NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 14, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 14, 2019

Blues beat the Sharks to tie the Western Conference Final, Ryan Kesler undergoes another hip surgery, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Robert Bortuzzo snapped a 2-2 tie in the second period as the St. Louis Blues doubled up the San Jose Sharks 4-2 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final. The series is tied at a game apiece. Logan Couture scored both goals (one of them shorthanded) for the Sharks. Game 3 will be Wednesday at 8 pm ET in St. Louis.

St. Louis Blues defenseman scored the game-winning goal in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues took a 2-0 lead only to see Couture erase it before Bortozzo restored their lead. Bortuzzo’s teammate Jaden Schwartz picked up his ninth goal of the postseason. This was a big game for the Blues, who bent but didn’t break against the Sharks offensive attack.

Couture, who was the leading scorer of the 2016 playoffs, is having another fine postseason. He leads all scorers with 13 goals and 19 points. 

SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler underwent right hip resurfacing surgery last week. He could miss the entire 2019-20 season. The procedure is less invasive than hip-replacement surgery and allows the possibility for the 34-year-old Kesler to continue his playing career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kesler, 34, underwent hip surgery two years ago. Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery and resumes his NHL career.

Speaking of the Ducks, they were granted permission by the New York Islanders to Lane Lambert for their vacant head-coaching position. Lambert is the Islanders associate coach. 

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour is playing coy over whether he’ll replace Petr Mrazek in goal with Curtis McElhinney for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Boston Bruins hold a 2-0 lead in that best-of-seven series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mrazek had his difficulties against the Bruins in Games 1 and 2 but he wasn’t to blame for the Hurricanes’ lopsided losses. Switching goalies might provide the shake-up the Hurricanes need to pick up their play in Game 3 tonight.

NBC SPORTS: The Chicago Blackhawks re-signed defenseman Slater Koekkoek to a one-year, one-way contract extension worth $925k. The Blackhawks acquired Koekkoek from the Tampa Bay Lightning in January. 

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres rookie defenseman Lawrence Pilut underwent shoulder surgery and will be sidelined five-to-six months. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 12, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 12, 2019

Game recaps, Rick Nash retires, an update on Sergei Bobrovsky, the latest trades and contract signings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.com: Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner scored his 30th of the season in his first game against the Carolina Hurricanes since they trade him last summer, but it was the Hurricanes that emerged with a 4-3 win. Sebastian Aho scored twice, Micheal Ferland had a three-point night and Curtis McElhinney made 30 saves as the Hurricanes held on for the victory.

Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner scored his 30th goal of the season on Friday and was also voted into the NHL All-Star Game by the fans. (Photo via NHL Images)

Speaking of Skinner, he joined Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, and Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl as the “Last Men In” to skate for their respective divisions in the upcoming NHL All-Star Game in San Jose.  

Jake Guentzel tallied a hat trick as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied from a 3-0 deficit to thump the Anaheim Ducks 7-4, handing the latter their 10th consecutive defeat. Evgeni Malkin had a four-point performance, Phil Kessel had three points and Tanner Pearson scored twice for the Penguins.  Earlier in the day, the Penguins announced the re-signing of backup goaltender Casey DeSmith to a three-year extension worth an annual average value of $1.25 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks have slipped out of a wild-card berth and are in danger of tumbling out of playoff contention altogether if they don’t snap out of this tailspin soon. Getting Cam Fowler and Rickard Rakell back from injury should help but general manager Bob Murray could be under pressure to do something, be it a trade or a coaching change, to reverse this season-threatening skid.

As for the DeSmith signing, it’s an affordable move by the Penguins to ensure a measure of stability behind oft-injured starter Matt Murray. It could turn into an incredible bargain if DeSmith goes on to outplay Murray and take over the starter’s role, or easily moveable if Tristan Jarry should supplant him from the backup job. 

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit kicked out 33 shots and teammate Kyle Connor collected three points to lead their club to a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. 

The Calgary Flames overcame a 2-0 deficit to edge the Florida Panthers 4-3. Michael Frolik led the way with a goal and two assists. 

SPORTSNET: After 15 NHL seasons, multiple concussions have forced Rick Nash to announce his retirement. A six-time all-star, Nash tallied 437 goals, 368 assists, and 805 points in 1,068 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins. He won the Maurice Richard Trophy in 2003-04 as the league’s leading goal scorer. He captained the Blue Jackets for over four seasons (2007-08 to 2011-12. He also won two gold medals (2010, 2014) playing for Canada’s Men’s Olympic Hockey teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  A dazzling goal scorer, Nash remains the Blue Jackets’ all-time offensive leader. Those who ran the Blue Jackets during his tenure with them did an insufficient job building around his scoring talent. His playoff scoring stats weren’t as impressive as his regular-season numbers, at times making him a target for criticism. Those concussion injuries often took a lengthy toll upon his performance. With better health, he would’ve been a more dominant scorer. 

