NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 28, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 28, 2018

Bob Cole returning for 50th and final season on Hockey Night in Canada, Carolina Hurricanes resurrect the Whalers jersey for two games plus the latest injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Long-time Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Bob Cole will return for his 50th and final season in 2018-19. The 85-year-old will call 10 game during the first half of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For millions of Canadians, Cole was the voice of Hockey Night in Canada for decades. He ranks with Foster Hewitt, Danny Gallivan and Dan Kelly among the greatest play-by-play men in the show’s history. Check out this link and this link and this link for some of his greatest calls. 

NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes will wear throwback Hartford Whalers jerseys for two games this season against the Boston Bruins. The first game will be December 23 and the second on March 5.

The Carolina Hurricanes will play two games this season wearing the Hartford Whalers jersey. (Photo via NHL.com)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A classy move by the Hurricanes to honor their past. The Whalers jersey is among the most iconic in NHL history. Here’s hoping they also blast some Brass Bonanza during the home game.

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders winger Andrew Ladd is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury and remains questionable for the club’s season opener next week. General manager Lou Lamoriello said he currently doesn’t plan to place Ladd on injured reserve or long-term injured reserve.

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo was suspended for the club’s remaining two preseason games and the opening game of the regular season for elbowing Washington Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny earlier this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. As I noted yesterday, Bortuzzo had been fined twice by the league in the last two years.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators are hoping recently demoted forward Eeli Tolvanen will remain with their AHL affiliate. He has a clause in his contract allowing him to return to his KHL team (Jokerit) after 10 games with the Milwaukee Admirals. If he returns to the KHL, he’ll be ineligible to return to the NHL for the remainder of the regular season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tolvanen is a highly-touted Predators prospect who was expected to crack their roster this season. They’re obviously hoping some time in the minors will better acquaint him to the North American game. 

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Antoine Roussel (concussion) will miss the start of the season,. 

CBS SPORTS: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Daniel Sprong is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals center Travis Boyd is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury. 

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks signed defenseman Brandon Davidson to a one-year, $650K contract. 

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed forward Mark Letestu to a one-year, two-way contract. He was placed on waivers yesterday for the purpose of sending him to their AHL affiliate in Cleveland. 



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 25, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 25, 2018

Golden Knights re-sign Shea Theodore, Brian Gionta retires, Islanders sign Luca Sbisa, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights have re-signed defenseman Shea Theodore to a seven-year, $36.4-million contract.

Vegas Golden Knights re-signed Shea Theodore to a seven-year contract (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for the assumption Theodore would get a short-term bridge deal. The annual average value of this deal is $5.2 million, which is a considerable raise over his entry-level contract.

The 23-year-old defenseman was a restricted free agent. He’s a skilled puck-moving blueliner with considerable upside who’s expected to develop into a reliable top-pairing rearguard. If he reaches his full potential this new contract could become a wise long-term investment by the Golden Knights. 

SPORTSNET: Forward Brian Gionta announced his retirement yesterday after 16 NHL seasons with the New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins.

The 5’7″ winger debuted with the Devils in 2001-02 and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2003. Gionta went on to captain the Canadiens and Sabres. He had seven 20-plus goal campaigns, including a career-high 48 goals in 2005-06, finishing with 291 goals and 304 assists for 595 points in 1,026 career games. He has accepted a developmental coach role with the Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best of luck to Gionta in his future endeavors. 

THE SCORE: The New York Islanders signed free-agent defenseman Luca Sbisa to a one-year, $1.5-million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sbisa was probably hoping for a more lucrative contract after playing a top-four role during the 2018 playoffs with the Vegas Golden Knights. If he pans out for the Isles this season he could earned a better contract with them. 

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues forward Robby Fabbri is listed as day-to-day with a groin injury.

CBS SPORTS: The Florida Panthers released center Mark Letestu from his professional tryout offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline speculated Letestu could get a two-way contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers released forward Scottie Upshall from his PTO.

NBC SPORTS: The city of Seattle is one step closer toward an NHL expansion franchise after the city council “unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena.”

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers introduced their new mascot “Gritty” yesterday, generating considerable reaction on social media.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Behold! Good ol’ fashioned nightmare fuel!



