NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2021

The latest on the Canadiens and Lightning, top prospect Owen Power still leaning toward returning to university, the Kraken announces the hiring of two assistant coaches, the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Expect the Canadiens to ice the same lineup in Game 5 as they did in their previous contest. That means Jake Evans will replace Jesperi Kotkaniemi again on the third line while Alexander Romanov and Brett Kulak will replace Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill on the third defense pairing.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That shouldn’t come as a surprise considering those changes contributed to their 3-2 victory in Game 4. Romanov scored an even-strength goal with an assist from Evans.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh is enjoying perhaps the best postseason performance of his career. He’s set up several big goals, leads all postseason skaters with a plus-minus of plus-14, and is one of his club’s top shot blockers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDonagh’s been overshadowed by teammates such as Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Points, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Victor Hedman. Nevertheless, he’s a big reason why the Lightning holds a 3-1 lead in this series over the Canadiens.

ESPN.COM: A league source told Greg Wyshynski there is “zero chance” Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final will be postponed despite Tropical Storm Elsa bearing down on Tampa Bay. That assessment was made based on the forecast, though NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated they have “an amount of flexibility.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, unless the storm’s impact proves far worse than anticipated, it’s game on tonight in Tampa Bay.

WGR 550: University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power is still leaning toward returning to university for one more season before making the jump to the NHL. Power is ranked as this year’s top prospect. He is expected to be selected by the Buffalo Sabres, who hold the first-overall pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some teams might prefer a prospect who could be ready to jump to the NHL right away. However, it’s unlikely Power will drop in this year’s draft order. Many highly-touted prospects need another year or two of seasoning before they’re ready for the big time.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken yesterday announced the hirings of Kelly McFarland and Jay Leach as assistant coaches. McFarland will oversee the power-play unit and forwards while Leach will be in charge of the defensemen.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed goaltender Scott Wedgewood to a one-year, two-way deal worth $825K at the NHL level.

NHL.COM: The Los Angeles Kings signed defenseman Christian Wolanin to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets yesterday signed center Dominic Toninato to a two-year contract worth $750K at the NHL level. It’s a two-way deal in the first season.

CBS SPORTS: Former Boston Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer signed a one-year contract with KHL team AK Bars Kazan.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes have hired Alan Hepple as their new director of pro scouting. He’s the former director of amateur scouting with the Colorado Avalanche.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 6, 2021

The Canadiens avoid being swept from the Stanley Cup Final, Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks dies in a fireworks accident, Wild re-sign Nick Bjugstad and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens staved off elimination from the Stanley Cup Final with a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 on Monday night.

Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson (NHL Images).

Josh Anderson opened the scoring in the first period and tallied the game-winner in overtime. Alexander Romanov scored his first of the playoffs for the Canadiens while Carey Price made 32 saves for the win. Barclay Goodrow and Pat Maroon replied for the Lightning.

The series returns to Tampa Bay for Game 5 on Wednesday night with the Lightning holding a 3-1 lead.

TSN: The Canadiens made some lineup changes for Game 4. Jesperi Kotkaniemi was replaced by Jake Evans as their third-line center while Romanov and Brett Kulak replaced Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill on their third defense pairing. Anderson moved to the Canadiens’ second line alongside Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield.

Lightning winger Alex Killorn missed his third straight game of this series. He remains day-to-day with a leg injury suffered in Game 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning controlled most of the play in this game. Head coach Jon Cooper lamented several near misses for his club, including several shots clanging off the goalposts.

That doesn’t detract from what was a big win by the Canadiens. Price and his penalty killers were outstanding as they shut down five Lightning power-play opportunities, including a double-minor on Habs captain Shea Weber that stretched from late in the third period into the early minutes of overtime. Price was particularly strong during the opening minutes of the game, shutting down the Lightning as they pushed to open the scoring.

NHL.COM: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died on July 4 at age 24. It was initially reported that he suffered an apparent head injury during a fall, but an initial autopsy revealed he suffered a percussive injury from a fireworks explosion that led to major damage to his heart and lungs.

