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. 

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2018

Capitals force Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final, Islanders to hire Lou Lamoriello, Wild name Paul Fenton as their new GM, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: There will be a seventh and deciding game in the 2018 Eastern Conference Final. Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby made 24 saves in Game 6 to carry his club to a 3-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. T.J. Oshie scored twice, Nicklas Backstrom had two assists and Devante Smith-Pelly scored a goal, had five hits and two blocked shots. 

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby’s 24-save shutout performance carried his club to a 3-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Final (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After dropping three straight games and facing elimination, the Capitals regained their mojo with a combination of a renewed emphasis on physical play, shutting down the Lightning’s lethal power play and getting contributions from their secondary scorers. The stage is set for Game 7 on Wednesday (8 pm ET) in Tampa Bay, with the winner advancing to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final. 

Speaking of the Stanley Cup Final, it will begin on Monday, May 28. If the Lightning win the Eastern Conference Final, the series opens in Tampa Bay. If the Capitals win, it’ll start in Las Vegas. All start times will be 8 pm ET.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello is expected to take over the New York Islanders’ hockey operations within the next several days. Sources also confirmed Lamoriello met with Islanders captain (and pending free agent) John Tavares last week, “clearly in anticipation of assuming control of the Islanders.” No word on what this means for Isles general manager Garth Snow.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While Lamoriello is still under contract with the Leafs, this move obviously has their blessing. He could take over as president of hockey operations but the anticipation is he’ll also take over Snow’s position.

As Staple pointed out, the fact Lamoriello also reportedly met with Tavares indicates the Islanders owners are intent on retaining their captain, who could depart this summer via unrestricted free agency. I’ll have more on Lamoriello joining the Islanders later this morning in the Rumors section. 

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild yesterday announced former Nashville Predators assistant general manager is taking over as their new GM. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I like this move by the Wild. Fenton’s been a prized target for clubs seeking new management for several years. He played a key role in the Predators rise in recent years to a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. 

THE ATHLETIC: Speaking of the Wild, forward Charlie Coyle recently underwent surgery on both wrists to repair tendon damage to both wrists that had troubled him since January. He’s expected to make a full recovery in time for training camp in September. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those injuries account in part for the decline in Coyle’s production this season and his inability to score in this year’s playoffs. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW JOURNAL: Golden Knights merchandise is now the top seller for all US-based NHL franchises. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres forward Matt Moulson is the latest NHL player putting his house on the market, seeking $1.1 million for his Amherst, NY home.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt this means Moulson is going to be traded. He spent last season with the AHL’s Ontario Reign in California and is likely to finish the final season of his contract there. 

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues’ arena has been renamed Enterprise Center. 

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 12, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 12, 2018

Capitals take opening game of the Eastern Conference Final, Leafs promote Kyle Dubas to GM. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM:  The Washington Capitals leaped to a 4-0 lead and held on for a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final. Alex Ovechkin scored and picked up an assist while teammates Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie each collected two assists. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was pulled before the third period after giving up four goals on 25 shots. 

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin led his club to a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals dominated the first two periods. With the score 1-0 late in the first period, the Lightning had a potentially game-tying goal by Nikita Kucherov overturned by a bench penalty for too many men on the ice. That penalty set the stage for Ovechkin’s goal. It’s worth noting, however, the Lightning had a much better effort in the third period. That’s the version we can expect to see in Game 2 tomorrow. 

TORONTO STAR: The Maple Leafs yesterday announced the promotion of assistant general manager Kyle Dubas into the GM role. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas’ promotion clouds the future of assistant GM Mark Hunter, who has more front-office experience. The move also sparked speculation over the effect upon the Leafs’ offseason roster decisions. I’ll touch on that later this morning in the Rumor section. 

NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders have reportedly contacted former Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello regarding a possible front-office role. The club declined to comment. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles were linked to Lamoriello for several weeks now. It remains to be seen if they’re looking at replacing Garth Snow as general manager or if they intend to bring Lamoriello in as team president or a senior adviser. 

