NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2021

Evander Kane facing another league investigation, the Lightning sign GM Julien BriseBois to a new contract, plus the latest on Auston Matthews, MacKenzie Blackwood and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane faces another investigation by the NHL, this time for a possible violation of the league’s COVID-19 protocols. The details being investigated are currently unknown.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

The 30-year-old Kane is also facing a league investigation regarding his behavior toward his estranged wife, Anna. Earlier this month, the NHL cleared Kane of allegations by Anna claiming he gambled on league games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane and the Sharks reached an agreement last week that he would not attend training camp until further notice.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed general manager Julien BriseBois to a contract extension. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. BriseBois helped to build the Lightning into consecutive Stanley Cup champions in 2020 and 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: BriseBois played a key role in building the Lightning into consecutive Cup champions. He was assistant GM from 2010 to 2018, developing current Lightning players such as Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Ondrej Palat and Anthony Cirelli while GM of their AHL affiliate in Syracuse. As Lightning GM, he acquired Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow, who played key roles in the Bolts’ recent championships.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews has returned to practice following offseason wrist surgery. He’s expected to return to the lineup in time for their season-opener on Oct. 13.

ESPN.COM: New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood said he’s currently unvaccinated, leaving open the possibility he could still get the vaccine at some point. “I have a couple of health concerns and health reasons why I’m working through it a little slower. I wanted to check off a couple of boxes, and not rush to do it,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackwood faces missing his club’s road games in Canada if he remains unvaccinated throughout this season.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson revealed he signed with the Seattle Kraken in July for family reasons rather than financial ones. His father, Robert Larsson, passed away three years ago while visiting his son in Edmonton. He said he felt he had to leave for his personal well-being and a fresh start.

NEW YORK POST: Once-promising defenseman Libor Hajek has slid down the Rangers’ blueline depth chart, surpassed by K’Andre Miller, Patrik Nemeth and Zac Jones. His chance of sticking with the Blueshirts out of training camp could be in peril. He could get plucked off waivers by a rival club if assigned to the Rangers’ AHL affiliate.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 22, 2021

The Kraken unveil their roster, the Bruins close to re-signing Taylor Hall, the Oilers reportedly ink Mike Smith, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken finally have a full roster as they made their 30-player selections in their expansion draft yesterday. Mark Giordano, Jordan Eberle and Yanni Gourde were among the notable players chosen by the Kraken.

The Seattle Kraken officially announced their roster on July 21. (NHL.com).

Gourde will have to wait for a little way to make his debut with the Kraken after undergoing shoulder surgery this week. His recovery period is estimated to be four months.

Adam Larsson, Chris Driedger and Jamie Oleksiak were considered draft selections from the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars respectively after signing new contracts with the Kraken. The trio was slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 28 but the Kraken had a three-day window to exclusively negotiate with free agents exposed in the draft.

Larsson signed a four-year, $16 million contract. Driedger’s new deal is for three years and is worth an annual average value of $3.5 million while Oleksiak’s is for five years with a $4.6 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The unofficial Kraken roster I posted yesterday based on media links throughout the day turned out to be the official list. You can read my take on the expansion draft on Bleacher Report.

The Kraken’s home opener is slated for Oct. 23 against the Vancouver Canucks. The NHL’s full 2021-22 schedule will be released on Thursday.

No side deals emerged during the draft despite weeks of hype. General manager Ron Francis was asked if he has any trades in hand that could be unveiled when the expansion draft roster freeze is lifted at 1 pm ET today. “Probably a lot less than you guys think there might be,” he said.

In other news…

TSN: The Boston Bruins are reportedly closing in on a new deal for left wing Taylor Hall. Darren Dreger expects it’ll be a four-year contract worth close to $24 million in total.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a surprise. Most of the speculation about Hall’s negotiations with the Bruins suggested a three-to-four year contract worth around $6 million annually.

SPORTSNET: Mike Smith is reportedly returning to the Edmonton Oilers. The 39-year-old goaltender is expected to ink a two-year deal worth around $2 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a bad cap hit but it’s still a bit of a gamble to invest more than one year into a goalie who turns 40 in March. It remains to be seen who will share the netminding duties with Smith. The Oilers are reportedly shopping Mikko Koskinen. He has a year left on his deal worth $4.5 million but they can’t find any takers. There are no immediate plans to buy him out.

