NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 19, 2020

Updates on Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Cale Makar, Jakub Voracek, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby left yesterday’s scrimmage in the second period for “undisclosed reasons.” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan declined to comment citing league protocols, but winger Conor Sheary suggested Crosby’s departure was a “maintenance thing.”

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (Photo via NHL Images).

 THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar left practice yesterday. Coach Jared Bednar said Makar was “unfit” to complete practice. It’s uncertain if he’ll participate in Sunday’s scrimmage.

CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers winger Jakub Voracek didn’t participate in yesterday’s practice. It could simply be a day off for Voracek after participating in every practice since Monday.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Fluto Shinzawa reports the Boston Bruins had nine regulars – David Pastrnak, Ondrej Kase, David Krejci, Torey Krug, Tuukka Rask, Nick Ritchie, Charlie Coyle, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner – listed as “unfit to play” on Saturday. Head coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t elaborate other than to say the club had no injuries to speak of.

Pastrnak is quarantined after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Krejci, Ritchie, Coyle, Kuraly, Wagner, Krug, and Rask all participated in practices before Saturday.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich left training camp early yesterday for undisclosed reasons. Coach David Quinn declined to comment citing league protocols.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, the league’s cone of silence over a player’s health status leaves fans and pundits playing a guessing game. In most of the cases indicated above, it appears a player was either banged up during practice or having a maintenance day following a full week of practice and scrimmaging. Apart from Pastrnak, none of these absences appear tied to COVID-19.

THE SCORE: cited The Athletic’s Joe Smith reporting Steven Stamkos was a full participant in practice yesterday. The Tampa Bay Lightning captain is nursing a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training. Head coach Jon Cooper said Stamkos could get a shot at playing in the club’s exhibition game on July 29 if he’s healthy and feels ready to go.

CBS SPORTS: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Olli Maatta was back on the ice Saturday after skipping practice on Friday. His absence may have simply been a maintenance day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maintenance means anything from simply having a day off for rest to getting treatment for a nagging injury.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Former NHL linesman Kevin Collins is the president, CEO, principal owner, and clerk of the works of Mass Alternative Care, Inc. It’s a marijuana-based company he started up that employs around 60 people in western Massachusetts. The company using cannabis for a diverse range of products for medical and adult recreational use.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the story suggests, Collins’ post-retirement business is growing like a weed.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 18, 2020

Vezina Trophy finalists announced, Caleb Jones admits testing positive for COVID-19, plus updates on David Pastrnak, Marc-Andre Fleury, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck, Boston Bruins’ Tuukka Rask, and Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy are the finalist for the 2020 Vezina Trophy, awarded to the top goaltender as voted by NHL general managers.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is among the finalists for the 2020 Vezina Trophy (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask (2014) and Vasilevskiy (2019) won the Vezina before, while this is Hellebuyck’s second time as a finalist. Rask has the better stats of the three, but Hellebucyk led the league in shutouts (6) while carrying the Jets and their depth-depleted defense into the 2020 playoffs. That could be the determining factor in his favor.

LATEST TRAINING CAMP HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Pastrnak’s agent said his client is in quarantine after coming in contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. The Bruins winger tested negative for the coronavirus. That explains why he was held out of practice Thursday.

Pastrnak and teammate Ondrej Kase were following travel quarantine protocols after recently returning from the Czech Republic to attend training camp. The reason for Kase’s absence remains unknown.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Caleb Jones admitted he tested positive for COVID-19 several weeks ago when he returned to Edmonton from his off-season home in Dallas. He had no symptoms and self-quarantined for two weeks. He’s fine now and skating in Oilers’ practices.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jones is the second player known to have had the virus but the first to voluntarily admit it. Last month, the Toronto Sun reported Maple Leafs center Austin Matthews tested positive for COVID-19 over a month ago. He acknowledged it earlier this week.

The NHL is preventing teams from revealing the health status of its players during the return-to-play plan. Absent players are being listed as “unfit to play” or “unfit to participate” with no explanation.

Speaking of the Oilers, they and the mayor of Edmonton issued statements yesterday insisting the storm damage caused to part of Rogers Place arena on Thursday won’t derail plans to host Western Conference teams in the upcoming playoff tournament.

NHL.COM: Marc-Andre Fleury participated in training camp on Friday with his Vegas Golden Knights teammates for the first time this week. The club claims Fleury missed the opening days for “maintenance”, while head coach Peter DeBoer said the goaltender’s absence was not related to COVID-19.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Defensemen Olli Maatta and Connor Murphy joined Corey Crawford on the list of Blackhawks players deemed “unfit to play”. Blueliner Calvin de Haan missed his third straight practice dealing with a family emergency.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning forward Cedric Paquette was listed as “unable to practice” on Friday. He was banged-up during practice on Wednesday.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Noah Juulsen is battling for a spot on the Canadiens roster after being sidelined since Nov. 19, 2018, with migraines related to head trauma. The 23-year-old defenseman got in some games with the Habs’ AHL farm team in Laval before the schedule was interrupted in March and claims he’s felt great since then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For a while, there was concern Juulsen’s promising career could be over before it began. If he’s healthy he could be a valuable addition to the Canadiens blueline.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson declined to confirm a report by TSN’s Darren Dreger claiming interim coach Bob Boughner signed a contract extension to become their permanent head coach. Dreger also cited a report claiming former AHL coach Rocky Thompson would join the Sharks staff as an assistant coach. Wilson said there’s been no decision yet on the coaching staff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Wilson doesn’t like it when a reporter spoils his big reveal.

