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.

 











NHL Rumor Mill – May 22, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – May 22, 2018

Updates on the New York Islanders, Vegas Golden Knights and Ilya Kovalchuk in your NHL rumor mill.

Expect big changes for the New York Islanders if Lou Lamoriello takes over their hockey operations (Photo via NHL.com)

CHANGES COMING FOR ISLANDERS?

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports a source claims former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello will soon take over all hockey operations of the New York Islanders. It’s unclear how this will affect current GM Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight. Cyrgalis notes the Isles had to have received permission from the Leafs to hire Lamoriello.

Lamoriello’s first order of business is re-signing Islanders captain John Tavares, who’s due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He reportedly met last week with Tavares, which can be seen as a positive sign toward retaining the superstar.

Larry Brooks believes the anticipated hiring of Lamoriello will bring an end to years of the Islanders hoarding draft picks and selections. Brooks noted how he packaged picks and prospects to bring in “upper-echelon veterans” during his tenure as GM of the New Jersey Devils.

The Isles enter this year’s draft with two selections in the first and second rounds and are bursting with promising youth within their system. Brooks speculate Lamoriello could draw upon that to land a legitimate top right defenseman, someone such as Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba, for example. Such a move could help convince Tavares to re-sign.

Brooks also expects Lamoriello could get into the bidding for free-agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk, pursue an upper-echelon goaltender and add more toughness to the Isles lineup, perhaps by bringing back Matt Martin from the Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keep an eye on the Islanders in the coming weeks because things are going to get interesting. Cap Friendly indicates the Islanders have over $46 million invested in 13 players for 2018-19, giving them more than enough room to re-sign Tavares and bring in additional talent to bolster the lineup. Given the promising youth in the Isles system and their additional picks in the opening two rounds of this year’s draft, Lamoriello’s got a lot to work with if he intends to make bold moves this summer. 

POTENTIAL DESTINATIONS FOR KOVALCHUK

NJ.COM: Chris Ryan recently looked at potential destinations for former New Jersey Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who intends to return to the NHL next season. He listed the New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, Vegas Golden Knights, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers as possible landing spots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’d include the Islanders in that mix, as Larry Brooks noted the connnection between Kovalchuk and incoming Isles executive Lou Lamoriello during their days with the Devils. The Rangers are believed to have spoken to the Kovalchuk camp and could be his top destination. The Panthers missed the production of Jonathan Marchessault last season and could consider Kovalchuk as a short-term replacement.

Golden Knights GM George McPhee has a willingness to make big moves, attempting to pry Erik Karlsson away from the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline. I wouldn’t rule out McPhee kicking the tires on Kovalchuk. The Stars could also look at the veteran winger, provided they can shed Jason Spezza’s contract this summer.

Improving the defense is the priority for the Maple Leafs and Oilers. I don’t think they’ll be interested in Kovalchuk. 

LATEST GOLDEN KNIGHTS SPECULATION

FRS NETWORK HOCKEY: Chris Nichols recently cited Darren Dreger’s appearance last Tuesday on Toronto’s TSN 1050 discussing possible moves by the Vegas Golden Knights. Dreger believes they must be considered a top-10 team entering next season, though there’s going to be some changes based on what they do with their pending UFAs. However, he wonders if Vegas GM George McPhee attempts to sign John Tavares if the New York Islanders’ captain hits the open market, or takes another crack at acquiring Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knight’s stunning success in their inaugural campaign, their location in America’s Sun Belt and their cap space ($50.6 million invested in 19 players for 2018-19) should make them an attractive destination for UFAs or players being approached to waive their no-trade/no-movement clauses.

As Dreger points out, much will depend upon whether they re-sign pending UFAs such as James Neal and David Perron. McPhee could put an emphasis on keeping his roster intact as much as possible, which could take them out of the bidding for big-ticket players. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Golden Knights attempt to make a big move this summer.