NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 7, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 7, 2020

NHL still looking at a Jan. 1 start to the 2020-21 season, Brendan Lemieux and MacKenzie Weegar avoid arbitration, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said opening the 2020-21 season on Jan. 1 remains the objective. Pierre LeBrun reports the joint NHL-NHLPA return-to-play committee has yet to meet, though the top leaders of the league and the PA have been in daily contact over the season.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly (NHL.com).

TVA SPORTS’ Renaud Lavoie reports the NHL hopes to make its return-to-play announcement as soon as possible. “It could take another 7 to 10 days,” tweeted Lavoie. “Lots of works (sic) to be done until then.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL brain trust will likely keep an eye on the NBA’s plans to return to action in December. Both leagues share many of the same arenas. While caution remains the watchword for the NHL, they’ll maintain a close watch on the NBA’s return-to-play for any meaningful information it can apply to its own plans.

I’m skeptical about Lavoie’s timeline for an official start date if the return-to-play committee hasn’t even met yet. It could more than several days to work out an agreement.

NEW YORK POST: Brendan Lemieux avoided salary arbitration with the Rangers, agreeing to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $1.55 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a slight bump over the $925K Lemieux earned last season. It puts the 24-year-old checking-line winger in a position for another go at arbitration in two year’s time, where he could push for a more substantial pay raise.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers avoided arbitration with MacKenzie Weegar as the 26-year-old defenseman signed a three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weegar was the subject of some trade speculation but the Panthers obviously value his physical presence on their blue line. Cap Friendly indicates the annual average value is $3.25 million, more than doubling the AAV of his previous contract. He’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agent status at the end of this deal.

The signings of Lemieux and Weegar completes this year’s NHL arbitration schedule. Of the 26 players filing for arbitration, only one (Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi) required a hearing.

THE SCORE: cited Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland telling The Edmonton Journal he expects defenseman Oscar Klefbom to be sidelined by a nagging shoulder injury for the entire 2020-21 campaign.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been widely assumed Klefbom could miss most or all of the coming season. The Oilers can place him on long-term injury reserve if necessary to get some salary-cap wiggle room for a potential replacement.

NHL.COM: Former NHL defenseman Jim Neilson has passed away at age 79. Neilson spent 12 of his 16 NHL seasons (1962-63 to 1977-78) with the New York Rangers, followed by two seasons with the California Golden Seals and two with the Cleveland Barons. A solid stay-at-home defender, Neilson played 1, 024 games, amassing 368 points. He also spent one season in the WHA with the Edmonton Oilers before retiring in 1979.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Neilson’s family, friends and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 5, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 5, 2020

The Islanders avoid arbitration with Ryan Pulock, Blue Jackets winger Gustav Nyquist has shoulder surgery, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: The New York Islanders avoided arbitration with Ryan Pulock as the 26-year-old defenseman agreed to a two-year, $10 million contract. The annual average value is $5 million, but Pulock will earn $3.34 million in actual salary this season and $6.66 million in 2021-22.

New York Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pulock will be an unrestricted free agent in two years’ time. He’ll be in line for a significant raise on his next contract.

Cap Friendly indicates this signing leaves the Islanders with $3.9 million in cap space with Mathew Barzal still to sign. That’s raising speculation over what general manager Lou Lamoriello will do to free up cap space for Barzal. I’ll have more about that later this morning in the Rumors section.

SPORTSNET: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Gustav Nyquist underwent surgery on his left shoulder. His anticipated recovery period is five-to-six months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nyquist’s absence is a big hit for the Blue Jackets’ anemic offense. He finished second among Jackets’ scorers last season in assists (27) and points (42) and fourth in goals with 15.

That’s sparked conjecture over how they’ll offset Nyquist’s absence. You can read about that later this morning in the Rumors section.

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reported the New York Rangers have asked an arbitrator for a two-year contract in Brendan Lemieux’s case at $950K and $1.075 million. Lemieux seeks $2 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: His hearing is slated for Nov. 6.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed goaltender Dustin Tokarski to a two-year, two-way contract with an annual average value of $725K.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed defenseman William Lagesson to a two-year contract worth $725K annually. It’s a two-way deal during the first season.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins promoted director of amateur scouting Patrik Allvin to assistant general manager.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild extended their ECHL affiliation with the Allen Americans for 2020-21.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 21, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 21, 2020

The Norris Trophy & Selke Trophy finalists are revealed, the latest COVID-19 testing results, plus the latest on Max Domi, Charlie McAvoy, Ilya Samsonov, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: John Carlson of the Washington Capitals, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators are this year’s finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top defenseman as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson is a finalist for the Norris Trophy (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hedman is a former Norris winner (2018) and was a finalist last season. This is the first time as finalists for Carlson and Josi. Carlson led all defensemen in scoring, with Josi second and Hedman third.

