Anton Khudobin. They know they won’t make the playoffs next season without a competent backup for Ben Bishop.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $62 million invested in 15 players (stick tap to Cap Friendly), the Stars have sufficient cap space to re-sign Khudobin.

They must also re-sign RFAs Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov, and Radek Faksa. Hintz and Gurianov lack arbitration rights, giving Stars management sufficient leverage to re-sign both to affordable bridge deals.

Assuming Khudobin isn’t seeking a significant raise over his current $2.5 million, I wouldn’t be surprised if he stuck around in Dallas for at least another year.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 13, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 13, 2020

Check out the latest Oilers and Devils speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

UPDATE ON THE OILERS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Mark Spector was asked if the Edmonton Oilers will talk contract extension anytime soon with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins‘ representatives. The 26-year-old center is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Photo via NHL Images).

Spector doesn’t expect Oilers general manager Ken Holland will make a contract offer until well into the 2020-21 season. He doesn’t see a great deal of pressure on either side right now but expects Nugent-Hopkins will re-sign. He thinks RNH could seek a salary comparable to teammate Leon Draisaitl‘s $8.5 million annual average value.

(NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was some recent speculation about Nugent-Hopkins’ future in Edmonton. Considering his development into a solid two-way, top-six forward who can play center or wing, I expect they’ll re-sign him. $8.5 million annually is expensive, especially if the salary cap remains flat for 2021-22. Still, he’s an invaluable part of their core. I expect the two sides will work something out next year.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites a report out of Finland indicating Jesse Puljujarvi isn’t ruling out returning to the Oilers after this season. The 22-year-old winger opted to play in Finland this season while waiting for the Oilers to honor his trade request.

Never say never,” Puljujarvi reportedly said, adding that everything is possible and he hasn’t set any timeline for his decision. Staples feels the best way for the Oilers to get full value out of the winger is for him to return to the club in a meaningful role. He thinks he still has a chance to become a second-line winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi had by most accounts a decent season in Finland. Maybe it’s the reset he needs to get his NHL career back on track.

Holland was reportedly seeking at least a first-round pick as part of any deal involving Puljujarvi, who was selected fourth overall in the 2016 draft. The Oilers GM obviously didn’t get anything proposals he liked, and I doubt that’ll change after this season. If Puljujarvi wants to resume his NHL career, it looks like it’ll be in Edmonton.

SUGGESTED GOALIE TARGETS FOR THE DEVILS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required) Corey Masisak recently examined several possible UFA goaltending options for the New Jersey Devils. They’ll need a suitable backup for Mackenzie Blackwood if they buy out Cory Schneider. If they keep Schneider, Masisak thinks they could look for someone to compete with him for the No. 2 spot.

Those that would require a significant investment include Anton Khudobin, Robin Lehner, Cam Talbot, Corey Crawford, and Thomas Greiss. Cheaper short-term options include Aaron Dell, Ryan Miller, Craig Anderson, Mike Smith, Brian Elliott, and Jimmy Howard, while Laurent Brossoit, Michael Hutchinson, and Louis Domingue would be among the low-risk candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin or Greiss might be their best choices. Lehner will be looking for a long-term contract as a starter so that rules him out if the Devils see Blackwood as their No.1 goalie. Crawford is likely to re-sign with the Blackhawks while Talbot could stay in Calgary.

Miller, Anderson, Smith, Elliott, and Howard are all past their primes. Apart from their contracts, they probably wouldn’t be an improvement over Schneider. Neither would Brossoit, Hutchinson, or Domingue.