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 15, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 15, 2018

Predators re-sign Ryan Ellis, Oilers’ Andrej Sekera sidelined indefinitely plus the latest on Duncan Keith, Jake Allen, Zach Werenski and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators yesterday announced they re-signed defenseman Ryan Ellis to an eight-year, $50-million contract extension. Ellis was slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Nashville Predators re-signed defenseman Ryan Ellis to an eight-year contract extension. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ellis is in the final year of a five-year, $12.5-million deal with an annual average value of $2.5 million. His new cap hit is a hefty $6.25 million.  Ellis probably would’ve received over $7 million annually on the open market next summer but it appears he’s left some money on the table to get that extra year with the Predators.

A skilled two-way defenseman, Ellis is a key part of the Predators’ blueline corps, which also consists of P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm. Predators general manager David Poile has invested considerable time, money and assets building up his defense and obviously wants to keep that top-four together as long as possible. They’ll be vital for the Predators’ ongoing pursuit of the Stanley Cup.

The Ellis deal also means captain Josi will also be in line for a substantial raise from the Preds as early as next summer, when he’ll also be a year away from UFA eligibility. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Andrej Sekera is sidelined indefinitely following surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon suffered during a recent training session. Sekera played only 36 games last season following a serious knee injury during the 2017 playoffs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing Sekera again for another lengthy period to start the season is a serious setback for their blueline. Prior to his knee injury he filled a top-pairing role but  struggled after returning to action last season. At his age (32), there’s concern this could end his career. It could provide an opportunity for a promising prospect such as Evan Bouchard to crack the roster. It could also send them into the trade or free-agent market for help. 

THE ATHLETIC: Chris Kuc believes it’s not time to write off Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith after one disappointing season. Though the 35-year-old’s offensive numbers were down, his Corsi-For (51.8 percent), shot attempts (347), hits (41) and blocked shots (165) numbers were better than the previous season’s. Former Blackhawks defenseman Sean O’Donnell believes Keith will do whatever it takes this summer to remain an elite player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A bounce-back performance by Keith could be among the key factors that helps the Blackhawks return to playoff contender status in 2018-19. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Despite a busy offseason for the St. Louis Blues, their success next season could rest upon the play of goaltender Jake Allen. Since taking over the starter’s role in 2016-17, the 28-year-old has struggled with consistency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another shaky effort by Allen could force GM Doug Armstrong into the trade market for help between the pipes before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline. This could be a make-or-break campaign for the Fredericton NB native.

NHL.COM: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski has returned to skating following shoulder surgery on May 3. He’s hoping to be in the lineup for the Jackets’ season-opener on Oct. 4 in Detroit against the Red Wings but won’t rush the recovery timeframe of five-to-six months. 

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils re-signed defenseman Steven Santini to a three-year, $4.25-million contract. 

THE SCORE: Free-agent forward Mark Letestu has accepted a professional tryout offer with the Florida Panthers. 


Mark Letestu to Blue Jackets in Three-Team Deal.

Mark Letestu to Blue Jackets in Three-Team Deal.

The Edmonton Oilers traded center Mark Letestu to the Nashville Predators for forward Pontus Aberg. The Predators then dealt Letestu to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a fourth-round selection in the 2018 NHL Draft.

The Columbus Blue Jackets acquire Mark Letestu in a three-team deal (Photo via NHL images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers part with a center in Letestu who no longer fit into their future plans. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. They wanted to get faster on the wing and Aberg should help in that regard. He struggled with consistency in Nashville but perhaps he’ll blossom skating alongside Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. 

Letestu returns to Columbus, where he spent nearly four seasons from 2011-12 to 2014-15. He’s a versatile veteran checking line forward who can skate at center or on the wing. The Blue Jackets needed some help at center and the 33-year-old Letestu should be a decent fit, though he won’t do much to bolster their scoring. 

This is the second three-team deal involving the Predators this season, having acquired Kyle Turris from Ottawa last November in the deal that saw the Colorado Avalanche ship Matt Duchene to the Senators. It’s an interesting move, shipping out Aberg and his $650K cap hit but also bringing in a fourth-round pick. Perhaps general manager David Poile is setting the stage for a bigger move before Monday’s 3 pm ET trade deadline. It’s well known he’s in the market for a top-six winger. Stay tuned.