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier, and St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly are the finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s top defensive forward as voted by the PHWA.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron could win the Selke for a record-setting fifth time. O’Reilly won the award last season while Couturier was a finalist in 2017-18.

LATEST NHL COVID-19 TESTING RESULTS

The NHL yesterday released the results of their COVID-19 testing from last week, indicating two players tested positive for the coronavirus. Both players are self-isolating and following CDC and Health Canada guidelines. The league administered 2,618 tests to over 800 players from July 13-17.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a notable improvement over the previous numbers released by the league. At that rate, the league’s chances of staging its playoff tournament in Edmonton and Toronto look very good.

This week, however, will be the crucial period, as the players have been around each other more since Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan began on July 13.

PHASE 3 TRAINING CAMP NOTES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Max Domi rejoined his teammates yesterday after taking a week to evaluate the risks to his health associated with COVID-19. He’s a type-1 diabetic and also suffers from celiac disease.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Domi will need some time to get up to speed with his teammates. Nevertheless, his return to the lineup should provide a boost to their forward lines entering their best-of-five qualifying-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Charlie McAvoy and Chris Wagner were missing from Bruins practice yesterday, joining wingers David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase on the sidelines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy couldn’t elaborate as to why McAvoy and Wagner weren’t at practice due to league protocols. However, he seemed to hint at the reason behind their absence, noting that COVID-19 tests results are sometimes delayed or inconclusive. Pastrnak is out for precautionary reasons linked to possible secondary exposure to a person with the coronavirus. As per league rules, the Bruins say Kase remains unfit to participate. 

CBS SPORTS: Washington Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov is the sole member of the roster not to participate in Phase 3 training.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Because of league protocols, we don’t know if Samsonov has tested positive for COVID-19 or is nursing an injury.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Patric Hornqvist was among nine players returning to the ice yesterday after being held out of practice as a precaution for potential secondary exposure to COVID-19. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby missed practice again yesterday after leaving the ice on Saturday.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Brendan Lemieux received a two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Colorado Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi on March 11. He will serve that suspension during the opening two games of his club’s qualifying-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

IN OTHER NEWS…

SPORTSNET: released its broadcast schedule for the qualifying round and round-robin series commencing Aug. 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Former Sportsnet analyst John Shannon reported hearing the NHL plans to put its World feed on a five-second delay to monitor the players’ language. Expect to hear plenty of bleeps given how salty their on-ice language tends to be and how clearly it will be heard without fan noise to drown it out.

Former NHL winger Alex Kovalev was named head coach of KHL team Kunlun Red Star.

Former NHL defenseman Jack McIlhargey passed away from cancer on Sunday at age 68. McIlhargey spent nine seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks, and Hartford Whalers from 1974-75 to 1981-82, tallying 47 points and collecting 1,102 PIMs in 393 games. Following his playing career, he served within the Canucks system from 1984 until 2007 as a minor-league head coach and as a scout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to McIlhargey’s family, friends, and former teammates and associates.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – New York Rangers

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – New York Rangers

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 14, 2020

The latest roundup of the NHL’s plans during the postponement of this season and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: The NHL distributed a memo to its players yesterday outlining its plans for the coming days during the postponement of its schedule over coronavirus concerns.

The players will continue receiving their paychecks for the remainder of the season during their normal pay period. They’re also asked to self-quarantine themselves for a week in their club’s city and avoid travel, though they will be allowed to see family outside of their respective cities provided they alert their general manager.

The NHL could re-open their training facilities in a week’s time.

They are to work out at home and avoid informal skates at public arenas. Players rehabbing injuries will be allowed if necessary to continue using team facilities. Following the quarantine period, the league hopes to re-open facilities for players to work on conditioning before introducing a training camp period.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said there would be no mandatory testing of players for COVID-19, but testing will be conducted if a player exhibits symptoms or becomes sick. He added the league will work in close conjunction with the NHL Players Association regarding the schedule, noting both sides can agree to extend existing contracts to accommodate the resumption of play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hockey News’ Jared Clinton believes the NHL will follow the lead of the National Basketball Association regarding the resumption of play. Both leagues share the same arenas. If the NBA returns in 30 days, the NHL could quickly follow suit.

A growing list of NHL teams will compensate their respective arena staffs for postponed games. They include the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Washington Capitals.