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: The Jets acquisition of Paul Stastny turned out to be the best move made by a playoff club at this year’s NHL trade deadline. Stastny’s become an integral part of the club’s march to the Western Conference Final. His postseason play could also burnish his value in this summer’s free-agent market. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams that lose out on John Tavares if he decides to test the UFA market will quickly zero in on Stastny as their “Plan B”.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW JOURNAL:  “Canadians aren’t happy about Carrie Underwood’s Knights fandom.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You forgot to put the words “A few…” in front of Canadians in your headline. Most of us don’t give a damn.

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2018

Golden Knights bite Sharks in overtime, Lightning strikes the Bruins, Lamoriello out as Leafs GM. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

William Karlsson was the overtime hero in the Vegas Golden Knights’ 4-3 victory in Game 3 against the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL Images)

  NHL.COM: William Karlsson’s overtime goal gave the Vegas Golden Knights a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks and a 2-1 lead in their second-round series. Jonathan Marchessault led the Golden Knights with a goal and two assists. The Sharks had overcome a 3-1 deficit to force the extra frame on third-period goals by Evander Kane and Logan Couture. Game 4 is Wednesday night in San Jose.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And here’s the reaction to Karlsson’s goal by KVVU-TV’s live evening news show. 

 

After posting a plus/minus of minus-5 in Game 1, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point had a four-point performance (one goal, three assists) to lead his club to a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. The series is now tied at a game apiece and heads to Boston for Game 3 on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning put forth a more physical effort in this contest, spotlighted by an energetic five-on-three penalty kill in the first period. While the Bruins top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak chipped in with assists, they were unable to score against the Bolts’ defense. Meanwhile, Boston’s not getting much offense from their other forwards, as it was blueliners Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug who tallied the Bruins’ goals in this game. 

TRIBLIVE.COM/NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Sidelined Pittsburgh Penguins Evgeni Malkin, Brian Dumoulin and Carl Hagelin returned to practice yesterday but remain game-day decisions for Game 3 against the Washington Capitals tonight in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Capitals winger Tom Wilson will not face a disciplinary hearing for his hit to Dumoulin’s head that knocked the Pittsburgh defenseman out of Game 2. 

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS/THE TENNESSEAN: With Game 3 of the Nashville Predators-Winnipeg Jets series set for tonight in Winnipeg, the Jets hope to put their overtime loss in the previous contest behind them. The Predators, meanwhile, aren’t intimidated about playing in front of a noisy, enthusiastic crowd at Winnipeg’s Bell MTS Place. 

TORONTO STAR: The Maple Leafs yesterday announced Lou Lamoriello won’t be returning as general manager. As Lamoriello moves into a senior adviser role, there’s no timetable for his replacement. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs president Brendan Shanahan declined to say if he’ll promote one of his assistant GMs (Kyle Dubas or Mark Hunter) or look to outside the organization for Lamoriello’s replacement. Meanwhile, speculation persists suggesting Lamoriello might take over from Garth Snow as GM of the New York Islanders. Don’t expect Shanahan to take too long naming a new GM, as he’ll likely want them in place before the 2018 NHL Draft (June 22-23) in Dallas. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes have terminated the contract of former general manager Ron Francis, who was replaced in March on an interim basis by Don Waddell. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: New owner Tom Dundon’s handling of this situation, his failed efforts to find a new GM willing to work for well below market value and the sudden departure of head coach Bill Peters has raised eyebrows around the league. 

NEWSDAY: Speaking of the Islanders, construction of their new arena at Belmont Park is expected to begin on schedule next spring. 

