NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 1, 2021

Evander Kane to be investigated that he bet on games, why Jack Eichel wants a disc replacement, plus a roundup of Saturday’s notable free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The NHL intends to launch an investigation into an allegation claiming San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane gambled on NHL games. The Sharks also released a statement indicating its support for a full and transparent investigation.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

The allegation was raised on an unverified Instagram account attributed to Kane’s wife, Anna, claiming the winger abandoned her and their two children to go on a European vacation while their home was being repossessed. She then accused Kane of betting on his own games.

Kane, 29, was sued by a Las Vegas casino in 2019 over $500K in unpaid gambling debts but the suit was dropped the following year. In January, he filed for bankruptcy claiming nearly $27 million in debts, including $1.5 million in gambling losses. He’s also facing six active lawsuits from lenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s bankruptcy and previous gambling issues are well-documented but his wife’s allegations raise that issue to an entirely different level. Sharks management stood by him during his bankruptcy. He recently claimed in an interview that fatherhood had changed and matured him. His wife’s comments, however, paint a very different picture.

Kane’s personal issues didn’t affect his on-ice performance as he led the Sharks in scoring this season with 49 points in 56 games. However, reports emerged indicating significant friction between the winger and his teammates this season, with several expressing frustration to management in their season-ending exit interviews.

Kane has four years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7 million. The outcome of this investigation, however, could determine whether he’ll get the opportunity to complete that contract.

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman interviewed Colorado neurosurgeon Dr. Chad Prusmack, who provided Jack Eichel with a recommendation to correct a herniated disc in his neck with artificial disc replacement surgery. Prusmack explained the procedure, the risk and recovery and why it would be more beneficial than neck fusion surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel and Sabres’ management are in disagreement over whether he can undergo this procedure. Under the CBA, the Sabres have the final say but that’s become an area of contention between the two sides, prompting considerable speculation over his future.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed winger Warren Foegele to a three-year contract worth $2.75 million per season. Foegele was acquired last week from the Carolina Hurricanes

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings re-signed winger Tyler Bertuzzi to a two-year contract worth $9.5 million. Bertuzzi has resumed off-ice training following back surgery in April and is expected to be ready for training camp next month.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed Nick Ritchie to a two-year contract worth $2.5 million per season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed winger Artturi Lehkonen to a one-year, $2.3 million contract.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars signed forward Joel Kiviranta to a two-year, $2.1 million contract.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed Derek Stepan to a one-year, $1.35 million contract.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed forward Riley Nash to a one-year deal worth $750K.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 25, 2021

The Canadiens advance to the Stanley Cup Final, the Seattle Kraken introduce Dave Hakstol as their first head coach, the latest on Nikita Kucherov and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens are heading to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993. Artturi Lehkonen’s overtime goal gave the Canadiens a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6 to win their best-of-seven series four games to two. Habs goalie Carey Price made 37 saves for the win.

Montreal Canadiens pose with Clarence S. Campbell Bowl after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in six games (NHL.com).

Montreal captain Shea Weber opened the scoring in the first period but Vegas winger Reilly Smith quickly tied it. The Canadiens regained the lead in the second on a Cole Caufield goal but Alec Martinez tallied the equalizer in the third period.

The Canadiens were presented with the Clarence Campbell Bowl, usually awarded to the winner of the Western Conference Final. It’s the first time in franchise history they’ve won this award.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Canadiens for once again defying the odds and the doubters with another series victory over a very talented opponent. They’ve reached this point thanks to Price’s goaltending, a superior penalty kill, and a strong five-man system based on solid defensive play and a speedy transition game. They’re playing very well and deserve to be where they are.

The Golden Knights’ failure to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight year could bring about some roster changes in the offseason. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.

The Canadiens now await the winner of tonight’s Game 7 between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is slated for Monday, June 28.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken yesterday announced Dave Hakstol as their first head coach in franchise history. The former coach of North Dakota in the NCAA, he’s was the bench boss of the Philadelphia Flyers for over three seasons. Hakstol spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hakstol was rarely mentioned in media speculation as a candidate for the Kraken coaching gig. As the Times observed, he did have connections with the Kraken front office. He worked with general manager Ron Francis during their tenure with Team Canada at the 2019 World Championships. Jason Botterill was the GM of that squad and now works as an assistant general manager with the Kraken.