THE ATHLETIC (SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED): Following a meeting with Blue Jackets management, coaches and players, Sergei Bobrovsky has returned to the lineup. The club had disciplined him following an incident during a loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. He spoke to the media following the meetings, acknowledged he allowed his emotions to get the better of him, apologized to his teammates, said the air has been cleared and they’re all moving on from the incident. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m guessing Bobrovsky snapped after he was pulled from the game and verbally lashed out at his teammates. Whatever the reason, the proof of whether he and the club have put this situation behind them will be determined by their play. 

DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon apologized for getting into a spat on the bench with head coach Jared Bednar during a 5-3 loss to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday. He said he felt embarrassed after seeing the footage and took responsibility for handling the situation poorly. He defended Bednar and said he and his teammates enjoy playing for him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good on MacKinnon for owning up to his mistake. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson publicly shared his struggles with alcoholism and mental illness on Friday. Last summer, he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor domestic abuse and received an 18-game suspension by the league. He said he and his girlfriend, who also struggled with alcohol, are now in a better place, have put the incident behind them, and remain committed to their sobriety. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Watson and his family as they work to improve their lives with the help of the resources available to them from the league, the NHLPA and the Predators, as well as the support of their families. 

TSN: The St. Louis Blues placed forwards Tyler Bozak (concussion) and Robert Thomas (shoulder) on injured reserve.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks acquired defenseman Slater Koekkoek from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenseman Jan Rutta.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Koekkoek struggled to crack a very deep Lightning blueline. He’ll have a better opportunity becoming an NHL regular with the Blackhawks, whose blueline depth has steadily eroded in recent years. 

NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers traded center Jordan Weal to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for minor-league defenseman Jacob Graves and a sixth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. 










NHL Rumor Mill – January 10, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – January 10, 2019

Latest on Wayne Simmonds, Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

LATEST SIMMONDS SPECULATION

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Appearing on NBCSN, TSN insider Bob McKenzie reported the Philadelphia Flyers are getting calls about pending UFA winger Wayne Simmonds but they haven’t reached a decision yet if they’ll re-sign or move him before the Feb. 25 trade deadline. McKenzie considers it more likely than not that Simmonds gets traded but it’s not a certainty. He believes there will be a high demand for the power forward. 

The Philadelphia Flyers must soon decide if they’ll re-sign or trade Wayne Simmonds before the trade deadline. (Photo via NHL Images)

Appearing on Ottawa’s TSN 1200, McKenzie’s colleague Pierre LeBrun also believes there will be no shortage of interest in Simmonds if the Flyers decide to trade him. LeBrun suggested adding Simmonds to a powerful club like the Tampa Bay Lightning to give them more muscle for the playoffs is a scary thought, though he adds he has no evidence to suggest the Lightning are interested in Simmonds and was merely using them as an example. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher could be listening to offers from other clubs while negotiating with Simmonds’ agent to determine if a workable new contract can be reached before the trade deadline. Perhaps he’ll try to re-sign Simmonds to a three- or four-year deal provided he’s not seeking much over $5 million annually. If the winger seeks a more lucrative long-term contract, Fletcher will shop him before the deadline for the best deal.

While there may be no indication of the Lightning having interest in Simmonds, they’ve proven their willingness in the recent past to swing significant deals near the trade deadline to bolster their lineup for the postseason. It wouldn’t be surprising if they become a serious suitor for Simmonds. 

RUMOR HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman believes the Carolina Hurricanes could trade Dougie Hamilton because they’re heavy with right-shot defensemen. He also noted Hamilton has had more games playing under 16 minutes (four games) than those where he’s played over 20 minutes (three games). The Hurricanes need scoring and there are clubs in need of scoring blueliners so Hamilton has value.  

Friedman also reports the Hurricanes and pending unrestricted free agent winger Micheal Ferland remain far apart in contract negotiations. The Hurricanes are determined not to let their UFAs depart for nothing. Friedman suggests the Pittsburgh Penguins or Edmonton Oilers as possible destinations for Ferland. The Hurricanes have also told teams they prefer to wait a little longer before reaching decisions on goalies Curtis McElhinney and Petr Mrazek. They’re also trying to re-sign winger Jordan Martinook. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes apparently aren’t actively shopping Hamilton but, as Friedman indicated last Saturday, they could be willing to listen if someone offers them a scoring forward. We know Hurricanes GM Don Waddell had interest in Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander prior to his re-signing a new contract with the Leafs and there’s been talk that he also likes Leafs winger Kaspari Kapanen. Maybe he would consider swapping Hamilton for Kapanen plus a draft pick or prospect.