Speaking of the Oilers, they’ve engaged in preliminary contract talks with Tyson Barrie after losing defenseman Adam Larsson to the Kraken in the expansion draft.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres have started contract discussions with Rasmus Dahlin. The 21-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent after coming off his three-year entry-level contract.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens hired Trevor Letowski as an assistant coach. He spent the past 10 years coaching in the Ontario Hockey League, the last three as head coach of the Windsor Spitfires.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2021

Are the Oilers interested in Duncan Keith? What’s the status of Oilers’ blueliners Adam Larsson, Tyson Barrie and Oscar Klefbom? Could July become a busy month for Leafs GM Kyle Dubas? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins believes the Oilers are front-runners for Duncan Keith after reports emerged indicated the Chicago Blackhawks were exploring a trade for the 37-year-old defenseman.

Are the Edmonton Oilers interested in Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith? (NHL Images)

Leavins suggests they need a solid, reliable blueliner in case sidelined Oscar Klefbom misses next season. He thinks there’s mutual interest between the Oilers and Keith’s camp. The longtime Blackhawks rearguard apparently wants to be traded to a club close to his offseason home in Penticton, BC to be near his son.

Despite the decline in Keith’s performance in recent years, Leavins feels he has enough left to slot in behind Darnell Nurse on the right side. He also carries a reasonable $5.538 million annual average value for two more seasons.

The Blackhawks’ asking price, however, could be a sticking point. If they won’t retain part of Keith’s cap hit, he wondered if they’d take back a contract they can buy out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leavins colleague David Staples believes Keith’s cap hit is a steep price for the Oilers to pay for an aging defenseman on his last NHL legs unless the Blackhawks take a contract like James Neal or Mikko Koskinen in return.

Neal has two years left on his deal at $5.75 million per season. Koskinen might be preferable with one year at $4.5 million remaining on his deal, provided Chicago’s on his list of agreeable trade destinations.

That’s assuming, of course, the Blackhawks would buy out that contract. As Leavins observed, they’re shopping for a top-level defenseman. While they’ll have nearly $11 million in long-term injury reserve cap space to draw upon if necessary, they still must manage their dollars carefully.

THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman expects the Oilers could reach an agreement on a new contract with Adam Larsson perhaps as soon as next week. He cited Larsson’s agent J.P. Barry saying they’re making progress toward a deal. Talks are expected to resume next week.

A new contract for Larsson means Tyson Barrie’s tenure in Edmonton will end after just one season despite the uncertainty over Klefbom’s status.

Klefbom missed all of last season to a shoulder injury that eventually required surgery. His agent doesn’t expect clarity as to the status of his recovery until the fall. He could be left exposed in the upcoming expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers were happy with Barrie’s performance but GM Ken Holland has made re-signing Larsson the priority. Barrie seeks a long-term deal and that’s something the Oilers can’t afford.

Recent speculation suggested the Philadelphia Flyers were closely watching Larsson’s contract negotiations. They’ll have to shift their focus elsewhere if the Oilers get the 29-year-old shutdown defenseman under contract before July 28.

BUSY MONTH AHEAD FOR LEAFS GM DUBAS

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan expected Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas faces the busiest month for shaping next season’s roster. If Dubas won’t part with an expensive forward like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares or William Nylander, he’ll have to follow the same plan as last offseason to address his roster depth issues.

Koshan expects pending UFA winger Zach Hyman will be too expensive to re-sign unless Dubas can clear some cap space. There’s interest in re-signing defenseman Zach Bogosian and goalie Frederik Andersen. Koshan also advocated bringing back a healthy Nick Foligno for the right price.

The Leafs will lose a player to the Seattle Kraken in the upcoming expansion draft. Center Alex Kerfoot or a defenseman like Travis Dermott or Justin Holl could be joining the Kraken.

Given the Leafs’ limited cap space, Dubas could end up signing some veterans to one-year contracts as he did in last year’s UFA market. He could make a big splash in the trade market, perhaps for a winger like Arizona’s Conor Garland. Koshan doesn’t think it makes sense to peddle blueliner Morgan Rielly a year out from his UFA eligibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas has been creative over the past couple of years in attempting to address his roster needs with limited cap room. He could, as Koshan suggested, sign some veterans to affordable one-year contracts again. Perhaps he’ll acquire a player on permanent LTIR to get some extra wiggle room for other additions. Maybe he swings a side deal with the Kraken. He could pull off a one-for-one swap of players with comparable contracts.

