Former NHL stars turn out for Marian Hossa’s “Goodbye Game” in Slovakia, the Sabres trade Ilya Lyubushkin to the Ducks, the Sharks add Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek to their hockey operations staff, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
THE SCORE: A number of former NHL stars participated in Marian Hossa’s “Goodbye Game” in Slovakia on Friday. Hossa’s playing career was ended prematurely following the 2016-17 season by a rare skin condition. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2020.
Hockey Hall of Fame winger Marian Hossa (NHL Images).
Many of the players were former teammates of Hossa, who played for the Ottawa Senators, Atlanta Thrashers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks during his 19-season NHL career.
Among the notables were Nicklas Lidstrom, Zdeno Chara, Daniel Alfredsson, Duncan Keith, Henrik Zetterberg, Jonathan Toews, Peter Bondra, Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Sharp, Martin Havlat and Miroslav Satan.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hossa, 44, delighted the crowd with a breakaway goal in the third period.
BUFFALO HOCKEY NOW: The Sabres traded defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2025.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: To quote Cap Friendly, “There’s nothing like a Friday night trade in the middle of August.” I jokingly suggested that they did it to see if we were paying attention. The timing could in fact be due to the Sabres and their fans mourning the passing of broadcasting icon Rick Jeanneret.
The Sabres had nine defensemen under NHL contract and had to clear the logjam on their blueline. Lyubushkin, 29, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. This move also frees up $2.75 million from their cap payroll.
For the Ducks, Lyubushkin adds another measure of size, physicality and experience to their blueline after signing Radko Gudas earlier this summer.
SPORTSNET: The San Jose Sharks added former Sabres Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek to their hockey operations department. The pair are former teammates of Sharks general manager Mike Grier.
Miller will scout draft-eligible goaltenders for the Sharks and will assist in the development of their goalies. Vanek, meanwhile, becomes an amateur scout in the Minnesota region.
TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens hired former NHL forward Fernando Pisani as an amateur scout. He played for the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks from 2002-03 to 2010-11, with seven of those seasons with the Oilers.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid topped the NHL Network’s recent ranking of the top 20 centers for the 2023-24 season. Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon, Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl, Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby.
Game recaps feature a four-point game for Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron, the three stars of the week are revealed, two trades go down before the holiday freeze goes into effect, the Oilers re-sign Stuart Skinner and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins extended their home points streak to 19 games by dumping the Florida Panthers 7-3. Boston captain Patrice Bergeron scored twice and collected two assists while Brad Marchand collected three assists as the Bruins (25-4-2) opened a seven-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for first place in the overall standings with 52 points. Sam Reinhart and Carter Verhaeghe each had two points for the 15-14-4 Panthers.
Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins are showing no signs of cooling off from their hot start to this season as they approach the holiday season. They’re widening their lead over the teams chasing them in the overall standings.
Speaking of the Golden Knights, they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Buffalo Sabres. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 41 saves to hold off Vegas while Tage Thompson tallied his 26th goal of the season as the Sabres improved to 16-14-2. Chandler Stephenson and Reilly Smith replied for the Golden Knights (22-11-1) as they hold a one-point lead over the Dallas Stars for first place in the Western Conference with 45 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sabres defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin returned to the lineup after missing nine games with a lower-body injury.
The Stars (19-8-6), meanwhile, nipped the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 2-1. Jake Oettinger made 27 saves while Wyatt Johnston and Jason Robertson were the goal scorers. Kent Johnson replied for the Blue Jackets, who have lost four in a row and dropped to 10-19-2.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blue Jackets forward Yegor Chinakhov left this game with an upper-body injury. The Jackets also played without captain Boone Jenner as he’s sidelined for four weeks with a broken thumb.
Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev turned in a 26-save shutout and Evan Rodrigues scored the only goal in a 1-0 shootout victory over the New York Islanders. Ilya Sorokin stopped 46 shots for the 18-13-2 Islanders. The Avalanche improved to 17-11-2.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar provided a fine example of sportsmanship by telling the referees not to call a tripping penalty on Isles center Mathew Barzal. The call was reversed after Makar told the official that he wasn’t tripped by Barzal but merely slipped and fell down.
Before the game, Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said goaltender Semyon Varlamov (lower-body), Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Palmieri (upper body) are day-to-day. Defenseman Adam Pelech remains sidelined with an upper-body injury but it’s not believed to be long-term. The Isles also terminated the contract of Nikita Soshnikov.
