NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2022

Kyle Dubas faces an uncertain future as Leafs GM plus the latest on Auston Matthews David Pastrnak, Jason Robertson and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas will not be receiving a contract extension this season. Michael Traikos speculates the decision could be a wait-and-see approach by his bosses after the Leafs failed to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs. He also suggested it could be because Dubas didn’t bring in a true No.1 goaltender or upgrade the defense during the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas downplayed the notion that this could be a make-or-break season for him, but there’s really no other way to look at it. For most of the past four seasons, the Leafs were among the top teams during the regular season but never staged a deep playoff run. Another early playoff exit (or worse) probably spells the end of Dubas’ tenure as Leafs general manager.

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas (NHL.com)

Speaking of the Leafs, Auston Matthews has two years remaining on his contract but that’s already sparking concern that he might depart Toronto as a free agent. Matthews told reporters he loves the city and considers it like home but won’t be entertaining any further questions about his contract. “There’s nothing that can be done for two more years,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: His critics will likely take him to task for not saying he would look forward to opening contract talks as soon as possible. However, he’s absolutely right that they can’t do anything about it now. The earliest Matthews and the Leafs can start contract extension discussions is July 1, 2023, so it’s pointless to badger him or Dubas about it during this season.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins GM Don Sweeney said he will continue to hold discussions with David Pastrnak’s representatives in hope of reaching an agreement on a contract extension. The 26-year-old right winger is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Pastrnak could start the coming season without an extension in place.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney was asked if Pastrnak might sign a team-friendly deal as some claim Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci did at Pastrnak’s age. He indicated that those players signed for what was market value at the time. Rising salaries during the course of their contracts made them seem like bargains over time.

In other words, Pastrnak’s camp will seek market value that could exceed $9.5 million annually based on his performance in the upcoming season. That could explain why the two sides haven’t reached an agreement on an extension yet.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Jason Robertson is expected to miss the start of the Stars’ training camp today. The 23-year-old winger was their leading goal scorer last season but remains an unsigned restricted free agent. GM Jim Nill said negotiations have been ongoing and he’s hoping an agreement can be reached as soon as possible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Stars have $6.3 million in cap space and could reportedly have $7-$8 million in salary-cap space for this season depending on their roster makeup. The Robertson camp could be angling for an expensive new deal but their client is coming off his entry-level contract.

Robertson’s only leverage is to refuse to report to training camp (and perhaps miss the start of the season) but that won’t do either side any good. The sooner Robertson’s in camp, the more effective he’ll be to their roster. The longer he holds out, the longer it’ll take for him to regain his form and that could hurt their production this season.

Speaking of the Stars, Ben Bishop’s front-office role will have to wait until next season. His career was ended by chronic knee injuries but he didn’t retire as he had a year remaining on his contract. The Stars traded that contract to the Buffalo Sabres in June to remove it from their books for this season. However, the league has informed the Stars it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to work for them while he’s still being paid by Buffalo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers raised the point that the NHL had no issue with permanently sidelined Chris Pronger working for their department of player safety while he was still under contract with the Arizona Coyotes.

Maybe the league realized its mistake with Pronger and didn’t want the Stars to repeat it with Bishop. Perhaps it’s a different story if a player is working for the department of player safety while still under contract with another club despite the potential for a conflict of interest.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres announced general manager Kevyn Adams has agreed to a multi-year contract extension. In a statement, team owner Terry Pegula praised Adams’ work over the past two seasons and believes the club is heading in the right direction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams’ lack of management experience raised questions over his suitability for the job when he was hired two years ago. Over that time, however, he’s made some good selections in the draft (including promising defenseman Owen Power) and got a solid return from the Vegas Golden Knights (including Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs) in the Jack Eichel trade. The Sabres also showed promising signs of improvement last season.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning center Brayden Point is “fully healthy” after recovering from a torn quad muscle suffered during the opening round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Andrew Copp is still recovering from off-season abdominal surgery and won’t be available until the start of the regular season. The versatile 28-year-old forward signed a five-year contract with the Red Wings in July.

THE ATHLETIC: Nicolas Hague isn’t expected to join his Vegas Golden Knights teammates when training camp opens for them today. The 23-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract. His agent, Murray Koontz, remains hopeful of getting a deal done with the Golden Knights but they’re not at that point yet.

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington (personal matter) and winger Andrew Mangiapane (undisclosed injury) will miss the start of training camp today.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: The Flames signed Adam Ruzicka to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $762K. It’s a two-way deal for this season and a one-way for 2023-24. Meanwhile, Brett Ritchie inked a one-year, $750K deal.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers restricted free agent Ryan McLeod remains without a contract but is expected to join his teammates for the start of training camp today. Management hopes to trade away some salary to clear up cap space to sign McLeod to a new deal.