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford isn’t shy about making significant in-season deals and perhaps Ferland could be a fit. However, the Penguins surge up the standings since early-December had Rutherford recently suggesting he might not be as busy near the deadline this time around. The Oilers need all the help they can get but their priority (as always) is their blueline and Ferland can’t improve that area of concern.

Friedman adds winger Pat Maroon to the list of available St. Louis Blues… He also reports the Tampa Bay Lightning are trying to find a new home for little-used defenseman Slater Koekkoek…There’s interest in Vancouver Canucks blueliner Michael Del Zotto but those clubs are waiting until closer to the trade deadline to save salary-cap space. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just spitballing here, but if the Lightning were to pursue Wayne Simmonds, maybe they’ll offer up Koekkoek as part of the return. 

Teams could be watching to see how the Winnipeg Jets handle backup goalie Laurent Brossoit and winger Brandon Tanev. Brossoit is a year away from UFA eligibility while Tanev is eligible this summer. The Jets have received inquiries about Jack Roslovic but have no interest in moving him.

SHARKS COULD BE BUSY AGAIN NEAR THE TRADE DEADLINE

THE MERCURY NEWS: Paul Gackle reports San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson is open to the idea of pursuing rental talent at this year’s trade deadline. It’s possible he could pursuing a scoring forward such as Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds or Ottawa’s Matt Duchene or Matt Stone. Goaltending, however, is an issue this year as the Sharks’ tandem of Martin Jones and Aaron Dell are struggling this season. Still, Wilson expressed confidence in the duo, pointing to Jones’ playoff record. Gackle noted Wilson lacks a first- and second-round pick in this year’s and lacks a first the 2020 NHL Draft. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Throughout his long career as a general manager, Wilson has proven capable of pulling off significant in-season trades. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him landing a substantial rental asset this year. 










NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2018

Latest on the Islanders, Lightning and Canucks in your NHL rumor mill.

ISLANDERS

NEWSDAY: The free-agent status of top-six forwards Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle and Brock Nelson are among Andrew Gross’ five things to watch for the New York Islanders this season. He believes they cannot allow those three to depart as UFAs without compensation as they did with John Tavares this summer. General manager Lou Lamoriello could face some tough decisions by the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline.

New York Islanders could face a tough decision with pending free agents such as Anders Lee. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Player and team performance will determine the fates of those three. Of the trio, Nelson could be most likely to be shopped if he fails to impress as their second-line center. 

Big seasons from Lee and Eberle could land them new contracts with the islanders, but that will also depend upon how much they’re seeking. Lee is earning $3.75 million annually on his current contract and could look to double that, while Eberle is earning $6 million per season and could try to stay in that neighborhood. 

LIGHTNING

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports the Tampa Bay Lightning have tried to move a defenseman, telling teams they’re open to trading Slater Koekkoek or Braydon Coburn. It remains to be seen if a deal will be made. For now, they’ve sent promising Erik Cernak to their AHL affiliate in Syracuse. Both blueliners still hold depth value for the Lightning. Of the two, Smith thinks Koekkoek could be more open to a change of scenery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Koekkoek is the most likely trade candidate, as he’s younger (24), lacks no-trade protection and carries an affordable $865K salary this season. That move might not happen right away but could take place later this season, especially if there’s a need to create more room on a crowded blueline. He could be an affordable blueline depth acquisition for a rival club as the season unfolds. 

CANUCKS

THE ATHLETIC: Jason Brough feels the Vancouver Canucks placing Sam Gagner on waivers could be a warning of more moves to come. He wonders if veterans Brandon Sutter and Alexander Edler become trade candidates later this season. He acknowledges Edler has a no-trade clause but perhaps he’d waive it if he were told in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t getting re-signed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Gagner clears waivers today they could send him down to their AHL affiliate or attempt to trade him. He’s signed through 2019-20 with an annual cap hit of $3.15 million, which could make clubs leery of claiming him. Even via trade, the Canucks could be asked to absorb part of that cap hit. 

Sutter will be a tough sell. Cap Friendly indicates he carries a $4.375-million cap hit through 2020-21 with a full no-trade clause this season. Edler, on the other hand, should attract plenty of interest near the trade deadline if he’s willing to waive his no-trade. 

 











NHL Rumor Mill – October 1, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – October 1, 2018

Latest on Matt Duchene and Sebastian Aho plus the Lightning are open to moving a defenseman in your NHL rumor mill.

DUCHENE’s FUTURE IN OTTAWA REMAINS UNCERTAIN

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cited NHL insider Bob McKenzie giving his take on Matt Duchene’s status with the Ottawa Senators on Ottawa’s TSN 1200. Duchene is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. McKenzie doesn’t think there’s been serious discussions between the two sides over how this situation could shake out. He expects the 26-year-old center will let this season play itself out and see if there’s any improvement in terms of the atmosphere around the Senators.