THE DENVER POST: Some promising news to report on former NHLer Kyle Quincey’s young son Axl. The 1-year-old appears on the road to recovery following his second brain surgery on June 9 to remove a tumor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Axl and his family. Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 1, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 1, 2020

Check out recent Devils and Blackhawks speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FREE-AGENT FORWARD TARGETS FOR THE DEVILS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Corey Masisak recently examined several potential free-agent forward targets for the New Jersey Devils. Among the possibilities was former Devils turned Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall, Florida Panthers wingers Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov, Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli, Colorado Avalanche forward Vladislav Namestnikov, and Nashville Predators’ forward Mikael Granlund.

Could the New Jersey Devils attempt to bring back Taylor Hall? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Masisak wasn’t saying the Devils will target those players. He’s merely looking at possible options.

He doubted Hall might return to the Devils if he doesn’t find a suitable contract in the UFA market but doesn’t completely rule it out. I believe we’ve seen the last of Hall in a Devils’ jersey. He probably wants to play with a contender, which rules out his former team.

I share Masisak’s view that the lack of impact UFA forwards in this year’s market could put Hoffman and Dadonov out of the Devils’ price range. Toffoli will also probably be too expensive. Namestnikov and Granlund could be more affordable, but their inconsistent play in recent years probably won’t make them a good fit for the Devils.

Bargain options could include Edmonton’s Tyler Ennis, Nashville’s Craig Smith, the New York Rangers’ Jesper Fast, Florida’s Erik Haula, Minnesota’s Alexander Galchenyuk, Pittsburgh’s Conor Sheary, Tampa Bay’s Patrick Maroon, Vancouver’s Josh Leivo, and Detroit’s Sam Gagner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith and Fast seem like the best of this bunch. They would bring experienced, affordable depth to the Devils’ forward lines but not enough to move the needle forward.

Masisak also looked at some short-term veterans like Carl Soderberg, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jason Spezza, Patrick Marleau, Corey Perry, and Brian Boyle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These guys are in the twilight years of their respective careers. Kovalchuk could return to the Montreal Canadiens, the Toronto Maple Leafs could re-sign Spezza, and Marleau could return to San Jose if there’s a spot available with the Sharks. Like the bargain options, there’s no one in this group who could significantly advance the Devils’ rebuild. 

BLACKHAWKS FACING PIVOTAL DECISIONS

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Paul Thompson reports the Blackhawks still have pivotal roster decisions to make following the 24-team playoff tournament. Here’s a look at several of the notable ones.

Long-time starting goalie Corey Crawford is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. If he re-signs it likely won’t be for the $6 million annually of his current contract. His age (35) and recent concussion history are cause for concern.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hawks might not have much choice. They sent Robin Lehner to Vegas at the trade deadline. Malcolm Subban, part of the return in that deal, is not an NHL starter. Washington’s Braden Holtby could be available but he’ll probably be too expensive for the Hawks.

Winger Brandon Saad is eligible next summer for UFA status and carrying a $6 million cap hit for 2020-21. He was a frequent subject of trade chatter this season and could surface again in the rumor mill. However, Thompson suggests the Hawks could keep him if they decide to build on the current roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $75 million invested in 19 players for next season and Crawford, Dylan Strome, Dominik Kubalik, and Drake Caggiula due for new contracts, the Blackhawks must shed salary to accommodate those deals. They could get some cap relief if Brent Seabrook goes on long-term injury reserve next season. Nevertheless, they might still have to move out Saad to clear more space.

Winger Andrew Shaw was frequently sidelined over the past three seasons. Given his injury history, he might be a luxury they can no longer afford. Shaw has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $3.9 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shaw could also end up on LTIR to start next season. If his concussions are serious enough, he could be there permanently.

Defenseman Olli Maatta is likely a trade or buyout candidate. He’s got two years left on his contract worth over $4.08 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maatta saw third-pairing minutes with the Blackhawks. His performance was going downhill during his final two seasons in Pittsburgh before he was shipped to Chicago. They could try to trade him in the off-season, but the decline in his play could make him tough to move.