The incident took place at the Novi, Michigan home of former Detroit Red Wings goalie Manny Legace. Kivlenieks’ death is being investigated as accidental and no charges are under consideration at this time.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets fans gathered at a popular bar near NationWide Arena to mourn Kivlenieks’ passing. It included an 80-second moment of silence in honor of the netminder, who wore No. 80 with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sincere condolences to Kivlenieks’ family, friends, teammates and the Jackets organization and fans. This was a tragic ending to a young life and career that held so much promise.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed Nick Bjugstad to a one-year, $900K contract. The 28-year-old center was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. He excelled in a depth role with the Wild this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bjugstad’s taking a big pay cut to stay in Minnesota. Cap Friendly indicates he was coming off a six-year deal worth an annual average value of $4.1 million. That reflects how much his role has changed since signing that deal with the Florida Panthers in 2014.

The signing puts only a slight dent into the Wild’s projected salary-cap space for next season. They have over $15.9 million remaining with restricted free agent stars Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala to re-sign.

NHL.COM: Swedish prospect forward William Eklund received the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence. The award, presented by NHL Central Scouting, goes to the candidate who best displays a commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness and athleticism. Previous winners include Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny and New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eklund overcame an emergency appendectomy and a positive COVID-19 test to become this year’s top European skater as ranked by NHL Central Scouting. He’s projected to go in the top five of this year’s NHL Draft.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: The AHL’s Providence Bruins will be seeking a new head coach as Jay Leach has joined the NHL’s Seattle Kraken as an assistant coach.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 5, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 5, 2021

The latest on the Lightning and Canadiens on the eve of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, the latest on the Leafs and Blue Jackets, and an update on Stephen Johns in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Poised to win their second straight Stanley Cup, the Lightning realizes this could be the end of the current roster. Head coach Jon Cooper reminisced following Game 3 about the contributions of wingers Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn during their tenures with the Bolts. Salary cap issues are expected to bring about a restructuring of the roster following this season.

Alex Killorn could be among several players who won’t be with the Tampa Bay Lightning next season (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Lightning sitting $5.066 million over the $81.5 million salary cap for 2021-22 with 19 players under contract. Pending UFAs Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, David Savard and Curtis McElhinney aren’t expected to be re-signed. Management could attempt to shed $10 million to become cap compliant and have enough wiggle room for affordable depth signings.

Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois has a well-deserved reputation as a shrewd cap manager. This summer will be his biggest test since taking over as GM in 2018.

Johnson and Killorn were expected to be moved in cost-cutting moves during the last offseason. Nikita Kucherov’s hip surgery last December sidelined him for the regular season, allowing the Lightning to put him on long-term injury reserve. That bought the club a reprieve as they were able to keep almost all of their roster intact.

As the article pointed out, the Lightning cannot expect the same situation next season. Johnson is expected to be left unprotected in the expansion draft and could be selected by the Seattle Kraken. If not, he and Killorn could hit this summer’s trade block.

THE SCORE: Tampa Bay Mayor Jane Castor would like to see the Lightning lose Game 4 in Montreal so they can win the Stanley Cup back home in Tampa Bay in Game 5.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning would love to win the Cup back home in front of their fans, but they’re focused on wrapping this up tonight in Montreal.

The odds are against the Canadiens rallying back to win the Cup. Nevertheless, they could pin the mayor’s remarks to their dressing room bulletin board as motivation for tonight’s game.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens, meanwhile, are saying all the right things about being a close-knit group who’ve stayed positive and overcame long odds to get to the Final.

TSN: The Canadiens spent their formal practice yesterday focusing on special teams’ play, particularly their power play.

THE ATHLETIC: Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen could bring in adding a veteran coach to act as an advisor and mentor to their new coaching staff. Brad Larsen and his staff have a combined 15 years as assistant coaches at the NHL level but none as a head coach. Jacques Martin has surfaced as a possible candidate.

