NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2022

The Lightning, Bruins, Kings and Blues tie their best-of-seven first-round series at two games apiece. Check out the details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning took a 5-0 lead after two periods over the Toronto Maple Leafs on route to a 7-3 victory, tying their best-of-seven opening-round playoff series at two games apiece. Ross Colton scored twice while Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Brandon Hagel each collected two assists. William Nylander tallied two goals for the Leafs while teammate Jack Campbell was pulled after giving up five goals on 16 shots. The series returns to Toronto for Game 5 on Tuesday night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are learning the hard way that the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning rises to the occasion when their backs are to the wall. At least the Lightning hasn’t held a lead in this series but that could change if the Leafs come out with another flat effort in Game 5.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images).

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand scored twice and set up three others to lead his club over the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 to square their first-round series at two games each. Patrice Bergeron had a goal and two assists and David Pastrnak scored and picked up a helper. Jeremy Swayman got the win with a 24-save performance while Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy missed this game due to COVID protocol. Game 5 is in Carolina on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ill-disciplined play proved costly for the Hurricanes as the Bruins went two-for-nine on the power play. Marchand was also his usual pesky self, getting into the head of Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo by appearing to call him a racist during a heated exchange. Meanwhile, Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour was frustrated when his challenge of Jake DeBrusk’s tying goal in the second period for goalie interference was ruled as incidental contact while attempting to make a play with the puck loose in the crease.

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick made 31 saves to shut out the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 to tie their series at 2-2. He set the playoff shutout record (10) for American-born NHL netminders. Carl Grundstrom scored two goals and collected an assist while Trevor Moore and Troy Stecher each had a goal and an assist. The series shifts back to Edmonton on Tuesday night for Game 5.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings looked done like dinner following lopsided losses in the previous two games. Quick’s superb goaltending and the Kings’ veteran leadership were crucial in this series-tying win. The Oilers played as though they were expecting another easy victory. This game should be a wake-up call that they’re facing an opponent they cannot take lightly.

The St. Louis Blues got a 28-save effort from Jordan Binnington in his 2022 postseason debut to tame the Minnesota Wild 5-2 and even their series at two games apiece. Jordan Kyrou scored two goals while Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron each picked up three points. Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy replied for the Wild. The two sides face off in Minnesota for Game 5 on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues’ revolving door blueline continued in this game as Scott Perunovich returned to action for the first time since January while Marco Scandella left this game with a lower-body injury. It’s possible Nick Leddy, Robert Bortuzzo or both could return for Game 5.

HEADLINES

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper escaped a serious eye injury on Saturday but swelling could keep him out of Game 4 against the Nashville Predators on Monday. The injury occurred in Game 3 when the blade of Predators center Ryan Johansen’s stick accidentally poked through the cage of Kuemper’s mask. Johansen was remorseful over the incident and was glad to hear the Avs goalie wasn’t seriously hurt.

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Teresa Walker reports Predators coach John Hynes said starting goalie Juuse Saros will not be playing in Game 4 against the Avs. He’s been sidelined since April 26 by a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Predators down 3-0 in this series it would be folly to put Saros in net if he’s not fully recovered.

NHL.COM: Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for high-sticking Calgary Flames winger Andrew Mangiapane during Game 3 of their first-round series on Saturday.

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov received the same fine for a similar infraction against Florida Panthers forward Noel Acciari in Game 3 of their series on Saturday.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Capitals, winger Tom Wilson remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury. An update on his status is expected later today before Game 4 against the Panthers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 12, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 12, 2022

A hat-trick performance for the Capitals Evgeny Kuznetsov, Islanders coach Barry Trotz reaches a milestone, the Stars re-sign Joe Pavelski, Marc Staal set to join his brothers in an elite club, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: A hat-trick performance by Evgeny Kuznetsov set the stage for Lars Eller’s overtime goal as the Washington Capitals downed the Vancouver Canucks 4-3. Washington captain Alex Ovechkin picked up an assist but remains tied with Jaromir Jagr for third on the all-time goal list with 766. Defenseman Quinn Hughes had three points and Bo Horvat scored twice for the Canucks (65 points), who sit two points behind the Dallas Stars for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference. The Capitals hold the final Eastern wild-card spot with 74 points, one back of the Boston Bruins.

