NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 20, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 20, 2020

More details emerge for the 2020-21 season plus the latest in Ilya Kovalchuk, Braden Holtby, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: With the NHL and NHLPA reaching a tentative agreement for the 2020-21 season, the league’s focus shifts toward negotiations with the five provincial health authorities for the seven Canadian franchises.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly (NHL.com).

The league hopes those clubs will play this season in an all-Canadian division with each team hosting games in their own arenas. Darren Dreger reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly is directly involved in ongoing negotiations with the provinces.

Frank Seravalli reports the league has drafted strict protocols for road games. Players and team staff will be limited to the practice rink, game rink and hotel. No outside facilities, bars, restaurants or shops. All meals will be in the team hotel. No guests, no use of hotel fitness facilities, no housekeeping. There will also be assigned seats on chartered buses and planes, with in-flight catering where possible.

Ryan Rishaug reported last night the British Columbia government at this point remains unwilling to allow NHL teams to travel into the province for games. That might change as discussions continue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli also indicated the NHL’s travel protocols continue to change based on input from the provincial health authorities. The league seems willing to do as much as possible to ensure the Canadian teams can stage their games in their own arenas.

Based on recent reports it appears the Vancouver Canucks could be the only club unable to start the season at home. That could change depending on the course of the league’s discussions with the province of British Columbia.

The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports a league executive said one solution could be having the Canucks play their games in Edmonton until the situation is resolved. That would make more sense than moving all seven into one Canadian hub city or having them play all their games in the United States.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL has scheduled a conference call for its Board of Governors for noon ET today and for the general managers at 2 pm ET.

Mark your calendars, NHL fans. The 2021 free-agent market is slated to open on Wednesday, July 28, 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet as to a tentative date for the 2021 trade deadline. It’s usually held 40 days before the last day of the regular season. If that calculation remains in place for this season, March 29 would be trade deadline day.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the opt-out deadline to participate in this season for players on last year’s non-playoff teams is Dec. 24, with Dec. 27 for the others. Group II free agents (RFAs) must be signed by Feb. 11 to be eligible to play this season. Players on one-year contracts can extend on March 12.

THE SCORE: The San Jose Sharks will be hosting training camp and start the regular season in Arizona owing to COVID-19 restrictions in California’s Santa Clara County.

RDS.CA: A report out of Russia indicates Ilya Kovalchuk could return to the KHL for the coming season. The 37-year-old Kovalchuk reportedly hasn’t found any takers in the NHL free-agent market. He played in the KHL from 2012 to 2018 with St. Petersburg SKA. The report suggests he’ll sign with Avangard Omsk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A once-dominant scorer, Kovalchuk struggled with the Los Angeles Kings upon his return to the NHL in 2018 and was bought out of his contract last fall. He showed flashes of his high-scoring form during a brief tenure with the Montreal Canadiens until traded to the Washington Capitals, where he was pretty much invisible during the Capitals’ disappointing performance in the 2020 playoffs.

SPORTSNET: After the design for his new mask was criticized as cultural appropriation, Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby and his mask designer are collaborating with an Indigenous artist on a new design.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed defenseman Oliver Kylington to a one-year, two-way contract worth $787,500 at the NHL level.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Former Sabres defenseman Nathan Paetsch has retired after 17 professional seasons. Paetsch played the bulk of his career in the AHL with the Rochester Americans, Grand Rapids Griffins and Syracuse Crunch. He spent parts of five NHL seasons with the Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Paetsch in his future endeavors.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 9, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 9, 2020

In today’s NHL rumor mill, the Golden Knights are reportedly trying to trade Max Pacioretty plus the anticipation of increased activity in the trade and free-agent markets as the new season approaches.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the Vegas Golden Knights have “doubled down” in recent days and weeks in their efforts to trade Max Pacioretty. The 32-year-old winger has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7 million. He led the Golden Knights last season with 32 goals.

Vegas Golden Knights reportedly shopping winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images)

The Golden Knights are over the salary cap and attempted earlier in the offseason to shed some salary. Seravalli suggests moving Pacioretty would clear sufficient salary to become cap compliant and perhaps take a run at unrestricted free agents such as Mike Hoffman and former Golden Knight Erik Haula.

KUKLA’S KORNER: The Athletic’s Jesse Granger reports winger Jonathan Marchessault ($5 million AAV) and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury ($7 million) have also come up in Golden Knights’ trade chatter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the first time in weeks we’ve finally got a juicy NHL trade rumor. The last trade was made on Oct. 12, when the Golden Knight shipped defenseman Nate Schmidt to the Vancouver Canucks in a cost-cutting deal.