Former NHL defenseman Stephen Johns has completed his coast-to-coast rollerblading journey across America to raise awareness for mental health in his #MentalMiles mission. Johns recently retired and revealed he battled depression while recovering from head trauma that ended his career. He was joined at one point in his journey by Detroit Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Johns on his accomplishment for a worthy cause.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 4, 2021

The latest on the Canadiens and Lightning, updates on contracts talks for Gabriel Landeskog and Kirill Kaprizov, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme said Carey Price will be in goal on Monday evening when they face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. The Canadiens are on the verge of elimination in part because Price has struggled in this series.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

Price acknowledged he had to improve but Ducharme didn’t throw his starter under the bus. “You can talk about one guy but it’s about all of us. We have to be better in front of him,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducharme’s correct in his assessment of the Canadiens in this series. Yes, Price hasn’t played to the same level as he did in the first three rounds, but his teammates also haven’t performed well. If they don’t turn it around in Game 4, the Lightning will win their second straight championship.

The Lightning have been the better team in this series. They’ve done a masterful job cashing in on Montreal’s mistakes, forcing turnovers, matching the Canadiens’ physical game and shutting down their offensive game.

Even if the Habs manage to win Game 4, they’ll be delaying the inevitable because they cannot match the Lightning’s depth of talent. History is also against them as only one team (the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs) has ever rebounded from a 3-0 series deficit to win the Stanley Cup.

ESPN.COM: The Canadian government did not grant additional exemptions for family members of the Lightning to cross the border and avoid the 14-day quarantine for a possible Stanley Cup celebration in Game 4.

The league and the NHLPA had spoken with the government about this as recently as last week. However, the PA warned the players it was unlikely the request would be approved.

THE ATHLETIC: Peter Baugh reports contract talks between Gabriel Landeskog and the Colorado Avalanche are expected to pick up soon. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. Both sides are interested in negotiating a new contract but the salary cap could complicate things.

Contract talks between the Avs and pending UFA goaltender Philipp Grubauer have yet to pick up steam. Preliminary discussions have started between the club and Cale Makar. The restricted free agent blueliner could be targeted for an offer sheet but the Avs are prepared to match any offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve noted before, just because a team could try to sign Makar to an offer sheet doesn’t mean he’ll do so. It’s a waste of time to try if he’s not interested.

NHL.COM: Contract talks between the Minnesota Wild and winger Kirill Kaprizov are expected to resume this week. General manager Bill Guerin remains confident the 2021 Calder Trophy winner wants to continue playing for the Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The hangup here is the Wild wants to sign Kaprizov to a long-term deal while the 24-year-old prefers a shorter contract to take him up to the earliest date for his UFA eligibility. A compromise could see Kaprizov ink a four-year deal.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Kevin Allen speculates the Red Wings could have over $27 million in cap space after they’ve signed their restricted free agents. Despite that much cap room, however, they’re not expected to be a major player in the UFA market because top players won’t be attracted to signing with the rebuilding Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen believes Wings general manager Steve Yzerman could target cap-strapped clubs looking to make cost-cutting trades.

NHL.COM: Prospect Matthew Beniers indicated he’s leaning toward returning to the University of Michigan next season. He and Michigan teammate Owen Power are projected to be the top two prospects in the upcoming 2021 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Power has also said he was considering a return to Michigan next season. It’ll be interesting to see if their decisions affect their selection in the draft. Some rebuilding clubs could prefer prospects ready to join their system right away.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks promoted Todd Harvey as their new director of amateur scouting.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2021

The Lightning are on the verge of winning their second straight Stanley Cup, the Wild re-sign Joel Eriksson Ek, the Kraken could spend to the salary cap this summer, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning took a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Montreal Canadiens with a 6-3 victory in Game 3 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. Tampa Bay is now one victory away from winning their second straight Stanley Cup and the third in franchise history.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson (NHL Images).

Tyler Johnson scored twice, Ondrej Palat collected two assists, Victor Hedman had a goal and an assist while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves for the win. Phillip Danault, Nick Suzuki and Corey Perry replied for the Canadiens while Carey Price allowed five goals on 29 shots.

Lightning winger Alex Killorn missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury. He remains day-to-day.

Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme returned behind the bench for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19 in the semifinal. He criticized the Quebec government’s decision to limit attendance to 3,500 fans in the Bell Centre while a much larger number would be following the game outside the arena.

The Lightning can sweep the Habs and claim the Cup in Game 4 on Monday night in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning once again feasted on the Canadiens’ mistakes, converting turnovers into goals and keeping the Habs on their heels throughout this contest. Their depth in talent is making the difference in this series and the Canadiens have no answers.