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov (NHL Images).

New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz picked up his 900th career victory as his club rolled to a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Trotz sits third on the all-time list, 69 wins behind second-place Joel Quenneville. Josh Bailey scored two goals while Semyon Varlamov picked up his first win since Jan. 18 with 27 saves. Kyle Connor netted his 36th goal of the season for the Jets (62 points), who remain five points out of a Western wild-card spot.

The Pittsburgh Penguins got a 40-save effort from Tristan Jarry and three unanswered third-period goals to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2. Bryan Rust and Jeff Carter each had a goal and an assist while Sidney Crosby collected an assist to extend his points streak to eight games. With 79 points, the Penguins move two points ahead of the New York Rangers into second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Golden Knights cling to third place in the Pacific Division with 68 points.

Zach Werenski’s tying goal late in the third period set the stage for Yegor Chinakhov’s shootout winner as the Columbus Blue Jackets upset the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Mats Zuccarello had a goal and an assist for Minnesota. It was a costly win for the Blue Jackets as Jakub Voracek and Patrik Laine left the game with apparent leg injuries. With 72 points, the Wild are one back of the second-place St. Louis Blues in the Central Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild forward Marcus Foligno could face supplemental discipline for kneeing Voracek. The Jackets winger returned to the bench for overtime and the shootout but didn’t see a shift.

HEADLINES

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars yesterday signed forward Joe Pavelski to a one-year, $5.5 million contract extension with a full no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pavelski is taking a pay cut to stay in Dallas, completing a three-year deal worth an annual average value of $7 million. He was slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and frequently surfaced in the rumor mill as a trade candidate.

However, Pavelski indicated he and his family love living in Dallas and he remains committed to helping the Stars become a winner. The 37-year-old is their leading scorer with 59 points skating alongside Roope Hintz and rising star Jason Robertson. He’s a big reason why the Stars are jockeying for a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

NHL.COM: Detroit Red Wings defenseman Marc Staal is set to play in his 1,000th career NHL game tonight against the Calgary Flames. He’ll join Eric and Jordan as the first three brothers in league history to reach the thousand-game milestone.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Speaking of the Red Wings, forward Robby Fabbri is out for the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee during Thursday’s loss to the Wild.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Brock McGinn is listed as week-to-week with an undisclosed injury.

FOX 13 SEATTLE: Kraken forward Joonas Donskoi (undisclosed) was placed on injured reserve on Friday.

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: The floundering Flyers are on pace for the worst average attendance in 49 years. Their average announced home attendance is 16, 505 in an arena that seats over 19,000 fans. With the team in last place in the Metropolitan Division and a roster ravaged by injuries, fans have been tuning out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The article points out the number of actual fans at recent Flyers games is actually much lower than the announced paid attendance.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2021

The Sabres strip Jack Eichel of his captaincy, plus several stars are already sidelined or returning from injuries as training camps open. Check out the details in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams confirmed yesterday the club had stripped Jack Eichel of the captaincy. The 24-year-old center also failed his team physical and will be placed on injured reserve.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Eichel and Sabres’ management remain in a standoff over which medical procedure he should receive to repair a herniated disc in his neck. He favors disc replacement surgery while the team doctors prefer fusion surgery. Adams also indicated the team is still open to trading Eichel at the right price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt any NHL fan or pundit is surprised by this news. It’s just another chapter in an impasse with no end in sight. There could be teams willing to let Eichel undergo disc replacement but they’re unwilling to pay the Sabres’ high asking price to acquire him.