NHL.COM: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov’s status for Game 7 against the Islanders remains unknown. He left early in Game 6 with an undisclosed injury following a cross-check from Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield and hitting Mathew Barzal as his shift was ending. He’s this postseason’s leading scorer with 27 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning played with Kucherov throughout the regular season so they shouldn’t have much difficulty adjusting without him. Still, the potential absence of their leading scorer could be a crucial factor tonight.

ESPN.COM: Hall-of-Famer Mark Messier will join ESPN as a studio analyst beginning next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wonder if he’ll accept cold calls

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings signed Blake Lizotte to a one-year, $800K contract extension.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars signed center Rhett Gardner to a two-year deal worth $1.5 million.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports Dallas Stars assistant coach Todd Nelson will have a third interview with the Arizona Coyotes for their head-coaching position. More talks could also be in store with Ottawa 67s coach Andre Tourigny.

St. Louis Blues assistant coach Mike Van Ryn and Providence Bruins coach Jay Leach are no longer in the running for the job.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 29, 2021

The Golden Knights advance to the second round, updates on the Leafs and Canadiens, the Ducks seek an assistant coach, a Gretzky rookie card fetches a record price at auction, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights advanced to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs following a 6-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild in Game 7 of their first-round series. Mattias Janmark tallied a hat trick for the Golden Knights, who faced the Colorado Avalanche in round two. Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin left the game in the first period with an apparent upper-body injury.

Vegas Golden Knights forward Mattias Janmark (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a close game early in the second period tied at two. However, the Golden Knights scored twice before the period was out and Janmark put it away with two goals in the third. It was a hard-fought series and the only one thus far in the first round to go the full seven games. This was a tough loss for the Wild but they have a promising future thanks to their budding core of young talent.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Nick Foligno remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury and questionable for Game 6 tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. Defenseman Travis Dermott could replace Rasmus Sandin for tonight’s game.

Montreal Canadiens center Jake Evans could return to the lineup tonight after being sidelined since Game 1 with an undisclosed injury. Artturi Lehkonen (upper-body) remains doubtful.

NHL.COM: Game 1 of the second-round series between the Carolina Hurricanes – Tampa Bay Lightning goes Sunday in Carolina at 5 pm ET.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Lightning, they’ve ended their policy that restricted fans from wearing gear supporting other NHL clubs in their premium seating areas. This move came after a video went viral showing Florida Panthers fans being asked to remove their jerseys jersey by team staffers during a recent playoff game between the two clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a bush-league rule that never should’ve been implemented in the first place.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray said head coach Dallas Eakin will return next season. He’s also looking for an assistant coach who can run their power play.

NBC SPORTS: A Wayne Gretzky rookie card recently sold for a record $3.75 million at auction.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2021

The Lightning and Islanders advance to the second round, the Wild force Game 7 with the Golden Knights, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning have advanced to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs with a 4-0 victory over the Florida Panthers, winning their best-of-seven series in six games. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves for the shutout, team captain Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist while Pat Maroon tallied what proved to be the game-winning goal. Lightning forward Barclay Goodrow returned to action after missing six games with an upper-body injury.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This ends the most entertaining series of the opening round. The Panthers were a worthy opponent but were overwhelmed by the depth and experience of the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Three-point performances by Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier carried the New York Islanders to a 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins to eliminate the latter in six games. Ilya Sorokin kicked out 34 shots for the Isles, who go on to face the Boston Bruins in the second round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders earned this victory with their hard work, smothering defense and timely scoring. Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry’s shaky performance in this game and throughout that series raises questions about the depth in the Penguins crease. I’ll have more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

A 23-save shutout by Cam Talbot gave the Minnesota Wild a 3-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6 of their first-round series. Ryan Hartman, Kevin Fiala and Nick Bjugstad scored in the third period to force a seventh and deciding game back in Las Vegas on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild have seized the momentum from the Golden Knights by overcoming a 3-1 series deficit to force a winner-take-all Game 7.

TSN: Maple Leafs captain John Tavares joined his teammates at their practice facility yesterday to get “re-acclimated” with his teammates, said Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe. Tavares suffered a concussion and knee injury in Game 1 of their current series with the Montreal Canadiens. He’s expected to be sidelined for at least two weeks.

