NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 1, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 1, 2020

The latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cory Schneider, the updated salary-arbitration list and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Michael Arace recently reported contract talks between the Blue Jackets and Pierre-Luc Dubois have stalled. The 22-year-old center is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images)

Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, however, isn’t concerned by the lack of progress in contract talks with the Dubois camp. “It’s funny how everyone’s worried about RFAs, because I’m not worried at all,” he said on Tuesday. “They get done when they get done.” He pointed out contract talks for defenseman Zach Werenski weren’t settled until right before training camp last year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen has every reason to be unconcerned. Dubois lacks arbitration rights plus there’s uncertainty over what league revenue will look like over the next couple of years. Those factors alone give the Jackets GM the hammer in contract talks.

The Jackets have over $12 million in cap space so there’s plenty of room for Dubois’ next contract. I think Kekalainen will attempt to get Dubois under a short-term bridge contract with the promise of a bigger payday down the road.

NHL.COM: New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello said Friday he’s considering signing Cory Schneider. The goaltender had his contract bought out by the New Jersey Devils, making him an unrestricted free agent. “There’s a good sort of chance of that transpiring,” said Lamoriello.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported on Oct. 12 the Isles were finalizing a one-year, $700K deal with Schneider. Lamoriello gives nothing away, of course, but LeBrun is a well-respected, well-sourced NHL insider. He probably got that info from someone close to the Isles’ front office or the Schneider camp.

I suspect the Islanders’ limited cap space explains why this hasn’t been finalized yet. They’ve got $8.9 million remaining but Lamoriello must also re-sign RFAs Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock. Once that’s sorted out, the Schneider contract will be probably be finalized.

NHLPA.COM: Only six players of the 26 who filed for arbitration this year are slated for hearings. Carolina’s Warren Foegele’s is on Nov. 4, the New York Rangers’ Ryan Strome on Nov. 5, the Rangers’ Brendan Lemieux and the Islanders’ Ryan Pulock are on Nov. 6, Ottawa’s Christian Jaros is on Nov. 7, and Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar is on Nov. 8.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Only one – Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi – went before an arbiter. There’s a good chance the rest could be settled before their respective hearings.

THE SCORE: Ontario premier Doug Ford said Saturday his government is engaging with the Ontario Hockey League on a safe return-to-play plan for this season that must be confirmed by health experts. “To date no decisions have been made. I would like to see the OHL return as normal as possible with bodychecking.”

Ford’s remarks contradict comments made by Ontario sports minister Lisa MacLeod on Friday. She stated “prolonged or deliberate contract while playing sports is not permitted” to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wonder if Premier Ford got a phone call from NHL headquarters regarding MacLeod’s comments. The OHL is one of the NHL’s main development leagues. They would probably frown upon their promising prospects being forced to play an entire season without bodychecking.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 13, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 13, 2020

In today’s NHL morning coffee headlines, the Stars are within a game of reaching the Stanley Cup Final, Lou Lamoriello is GM of the Year, an update on Brayden Point, and the Canadiens acquire Joel Edmundson from the Hurricanes.

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars are one game away from the Stanley Cup Final after edging the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1 to take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Final. Anton Khudobin made 32 saves for the win while teammates Joe Pavelski and Jamie Benn were the goal scorers. Alec Martinez tallied for the Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin flat out stole this game for the Stars, who were outshot 33-20 in this contest and outplayed for long stretches by the Golden Knights. He’s been Dallas’ most valuable player throughout this postseason and has to be considered among the leading candidates for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is this season’s winner of the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award. The off-season signings of Semyon Varlamov and Derrick Brassard, re-signings of Anders Lee, Anthony Beauvillier, Jordan Eberle and Brock Nelson, and acquisitions of Andy Greene and Jean-Gabriel Pageau were cited as factors in Lamoriello receiving the award.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello has his critics but there’s no question his moves ensured the Islanders remained a playoff club this season. His wheeling and dealing also got the Isles to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1993.