Florida Panther goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is pledging $100K to his club’s arena workers. His pledge will be matched by his teammates, with club ownership pledging to take care of outstanding amounts.

TVA SPORTS: No official word yet from the Montreal Canadiens regarding Bell Centre employees, but it’s expected they will also follow suit.

WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen believes the Jets must step up and do right by MTS Centre employees. Club chairman Mark Chipman said Thursday those employees aren’t full-time. “They work when we work. So, regrettably, to the extent that we’re not putting on shows and games, those people obviously would not have a call to work.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m willing to give Chipman the benefit of the doubt and suggest he was preoccupied with the fallout from the league’s announcement it was pausing the season. However, it won’t be a good look for the Jets if they won’t compensate MTS Centre workers when other NHL clubs are looking after their own.

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is still counting on the 2020-21 season to begin on time and run its usual course.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NHL.COM: The Hockey Hall of Fame will be closed from March 14 to April 6 over coronavirus concerns.

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Coronavirus concerns prompted the family of the late Henri Richard to close his funeral to the public. The Montreal Canadiens Hall-of-Famer passed away last week at age 84. His funeral will be Monday, March 16.

TSN: The Department of Player Safety determined New York Rangers winger Brendan Lemieux will be suspended for his hit on Colorado Avalanche winger Joonas Donskoi on Wednesday. “The precise parameters of the suspension will be determined and announced once resumption of play guidelines have been established.”










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 13, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 13, 2020

What next for the NHL in the wake of pausing the season over coronavirus concerns? What could be the effect upon the playoff race and the off-season? Check out the latest in today’s morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league had been closely monitoring what was going on regarding the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus before its decision to pause the schedule. He admitted the NBA having a player test positive and forcing the cancellation of a game left him no doubt this would be a game-changer.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman remains hopeful of resuming the remainder of this season (Photo via NHL.com).

Bettman said he’s hesitant to use the word “suspension”, remaining hopeful the season will resume at some point. He’s not sure how far it could push the schedule into the summer. The league is taking a day-to-day approach for now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll depend upon how long before the spread of the virus is significantly slowed or contained. TSN’s Frank Seravalli cited an NHL governor telling colleague Darren Dreger the league is focused for now on returning to action within three weeks, but that will depend upon the players’ health, how many (if any) contracted the virus, and recommendations from the health community.

THE SCORE: The playoff picture, the ripple effect upon the off-season schedule, and the salary cap are the major storylines to monitor as the NHL pauses the remainder of the 2019-20 schedule over coronavirus concerns.

Depending on when the league returns to action, it could pick up its schedule where it left off, play an abbreviated number of games to begin the playoffs closer to the starting date, or cancel the rest of the regular season and opt for a wild-card play-in or beginning the postseason based on the standings at the time the regular season was paused.

It could also affect the dates when the league stages its annual prospect combine and draft in June. The annual July 1 start date for free agency could also change. Next season’s salary cap could remain closer to this season’s $81.5 million rather than reach the projected range of $84 million to $88 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery, slated for April 9, will move to a different date later in the spring. 

NEW YORK POST: Teams are standing pat with no practices or meetings. That could change if they think they’ll start playing games again.

Most teams intend to deal with their ticket holders individually. Most could be willing to transfer those tickets to next season.

If the players are still paid during the hiatus, they could end up giving it all back via escrow to ensure the 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue with team owners. As for hourly workers at arenas, individual teams could examine some form of compensation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Toronto Maple Leafs (via Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment) and Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley announced they’ll look after their arena staff during this period. I expect the other clubs either have a plan in place for their respective personnel or are working on one.

ESPN.COM: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said it’s a team-by-team thing for testing players for COVID-19. “Testing kits are controlled by local health, and each state is allocated different amounts based on population and experience. At this point, the need for testing is greater than the supply of tests. That will start to change as manufacturers are ramping up production.”

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks announced a part-time employee at SAP Center in San Jose tested positive for the coronavirus. The individual is under self-quarantine and receiving care from medical personnel.

SPORTSNET: The International Ice Hockey Federation is considering cancelling the Men’s World Championships. The 16-team tournament is set to begin on May 8.

NBC SPORTS: The AHL, ECHL, and CHL are following the NHL’s lead and pausing their schedules.

THE SCORE: Despite the interruption in the schedule, New York Rangers winger Brendan Lemieux will have a hearing today for interfering Colorado Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi during Wednesday night’s contest.

CALGARY SUN: Long-time Flames executive Ken King passed away at age 68. He was team president and chief executive officer for many years beginning in 2001, and until recently played a role in securing a deal for a new arena in downtown Calgary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to King’s family, friends, and the Flames’ organization.