Don’t expect to see Eichel on the ice this season unless one side blinks. I also don’t anticipate seeing him traded this season unless the Sabres drop their price. Even then, Eichel’s $10 million annual average value over the next five seasons is difficult for most teams to absorb even when he’s healthy.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin is expected to miss at least the first two months of this season recovering from offseason surgery on his right knee. The Penguins also have one unidentified player not yet fully vaccinated though he’s expected to be within the next few weeks.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane said he’s been dealing with a nagging injury since prior to the 2020 NHL playoffs but downplayed the severity. He and GM Stan Bowman didn’t elaborate but said it was a common ailment among hockey players.

Meanwhile, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was back with his teammates in his first formal practice since missing all of last season with Chronic Immune Response Syndrome. He’s hoping to be ready to play when the season opens next month.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and winger Mike Hoffman are likely to miss training camp and the start of the season. Price is recovering from offseason knee surgery while Hoffman has been sidetracked by a lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is listed as week-to-week due to ongoing rehabilitation on his hip. Meanwhile, teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov said he’s feeling good mentally and physically and ready to put a difficult 2020-21 season behind him.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck confirmed he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Aug. 20. He was unvaccinated at the time and took about 10 days to recover. He’s since been vaccinated but felt rushed into doing so in order to be ready for training camp so soon after recovering from the coronavirus.

I’m not anti-vax by any means,” he said. “But I’d like to have that decision for myself. It felt very forced on me.” He added the post-vaccination symptoms made him feel as though he had COVID again.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hellebuyck’s situation was unique and probably should’ve allowed him more leeway to become vaccinated so soon after recovering from COVID-19. NHL protocols would allow him to join his teammates under certain restrictions until he received his shots.

The league isn’t forcing its players to be inoculated. However, they face travel restrictions, additional testing, forfeiture of portions of their salaries if they miss playing time and social interaction limitations as a result.

Some might feel the NHL’s protocols are too restrictive. However, the league and the NHLPA don’t want a repeat of 2020-21 when multiple game postponements due to outbreaks of COVID-19 among several teams wreaked havoc on an already compressed schedule.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Center Tyler Seguin, winger Alexander Radulov and goaltender Ben Bishop were on the ice for the Stars’ opening day of training camp. Seguin missed all but three games last season to hip and knee surgeries. Radulov was sidelined most of last season by a core muscle injury requiring offseason surgery. Bishop, meanwhile, is hopeful of playing after missing all of last season to knee surgery.

CALGARY SUN: Flames center Sean Monahan revealed a hip injury bothered him for most of last season. He underwent offseason surgery and was on the ice for the club’s opening day of training camp.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche forward Stefan Matteau and defenseman Roland McKeown had both tested positive for COVID-19 but are nearing the end of their recovery. Meanwhile, head coach Jared Bednar said defenseman Cale Makar underwent an upper-body procedure recently but isn’t expected to miss any practice or preseason time.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins center Charlie Coyle began training camp yesterday wearing a non-contact red jersey. He’s coming off a pair of knee surgeries but is expected to be ready for the start of the season.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken center Yanni Gourde took part in drills yesterday wearing a non-contact jersey. GM Ron Francis indicates Gourde could return to action sooner than expected from offseason shoulder surgery. He was originally expected to be sidelined until December.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets goaltending coach Manny Legace revealed he was recently hospitalized fighting for his life with a severe case of COVID-19. He spent a week in intensive care before being released. He and his wife must now wait eight weeks before getting vaccinated as per CDC guidelines, something they had put off based on advice from doctors related to medical conditions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Legace and his wife for a speedy and complete recovery.

THE PROVINCE: An internal document shared with NHL teams earlier this week reveals the league believes 30 of its 32 teams could start the season with full capacity at their arenas. The exceptions are the Vancouver Canucks (50 percent) and the Montreal Canadiens (33 percent). The memo also revealed the various anticipated vaccine guidelines for all the franchises. 