NHL Rumor Mill – February 24, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – February 24, 2018

Latest on the Senators, Flames, Oilers, Maple Leafs and Canadiens in an all-Canadian edition of your NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Prior to the Ottawa Senators shipping center Derick Brassard to the Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday, Pierre LeBrun noted Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman’s apparent unwillingness to part with roster players in a trade. The Lightning have been linked to Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. LeBrun also noted the Senators’ preference to include winger Bobby Ryan and his $7.25-million salary-cap hit could complicate a potential Karlsson trade and wonders if a three-team deal might get it done by the 3 pm ET trade deadline.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith also noted Yzerman’s reluctance to part with roster players and how the Senators’ desire to include Ryan in the deal complicates things further. He points out the Lightning are still believed in on New York Rangers blueliner Ryan McDonagh, who could be an expensive acquisition but far more affordable than Karlsson. Detroit’s Mike Green and Columbus’ Jack Johnson could be affordable rental options.

The Ottawa Senators’ hope to include Bobby Ryan in any potential Erik Karlsson trade. (Photo via NHL Images).

 TSN’s Travis Yost cites sources claiming ” Ottawa in serious discussions to engage third and fourth-party teams to further develop an Erik Karlsson trade. Working to include Bobby Ryan.” Yost added, “Tampa Bay is working Ottawa extremely hard and has been for three days now.”

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators decision to trade Brassard likely means they won’t be shopping center Jean-Gabriel Pageau, as his role with the club will likely expand with Brassard gone. The Senators are also talking to teams about Erik Karlsson, while the futures of forwards Mike Hoffman and Zack Smith and defenceman Johnny Oduya remain uncertain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The three-way deal that sent Brassard to the Penguins certainly adds credence to the possibility of the Sens bringing in a third or fourth team to move Karlsson and Ryan. Pulling it off, however, remains difficult.

The Brassard deal was complex and at one point had to be reworked after it was rejected by NHL headquarters. A three- or four-team swap involving Karlsson and Ryan could get quite complicated. I’m not saying it can’t happen before Monday’s trade deadline, but it could become so complex that it becomes a Rube Goldberg machine that fails to pass the league’s smell test. At this point, it’s more likely Hoffman, Smith or Oduya get moved at the deadline. 


SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently examined the Calgary Flames’ needs approaching the trade deadline, suggesting they require a top-six winger and potentially a goaltender if currently sidelined starter Mike Smith is out longer than expected. He also feels their third line, which he called “an embarrassment this year”, is in dire need of an upgrade.

Francis lists forward Sam Bennett, defenseman T.J. Brodie and prospects Jon Gillies and Adam Fox as possible trade chips. While Brodie could fetch the Flames a top-six winger, Francis doesn’t see him getting moved.

CALGARY SUN: Francis followed up by reporting GM Brad Treliving has until the trade deadline to determine if his club needs to bring in a goaltender. With Smith sidelined, the Flames are making due with rookies such as Gillies and David Rittich as they struggle to remain in the Western Conference playoff race. He notes Carolina’s Cam Ward and Buffalo’s Robin Lehner are available but wonders if either guy would be an upgrade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Hurricanes jockeying for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, I don’t think Ward’s available. The Sabres could entertain offers for Lehner but I’m not certain they’re ready to part ways with him yet. I agree with Francis that the Flames are unlikely to shop Brodie. If they do make a move for a winger or a goalie, I expect they’ll draw from their prospect depth.

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector recently examined the Edmonton Oilers’ needs at the NHL trade deadline. He pointed out their ongoing need for a right-handed defenseman who can run the power play and for speedy wingers. He noted pending free-agent winger Patrick Maroon as a possible trade chip, linking him to the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues. Spector also doubts they’ll be able to dump winger Milan Lucic and his $6-million annual cap hit. He suggested a bold move would be shipping center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for a No. 1 defenseman, such as Colorado’s Tyson Barrie.  Spector said he’d be shocked if the Oilers shopped their 2018 first-round pick at the deadline.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Terry Jones reports Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli indicated yesterday he had no interest in blowing up his roster but will attempt to remodel it. In other words, perhaps moving assets for “almost-ready-for-prime-time prospects,” especially those with speed. He’s also not shopping prized players such as Leon Draisaitl. Chiarelli also acknowledged receiving interest in pending UFAs Maroon and Mark Letestu.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Maroon and Letestu will be goners, likely for draft picks and/or prospects. Chiarelli’s most significant “remodeling” attempts will likely come in the offseason. I don’t see Nugent-Hopkins getting dealt at the trade deadline, but I wouldn’t rule it out for the offseason if there’s a good return to be had. I agree with Spector that Chiarelli won’t trade his 2018 first-rounder at the deadline. He’ll could perhaps peddle it leading up to the 2018 Draft. 


SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined the trade needs for the Toronto Maple Leafs approaching the trade deadline. He feels they require a top-four, right-shot defenseman and more depth at center. He speculated they could look at “Detroit’s Luke Glendening, Edmonton’s Mark Letestu, or New York’s David Desharnais as a bottom-six centre.” Potential trade assets could include winger Matt Martin, forwards Josh Leivo and Kasperi Kapanen and goalies Calvin Pickard and Garret Sparks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Leafs have been linked to the Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh, Fox points out he’s a left-handed shot. The Leafs could instead look at a rental such as Mike Green and perhaps seek that right-shot rearguard via trade or free agency this summer. I expect they’ll make a move but it could be for short-term depth. Having dealt away Nikita Soshnikov last week to St. Louis, I don’t see Kapanen going anywhere. Leivo or one of those goalies could be used as trade bait. 



NHL Rumor Mill – February 22, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – February 22, 2018

Latest on Erik Karlsson plus updates on the Red Wings, Sabres and Blue Jackets more in your NHL rumor mill.

Speculation of an Erik Karlsson trade is growing (Photo via NHL Images).


TSN: Bob McKenzie reports Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has been, and still is, engaged in some level of trade dialogue regarding defenseman Erik Karlsson with perhaps more than half-a-dozen teams. If the Senators get an “acceptable” offer, Karlsson could be dealt by Monday’s 3 PM ET trade deadline. To the best of his knowledge, McKenzie said Dorion hasn’t received any formal offers for Karlsson and he’s more likely laying the framework of what a possible deal could look like.

The talk is it could take five, six or seven piece, consisting of good young players, top prospects and first-round picks. However, if a team is also willing to take Senators winger Bobby Ryan in the deal, the price could be discounted. Ryan, 31, has four years left on his contract at an annual cap hit of $7.25 million. That provision, however, could severely limit the number of interested teams. Karlsson, meanwhile, is eligible next summer to become an unrestricted free agent.

McKenzie said the Tampa Bay Lightning are likely to lead the Karlsson trade speculation. They’re loaded with picks and prospects, but the Senators could seek promising center Brayden Point, as well as budding young defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, as part of the return. Moving Point to acquire Karlsson would fill a hole on the blueline but create another at forward. McKenzie believes the next 24-48 hours will determine if a Karlsson trade goes down, though he feels it’s still a big “if” at this point.

McKenzie’s colleague Pierre LeBrun reports a Western Conference GM suggests Dorion could be laying the groundwork for a possible Karlsson trade in the offseason. While playoff contenders could be willing to pay more now to acquire Karlsson for two playoff runs, they could be unwilling to dip too much into their roster core. An offseason deal, on the other hand, would involve more teams with more salary cap and roster flexibility.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s rampant recent speculation about Karlsson. He said Dorion isn’t shopping his captain and franchise player but teams have been calling to inquire into Karlsson’s long-term future in Ottawa. Garrioch cites three league executives expressing doubt Karlsson gets deal by the deadline, though another suggested the Sens could strike while the iron is hot. The Senators won’t know how much it could cost to re-sign Karlsson until July 1, when they can open contract extension talks. If it appears it will be difficult to re-sign him, they’ll have a good idea which teams could be interested in him based on the inquiries they receive now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted yesterday, a Karlsson deal at the trade deadline is possible but a lot of things must fall into place to make it happen.

First, the interested parties must be on Karlsson’s trade list. If they’re not, and if he’s unwilling to broaden his list, he won’t be going anywhere at the deadline.

