NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 19, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 19, 2022

Recaps of Tuesday’s games, the salary cap could take a big jump next season, the league releases its first diversity report and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Ottawa Senators forwards Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle and Drake Batherson each had a goal and two assists in a 7-5 win over the Boston Bruins. A third-period goal by Artum Zub put the game out of reach. David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron also each had a goal and two assists for the Bruins, who pulled goalie Jeremy Swayman after he gave up six goals on 25 shots.

Ottawa Senators forward Tim Stützle (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win in their home opener in front of a rare sellout crowd for the Senators, who had dropped their first two games of the season. The Senators had suffered at the gate during their rebuilding process in recent years. Season ticket sales jumped during the summer as offseason additions like Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux sparked excitement among the fan base.

An overtime goal by Vladislav Gavrikov lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Vancouver Canucks 4-3. Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist for the Jackets. Bo Horvat scored twice for the Canucks, who blew an early multi-goal lead for the fourth straight game. Tucker Poolman returned to the Canucks lineup after missing a game to an undisclosed injury while teammate Conor Garland was a healthy scratch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every team blows a multi-goal lead now and then. Doing it in every game since the season started a week ago indicates a lack of skilled blueline depth and a poor overall defensive game.

The Calgary Flames pushed their record to 3-0-0 by overcoming a 2-0 deficit to nip the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2. Jonathan Huberdeau collected two assists while Mikael Backlund scored the game-winner in the third period. Logan Thompson made 37 saves for the Golden Knights.

Third-period goals by James van Riemsdyk and Noah Cates carried the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Carter Hart made 36 saves for the win as the Flyers have won three straight games. Steven Stamkos scored both goals for the Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’re already seeing the positive effect that head coach John Tortorella is having on the Flyers roster. Last year’s version would’ve wilted after falling behind 2-0 but this season’s bunch doesn’t give up.

The Buffalo Sabres got a 46-save performance by goaltender Eric Comrie to upset the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. The Sabres’ Rasmus Dahlin tied an NHL record for a defenseman by scoring his third straight goal in the first three games of the season. Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were each held to an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t sleep on the Sabres this season. They will be a competitive club and could surprise us by getting into the playoff chase in the Eastern Conference.

A shootout goal by Gabriel Vilardi gave the Los Angeles Kings a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators. The Kings got two third-period goals by Matt Roy to force overtime and the shootout round while Vilardi had a goal and an assist in regulation time. Juuse Saros turned aside 32 shots for the Predators.

New York Islanders winger Oliver Wahlstrom scored twice while teammates Brock Nelson, Noah Dobson and Adam Pelech each collected two assists to down the San Jose Sharks 5-2. It’s the first time in franchise history that the Sharks have lost their first five games of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I smell a rebuild in the Sharks’ future.

The New Jersey Devils overcame a 2-0 deficit to pick up their first win of the season by doubling up the Anaheim Ducks 4-2. Dougie Hamilton snapped a 2-2 tie while Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt each collected two points. Jakob Silfverberg tallied both goals for the Ducks.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: League commissioner Gary Bettman said the salary cap for 2023-24 could rise by at least $4 million if the escrow debt owed by the players to the league is repaid in full by the end of this season.

The players incurred a $1.1 billion debt as a result of revenue shortfalls during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the salary cap being set artificially high at $81.5 million over the past two seasons and $82.5 million for this season under the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the NHLPA. The cap was set to rise to $83.5 million next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sharp increase in hockey-related revenue since last season is the reason why the players’ escrow debt could be paid off sooner than expected. HRR is shared equally between the players and the team owners. A return to full 82-game schedules with no attendance restrictions as well as the lucrative new broadcasting deals with ESPN, Disney and Turner Sports are key reasons why the players’ debt could be repaid sooner than expected.

This would be good news for the teams and the players. A spike in the cap to $86.5 million next season means more money for cap-strapped teams. Meanwhile, players eligible for free-agent status next summer could make more than they would’ve under a flattened cap.

THE SCORE: The NHL released its first diversity report revealing that 84 percent of its workforce is white with men making up nearly 62 percent of that total. That mirrors the situation on the ice where more than 90 percent of players, coaches and officials are white.

Kim Davis, the NHL’s executive vice president of social impact, growth and legislative affairs, said the report was meant as a baseline in order to develop hiring strategies and ways to improve the league’s brand. She also indicated it’s not enough for the league to just hire people of color but must also improve its relationship with underrepresented communities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As The Score article pointed out, the results aren’t surprising for a sport that’s remained overwhelmingly white for socioeconomic and geographic reasons. Nevertheless, the NHL still has a long way to go to expand its inclusiveness of minorities.

This report forms the basis for how it can improve in those areas but how the league follows through will be crucial to achieving its aims. This report cannot be ignored if they truly want to improve diversity within the game.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov received a one-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for high-sticking Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kyle Burroughs.