The Tampa Bay Lightning could be without first-line center Brayden Point for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Islander. Point left Game 2 with an undisclosed injury and missed Game 3. He participated in practice yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t be surprised if Point is a game-day decision.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens yesterday acquired defenseman Joel Edmundson from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2020. Edmundson, 27, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Habs will re-sign Edmundson, who earned $3.1 million on a one-year contract this season. They like his size and physical play on the left side of their blueline. This move leaves the Canadiens with 11 picks in this year’s draft.

If Edmundson is re-signed, it could set the stage for another move or two by the Habs. I have more on that in the rumors sections.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 2, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 2, 2020

Check out recent speculation on the Canadiens, Sharks, and Devils in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD MANTHA BECOME A CANADIENS’ OFFER-SHEET TARGET?

TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie suggested Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha would be an intriguing offer-sheet target for the Montreal Canadiens. He feels they would benefit from having a sniper such as Mantha at right wing. He also pointed to the winger’s tumultuous relationship with Detroit coach Jeff Blashill. While Lajoie feels Blashill might not be back behind the Wings’ bench next season, Mantha might be willing to entertain an offer sheet.

Could the Montreal Canadiens try to sign Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha to an offer sheet? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Mantha would listen to an offer from the Canadiens, but it’ll have to be a significant one to pry him away from the Wings. They have over $46 million invested in 11 players. Unless it’s a mind-blowing offer, they can easily match it. 

Lajoie also noted Columbus’ Pierre-Luc Dubois and the New York Islanders’ Mathew Barzal could be interesting options. He thinks the Blue Jackets would match almost any offer for Dubois, but the Isles might be less inclined to do so for Barzal because their GM is Lou Lamoriello.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets will match an offer for Dubois. As for Lamoriello, he’s already bluntly stated he’ll do the same for Barzal. Don’t expect to see either guy wearing a Habs sweater next season. 

COULD THE SHARKS BE UFA BUYERS?

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt believes the San Jose Sharks could benefit if the salary cap remains around $81.5 million for 2020-21. Several teams will enter the off-season with less than $1 million in cap space, while half the league will have more than $3 million. The Sharks could have between $8 million and $15 million available.

Some of that will be used to re-sign some pending free agents, but Witt feels their notable ones (Joe Thornton, Kevin Labanc) could be affordable re-signings. That would leave sufficient room for some prominent free agents.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Sharks have over $66 million invested in 13 players. All of their core players except for Thornton are under contract for next season. As Witt indicated, Thornton and Labanc should be affordable signings.

General manager Doug Wilson has a history of pulling off surprising moves, so we shouldn’t dismiss the possibility he’ll land a noteworthy free agent, especially if a flat cap makes other clubs reluctant to invest in the UFA market. However, he might be reluctant to pursue a big-ticket player when he’s already got over $41 million tied up in just six players. 

LATEST ON THE DEVILS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked if there was any chance the New Jersey Devils could make a move for St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn following their re-signing of Marco Scandella. While Dunn could be a good fit, Masisak is skeptical about the Blues moving him. He also speculated they could ask for Kyle Palmieri or Nikita Gusev, or perhaps a promising player like Ty Smith or Nolan Foote in return. 

Masisak doubts the Devils could entice whoever wins this year’s draft lottery to part with the first-overall pick by offering up their three first-rounders. 










NHL 2019-20 Season Preview: New York Islanders

NHL 2019-20 Season Preview: New York Islanders

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2018

Latest on Marc-Andre Fleury, Nikita Kucherov, Brooks Orpik and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen profiles Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and how he quickly became a fan favorite in Las Vegas this season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury became popular with Vegas followers long before his impressive run in this year’s playoffs. He happily embraced the role of the club’s most recognizable star, actively promoting the club in the local community.

No contract extension talks yet between the Tampa Bay Lightning and winger Nikita Kucherov (Photo via NHL Images).

  THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports Nikita Kucherov’s agent, Dan Milstein, said there’s been no contract extension talks yet with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He doesn’t anticipate any discussions until after next season begins. Kucherov becomes a restricted free agent next July.