NHL Rumor Mill – September 6, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 6, 2021

A look at which players the Canadiens may have pursued before acquiring Christian Dvorak, plus the latest on Elias Pettersson, P.K. Subban and what the Leafs and Kraken must still address in the Labor Day edition of the NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In their latest “31 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek discussed the aftermath of the Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer-sheet saga. Friedman believes Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin may have called around asking about San Jose’s Tomas Hertl, Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov and Calgary’s Sean Monahan. Bergevin acquired Christian Dvorak from the Arizona Coyotes almost immediately after declining to match the Kotkaniemi offer sheet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dvorak seemed to be at or near the top of Bergevin’s list during his search last week for a replacement for Kotkaniemi. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels mentioned him as a trade target soon after the offer sheet was signed. I don’t doubt the Habs GM shopped around to see what other options were available but I don’t think he just settled for Dvorak.

Friedman also reported the Kotkaniemi offer sheet had the Vancouver Canucks’ front office nervous about another club doing the same with Elias Pettersson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contract talks are ongoing between Pettersson and the Canucks. The 22-year-old center would be a tempting target despite the Canucks’ public stance that they’d match any offer.

New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban (NHL Images).

However, the high cost of signing away Pettersson ($9 million or more per season) plus the compensation owed to the Canucks for a successful signing (at least two first-round picks, a second, and a third-round pick) make an offer sheet unlikely in this case.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports multiple sources confirmed the Bruins, on more than one occasion, explored what it would take to acquire P.K. Subban from the New Jersey Devils. At the same time, they hope to convince the Devils to pick up half of his $9 million cap hit for this season. Murphy also said the Toronto Maple Leafs had “more than lukewarm interest” in Subban.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would take a substantial offer to convince Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald to eat half of Subban’s cap hit. He can afford it but why do another club a favor for a less than worthwhile return?

Fitzgerald also isn’t under any pressure to move Subban. He’s only on their books for this season after which he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Devils also aren’t facing any cap crunch this season.

If Fitzgerald decides to trade Subban it could be close to the March trade deadline provided the Devils are out of playoff contention by then. Most of the 32-year-old blueliner’s salary will be paid out by then, making him more enticing to other clubs.

NHL.COM: Mike Zeisberger wondered who will join Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander among the Toronto Maple Leafs top-six this season. The Leafs are top-heavy and will need more secondary scoring from their supporting cast.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could be Nick Ritchie, Alex Kerfoot, and/or Ilya Mikheyev skating among the top six. Perhaps Michael Bunting gets a shot at left wing if Ritchie or Kerfoot don’t work out in those roles.

Nicholas J. Cotsonika believes the Seattle Kraken still needs more firepower up front. He wonders if they have enough depth at center with Yanni Gourde sidelined for at least the opening month of the season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kraken GM Ron Francis could attempt to address that issue depending on how things go during the club’s first training camp and preseason games.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 3, 2021

Will Tomas Hertl re-sign with the Sharks? Could the Capitals trade Evgeny Kuznetsov? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Alex Didion cites an interview Tomas Hertl gave to a Czech media outlet in which the 27-year-old forward appears uncertain over his future with the San Jose Sharks.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

I wonder if San Jose will want to re-sign me, and if I’ll want to stay there,” Hertl said, indicating he’ll see how things unfold during this season. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz recently pointed out two variables that could determine whether this season becomes Hertl’s last in San Jose.

Money will be the first as Hertl could seek between $7 million and $8 million annually on his next contract. The Sharks only have $14 million in cap space for 2022-23 with 14 players under contract. The other is whether he wants to stay. A recent report indicated he was believed among the players unhappy with teammate Evander Kane flouting team rules last season.

Gretz also wondered if Hertl will be keen to spend the remainder of his playing prime with a team that is probably years away from becoming a contender again.

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren took note of the recent speculation over Hertl’s future. He believes the Senators could acquire the versatile forward with the right offer, drawing in part upon their well-stocked cupboard of prospects. He also notes Senators general manager Pierre Dorion and Sharks GM Doug Wilson have a trade history, pointing to the 2018 Erik Karlsson trade.