THE DENVER POST: The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has dropped its years-old doping case against Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin due to the results of additional analyses at a drug-testing lab in Switzerland. The case was based on a drug test Nichushkin had provided in 2013 while playing in the KHL.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Los Angeles Kings placed forward Alex Iafallo on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. He is listed as week-to-week.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana remains out of the lineup for personal reasons. His status for Friday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks remains unclear.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 18, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 18, 2022

Recaps of Monday’s games, Sidney Crosby tops the stars of the week, an update on the health of Hall-of-Famer Borje Salming, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad each had four points while Adam Fox collected three assists as the New York Rangers downed the Anaheim Ducks 6-4. It was Panarin’s second four-point game of the season and set a Rangers record for the most points (10) in the first four games of a season.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

Alex Ovechkin scored twice as the Washington Capitals defeated the Vancouver Canucks 6-4. The Capitals got four unanswered goals in the third period as Ovechkin finished the night with four points while Evgeny Kuznetsov had three assists. Kuznetsov could face supplemental discipline for slashing Canucks defenseman Kyle Burroughs in the face. Capitals winger Connor Brown left the game with an apparent injury to his right leg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet reports the Canucks became the first team in NHL history to lose each of their first three games of the season after blowing a multi-goal lead in each game. They had a players-only meeting after the game but it could take more than that to address their poor defensive play.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk celebrated his 26th birthday with two goals and an assist in a 5-3 victory over the Florida Panthers. Patrice Bergeron had a goal and an assist while Linus Ullmark kicked out 38 shots for the win. Sam Bennett and Colin White each had a goal and an assist for the Panthers, who lost defenseman Aaron Ekblad to a lower-body injury in the second period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers blueliner Brandon Montour missed this game with an upper-body injury.

The Arizona Coyotes upset the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2. Shayne Gostisbehere snapped a 2-2 tie late in the third period after the Leafs overcame a 2-0 deficit. The Leafs appeared to tie the game 3-3 with 37 seconds remaining but it was overturned on a hand pass by Morgan Rielly. Gostisbehere, Nick Ritchie and Christian Fischer each had a goal and an assist. Leafs captain John Tavares picked up an assist for his 900th career point. Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin left the game with a neck injury in the second period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The overturned goal shouldn’t overshadow the fact the Leafs were dreadful for most of this game against a club that (on paper) they should’ve easily defeated. Whatever the reason, they struggled against a determined Coyotes club that didn’t collapse when the Leafs staged their third-period rally.

Nathan MacKinnon and Valeri Nichushkin each had a goal and two assists to lead the Colorado Avalanche over the Minnesota Wild 6-3, handing the latter their third straight loss. Kirill Kaprizov tallied twice for the Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goaltending has been an issue for the Wild thus far. Marc-Andre Fleury was terrible in their first two games while Filip Gustavsson wasn’t much better in this contest against the Avalanche.

The Montreal Canadiens nipped the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on an overtime goal by Kirby Dach. Evgeni Malkin scored twice for the Penguins but the Canadiens got goals from Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield to force the extra frame. Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen missed this game on parental leave but Sam Montembeault got the win with a 26-save performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Caufield’s goal came from a beautiful thread-the-needle pass from Jonathan Drouin, who’s been the target of criticism from Canadiens fans and the subject of trade speculation. More passing plays like that could silence his critics and improve his stock in the trade market.

An overtime goal by Phillip Danault gave the Los Angeles Kings a 5-4 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Danault scored twice while Anze Kopitar, Kevin Fiala and Adrian Kempe each had two points. David Perron scored two goals and collected an assist for the Red Wings. Kings defenseman Alex Edler missed this game after being struck in the face by a puck during warmups.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A strong defensive effort by Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin set the stage for teammate Oskar Sundqvist’s game-tying goal that forced overtime. With his club down 4-3, Larkin hustled back to thwart Kings winger Viktor Arvidsson’s attempt at an empty-net goal after the Wings pulled netminder Ville Husso to go with six attackers.

Andrei Svechnikov and Sebastian Aho each had three-point performances to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a 5-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Schenikov scored two goals while goalie Frederik Andersen turned aside 22 shots for the win.

The Dallas Stars rolled to a 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Jake Oettinger made 24 saves, Tyler Seguin and Miro Heiskanen scored while Mason Marchment collected two assists. Mark Scheifele scored for the Jets.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oetting are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 16, 2022.

TORONTO STAR: Hall-of-Famer Borje Salming can no longer speak and has to be fed through a tube as a result of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). On Aug. 10, Salming released a statement indicating he’d been diagnosed with the disease for which there is no cure.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears Salming’s symptoms are spreading rapidly. Spare a thought or prayer for the Leafs legend.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi has been sidelined for four-to-six weeks with an upper-body injury.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz is out for six-to-eight weeks with an upper-body injury.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Philadelphia Flyers placed defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. He played in two preseason games but missed their first two regular-season contests.










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.