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.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 1, 2021

The Lightning takes a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, Jonathan Toews reveals the illness that sidelined him this season, Tom Dundon takes over full ownership of the Hurricanes, the latest coaching hires and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in Game 2 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. They hold a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series as it shifts to Montreal for Games 3 and 4.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 42 saves while Blake Coleman broke a 1-1 tie with a diving buzzer-beater goal in the second period. Ondrej Palat put the game out of reach with less than five minutes remaining in the third period. Nick Suzuki tallied the Canadiens’ only goal.

The Lightning played without winger Alex Killorn. He suffered a suspected leg injury in Game 1 after blocking a Jeff Petry shot and is listed as day-to-day.

Game 3 is Friday night at 8 pm ET in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens outplayed the Lightning in this contest but the few mistakes they made wound up in the back in their net. They blew an opportunity to open the scoring in the first period by failing to capitalize on a 4-on-3 power play. Joel Edmundson was the goat on the Lightning’s third goal as his behind-the-net back pass went directly to Palat.

Vasilevskiy was solid in this game for the Lightning but the Canadiens still didn’t generate enough high-quality scoring opportunities. Carey Price, meanwhile, wasn’t bad for the Canadiens but he hasn’t been at his best thus far in this series.

The Lightning have a great opportunity to take a commanding lead in Game 3. The Canadiens cannot afford to fall behind 3-0 against a powerhouse like the Bolts. They’ll need a better effort on Friday or risk watching the Lightning skate away with the Stanley Cup on Monday night.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens request to allow more than 3,500 fans for Games 3 and 4 was rejected by the Quebec government and health officials. The Habs hoped to expand that number to 10,500.

TSN: Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews revealed he was diagnosed with chronic immune response syndrome. The condition sidelined him for the entire 2020-21 season. He indicated he’s feeling much better now and intends to rejoin his teammates next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Toews in his recovery.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Tom Dundon is now the full owner of the Carolina Hurricanes. He’d been the majority owner of the club since January 2018 but bought out all the remaining shareholders, including those of former owner Peter Karmanos Jr. The sale of the shares was unanimously approved by the NHL board of governors.

NJ.COM: Scott O’Neil, the CEO of the parent company that owns the New Jersey Devils and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, is stepping down to pursue other interests.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports the Arizona Coyotes have called a news conference for today where they’ll announce the hiring of Ottawa 67s head coach Andre Tourigny as their new bench boss.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings have hired Alex Tanguay as an assistant coach. The former NHL player spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Iowa Wild.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks’ poor performance over the last two seasons saw their season-ticket sales drop from 10,500 in 2019 to 9000 for 2021-22.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2021

The Lightning thump the Canadiens in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, expansion and NHL draft TV info announced, information on special events for 2021-22 revealed, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning took Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final with a convincing 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. The Bolts broke the game open in the third period as Nikita Kucherov scored twice and set up Steven Stamkos for the fifth goal. Brayden Point had three assists on the night.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

It was a rough game for Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher. He skated away with a bloodied head after tangling with Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev.

Canadiens winger Joel Armia took a private jet from Montreal to Tampa Bay to rejoin his teammates after emerging from COVID protocol on Monday. He had been held out of the lineup after entering the protocol on Sunday. His spot in the lineup for Game 1 was taken by Jake Evans, playing his first game since being sidelined by a concussion in Game 1 of the Habs second-round series against the Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a dominating performance by Tampa Bay from start to finish. Despite the score being 2-1 after two periods, there was a sense that it was a matter of time before they blew the game open.

The Canadiens seemed tentative through much of this contest as they struggled to adjust to the Lightning’s game plan. This series will be over quickly if the Habs fail to find a solution.

Poor puck management proved costly for the Canadiens. The Lightning’s first three goals came from offensive-zone turnovers. Lightning coach Jon Cooper also used his home-ice advantage of having the last line change to good effect in keeping the Point line away from the Canadiens shutdown line.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman defended the performance of the league’s officiating during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. “It seems every season, it’s a playoff ritual for me to address some aspect of the officiating,” said Bettman. “Let’s be clear. Our officials are not only the best hockey officials in the world, they’re the best officials in any sport.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an annual playoff ritual because there’s an obvious difference over how games are called during the regular season and how they’re called in the playoffs. The commissioner, however, seems unconcerned that this is a growing issue for fans and pundits.

ESPN2, NHL Network and Sportsnet will broadcast the NHL expansion draft on Wednesday, July 21 at 8 pm ET. The first round of the 2021 NHL Draft will be televised on ESPN 2, Sportsnet and SN NOW on Friday, July 23 at 8 pm ET.

The Vegas Golden Knights will host the 2022 NHL All-Star Game with the date to be determined. The 2022 NHL Winter Classic will be held on Jan. 1, 2022, at Target Field in Minneapolis between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. The 2022 Stadium Series game will be held Feb. 26 , 2022, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville between the Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning. The league also plans to stage a Tim Horton’s Heritage Classic game in March 2022.

SPORTSNET: The Montreal Canadiens will host the 2022 NHL Draft.

THE SCORE: The NHL’s participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing remains “a work in progress,” according to deputy commissioner Bill Daly. He suggested the continued uncertainty over COVID-19 and the games being held halfway around the world doesn’t make it necessarily an ideal Games to elect to go to. NHL participation remains contingent on negotiations with the International Olympic Committee as per the CBA extension agreement with the NHLPA.

YARDBARKER: The NHL confirmed the Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division as part of its realignment with the addition of the Seattle Kraken. The decision to move the Coyotes was made by the league board of governors in December 2018.

CBS BOSTON: Bruins star David Pastrnak and his family are mourning the heartbreaking death of their infant son on June 23. He was five days old.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sincere condolences to Pastrnak and his family on their loss. 

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks have hired the law firm Jenner & Block to lead an “independent review” of sexual assault allegations against former video coach Bradley Aldrich and the Blackhawks’ internal handling of those allegations.

SPORTSNET: Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league only recently learned of the allegations, adding it will await the results of the independent investigation before deciding how to proceed.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara was honored at a ceremony celebrating his home country of Slovakia’s 28th anniversary “for extraordinary merits in the field of sports and for extraordinary dissemination of the good name of the Slovak Republic abroad.”

NEW YORK POST: ESPN has hired Chris Chelios to join fellow Hockey Hall-of-Famer Mark Messier as part of the network’s top hockey studio team.

NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken announced the Charlotte Checkers will be their AHL affiliate starting in 2021-22.

TSN: The Hockey Hall of Fame announced it is moving forward with its induction ceremony for 2020-2021 on Nov. 15.