Matt Duchene’s future with the Ottawa Senators remains murky. (Photo via NHL Images)

McKenzie feels it’s in Duchene’s best interest to play well in his contract year. He suggests there’s a difference in Duchene’s mindset compared to teammate and fellow pending UFA Mark stone, noting he played in a losing environment in Colorado and probably doesn’t want to repeat the experience in Ottawa.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duchene and Stone haven’t ruled out re-signing with the Senators, but the latter seems more keen on doing so. Still, a lot depends on the club’s performance in 2018-19.

A repeat of last season’s collapse and the toxic environment that came from that could make Duchene and Stone unwilling to invest long-term with the Senators. If they’re both reluctant to re-sign before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline, they could be playing elsewhere before then. 

HURRICANES HOPING FOR NEW DEAL WITH AHO

THE NEWS & OBSERVER’s Chip Alexander reports Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon considers re-signing forward Sebastian Aho to a long-term contract extension to be a “high priority.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a rumor but I can speculate over how much Aho could get. He had 24 goals and 49 points as a rookie in 2016-17, finishing second in team scoring. Last season, he was the Hurricanes’ leading scorer with 29 goals and 65 points. The 21-year-old could reach 30 goals and 70 points this season. He’s going to get a big raise on his next contract.

Aho is now in the final season of his entry-level contract. His his camp could be keeping an eye on what forward William Nylander eventually gets when he ends his contract standoff with the Toronto Maple Leafs and perhaps use it as a comparable. They could also have Edmonton Oilers’ center Leon Drasaitl’s eight-year, $68-million deal in mind. 

LIGHTNING SHOPPING A DEFENSEMAN

THE ATHLETIC’s Joe Smith reports hearing the Tampa Bay Lightning are open to moving Slater Koekkoek or Braydon Coburn. “They’ve been calling other teams. One week until season opener, so should be interesting. The fact Cernak opened some eyes in camp gives TB another option.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Koekkoek could be easier to move than Coburn. The former is a 24-year-old defenseman carrying a very affordable salary-cap hit ($865K) who’s slated to become a restricted free agent next summer. Coburn, on the other hand, is a 33-year-old blueliner with a $3.75-million cap hit and due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

The Lightning might prefer moving Coburn’s cap hit. As for a return, I don’t think new GM Julien BriseBois wants to take any significant salary back, preferring to leave cap space for possible moves later in the season. 

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2018

Thornton and Hertl re-signing with Sharks among latest notable signings. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS: The San Jose Sharks yesterday re-signed center Joe Thornton to a one-year, $5-million contract and forward Tomas Hertl to a four-year deal.

The Beard is back, as Joe Thornton signs a one-year deal with the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, Thornton’s deal doesn’t contain any bonuses. It’s a straightforward $5 million. His salary is a significant drop from last season’s $8 million ($6.75 million base plus bonuses) but unsurprising given his age (39), recent knee surgeries and his willingness to stay in San Jose.

Cap Friendly indicates Hertl’s new deal is worth an annual average value of $5.625 million, a big raise over his previous salary of $3 million annually. It’s a shorter term than perhaps he would’ve preferred, but given his injury history, it’s understandable why the Sharks were reluctant to invest in a lengthier deal.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Joe Starkey scolds Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford for suggesting the reason the Columbus Blue Jackets, former team of new Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson, scratched the blueliner was for reasons other than on-ice performance.

Rutherford’s remarks, and those of Johnson expressing his happiness over joining a team with a winning culture, prompted angry rebuttals from Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella and GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Johnson claimed he meant no offense by his comments and apologized to the Jackets organization.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Starkey also chided Tortorella for not being the bigger man in this situation and ignoring those remarks. If anything, this back-and-forth will only stoke the ongoing rivalry between the two clubs. 

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Rangers owner James Dolan denied reports claiming he’s looking to sell the club and his other sports franchises.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Former Kings defenseman Slava Voynov was granted a dismissal of his misdemeanor domestic abuse conviction, potentially paving the way for his return to the NHL. He can now request a reinstatement hearing with league commissioner Gary Bettman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even if Bettman grants Voynov’s reinstatement, the blueliner could have a difficult time landing with a new NHL club. While some general managers could be interested in his on-ice skills, the baggage from his domestic assault conviction could be a potential public-relations nightmare. 

THE TENNESSEAN: The head district attorney handling a criminal charge of domestic assault leveled at Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson has recused herself because of her upcoming wedding to Gerry Helper, the team’s senior vice president and senior adviser.

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks yesterday signed UFA winger Carter Rowney to a three-year deal worth $3.4 million.

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed forward J.T. Brown to a two-year, $1.375-million deal. 

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed defenseman Slater Koekkoek to a one-year, $865K contract.

NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders signed forward Tom Kuhnhackl to a one-year, $650K deal.

NHL.COM: The Nashville Predators signed forward Zac Rinaldo to a one-year, two-way contract worth $650K at the NHL level.