Whether those moves pan out remains to be seen. They won’t make the Leafs a club that can go deep into the playoffs if the past two offseasons are any indication. As long as Dubas keeps his “Big Four” forwards and doesn’t shop Rielly, the limited cap room will hinder his efforts.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 29, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 29, 2021

Are the Oilers making progress in Nugent-Hopkins’ contract talks? Will they trade or buy out Mikko Koskinen or James Neal? Could Oscar Klefbom be exposed in the expansion draft? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson believes Oilers general manager Jim Matheson faces a long to-do list this summer. Topping that list is signing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to a new contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (NHL Images).

Nugent-Hopkins wants to stay but Matheson wondered if Holland will go higher than $6 million per season or $5.5 million and over five years. He also feels the Oilers see him now as a top-six left-winger rather than a center and want to pay him as such.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson’s colleague David Staples cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claiming Nugent-Hopkins contract talks haven’t gone well and his status remains uncertain. They were apparently close to a deal before the season began but things fell apart at the last minute.

Plenty of time for the two sides to work things out. I’d get concerned, however, if they haven’t gotten any closer when the calendar flips to July. Nugent-Hopkins will draw plenty of interest around the league if he goes to market on July 28. Someone will pay him what he wants.

The Oilers intend to bring back 39-year-old goaltender Mike Smith. As for Mikko Koskinen, Matheson believes his return is less than 50-50. They might not buy out Koskinen but Matheson wondered if they’d absorb part of the goalie’s $4.5 million cap hit to facilitate a trade or include a player or draft pick to get a deal done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staples noted Friedman said buying out Koskinen was a possibility. He also cited NHL insider Brian Lawton telling Oilers Now show host Bob Stauffer the Oilers shouldn’t bring Koskinen back. However, Staples suggests finding a suitable replacement this summer won’t be easy.

Koskinen, 32, struggled at times this season and wasn’t a reliable backup for Smith. He has just one year left on his contract. I think Holland will try to trade him, even if it means eating some of his salary. Failing that, he’ll probably go the buyout route at a cap hit of $1.5 million for 2021-22 and 2022-23 as per Cap Friendly.

Turning to the blueline, Matheson wondered if Holland will leave Oscar Klefbom unprotected in the expansion draft. He’d be taking a chance on the Kraken being scared off by the defenseman’s season-long absence with a shoulder injury.

Pending UFA blueliner Tyson Barrie is looking at a long-term deal and will see what’s out there. Matheson expected Holland will re-sign Adam Larsson, perhaps around the same $4.1 million range of his current deal. The question is whether it’s three or four years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland must also ensure he’ll have sufficient long-term cap space to sign Darnell Nurse to a contract extension. He’s slated to become a UFA next summer but contact talks can begin this summer. If Klefbom is selected by the Kraken in the expansion draft it’ll free up $4.1 million from their cap payroll, giving Holland extra room to sign Nurse or make other moves.

Matheson considers it likely Holland will buy out veteran winger James Neal. Doing so would free up $3.83 million in each of the next two seasons to target an unrestricted free agent winger such as Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman or Toronto’s Zach Hyman. If Neal is bought out, Matheson sees him returning to Pittsburgh where he had his best seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Mark Spector believes Holland should buy out Neal, considering him dead cap space already at $5.75 million annually and barely playing. It would count as $1.92 million over the next four years against the Oilers cap.

He also suggests Holland should explore trading Neal, absorbing half his salary for the final two years of his contract to make it work. However, he feels there would have to be something else included in the deal.

A trade is possible. A buyout is more likely. And no, he won’t be returning to Pittsburgh even if Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin like him. He’s a fading star who won’t address the Penguins’ need for a better starting goalie and more skilled toughness in their lineup.

Matheson also suggested St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz, Vegas Golden Knights versatile forward Mattias Janmark and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Patrik Nemeth as possible free-agent targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland would have better luck landing Janmark and/or Nemeth than Schwartz. The Blues hope to re-sign him. Failing that, he’ll draw considerable interest in the free-agent market. The Oilers might not win a bidding war for his services.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 9, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 9, 2021

Could the Rangers pursue Jack Eichel in the offseason? Will Tony DeAngelo return with the Blueshirts? What’s the latest on the Canadiens and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor roundup.

ESPN.COM: With Chris Drury taking over as general manager of the New York Rangers, Greg Wyshynski wonders what he’ll do to carry out owner James Dolan’s wish to accelerate the club’s rebuild.

Buffalo Sabres star Jack Eichel springs to mind, and not just because Dolan’s never met a high-priced center he didn’t want to acquire,” wrote Wyshynski. He pointed out the Rangers have considerable depth in prospects and draft picks to use as trade bait if Eichel becomes available.