Leafs center Nick Foligno remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury and is questionable for Game 5 tonight. Canadiens forwards Artturi Lehkonen (upper-body) and Jake Evans (undisclosed) did not travel with their teammates to Toronto for Game 5.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bo Byram has returned to the lineup after being sidelined by a concussion since March 25.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Defenseman Ethan Bear and the Oilers spoke out yesterday after the 23-year-old was the target of racist attacks on social media following the club’s first-round elimination earlier this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear was singled out after a Game 4 turnover resulted in a goal by the Winnipeg Jets. It’s one thing to criticize his play but attacking his Cree heritage was a despicable move by racist cowards.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks have agreed not to sue Google or the City of San Jose after the franchise and the tech company reached a settlement over the latter’s plans to expand into downtown San Jose. The Sharks were concerned over the potential effect the expansion would have on parking at SAP Center.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 25, 2021

The Jets sweep the Oilers with a triple-overtime victory, the Islanders put the Penguins on the brink in double overtime, the Panthers and Wild stave off elimination and the Leafs take a 2-1 series lead over the Canadiens. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets got a triple-overtime goal by Kyle Connor to defeat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 and sweep their opening-round series in four games. Mark Scheifele scored twice and Connor Hellebuyck made 37 saves for the win. Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Chiasson tallied for the Oilers while defensemen Darnell Nurse logged over 62 minutes of ice time. Oilers forward Josh Archibald missed this game serving a one-game suspension. The Jets await the winner of the Toronto Maple Leafs-Montreal Canadiens series.

Kyle Connor was the triple-overtime hero for the Winnipeg Jets as they swept the Edmonton Oilers (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers dominated the Jets during the regular season but they struggled in the heavier going of postseason play. Their lack of secondary punch also didn’t help matters.

Remember that late-season speculation suggesting Jets coach Paul Maurice could lose his job? We can put that to rest now. The Jets’ previous postseason experience also made a difference here. Their offense got a boost from Nikolaj Ehlers return from injury midway through this series. This was the first-ever NHL playoff sweep in Jets history and the first time they’ve eliminated the Oilers.

A double-overtime goal by Josh Bailey gave the New York Islanders a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ilya Sorokin kicked out 48 shots for the Isles, who hold a 3-2 lead in this first-round series heading back to Long Island on Wednesday. Bryan Rust and Kris Letang each had two points for the Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bailey’s goal came off a horrible turnover by Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry. Sorokin, meanwhile, has backstopped the Isles to consecutive wins since returning to the net in Game 4.

The Florida Panthers staved off elimination by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 in Game 5 of their first-round series. Panthers rookie goaltender Spencer Knight made 36 saves in his NHL playoff debut while Patric Hornqvist and MacKenzie Weegar each had a goal and an assist while Mason Marchment netted the game-winner. The Lightning holds a 3-2 series lead as the series returns to Tampa Bay for Game 6 on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Knight gave up the early goal but was unbeatable after that. He’s earned the start for Game 6.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot made 38 saves as his club avoided elimination by doubling up the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2. First-period goals by Kirill Kaprizov, Zach Parise and Jordan Greenway paved the way for Minnesota’s victory as they had just 14 shots on goal in this game. Wild defenseman Carson Soucy missed this game with an undisclosed injury. The series returns to Minnesota on Wednesday for Game 6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights dominated most of this game. Talbot came through for his teammates, especially in a second period where they were outshot 22-1.

The Toronto Maple Leafs held off the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round series. All the scoring took place in the second period with William Nylander and Morgan Rielly tallying for the Leafs and Nick Suzuki replying for the Canadiens. Leafs center Nick Foligno sat out this game with a lower-body injury while Canadiens center Eric Staal was sidelined by an undisclosed injury. Habs winger Artturi Lehkonen left the game following a first-period collision with Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin. Game 4 goes tonight in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game saw an evenly-matched first period, the Leafs dominating the second and the Canadiens controlling the third. The goaltending was outstanding for both clubs, with Montreal’s Carey Price and Toronto’s Jack Campbell making some big saves.