There’s no acrimony between the two sides. ““He wants to stay in Tampa — he doesn’t want to go anywhere,” Milstein told The Athletic. “Worst-case, it’s arbitration, they’re not going to lose him. Both sides want him to be in Tampa.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears Lightning management want to see Kucherov’s performance next season before opening talks on a new contract. He’s been their leading scorer in each of the past three years and steadily improved with each campaign.

Smith indicates there was some concern over his playoff performance this year, especially in the Conference Final. It could also depend upon what the Lightning’s roster looks like at the end of next season, when their free agents also include Brayden Point, Yanni Gourde, Ryan McDonagh, Anton Stralman, Dan Girardi and Braydon Coburn. 

NEW YORK POST: Why was Lou Lamoriello allowed to speak with New York Islanders center John Tavares when Lamoriello was still under contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs? According to Larry Brooks, it was apparently “orchestrated by ownership,” Also, Islanders president/general manager Garth Snow or Leafs president Brendan Shanahan was aware of the agreement. It appears Isles ownership didn’t keep Snow or coach Doug Weight in the loop about their talks with Lamoriello. 

WASHINGTON POST: Brooks Orpik, the only member of the Washington Capitals with Stanley Cup Finals experience, is a big role model for his teammates. 

NBC SPORTS: The success of the Golden Knights in their inaugural season raises the stakes for the NHL’s next expansion franchise. The city of Seattle could be awarded a franchise during a vote next month by the league board of governors. 

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 23, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 23, 2018

Capitals and Lightning prepare for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, Sharks and Evander Kane reportedly close to a long-term contract, and much more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin considers tonight’s Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning as “the biggest game in our life”. In 10 previous Game 7 scenarios during the Ovechkin era, the Capitals won just three of them.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: As the Lightning approach Game 7, they hope to rediscover the strong opening-period form of Game 5, where they scored twice and outshot the Capitals 13-4. “First period of Game 5, bottle that up and do it three times. We should be okay,” said head coach Jon Cooper.

Winger Evander Kane is close to signing a seven-year contract extension with the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been a terrific series between these two clubs. With a trip to the Stanley Cup Final on the line, Game 7 could be the best of this series. 

NBC SPORTS: Various reports indicate the San Jose Sharks and pending free-agent winger Evander Kane are close to agreement on a seven-year contract worth $49 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While this deal reportedly isn’t finalized yet, it appears close to being completed. It’ll be a significant pay raise for the 26-year-old Kane, who’s completing a six-year, $31.5-million contract (stick tap to Cap Friendly). This deal would also ensure the draft pick the Sabres received in return will become a first-round selection.

Though Kane was plagued by personal issues in the past, he appears to have put that behind him. He meshed well with the Sharks following his trade from the Buffalo Sabres in late-February. Kane has four 20-goal seasons under his belt and his aggressive physical style made him a good fit in San Jose over the remainder of this season. 

Kane’s reported cap hit would push the Sharks’ cap payroll for next season to over $67 million. That could have an effect upon other possible re-signings, such as veteran center Joe Thornton, as well as any intention they have of being active in this summer’s unrestricted free-agent market. 

NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders formally introduced Lou Lamoriello as their president of hockey operations. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word from Lamoriello as to what’s in store for general manager Garth Snow or head coach Doug Weight. He also gave no indication as to his roster plans. Given he’s always been reticent, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Islanders captain (and pending free agent) John Tavares is reportedly pleased by Lamoriello’s hiring. Whether the move convinces him to re-sign with the Isles remains to be seen. 

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs and assistant general manager Mark Hunter have mutually agreed to part ways. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed backup goaltender Antti Niemi to a one-year, $950K contract. 

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller underwent surgery last Friday to remove a bone fragment from his left wrist. Recovery time is expected to be six weeks. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW JOURNAL: Tickets for the first Stanley Cup Final game in Las Vegas are reportedly selling for as much as $10 grand on Stubhub. The average sales price on the site is over $1,100.00.