Center Zack Smith underwent season-ending back surgery and could be a buyout candidate. He signed through next season with a cap hit of $3.25 million.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Smith can’t be bought out if he hasn’t fully recovered from surgery whenever the buyout period rolls around.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Chicago Blackhawks

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Chicago Blackhawks

 










NHL Rumor Mill – December 16, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – December 16, 2019

The Taylor Hall trade watch continues, plus the latest on the Leafs, Canadiens, Blackhawks, and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE LATEST HALL SPECULATION

NJ.COM: Chris Ryan cites reports indicating the Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche are the leading contenders to acquire New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall. He speculates the Devils could seek several pieces, including a high draft pick, an additional conditional pick if Hall re-signs with his new team, a top prospect or one or two other solid prospects.

Despite a weekend of rampant speculation, Taylor Hall remains with the New Jersey Devils…for now (Photo via NHL Images).

Ryan examined the possible returns the Devils could receive from these clubs. He suggests targeting Coyotes prospect Barrett Hayton or Victor Soderstrom, Panthers prospect goaltender Spencer Knight, Blues defenseman Niko Mikkola, or Avs prospect Bowen Byram.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports multiple sources claimed the Coyotes aren’t offering up Hayton or Soderstrom, but the two sides could be haggling over prospect defenseman Kevin Bahl. He doesn’t know the details of the Coyotes’ package offer to the Devils, but it’s believed to be futures-based. The Coyotes could go in a different direction if this continues without a resolution for too long.

Friedman also cites sources claiming the Devils may have received an offer or two that revolve around younger, established NHL players. Devils general manager Ray Shero could face a choice between a futures offer or a hockey trade that can provide immediate help.

The Devils haven’t yet permitted interested clubs to speak with Hall or his agent regarding a contract extension. However, Friedman suggests that it doesn’t mean they won’t if they receive an offer they like that’s contingent on one. He also wonders what the Devils will continue to sit Hall if he’s not traded before the upcoming holiday trade freeze.

VANCOUVER SUN’s Patrick Johnston cited a source claiming the Panthers’ offer includes forward Vincent Trocheck and several Boston-based prospects.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes the Hall trade saga is becoming a farce that could affect his trade value. “The deeper we go into the season, the less Hall’s value, especially as a rental,” said Staples. “The more complications that come up in moving him — and surely a major league complication came up to thwart a trade this weekend — the less his value.”

Jim Matheson took to Twitter musing about what Oilers GM Ken Holland could offer up to acquire Hall as a rental player. He speculates the offer would be winger Jesse Puljujarvi’s rights plus a second-round pick that becomes a first-rounder if the Oilers reach the playoffs. Kurt Leavins asked, “Why would the New Jersey Devils grant negotiation status to a club that Taylor Hall doesn’t want to sign with?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It certainly seemed like a Hall trade was imminent when the winger was held out of the lineup over the weekend in consecutive games against two clubs – the Avalanche and Coyotes – reportedly interested in acquiring him. A deal could still go down soon, but it appears Devils management could be using the upcoming week-long holiday roster freeze (which begins at midnight ET on Dec. 19) as a deadline to pressure interested parties into improving their offers.

On Saturday, Chris Johnston reported the Coyotes had emerged as the front-runner for Hall. Friedman felt the Devils were trying to leverage the Coyotes’ trade package into better offers from other clubs.

In other words, “Here’s what the Coyotes are offering us for Hall. Can you match or beat it?” The lack of news since then suggests no one has done so, though it’s possible the haggling is continuing.

If the Panthers are offering up Trocheck, it will leave them thin at center. The Boston-based prospects could include Spencer Knight, defenseman Benjamin Finkelstein, and winger Logan Hutsko.

SHOULD THE LEAFS SWAP A FORWARD FOR A GOALIE OR DEFENSEMAN?

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle believes the Toronto Maple Leafs will face some tough decisions once sidelined forward Andreas Johnsson returns to action in January. With the third line of Pierre Engvall, Alexander Kerfoot, and Ilya Mikheyev keeps playing well, the Leafs could be reluctant to break them out. That could mean demoting Johnsson or Kasperi Kapanen to the fourth line, which doesn’t make sense given their experience and salaries.

Mirtle said Kapanen is a player rival clubs lacking depth on the wing are keeping an eye on. He wondered if someone like Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson might be a good fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs reportedly don’t want to move Kapanen. If their depth issues in goal and on the blueline persist, however, they might not have much choice, especially if it could derail their playoff hopes. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Larsson, but I think the Leafs would prefer a good second-pairing rearguard in return for Kapanen.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

TVA SPORTS: Speculation persists over Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin’s recent scouting of the Chicago Blackhawks. Defenseman Olli Maatta’s name has surfaced, but Yvon Pedneault suggested Erik Gustafsson could be the target. He doubted the Blackhawks want to part with Maatta, but they could be willing to listen to offers for Gustafsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks acquire Maatta during the summer. He’s under contract through 2021-22. Gustafsson, however, will become a UFA in July. He’s the more likely trade candidate.

 










NHL Injury Outlook Week 11: From Hischier to Makar

NHL Injury Outlook Week 11: From Hischier to Makar