An overtime goal by Alexander Carrier lifted the Nashville Predators over the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Juuse Saros kicked out 30 shots for the Predators (13-13-4) as they end a six-game skid. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored twice and Connor McDavid (two assists) extended his points streak to 13 games. The Oilers sit at 17-14-2.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Oilers announced they’ve signed goaltender Stuart Skinner to a three-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $2.6 million. Skinner has outplayed Jack Campbell ($5 million AAV) and taken over the starter’s job from the struggling Campbell.
Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov’s overtime goal gave his club a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Nic Dowd scored twice in 11 seconds during the second period for the Capitals as they move to 17-13-4 on the season. Ville Husso made 38 saves for the 13-11-7 Red Wings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper returned to the lineup after missing seven games with an upper-body injury. He backed up Charlie Lindgren for this contest.
A hat trick by Jordan Kyrou carried the St. Louis Blues over the Vancouver Canucks 5-1. Vladimir Tarasenko collected three assists and Jordan Binnington made 33 saves for the Blues as they improved to 16-15-1. Ilya Mikheyev scored for the Canucks as they drop to 13-15-3.
An overtime goal by Mike Hoffman gave the Montreal Canadiens a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Sam Montembeault stopped 37 shots while Cole Caufield netted his 19th goal of the season for the Canadiens (15-15-2). Nick Schmaltz and Matias Macelli replied for the Coyotes as they slide to 10-15-5.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Canadiens announced they’ll honor former Habs defenseman P.K. Subban prior to their Jan. 12 game at the Bell Centre against the Nashville Predators. Subban played for both clubs but he spent seven of his 13 NHL seasons with the Canadiens, winning the Norris Trophy in 2012-13. He retired before the start of this season.
NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson and Minnesota Wild winger Mats Zuccarello are the three stars for the week ending Dec. 18, 2022.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers winger Cam Atkinson’s season is over before it had a chance to begin. He’ll undergo neck surgery on Dec. 21 and is expected to make a full recovery.
Meanwhile, Flyers center Kevin Hayes didn’t believe he deserved to be a healthy scratch for the club’s 6-3 loss to the Islanders on Saturday. “I wasn’t happy but it’s not my decision,” said Hayes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tensions appear to be rising between Hayes and Flyers coach John Tortorella. I’ll have more about that in today’s Rumor Mill update.
NHL.COM: The department of player safety suspended San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl for two games for high-sticking Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm during Sunday’s game between the two clubs.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs traded forward Denis Malgin to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for forward Dryden Hunt.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks acquired defenseman Michael Del Zotto in a three-team trade involving the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers. Del Zotto was traded first by the Panthers to the Red Wings for blueliner Giavani Smith. The Wings then flipped him to the Ducks for center Danny O’Regan. All three will be reporting to their new minor-league teams.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks activated Alex Stalock from injured reserve and sent Arvid Soderblom to their AHL affiliate in Rockford. They also placed Jarred Tinordi (facial fracture) on IR retroactively to Dec. 18.
NHL.COM: Former NHL goaltender Andrew Hammond has announced his retirement. He spent six seasons with the Ottawa Senators, Colorado Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils from 2013-14 to 2021-22 with a record of 31 wins, 20 losses and 7 overtime losses. He had a career goals-against average of 2.56 and a .916 save percentage with four shutouts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hammond is best remembered for his 20-1-2 run with the Senators to carry the club into the 2015 playoffs. Best wishes to “The Hamburglar” in his future endeavors.
All three of Wednesday’s games end in 4-3 scores plus the latest on Gabriel Landeskog, Aaron Ekblad, Jake Muzzin and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Neal Pionk lifted the Winnipeg Jets over the Colorado Avalanche 4-3. Pionk finished the night with two goals while Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves for the win. Mikko Rantanen scored twice for the Avalanche while Valeri Nichushkin had a two-point game.
Colorado Avalanche winger Gabriel Landeskog (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs were without a key player in this contest. The Avalanche announced before this game that Gabriel Landeskog underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and will be sidelined for 12 weeks. The Avs captain had surgery last March on his knee and returned for the playoffs but it continued to bother him throughout the offseason and sidelined him through training camp and the start of this season.
Meanwhile, Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers was sidelined by an undisclosed injury and remains questionable for Thursday’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights. The club also announced that head coach Rick Bowness will return on Saturday from his bout with COVID-19.
St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, to defeat the Seattle Kraken 4-3. Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko collected three assists while goalie Jordan Binnington got the win with a 32-save performance. Alex Wennberg and Oliver Bjorkstand each had two assists for the Kraken, who are 1-2-2 in their first five games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich missed this game with a lower-body injury.