 











Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 11, 2018

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 11, 2018

A look at the general managers and coaches potentially on the hot seat in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

GENERAL MANAGERS POTENTIALLY FEELING THE HEAT

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle recently listed Detroit’s Ken Holland, Toronto’s Lou Lamoriello, Edmonton’s Peter Chiarelli, Montreal’s Marc Bergevin, the New York Islanders’ Garth Snow, Arizona’s John Chayka, Minnesota’s Chuck Fletcher, Colorado’s Joe Sakic, Columbus’ Jarmo Kekalainen and Chicago’s Stan Bowman as the 10 NHL general managers potentially on the hot seat as this NHL season winds down.

Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli is among several NHL GMs who could be on the hot seat. (Photo via NHL.com).

Holland was linked to Vancouver (before Jim Benning was re-signed) and Seattle’s expansion franchise. Mirtle also speculated Holland could be moved upstairs to a president’s role with the Wings or they could maintain the status quo. It’s expected Lamoriello will be moved out of the role as Maple Leafs’ GM at the end of this season, though he has a strong connection with Leafs president Brendan Shanahan.

There’s been rumors Chiarelli “is a man on an island in the front office as Wayne Gretzky exerts some influence,” while Oilers fans are “fed up”. Bergevin’s been given a vote of confidence by Canadiens ownership but Mirtle feels he’ll be on a short leash.

Snow has long had ownership support and contract talks with John Tavares could complicate any change before July 1. Still, Mirtle thinks the tide is shifting against the long-time Islanders GM. After two seasons with little improvement by the Coyotes under Chayka, a management change wouldn’t be surprising. Another early playoff exit by the Wild could prove costly to Fletcher.

Mirtle thinks this season’s improvement by the Avalanche means it’s safe to assume Sakic will be staying put. Kekalainen, meanwhile, could feel the pressure for Columbus to advance past the opening round of the playoffs. Bowman likely isn’t going anywhere in the offseason but Mirtle wonders about his future if the Blackhawks get off to a poor start next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve summarize the main points from Mirtle’s piece. Holland’s contract is up at the end of this season and I think the Wings are ready for a management change. Lamoriello is expected to move aside to make way for assistant GM Kyle Dubas. I can see him taking another role in the organization.

I don’t think Chiarelli will be fired but, like Bergevin in Montreal, he’ll be under pressure to turn things around this summer. Maybe Snow will be replaced, but I don’t think that’s a certainty. I certainly don’t see it happening while he’s negotiating with Tavares. If Snow can’t get his captain under contract, that could spell the end of his long tenure as Isles GM.

The Coyotes have had a rough season, but they’ve played better in the second half of this season. That could justify keeping Chayka around for another season. I agree with Mirtle that another disappointing playoff for the Wild could lead to major changes, which could include firing Fletcher. I don’t see Sakic, Kekalainen or Bowman going anywhere. 

COACHES ON THE HOT SEAT

USA TODAY: Kevin Allen lists the New York Rangers’ Alain Vigneault, Detroit’s Jeff Blashill, Edmonton’s Todd McLellan, Chicago’s Joel Quenneville, Washington’s Barry Trotz and Carolina’s Bill Peters as six coaches on the hot seat. 

The Rangers are committed to a rebuild but Vigneault has a reputation for being tough on young players. The justification for replacing Blashill could be the need for the younger players to hear a different voice. After Edmonton’s disappointing season, McLellan and GM Peter Chiarelli could be vulnerable. 

Quenneville could be replaced if the Blackhawks’ front office believes the roster needs a fresh approach behind the bench. Allen feels the fact the Capitals haven’t extended Trotz’ contract speaks to tension between the coach and the organization. A new GM in Carolina could want to bring in his own coach, while could spell the end of Peters behind the Hurricanes’ bench. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been an unusual season as no NHL head coach has lost a job…yet. Vigneault is under contract through 2019-20 so perhaps the Rangers will keep him around for next season. The fates of Blashill and McLellan could be tied to those of their respective general managers.

The Blackhawks’ struggles this season are of management’s making but it’s usually the coach who pays the price. If the Capitals make another early playoff exit, Trotz is a goner. With Francis out as the Hurricanes’ GM, his replacement will likely want to bring in his own staff.