NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2022

Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar are open to long-term deals with the Flames while John Tavares is working on improving his quickness. Details plus the latest contract signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CALGARY SUN: Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar indicated they’re open to signing long-term contracts with the Flames. The pair made those remarks during their introductory Zoom press conferences as the club’s newest members. Both were acquired as part of the return in last Friday’s trade that sent Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers.

Florida Panthers traded winger Jonathan Huberdeau to the Calgary Flames on July 23 (NHL Images).

Huberdeau and Weegar are both slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer. Huberdeau indicated his agent has already begun talking about a new contract with general manager Brad Treliving. Weegar said he’s looking forward to his agent speaking with Treliving and seeing what’s going on.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames fans may be cautious about believing those comments. After all, Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk professed their love of living and playing in Calgary. The former departed for Columbus via free agency while the latter forced a trade to Florida when he declined to discuss a long-term deal with the Flames.

Huberdeau and Weegar are trying to say the right thing here but they’re still dealing with how quickly their own fortunes have changed. On Friday, they were members of the Panthers and three days later they’re fielding questions from the Calgary media over whether they’re open to signing with their new team.

A lot will depend on how well they adapt to playing with the Flames in the coming season and how much the club is willing to pay to keep them in the fold. If they aren’t a good fit it’s doubtful management will offer up big-money extensions. In that case, the talk will be about where they could be shipped at the February trade deadline and what kind of a return they’ll fetch.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs captain John Tavares is hoping to be leaner and quicker when he reports to training camp in September. He’s been working with the team’s development staff on a new program designed to make him quicker and lighter on his skates.

Tavares said he’s feeling good physically this year. His offseason training last year was hindered by his recovery from a concussion suffered in the 2021 playoffs.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings announced defenseman Mark Pysyk recently underwent surgery to report a torn Achilles tendon. He’s expected to miss four-to-six months. As a result, the Wings signed free-agent defenseman Robert Hagg to a one-year, $800K contract.

NHL.COM: Speaking of the Wings, they signed a five-year extension of their affiliation agreement with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Anaheim Ducks avoided salary arbitration with Isac Lundestrom, signing the 22-year-old forward to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $1.4 million.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Carolina Hurricanes signed free-agent winger Ryan Dzingel to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2021

Oilers Darnell Nurse and Islanders Adam Pelech sign lucrative long-term contracts, concern about season ticket sales and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed Darnell Nurse to an eight-year, $74 million contract extension. The 26-year-old defenseman’s annual cap hit is $9.25 million.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nurse’s new contract raise eyebrows around the league. He’s a very good defenseman but the overall consensus is the Oilers overpaid to keep him in Edmonton. He is also the fifth blueliner this summer to sign a long-term deal worth $9 million or more annually, joining Columbus’ Zach Werenski ($9.583 million), Chicago’s Seth Jones ($9.5 million), Colorado’s Cale Makar ($9 million) and New Jersey’s Dougie Hamilton ($9 million).

The Oilers had little choice. Nurse is their top defenseman and they couldn’t risk losing him next summer to free agency. That would leave them scrambling to find a replacement as they did following Adam Larsson’s surprise departure to Seattle last month. Often, the replacement is more affordable but of lesser skill.

This move ensures some stability on the Oilers’ blueline. Over time, however, it could have long-term salary-cap implications if Nurse’s performance declines over the second half of this deal.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders avoided salary arbitration with Adam Pelech by signing the 26-year-old defenseman to an eight-year, $46 million contract. The annual average value is $5.75 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The announcement of Nurse’s contract overshadowed the Pelech signing. Islanders fans should be delighted with this deal. Pelech is a solid stay-at-home blueliner who’s become a key part of his club’s defense corps. The term is a little long as it takes Pelech well past his prime years. However, the cap hit is quite reasonable and shouldn’t be a drag on the Isles’ payroll during the latter years of the contract.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken avoided arbitration with defenseman Vince Dunn by reaching an agreement on a two-year contract worth $4 million per season. They also signed free-agent forward Marcus Johansson to a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn was among the players selected by the Kraken in last month’s expansion draft. He was coming off a one-year, $1.875 million deal with the St. Louis Blues. This is a “show-me” contract for the 24-year-old Dunn. He’s coming off his fourth-straight 20-point campaign but has struggled with consistency.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed forward Brandon Hagel to a three-year contract worth $1.5 million annually.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks centers Isac Lundestrom and Sam Steel accepted their one-year, two-way contracts yesterday. Each will receive over $874K at the NHL level.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed defenseman Conor Timmins to a two-year, $1.75 million contract. They acquired the 22-year-old blueliner from the Colorado Avalanche as part of the return in the Darcy Kuemper trade earlier this week. They also hired Larry Pleau as a special advisor to general manager Bill Armstrong.

THE ATHLETIC: Some NHL executives are concerned over a dip in season-ticket sales for the 2021-22 seasons. Fans are opting more for partial season-ticket plans rather than full-season packages. That includes some fans who were used to opt for the full-season deals in the past.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the new broadcasting deals, gambling deals and the addition of a new franchise in Seattle, the NHL remains a gate-driven league. The worry about season-ticket sales comes amid concerns the cap could remain flattened over the next several years if league revenue doesn’t significantly increase.

As reported by Frank Seravalli yesterday and confirmed by The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro based on his multiple sources, the players owe the league approximately $1 billion because salaries exceeded revenue over the past two seasons. Until that’s paid back, the salary cap will only rise by $1 million per season only if revenue exceeds $4.8 million each season. That’s expected to happen for the coming season.

The amount owed by the players will be repaid through escrow rates agreed upon in last year’s CBA extension. If the debt isn’t fully repaid by 2025-26, the CBA will be extended for another season at a higher escrow rate until the owners’ share is made whole.

Perhaps those partial ticket sales are tied to fans’ concerns over another spike in COVID-19 resulting in another shortened season or restrictions on attendance. That could change in the long term if the league gets through 2021-22 without reductions to the schedule or limitations on the number of fans in the stands.

THE SCORE: Speaking of concerns over rising COVID numbers, The Athletic’s Michael Russo tweeted out the league has issued a memo to its 32 teams prohibiting the players from all corporate, charity and community-based interaction with fans.

The league and the NHLPA will continue observing vaccination rates and the spread of COVID variants during this offseason to determine whether similar measures will be required for training camp.

TSN: Rick Westhead reports a lawyer for a former Chicago Blackhawks player has asked the U.S. Center for SafeSport to investigate Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse of two former Blackhawks players.