It was an impressive run for Montreal but midnight is tolling on their Cinderella story. They had to win Game 3 and were instead beaten soundly by a superior opponent. Tampa Bay is just too powerful. History is also against the Canadiens as only one team in NHL history (the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs) has overcome a 3-0 deficit in the Final to win the Cup.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed center Joel Eriksson Ek to an eight-year, $42 million contract. The annual average value is $5.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eriksson Ek, 24, is completing a two-year bridge contract with an annual cap hit of $1.487 million. He earned that big raise with a breakout performance this season with a career-high of 19 goals and 30 points in 56 games. A solid two-way center, he also finished fourth in voting for the Selke Trophy.

The Wild now has $16.8 million in projected cap space for 2021-22. Next on their list is signing Calder Trophy winner Kirill Kaprizov and 20-goal scorer Kevin Fiala.

THE ATHLETIC: Seattle Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke said he’s told general manager Ron Francis he can spend up to the $81.5 million salary cap if necessary to build a contending roster for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken’s expansion draft is July 21. They have a 48-hour interview leading up to that period when they can interview pending unrestricted free agents on other clubs. They can also make trades now with any club.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks will announce the name of their Abbotsford, BC AHL affiliate on July 9.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 2, 2021

The Predators trade Viktor Arvidsson to the Kings, the Sabres and Jack Eichel nearing a resolution on potential surgery, updates on the Lightning and Canadiens and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Nashville Predators yesterday traded winger Viktor Arvidsson to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a second-round pick in this year’s NHL draft and a third-round pick in 2022.

The Predators trade Viktor Arvidsson to the Kings (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kings general manager Rob Blake was reportedly in the market for a couple of top-six forwards in their late twenties with two or three seasons on their contracts. Arvidsson fits that profile.

A former 30-goal scorer with good speed and a solid work ethic, he should provide a welcome boost to the Kings’ offense. He’s signed through 2023-24 with an annual cap hit of $4.25 million. The only concern is an injury history that hampered his performance over the past three seasons.

The Athletic’s Lisa Dillman believes the 28-year-old winger’s versatility could allow Kings coach Todd McLellan to employ him alongside first-line center Anze Kopitar or fellow Swede Adrian Kempe on the second line.

Dillman’s colleague Adam Vingan indicates the Predators now have over $23 million in projected cap room. General manager David Poile can put that toward re-signing key free agents this summer such as Dante Fabbro, Mikael Granlund, Juuse Saros and Eeli Tolvanen. It also frees up long-term cap room for new contracts for Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm. That cap room could be used to find a replacement if necessary for Arvidsson via trade or free agency.

Blake could soon make another addition. Having acquired one top-six forward, the other could be coming via trade or free agency later this month.

For those of you wondering why this trade took place during the Stanley Cup Final, non-playoff clubs or those eliminated from postseason competition are allowed to make trades with each other during the playoffs.

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Joe Yerdon reported yesterday the Buffalo Sabres are nearing a resolution with captain Jack Eichel regarding treatment for the herniated disk in his neck. Both sides declined to elaborate as to what the outcome could be. GM Kevyn Adams said the team’s stance in denying the 24-year-old center’s request for surgery hasn’t changed as per the club’s medical staff recommendation as it has never been performed on an NHL player before.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel has been the subject of trade speculation for weeks with his health being an ongoing concern. Reports indicate Adams is receiving calls from interested clubs but he’s said to have set a high asking price. The outcome of this upcoming resolution will have an effect on Eichel’s trade status.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme will return behind the bench for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final tonight in Montreal. A positive COVID-19 test forced Ducharme to miss the Canadiens’ final four games of their semifinal series with the Vegas Golden Knights and the first two games of this series with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Alex Killorn traveled with his teammates to Montreal but his status for Game 3 remains questionable. He missed Game 2 with a leg injury and is considered day-to-day.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes officially introduced former Ottawa 67s coach Andre Tourigny as their new head coach during a press conference yesterday.

CAP FRIENDLY: provided a detailed breakdown of key dates regarding the upcoming NHL expansion draft, the 2021 NHL Draft, free agency and the first contract buyout period.