William Nylander has scored in each game and leads the Leafs with four points. Habs rookie Cole Caufield made his playoff debut, generating a couple of quality scoring chances and earning more playing time as the game went on.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov is struggling to score in his club’s series with the Nashville Predators. He has just one goal on 21 shots and that was an empty-netter in Game 1.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Ondrej Kase (upper-body injury) and defenseman Steve Kampfer (hand surgery) are sidelined for the rest of the playoffs.

LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: The Anaheim Ducks hired former Los Angeles Kings executive Jeff Solomon as their new senior vice president of hockey operations.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – March 30, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 30, 2021

Will the Panthers seek a defenseman with Aaron Ekblad sidelined? Could the Blues have an interest in Sabres winger Taylor Hall? What’s the latest on the Avalanche, Lightning, Canadiens and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

WILL THE PANTHERS SHOP FOR A DEFENSEMAN?

NHL.COM: Dan Rosen believes losing top defenseman Aaron Ekblad (fractured leg) for 12 weeks puts the emphasis on the Florida Panthers to acquire a blueliner before the April 12 trade deadline. Options could include the Buffalo Sabres’ Brandon Montour, Columbus Blue Jackets’ David Savard, New Jersey Devils’ Sami Vatanen and New York Rangers Tony DeAngelo.

Like Ekblad, they’re all right-shot rearguards. Montour, Savard and Vatanen are pending unrestricted free agents while DeAngelo is in the first season of a two-year contract with an annual average value of $4.8 million.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports Panthers general manager Bill Zito was already scouting for a top-four defenseman before Ekblad was sidelined.

Could the Florida Panthers look to acquire Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm? (NHL Images)

One option could be the Nashville Predators’ Mattias Ekholm but there’s no certainty he’ll be available with the Predators back in the playoff race in the Discover Central Division. Richards believes Savard would be a good fit if he’s available.

Other targets could include Montour, Vatanen, Sabres blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen, or the Arizona Coyotes’ Alex Goligoski.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no one in the trade market that can replace Ekblad’s role as the Panthers’ top defenseman. If Zito goes shopping it’ll be for a decent depth rearguard capable of playing top-four minutes.

Zito could consider blueliners with term on their contracts such as Ekholm, Ristolainen or DeAngelo but the asking prices for those players could be more expensive than it would be for the UFAs. The Predators asking price for Ekholm is said to be three assets including a first-round pick and a top prospect. I believe Zito will instead look to the rentals.

NOTABLE RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams was believed discussing something with the St. Louis Blues. He wondered if it might involve Sabres winger Taylor Hall but said he received “pushback” on that notion. Friedman doubts the Sabres can get a first-round pick for Hall unless there’s a bidding war. He also wondered if Casey Mittelstadt could be moved.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Hall is attracting interest in the trade market but his value has declined over the course of this season. Rival GMs will try to get him for a bargain if they can. Adams might have to accept a second-rounder and a prospect.

Friedman believes the Colorado Avalanche could have an interest in David Savard if the Blue Jackets become sellers. He also thinks the Tampa Bay Lightning could be a suitor if they can find a way to fit him under their cap.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It seems to me that the Avs should be looking for a reliable backup for starting goalie Philipp Grubauer. As for the Lightning, they don’t have any cap room and expect superstar winger Nikita Kucherov back in the lineup in time for the playoffs. I wouldn’t be surprised if GM Julien Brisebois managed to make an addition before the deadline but it would take considerable salary-cap gymnastics to pull it off.

Friedman doubts Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is done dealing after acquiring Eric Staal from the Sabres last Friday. He thinks Bergevin may have had something going with Artturi Lehkonen to create some salary-cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens need an experienced top-four, left-side defenseman. That should be Bergevin’s target if he can make the dollars fit. Lehkonen has come up in Habs trade chatter in recent weeks. He’s got a $2.4 million cap hit and becomes a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights. He could become expendable as the Habs look to promote younger players following this season.

Detroit Red Wings center Luke Glendening could be on the Edmonton Oilers’ radar. Acquiring him could be challenging if a rival club is willing to part with a higher draft pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers GM Ken Holland wants to add to his roster before the deadline but he only has four picks in this year’s draft, with the highest being a fourth-rounder. I doubt he’s keen to part with his 2022 picks.