The Florida Panthers got two goals from Carter Verhaeghe as they held off the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 to hand the latter their first loss of the season. Aleksander Barkov, Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett each collected two assists while Travis Konecny and James van Riemsdyk were among the Flyers’ goal scorers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers played this game without top defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who was placed on long-term injury reserve with a lower-body injury. There is no timetable for his return, which is bad news for the Panthers’ already thin blueline depth. Speaking of the Flyers, they claimed center Lukas Sedlak off waivers from the Colorado Avalanche.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs placed defenseman Jake Muzzin (neck) on injured reserve. Meanwhile, head coach Sheldon Keefe walked back his critical comments aimed at his elite players following their 4-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Monday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs lost two games of their first four games to teams they should easily defeat (Arizona, Montreal) and barely won the other two games. That has a number of their followers already on edge. Keefe’s clarification drew criticism from social media with some suggesting that it’s indicative of the Leafs’ fragility this early in the season.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana has entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program and will be out of the lineup for an indefinite period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Vrana gets the help he needs to resume his playing career and get his life back on track away from the arena.
NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Goaltender Jake Allen has returned to the Canadiens lineup. He missed Monday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins as his wife was giving birth to the couple’s third daughter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Allen family on their new arrival.
TWINCITIES.COM: Jordan Greenway makes his season debut with the Minnesota Wild. The 25-year-old winger underwent off-season shoulder surgery. He also underwent procedures to have a cyst removed from his ankle and to have his wisdom teeth removed.
SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reported New York Rangers forward Dryden Hunt and Vancouver Canucks winger Phillip Di Giuseppe were placed on waivers yesterday.
THE ATHLETIC: Former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser signed a PTO contract with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
CALGARY SUN: The city of Calgary and the Flames organization have restarted formal talks on the construction of a new arena. Negotiations fell apart last year over cost overages weeks before construction was to start on a $650 million project.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wake me when you’ve got a deal. And yes, I believe they will hammer out a deal.
The Canucks win their first game in their return from COVID-19 pause, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Bo Horvat scored two goals, including the winner in overtime, as the Vancouver Canucks edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2. It was the Canucks first game since March 24 as an outbreak of COVID-19 paused their schedule on March 30. Braden Holtby made 37 saves for the win. Canucks defenseman Alex Edler received a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for a knee-on-knee hit on Leafs winger Zach Hyman in the second period. Hyman left the game and there was no immediate update on his condition following the game.
Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hyman’s injured knee is the same one he had surgically repaired in 2019. It remains to seen if Edler will receive supplemental discipline. That aside, it was a big win for the Canucks coming off a traumatic three weeks that threatened to derail the remainder of their schedule. The Leafs, meanwhile, remain in first place in the Scotia North Division with 61 points.
Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand reached his 700th career point with a four-point performance in a 6-3 win over the Washington Capitals. Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci each scored twice and David Pastrnak collected three assists. T.J. Oshie scored two goals for the Capitals, who lost Justin Schultz to a lower-body injury. They also played without Zdeno Chara, who is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed ailment. The Capitals sit atop the MassMutual East Division with 62 points while the fourth-place Bruins (56 points) have won four straight and sit three points behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins.
The New York Islanders got a 30-save shutout from Ilya Sorokin to nip the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0 on Nick Leddy’s overtime goal. The Isles (60 points) are two points behind the Capitals and one up on the Penguins.
Speaking of the Penguins, they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Buffalo Sabres. Sam Reinhart scored twice and Dustin Tokarski made 34 saves as the Sabres have a record of 3-1-1 in their last five contests.
The New York Rangers blew a 3-0 lead but rallied to down the New Jersey Devils 5-3. Goals by Mika Zibanejad and Ryan Strome late in the third period gave the Blueshirts the victory. With 52 points, they’re four points behind the Bruins.
Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone extended his multi-point game streak to four games as his club down the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. Stone had a goal and an assist. Teammate Reilly Smith left the game in the third period with an undisclosed injury and is listed as day-to-day. Vegas moved into a tie with the Colorado Avalanche with 64 points but the Avs sit in first place in the Honda West Division with a game in hand.
YARDBARKER: A report in Sports Business Journal claims NHL jersey advertising could begin as early as 2022-23, though nothing has been approved or finalized yet by the league board of governors. The location of a jersey patch is being discussed and evaluated. It could be placed on the shoulder or chest. The size of the patch remains unclear.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as that patch doesn’t detract from the team logo I don’t think it’s going to be an issue. The league must find as many new streams of hockey-related revenue as possible given the effect of COVID-19 upon its coffers.
SPORTSNET: Seventeen NHL teams are currently using long-term injury reserve for cap relief. The league is going to closely monitor those clubs over the remainder of the season to ensure there’s no cap circumvention.
AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports the Coyotes will sign defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin to a one-year, $1.35 million contract extension.