The Oilers also announced defenseman Slater Koekkoek remains at home as he continues to work on improving his mental health.

DAILY FACEOFF: The New York Islanders signed UFAs Cory Schneider and Nikita Soshnikov and RFA Parker Wotherspoon to one-year contracts.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 26, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – August 26, 2022

Speculation suggests the Flames might not be done in the trade market and a couple of predictions for the Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ARE THE FLAMES NOT DONE DEALING?

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarlane reports a “growing feeling” that Flames general manager Brad Treliving could make another move in the trade market. He points to preseason projections that have prospect Jakob Pelletier among the Flames’ top-six forwards plus their plethora of defensemen.

Juuso Valimaki is a popular name for trade bait while Oliver Kylington would be the kind of young defenseman who might be of greater interest to rival clubs. Noah Hanifin has only two seasons left on his contract but the Flames likely aren’t concerned about that given their “win-now” attitude.

Calgary Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington (NHL Images).

Macfarlane rattled off the names of several forwards (St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko, Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi) who are among the bigger names believed on the trade block this summer. Other notables include Washington’s Lars Eller, Philadelphia’s James van Riemsdyk, the New York Islanders Anthony Beauvillier and Montreal’s Christian Dvorak.

Other trade options could be Philadelphia’s Cam Atkinson, Buffalo’s Victor Olofsson or Montreal’s Paul Byron.

Macfarlane also noted some free-agent options such as Evan Rodrigues and Sonny Milano. He pointed out that Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently suggested the Flames had some interest in the 29-year-old Rodrigues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving’s made some bold moves this summer such as shipping Matthew Tkachuk to Florida for Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar and signing Nazem Kadri. He could have another one up his sleeve, perhaps by drawing on his blueline depth.

Cap space, however, will be a factor. With $2.1 million remaining, Treliving could be forced to make another cost-cutting trade to free up cap space as he did when he traded Sean Monahan to Montreal to make room for Kadri. The other option is a dollar-for-dollar swap. Failing that, an affordable free-agent option such as Rodrigues or Milano seems the more likely route.

TRADE PREDICTIONS FOR THE OILERS

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell made some bold Edmonton Oilers predictions for the coming season.

One of them is the expectation that the Oilers will become salary-cap compliant by placing Mike Smith and Oscar Klefbom on long-term injury reserve and making a trade. Mitchell suggested shipping out Warren Foegele for a draft pick or a non-roster player.

Mitchell also expects Oilers GM Ken Holland will make a big addition at the 2023 trade deadline. He took note of the recent speculation tying Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane to the Oilers. However, he believes they would be better off waiting until the trade deadline so as to avoid any potential cap complications that could arise over the course of the season. He also doesn’t rule out pursuing Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Oilers are the only team with a genuine interest in Kane, I don’t think they can win a bidding war for his services at the trade deadline. That’s assuming the Blackhawks star will be willing to waive his no-movement clause to come to Edmonton.

Given their lack of cap space, they’ll have to pull off a three-team trade to spread Kane’s $10.5 million cap hit around. Even then, they’ll have to move a salaried player to ensure sufficient wiggle room. They’ve got some decent prospects within their system but other clubs might be able to offer better quality.

As for Chychrun, I don’t see Holland giving up two first-round picks plus a top prospect or a promising NHL player if that remains the Coyotes’ asking price on deadline day.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 3, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 3, 2022

Max Pacioretty criticizes a lack of accountability on the Golden Knights while the Flames avoid arbitration with Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Former Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty criticized what he considered the club’s laid-back approach toward losing. The 33-year-old left winger was traded last month by the Golden Knights to the Carolina Hurricanes in a cost-cutting move.

Former Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).

Speaking on the Raw Knuckles podcast with Chris Nilan and Tim Stapleton, Pacioretty talked about how there was no accountability with losing throughout the club when he joined the Golden Knights following a trade from the Montreal Canadiens in 2018. He indicated that was quite a change from what he was used to in Montreal where there was pressure to win.

Pacioretty pointed out that there were players on the Golden Knights who don’t know what it’s like because they haven’t played anywhere else. He felt that demands for accountability by a coach or management or elsewhere helped bring out the best in him, adding he thought that was missing for the Golden Knights last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty said he didn’t want to say there was a country club attitude on the Golden Knights. However, the perks the players seem to enjoy there (Pacioretty mentioned having their cars washed, organic food deliveries and going to play golf) combined with Las Vegas being a new NHL market in the Sun Belt could also be detrimental if they’re not answerable for poor performance.

Other factors, such as injuries to key players like Pacioretty, contributed to the Golden Knights missing the playoffs last season for the first time in their short history. Nevertheless, his comments about the club’s relaxed atmosphere could also explain the under-performance of some players last season. Making the playoffs in their first four seasons, including reaching the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural campaign, could also be a contributing factor, a case of too much too soon.