If the team is on his list, do they have sufficient cap space to take on his $6.25 million cap hit or the combined $13.5 million if they’re to take on Karlsson and Ryan? As per Cap Friendly, not many teams do right now. Cup contenders, such as Tampa Bay, will have to ship out a big chunk of change to make this fit. Even if the Sens were willing to pick up part of Karlsson’s cap hit (or part of the combined hit for Karlsson and Ryan), that’s still a potentially hefty cap hit to take on at this point in the season.

Third, of course, is the asking price. Five, six or seven pieces involving young players, top prospects and first-round picks is a helluva lot. For the club acquiring Karlsson or Karlsson-Ryan, such a deal could adversely affect their overall roster depth and team chemistry. Even if you get a discount by taking on Ryan as part of the deal, you’ve got to figure the Sens will still want a good young NHL player, a top prospect and a first-round pick.

The Lightning are often listed as being a front-runner for Karlsson. However, Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith doesn’t see Lightning GM Steve Yzerman overpaying at the trade deadline, citing Yzerman’s comments that deadline deals don’t guarantee a Stanley Cup.  

Again, it’s possible Karlsson could be dealt at the trade deadline. Such a deal, however, seems more likely to occur this summer, when clubs are flush with cap dollars and more willing to swing trades involving superstars.


OTTAWA SUN:  Bruce Garrioch also reports the Senators are getting “boatloads of interest” in forwards Mike Hoffman, Derick Brassard, Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau and defenceman Cody Ceci. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Winnipeg Jets and New York Rangers could have interest in centers Brassard and Pageau. Garrioch suggests Hoffman or Smith could be good fits with the Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins or Vegas Golden Knights. Moving Ceci might not make sense if the Sens are contemplating a move of Karlsson. Veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya could be moved.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James lists defenseman Mike Green, forwards Gustav Nyquist, Andreas Athanasiou and Luke Glendening and blueliner Xavier Ouellet as Red Wings who could be on the move by the trade deadline. Green is open-mined to waiving his no-trade clause. Nyquist would also have to waive his no-trade and the Wings might have to pick up part of his $4.75-million cap hit. St. James speculates Athanasiou could be a good trade chip if they get an offer of a high-end defense prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators appear reluctant to move Brassard or Pageau because it could adversely affect their depth at center. They could be less likely to move Hoffman because of the chemistry he’s established with Matt Duchene. Smith or Oduya seem like more likely trade options. I agree with Garrioch that trading Ceci seems less likely if the Sens are considering an eventual move of Karlsson.

Green appears a goner by the deadline. Indeed, I think he could end up with the Lightning at the trade deadline, as he’d be a much more affordable option than blowing their brains out on a Karlsson trade. Nyquist and Tomas Tatar have surfaced in recent trade chatter but the Wings will probably only move one of them. Moving Athanasiou for a top defense prospect seems like a move that happens in the offseason. 


THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Steve Gorten interviewed Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen on the state of his team and possible plans for the upcoming trade deadline. Kekalainen said he’s going to try not to move a roster core player, such as Boone Jenner, in search of help for his lineup. He feels the biggest remedy for his team is for them to start playing on the level they should. He also doesn’t want to give up his top prospects, young players or his first-round pick in 2018 for playoff rentals.

Kekalainen hopes to get a substantial piece for defenseman Jack Johnson, who requested a trade earlier this season. If the return is comparable to what the Minnesota Wild gave up last season for Martin Hanzal (a first- and a second-round pick), they might have to think about that. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson reports the Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs could be interested in Oilers center Mark Letestu. 

WGR 550: Paul Hamilton reports Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane believes he’ll be moved by the trade deadline. Hamilton also suggests defenseman Josh Gorges and forwards Benoit Pouliot and Jacob Josefson could also become trade candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Jackets in danger of falling out of the playoff race, Kekalainen could be feeling pressure to make a significant move at the trade deadline. It sounds, however, like he’s not going to just ship out Johnson for just a draft pick. Perhaps  he’d like to use Johnson as a trade chip to perhaps bring in a forward who can help his club right way. I expect Kekalainen will do something by the deadline, but it remains to be seen if it’s a substantial deal. 

I expect Kane will get deal by Monday. Don’t see much interest in Gorges, Pouliot or Josefson but that doesn’t mean one of them couldn’t be dealt.