Could the New York Rangers’ new management pursue Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel in this summer’s trade market? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wyshynski also speculated the Rangers could instead look at building up the grit and strength in their roster this summer. Nevertheless, he’s not the only pundit or fan who’s linked them to Eichel in recent weeks.

The Rangers have the prospects and young players to make a competitive bid for Eichel if he and the Sabres decide to part company this summer. They also have sufficient cap space to take on his $10 million cap hit as Cap Friendly shows them carrying $57.4 million invested in 19 players for next season.

However, we don’t know if Eichel wants out of Buffalo or if the Sabres intend to entertain trade offers this summer. If they do, they could be reluctant to move him to an intra-state rival.

NEW YORK POST: Don’t expect Drury to bring back banished Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo. Larry Brooks cites a “reliable source” claiming the recent change in management won’t affect DeAngelo’s status.

The previous administration indicated DeAngelo played his final game with the Rangers since being waived on Feb. 1 in the aftermath of a post-game scuffle with teammate Alexandar Georgiev two nights earlier. He has a year remaining on his contract with a $4.5 million cap hit. Buying out that year will cost the Rangers over $383K against their cap next season and over $833K for 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeAngelo’s done as a Ranger. They could try to trade him in the offseason or hope the Seattle Kraken select him in the expansion draft. However, they’ll likely buy out his contract following this season and he’ll try to land with another NHL club on an affordable one-year deal.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has been discussing his future with team owner Geoff Molson. Bergevin has a year remaining on his contract. Friedman mentioned the discussions could involve a contract extension and what it could look like.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That won’t sit well with those among the Montreal media and fanbase who want Bergevin fired over the Canadiens’ limited progress in recent years. Nothing seems carved in stone here but it doesn’t sound like Bergevin’s in danger of losing his job. Best to take Friedman’s suggestion of waiting to see where those decisions and conversations go.

Friedman also reported the Edmonton Oilers have been in contract extension talks with defenseman Adam Larsson since before last month’s trade deadline. They’re reportedly making good progress on what could be a four-year deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larsson is completing a six-year deal with an annual average value of $4.166 million. The 28-year-old has developed into a solid shutdown defenseman for the Oilers. No word on how much that new deal could be worth. The Oilers have $57.3 million committed to 14 players for 2021-22 with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Tyson Barrie also slated to become unrestricted free agents this summer.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 19, 2021

What could be in store this summer for the Oilers? Will the Blackhawks re-sign or trade Nikita Zadorov in the offseason? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Salary-cap limitations prevented Oilers GM Ken Holland from making big moves at the recent trade deadline. Terry Jones expects Holland could be able to do more in the offseason and next season once he’s out of salary-cap hell.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom (NHL Images).

Holland told Jones he doesn’t know if top-pairing defenseman Oscar Klefbom has made a decision about continuing his career following shoulder surgery. He intends to speak with the blueliner in June and July as they get closer to the expansion draft and free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klefbom has two more seasons left on his contract worth an annual average value of $4.167 million. Getting him back healthy for next season will certainly help his defense core.

If Klefbom’s career is over he’ll go on permanent long-term injury reserve if necessary, giving the Oilers GM some cap relief to perhaps put toward re-signing an unrestricted free agent such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson or Tyson Barrie, or perhaps to find one of their replacements.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Following last Monday’s NHL trade deadline, Ben Pope suggested Nikita Zadorov has the remainder of this season to prove to the Chicago Blackhawks he still belongs in their future. Pope wrote the Blackhawks set a high asking price for the big 26-year-old blueliner before the trade deadline but decided to keep him when no one met that price.

Zadorov becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. It’ll cost $3.2 million to qualify his rights but it’s expected he’ll seek more than that on his next contract. Pope speculated Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman could trade Zadorov this summer if he fails to solidify his role as their shutdown defenseman.

Mental mistakes and turnovers have proven costly for Zadorov. He faces a competitor for his job in Riley Stillman, who was recently acquired from the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks shipped winger Brandon Saad to the Colorado Avalanche for Zadorov and Anton Lindholm, the latter spending this season on their taxi squad. The big blueliner could be shopped in the offseason or perhaps left exposed in the expansion draft if he fails to make a positive impression over the remainder of this season.

Bowman will probably prefer to trade Zadorov rather than lose him for nothing to the Seattle Kraken. The decline in his stock, however, means he might only fetch a mid-range draft pick or a prospect.