The Golden Knights hired former Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy in June. Perhaps he can bring the accountability that Pacioretty believes was lacking in Vegas.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: The Flames avoided salary arbitration with Andrew Mangiapane as the two sides agreed to a three-year, $17.4 million contract. The annual average value is $5.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a significant raise from the $2.425 million AAV that Mangiapane was earning on his previous contract. A career-best 35-goal season in a contract year will do that.

The 26-year-old winger has been trending toward that level of production over the previous two seasons. He had 17 goals in 68 games in 2019-20 and 18 goals in 56 games in 2020-21. If not for COVID-19 shortening those seasons, he would’ve probably reached 25 goals or more in each.

The Flames also avoided arbitration with defenseman Oliver Kylington as they agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract. The AAV is $2.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kylington is betting on himself after a career-best 31-point effort. He also gets a nice pay bump over the $750K he earned last season. The 25-year-old blueliner will be eligible for unrestricted free agent status in two years’ time. He could put himself in a good position for a much better payday by then if he reaches or exceeds the 30-point plateau again.

TSN: Nashville Predators forward Yakov Trenin had his arbitration hearing yesterday. He’s coming off a one-year, $725K contract, scoring a career-best 17 goals and 24 points. The two sides now await the ruling from the arbitrator.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Prior to 2020, a team and a player could still reach an agreement on a new contract prior to the arbiter’s decision. That’s no longer the case.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers avoided arbitration with rugged winger Zack MacEwen, agreeing to a one-year, $925K deal.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: After 40 years with the Oilers as a player, general manager, president of hockey operations and alternate governor, Kevin Lowe announced his retirement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Lowe and his family as they embark on the next stage of their lives outside the NHL spotlight.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 3, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 3, 2022

The Panthers stage a four-goal third-period comeback, Kirill Kaprizov sets a Wild franchise record, Keith Yandle’s Ironman streak comes to an end and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Down 6-2 to the New Jersey Devils entering the third period, the Florida Panthers scored four unanswered goals and emerged with a 7-6 victory on Gustav Forsling’s overtime goal. Forsling and Aleksander Barkov each scored twice. Spencer Knight got the win as he replaced goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in the third period. Yegor Sharangovich tallied a hat trick for the Devils. The Panthers became the second team to reach 100 points this season and hold a two-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and an assist in his club’s 3-1 win over the Hurricanes to set a new franchise single-season record of 85 points (and counting). Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 37 shots as the Wild have a three-point lead over the St. Louis Blues for second place in the Central Division with 89 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild rookie Matt Boldy missed this game as he’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He has 27 points in 35 games this season.

The Colorado Avalanche are on the verge of becoming the first team to clinch a playoff berth after downing the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. Devon Toews snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period as the Avalanche hold a four-point lead over the Panthers for first overall in the league standings with 104 points. Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon each had two points while Darcy Kuemper stopped 38 shots. Jake Guentzel had two assists for the Penguins (92 points), who sit one point back of the second-place New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche center Nazem Kadri missed this game with an upper-body injury and could be sidelined for some time. He’s expected to be back for the playoffs which begin on May 2.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said the club is optimistic over the status of winger Jason Zucker as they await further updates on his condition. Zucker’s been sidelined since Thursday after suffering an apparent leg injury against the Wild.

Tyler Seguin collected three assists and Joe Pavelski had a goal and an assist as the Dallas Stars held off the San Jose Sharks 5-4 to regain the second wild-card berth in the Western Conference with 81 points. Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson also each had two-point performances for the Stars. Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro returned to the lineup after being sidelined for five weeks by a broken leg.

Los Angeles Kings forwards Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe each had a goal and an assist in a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. With the win, the Kings (86 points) moved within three points of the first-place Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division. Connor Hellebuyck made 35 saves for the Jets (76 points), who slip five points behind the Stars in the race for the final Western wild-card berth.

Speaking of the Flames, they dropped a 6-4 decision to the St. Louis Blues. Justin Faulk had a goal and two assists while teammates Brayden Schenn, Robert Thomas and Brandon Saad each had two points for the Blues (86 points), who sit three points back of the second-place Wild in the Central Division. Johnny Gaudreau scored his 32nd goal of the season for the Flames, who announced before the game that center Sean Monahan will undergo season-ending surgery on his left hip. Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington also missed this game as he’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the same procedure Monahan had done on his right hip last year. His performance seemed to suffer in the aftermath of that first surgery, making him the topic of trade speculation. He has a year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.375 million.

Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 51st goal of the season, Morgan Rielly a goal and two assists while Mitch Marner and Michael Bunting each collected two assists in a 6-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell made 29 saves as he returned to action after missing 10 games with a rib injury. The Leafs are tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning with 93 points but hold second place in the Atlantic Division with 44 wins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle was a healthy scratch, bringing his NHL-record consecutive game streak to an end at 989. Flyers coach Mike Yeo faced criticism for benching Yandle given the club is eliminated from the playoffs and the blueliner only needed 11 more games to extend his record to 1,000 games.

Yeo explained it was part of the club’s decision to evaluate younger players for next season. Yandle took the decision in stride, saying management had spoken to him about the club’s plans over the final weeks of the regular season.

The Lightning, meanwhile, fell to the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 on a shootout goal by Nick Suzuki. Jake Allen made 37 saves for the Canadiens as they got the win in Martin St. Louis’ first game as head coach against his former club in Tampa Bay. Nikita Kucherov had a goal and two assists for the Lightning.

Boston Bruins center Erik Haula scored twice in a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Brad Marchand had a goal and two assists for the Bruins (91 points) as they opened a seven-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

In other news, the NHL department of player safety suspended Arizona Coyotes forward Nick Ritchie for one game for slashing Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 10, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 10, 2021

New deals for Igor Shesterkin and Carter Hart top yesterday’s notable contract signings and the contract standoff between Kirill Kaprizov and the Wild intensifies. Details on these and other stories in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed goaltender Igor Shesterkin to a four-year contract worth just over $5.66 million annually. It’s the largest second NHL contract signed by a goaltender.

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a reasonable deal for both sides. The Rangers kept Shesterkin’s annual cap hit under $6 million and the 25-year-old goaltender qualifies for UFA status in four years times. He’s shown considerable promise as an elite netminder in his brief NHL career. This contract will look quite affordable if he reaches his full potential.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers signed goalie Carter Hart to a three-year contract worth an annual average value of $3.95 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hart might’ve earned himself a deal comparable to Shesterkin’s had it not been for his struggles last season. That worked in favor of the Flyers, inking the 23-year-old to a cost-effective bridge contract. He’ll be in line for a considerable raise in three years’ time if he regains his promising form from 2019-20.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: The Capitals re-signed netminder Ilya Samsonov to a one-year, $2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Hart, Samsonov’s inconsistent performance last season hurt his efforts for a more lucrative deal. The 24-year-old also displayed some immaturity by testing positive twice for COVID-19 and getting scratched for disciplinary reasons late in the season for missing a team function.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports Kirill Kaprizov has a tentative agreement with KHL club CSKA Moscow for a one-year deal worth 8 figures in US dollars if a new deal with the Minnesota Wild doesn’t materialize.

The Wild initially sought a seven- or eight-year deal for the Calder Trophy winner. They’re willing to discuss a medium-range deal but the Kaprizov camp claims no offer has been made since April.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting development in the contract standoff between Kaprizov and the Wild. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill update.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings and Jakub Vrana are reportedly far apart in contract negotiations as his Wednesday arbitration hearing approaches. Acquired from the Capitals at last season’s trade deadline, the 25-year-old winger seeks $5.7 million annually while the Red Wings are offering $3.65 million. He’s completing a two-year contract valued at $3.35 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The two sides could agree to something around $4.4 million before tomorrow’s arbitration hearing.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks signed Max Comtois, Max Jones and Joshua Mahura to new contracts. Comtois got a two-year, $4.075 million deal, Jones agreed to a three-year, $3.885 million contract, and Mahura a two-year, $1.5 million deal.

SPORTSNET: The New Jersey Devils re-signed winger Janne Kuokkanen to a two-year, $3.65 million contract.

TSN: The Tampa Bay Lightning inked forward Ross Colton to a two-year deal worth $1.125 million annually.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks signed defenseman Olli Juolevi to a one-year, $750K extension.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed blueliner Oliver Kylington to a one-year, two-way deal worth $750K at the NHL level.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Tampa Bay Lightning bench boss Jon Cooper was named head coach of Canada’s Men’s Olympic hockey team for the 2022 Beijing Games in February. His assistant coaches will be the New York Islanders’ Barry Trotz, the Vegas Golden Knights’ Peter DeBoer and the Boston Bruins’ Bruce Cassidy.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Former Blackhawks center and current radio analyst Troy Murray has been diagnosed with cancer. He intends to continue calling games while battling this disease.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Murray for a speedy and full recovery.

TRIBLIVE.COM: After 46 seasons in the broadcast booth, Mike Lange has called his last game for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 73-year-old is stepping down from play-by-play duties, though he’ll continue to provide commentary and voiceover work for the club’s radio network.

Famous for his colorful style and signature catchphrases, Lange has been scaling back his broadcasting duties since 2017. In 2001, he received the Foster Hewitt Award for broadcasting from the Hockey Hall of Fame.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Listening to Penguins’ games will never be the same. Best wishes to Lange in his retirement.










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.