NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 24, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 24, 2019

Game recaps, Bruins and Jets clinch playoff berths, Bruins re-sign Zdeno Chara, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins clinched a postseason spot by thumping the Florida Panthers 7-3. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara had a big day, becoming the 22nd defenseman in NHL history to reach 200 career goals and re-signing a one-year contract extension. The new deal is worth $2 million in base salary plus $1.75 million in performance bonuses. Meanwhile, the Bruins got some bad news earlier in the day when it was revealed Sean Kuraly will be sidelined a month with a fracture in his right hand.

Boston Bruins re-sign captain Zdeno Chara to a one-year extension (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chara’s new contract is a reasonable one for both sides. The Bruins keep their captain in the fold for another season to maintain stability and leadership on their blueline. Chara gets a fair deal for a player of his declining (but still effective) skills.

The move also provides the Bruins with salary-cap flexibility. With over $68.6 million invested in 19 players, that should provide sufficient room to re-sign restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen, who are all coming off entry-level contracts. 

The Winnipeg Jets (94 points) secured a playoff berth by blanking the Nashville Predators 5-0. Kyle Connor netted a hat trick while Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 33 shots for the shutout. The Jets also hold a four-point lead over the Predators for the top spot in the Central Division.

Mark Giordano had a goal and two assists to give the Calgary Flames a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Giordano now has points in seven straight games. The Flames (101 points) have a six-point lead over the San Jose Sharks for first place in the Pacific Division and the overall Western Conference standings.

The Colorado Avalanche (80 points) moved ahead of the Arizona Coyotes into the final Western Conference wild-card berth by defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2. Colin Wilson had a goal and an assist for the Avs, while the Blackhawks (74 points) slip six points behind Colorado. The Avs played without winger Mikko Rantanen, who sat out the game with an undisclosed injury and will miss today’s contest against the Hawks.

The Arizona Coyotes (79 points) dropped one point out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference by falling 2-1 to the New Jersey Devils in a shootout. Pavel Zacha tallied the winner for the Devils. The Coyotes are winless in their last four contests.

Josh Bailey scored twice, including the go-ahead goal, as the New York Islanders doubled up the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2. The Islanders (93 points) move within one of the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division while the Flyers (80 points) are seven points out of a playoff berth in the East.

The Carolina Hurricanes (89 points) remain two ahead of the Montreal Canadiens for the first wild-card spot in the East by defeating the Minnesota Wild 5-1. Teuvo Teravainen had a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes, while the Wild (79 points) slip one behind the Avalanche in the Western Conference wild-card chase. Wild winger Zach Parise missed the game with a lower-body injury.

Brendan Gallagher, Max Domi, and Tomas Tatar each had three-point performances as the Montreal Canadiens beat the Buffalo Sabres 7-4. With the win, the Canadiens (87 points) hold a three-point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final Eastern wild-card spot. Gallagher tallied his career-high 33rd goal of the season. The Sabres are now officially eliminated from postseason contention.

Vladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn each had a goal and an assist as the St. Louis Blues held off the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. With 88 points, the Blues sit two back of the Predators for second in the Central Division. Lightning center Brayden Point scored his 40th of the season.

The Pittsburgh Penguins (93 points) remain tied with the Islanders for second in the Metro Division after nipping the Dallas Stars 3-2. Jared McCann scored twice for the Penguins, including the game-winner in the third period. The Stars (82 points) sit two points above the Avalanche in the first wild-card spot in the West. Stars center Jason Spezza was a healthy scratch for the second time in a week.

The New York Rangers upset the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on an overtime goal by Ryan Strome. Despite the victory, the Rangers are officially eliminated from playoff contention. The Leafs (94 points) have won just four of their last 10 games.

Anthony Mantha scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Detroit Red Wings surprised the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2, snapping the latter’s four-game winning streak. Vegas sits five points behind the Sharks in the Pacific Division. Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson missed the game with a lower-body injury.

Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson made 26 saves to pick up his first victory since Dec. 17 by edging the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Brady Tkachuk tallied two goals, including the winner in overtime. The Oilers (74 points) are six points behind the Avalanche for the final Western playoff spot. A lingering back injury prevented Senators forward Zack Smith from playing in this game.

Speaking of the Oilers and Senators, Ken Hitchcock is receptive to the idea of returning behind the Edmonton bench next season. Meanwhile, the Senators confirm their intention to hire a president of hockey operations to provide assistance to general manager Pierre Dorion, who continues to have the full support of team owner Eugene Melnyk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Remains to be seen if the eventual new Oilers general manager wants Hitchcock back. He might prefer bringing in his own bench boss. As for a new hockey ops president for the Senators, that move will take some of the burdens off Dorion, allowing him to focus on rebuilding the roster.

The Los Angeles Kings downed the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 on a shootout goal by Anze Kopitar.

NBC SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has been dealing with an upper-body injury that’s been bothering him for a while. His status for today’s game against the Vancouver Canucks remains unclear.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bad enough for the Blue Jackets to be slumping when they’re trying to secure a wild-card spot. Having their starting goalie hampered by an injury makes matters potentially worse. 

DENVER POST: NHL referee and Colorado native Brad Watson has retired after 23 seasons. He worked 214 playoff games and eight Stanley Cup Finals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Watson in his retirement. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 4, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 4, 2018

Islanders sign Robin Lehner and acquire Matt Martin, Hurricanes sign Calvin de Haan and Nail Yakupov heading to the KHL. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.  

NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders yesterday signed unrestricted free agent goaltender Robin Lehner to a one-year, $1.5-million contract and re-acquired winger Matt Martin from the Toronto Maple Leafs for goalie prospect Eamon McAdam.

New York Islanders sign free-agent goaltender Robin Lehner (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is doing what he can to plug the holes in his roster with the slim pickings available to him via free agency and the trade market.

Lehner’s posted up respectable numbers over the past three years backstopping a lousy Buffalo Sabres club but it remains to be seen if he’ll be a significant improvement over Thomas Greiss and the departed Jaroslav Halak. Martin will bring back a physical style to the Isles that’s been missing since he signed with the Leafs two years ago.

The Leafs, meanwhile, shed Martin’s $2.5-million annual cap hit, freeing up room additional space to re-sign restricted free agent William Nylander and perhaps address their need to bolster their defense corps. 

SPORTSNET: The Carolina Hurricanes signed former Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan to a four-year, $18.2-million contract. Hurricanes GM Don Waddell believes de Haan’s two-way play will “help solidify the left side and upgrade our defence”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This signing could also set the stage for a trade of Justin Faulk. More on that later this morning in the Rumors section. 

TSN: Nail Yakupov, the first-overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, has signed a two-year deal with the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In the wake of this news, I’ve seen several pundits praise Yakupov’s speed, shot and personality but blame his “lack of hockey sense” for his poor NHL career. That’s as may be, but I think the revolving door of coaches and the culture of losing he played under during most of his four seasons with the Edmonton Oilers did him no favors. He was pretty much damaged goods by the time he joined the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche. 

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS:  Jets star Patrik Laine “helped calm some kids Monday night who were frightened by a drunken passenger causing a disturbance aboard a flight from Malaga, Spain to Helsinki.” Laine lightened the mood by talking to the youngsters, posing for photos and signing some autographs, helping each child to relax. 

BOSTON GLOBE: The Bruins re-signed forward Sean Kuraly to a three-year contract worth $1.25 million per season.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes signed center Brad Richardson to a two-year, $2.5-million contract. 

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues re-signed forward Robby Fabbri to a one-year, $925K contract.