The Golden Knights are above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $974K according to Cap Friendly. Moving Pacioretty would indeed free up sufficient space for the Golden Knights to perhaps add a more affordable scorer like Hoffman or a cost-effective center by bringing back Haula.

Pacioretty’s cap hit, age and his 10-team no-trade clause, however, could make finding a suitable trade partner difficult. So will the limited number of clubs with sufficient cap room to comfortably absorb his full $7 million AAV.

Fleury was thought to be a goner when the Golden Knights signed goalie Robin Lehner to a contract extension. GM Kelly McCrimmon denied that speculation but Granger said the Golden Knights are looking into the trade values of Fleury, Pacioretty and Marchessault. Fleury also has a 10-team no-trade list while Marchessault has an eight-team list.

Whether it’s Pacioretty, Fleury or Marchessault on the trade block, the Golden Knights won’t want much (if any) salary in return. Only a handful of teams (New Jersey, Los Angeles, Nashville, Detroit and Ottawa) can comfortably afford any of them. Those clubs might not be on the trio’s lists of preferred trade destinations.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports action is starting to pick up in the free-agent market. UFA winger Mikael Granlund hopes to situate his family and could make a decision in the next few days. So could other notables such as Mike Hoffman and Andreas Athanasiou.

He believes some teams could start talking with the Seattle Kraken to see what they can do about future salary-cap space if the cap remains flattened.

Chris Johnston suggests keeping an eye on the restricted free agent market following the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday signing defenseman Philippe Myers to a three-year contract. He cites Ethan Bear in Edmonton, Oliver Kylington in Calgary and Erik Cernak in Tampa Bay among the blueliners who could be affected by the Myers signing.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – December 10, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – December 10, 2019

A look at some potential trade targets for the Canadiens, plus the latest on Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BLUELINE TRADE TARGETS FOR THE CANADIENS

SPORTSNET: Included Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and Anaheim Ducks rearguard Cam Fowler on its list of six trade targets for the Montreal Canadiens to shore up the left side of their blueline.

Should the Montreal Canadiens pursue Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler? (Photo via NHL Images)

Gostisbehere’s star has fallen a bit over the last two seasons. He was a recent healthy scratch and might benefit from a change of scenery. Having already parted ways with Corey Perry earlier this year, the struggling Ducks could be ready to move on from some of their established talent. The 28-year-old Fowler is among their top trade chips to bring in pieces for the future.

Other options include Calgary’s T.J. Brodie or Oliver Kylington, Pittsburgh’s Juuso Riikola, and Chicago’s Erik Gustafsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin seeks a top-pairing left-side, Fowler is the best option. He’s a solid, all-around blueliner who would bring a big boost to their defense. Those traits are also why the Ducks are unlikely to part with him unless they get a terrific offer, like a good young scoring forward as part of the return. Fowler also has a four-team trade list and might not be keen to go to Montreal. 

Gostisbehere’s struggles since last season have sparked speculation over his future in Philadelphia. He’s a skilled puck-mover but his defensive game often leaves much to be desired.

Brodie’s recent medical scare and UFA status could make him a risky acquisition. Then again, those factors could also make him more affordable. Kylington is young (22), has potential and won’t cost much to acquire, but the Habs are likely in the market for an established top-four defender.

Riikola has been a frequent healthy scratch and I don’t see him significantly improving the Habs’ defense. Like Gostisbehere, Gustafsson is a mobile puck-moving d-man but his defensive play is an area of concern.

WHAT WILL THE RANGERS DO WITH GEORGIEV?

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton has to figure out what to do with his overcrowded crease. Current backup Alexandar Georgiev has played very well spelling off veteran Henrik Lundqvist. However, he’ll soon become waiver-eligible once he plays his 60th NHL game.

“There’s a lot written about who’s going to be here, and waivers and all that stuff, said Gorton. “We’re just worried about the team playing well, and let events play themselves out.” He insists Georgiev remains “a big part of our team.”

Cyrgalis, however, believes Georgiev could be a very attractive trade piece as the Feb. 24 deadline approaches. He feels the Toronto Maple Leafs are an obvious landing spot. Moving Georgiev would create room to bring up promising Igor Shesterkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cyrgalis believes Gorton will still be active leading up to the trade deadline. He feels the Rangers GM wants to bring in assets that will eventually make the Blueshirts a Stanley Cup contender, not just a playoff contender.

When Georgiev’s name first surfaced, I dismissed the notion he’d be available if the Rangers were in the playoff chase by the deadline. If Gorton’s plan is to build a future Cup winner, perhaps he’d consider parting with Georgiev for the right price.










NHL Most Important Players: Calgary Flames

NHL Most Important Players: Calgary Flames