USA TODAY‘S Vincent Z. Mercogliano believes Hertl would be a sensible trade target for the New York Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators and Rangers have sufficient salary-cap space and depth in draft picks and prospects to make competitive bids for Hertl this season. That’s assuming, of course, the Sharks decide to shop him.

That move, however, probably doesn’t occur until later this season, likely near the trade deadline if the Sharks are out of playoff contention by that point. Hertl also has a three-team trade list, significantly narrowing potential destinations. He could agree to broaden that list depending on where Wilson would want to move him.

Hertl’s UFA status is also a point of concern. He’d have to be considered a playoff rental player this season. If the Senators and/or Rangers aren’t in contention it doesn’t make any sense for them to pursue a player who could depart next summer as a free agent.

THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Tarik El-Bashir was asked whether the Washington Capitals will trade Evgeny Kuznetsov. One reader claimed hearing talk of the 28-year-old center becoming a New York Ranger at the start of the season.

El-Bashir believes if Kuznetsov were to be traded it would’ve happened by now. His $7.8 million annual cap hit through 2024-25, 15-team no-trade clause, and the Capitals need to get a suitable replacement in return are key reasons working against it.

He does wonder if a team interested in Jack Eichel could shift their attention to Kuznetsov if and when the Buffalo Sabres captain is traded. Kuznetsov’s attitude and mindset during training camp could also be worth watching.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Too many factors work against a Kuznetsov trade. His off-ice baggage also hurts his trade value. If he returns in the right frame of mind and plays well it will improve his stock but it could also entice the Capitals to retain him.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 13, 2021

A look at why some of this summer’s notable trade candidates haven’t been moved yet in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski looked at this summer’s top-five trade candidates who haven’t been moved yet and why.

Topping his list, of course, is Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. The stalemate between Eichel and the club’s medical staff over a medical procedure to repair a herniated disc in his neck is the main factor. So is the Sabres’ asking price of four assets. Kingerski notes the Minnesota Wild had kicked tires, but like others, pulled out of the bidding.

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An Eichel trade remains possible at some point in August. Based on recent reports, however, I wouldn’t hold my breath. The earliest I see it is before the start of training camp in September.

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov is next. Reports from this spring claimed the club was out of patience with his inconsistent play and off-ice antics. However, general manager Brian MacLellan appears to have walked that back after finding the trade market soft for the 28-year-old center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuznetsov’s $7.8 million annual salary cap hit through 2024-25 and his 15-team no-trade list also factored into dampening his trade value.

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ limited cap space saw winger Jason Zucker’s name surface in the rumor mill. His low production last season, caused in part by a lower-body injury, and his $5.5 million annual average value should ensure Zucker remains a Penguin this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zucker’s name did pop up in trade rumors but I don’t recall seeing anything substantive suggesting the Penguins were actively shopping him. Most of it almost seemed like media spitballing a way for the Pens to free up cap space to pursue an upgrade in goaltending.

Winger Vladimir Tarasenko wants to be traded and the St. Louis Blues are trying to move him but no one wants to take on his full $7.5 million cap hit through 2022-23. The 29-year-old’s age and thrice-repaired shoulder make him a question mark. Tarasenko’s been linked to the New York Islanders but there’s no indication general manager Lou Lamoriello wants him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Kingerski observed, the secretive Lamoriello never tips his hand as to his intentions. No one knows if he’s really interested in Tarasenko or if that’s just media speculation. If he is looking at acquiring the winger, the Blues will have to pick up part of that cap hit or take on another salaried player in return.

Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk surfaced in rumors with reports linking him to Toronto and his hometown of St. Louis. Flames GM Brad Treliving, however, shot down that speculation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk’s not going anywhere…this season. He’s a restricted free agent next summer and it will cost the Flames $9 million to qualify his rights. That could make things interesting next summer.