NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2021

The Sabres strip Jack Eichel of his captaincy, plus several stars are already sidelined or returning from injuries as training camps open. Check out the details in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams confirmed yesterday the club had stripped Jack Eichel of the captaincy. The 24-year-old center also failed his team physical and will be placed on injured reserve.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Eichel and Sabres’ management remain in a standoff over which medical procedure he should receive to repair a herniated disc in his neck. He favors disc replacement surgery while the team doctors prefer fusion surgery. Adams also indicated the team is still open to trading Eichel at the right price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt any NHL fan or pundit is surprised by this news. It’s just another chapter in an impasse with no end in sight. There could be teams willing to let Eichel undergo disc replacement but they’re unwilling to pay the Sabres’ high asking price to acquire him.

Don’t expect to see Eichel on the ice this season unless one side blinks. I also don’t anticipate seeing him traded this season unless the Sabres drop their price. Even then, Eichel’s $10 million annual average value over the next five seasons is difficult for most teams to absorb even when he’s healthy.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin is expected to miss at least the first two months of this season recovering from offseason surgery on his right knee. The Penguins also have one unidentified player not yet fully vaccinated though he’s expected to be within the next few weeks.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane said he’s been dealing with a nagging injury since prior to the 2020 NHL playoffs but downplayed the severity. He and GM Stan Bowman didn’t elaborate but said it was a common ailment among hockey players.

Meanwhile, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was back with his teammates in his first formal practice since missing all of last season with Chronic Immune Response Syndrome. He’s hoping to be ready to play when the season opens next month.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and winger Mike Hoffman are likely to miss training camp and the start of the season. Price is recovering from offseason knee surgery while Hoffman has been sidetracked by a lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is listed as week-to-week due to ongoing rehabilitation on his hip. Meanwhile, teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov said he’s feeling good mentally and physically and ready to put a difficult 2020-21 season behind him.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck confirmed he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Aug. 20. He was unvaccinated at the time and took about 10 days to recover. He’s since been vaccinated but felt rushed into doing so in order to be ready for training camp so soon after recovering from the coronavirus.

I’m not anti-vax by any means,” he said. “But I’d like to have that decision for myself. It felt very forced on me.” He added the post-vaccination symptoms made him feel as though he had COVID again.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hellebuyck’s situation was unique and probably should’ve allowed him more leeway to become vaccinated so soon after recovering from COVID-19. NHL protocols would allow him to join his teammates under certain restrictions until he received his shots.

The league isn’t forcing its players to be inoculated. However, they face travel restrictions, additional testing, forfeiture of portions of their salaries if they miss playing time and social interaction limitations as a result.

Some might feel the NHL’s protocols are too restrictive. However, the league and the NHLPA don’t want a repeat of 2020-21 when multiple game postponements due to outbreaks of COVID-19 among several teams wreaked havoc on an already compressed schedule.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Center Tyler Seguin, winger Alexander Radulov and goaltender Ben Bishop were on the ice for the Stars’ opening day of training camp. Seguin missed all but three games last season to hip and knee surgeries. Radulov was sidelined most of last season by a core muscle injury requiring offseason surgery. Bishop, meanwhile, is hopeful of playing after missing all of last season to knee surgery.

CALGARY SUN: Flames center Sean Monahan revealed a hip injury bothered him for most of last season. He underwent offseason surgery and was on the ice for the club’s opening day of training camp.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche forward Stefan Matteau and defenseman Roland McKeown had both tested positive for COVID-19 but are nearing the end of their recovery. Meanwhile, head coach Jared Bednar said defenseman Cale Makar underwent an upper-body procedure recently but isn’t expected to miss any practice or preseason time.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins center Charlie Coyle began training camp yesterday wearing a non-contact red jersey. He’s coming off a pair of knee surgeries but is expected to be ready for the start of the season.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken center Yanni Gourde took part in drills yesterday wearing a non-contact jersey. GM Ron Francis indicates Gourde could return to action sooner than expected from offseason shoulder surgery. He was originally expected to be sidelined until December.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets goaltending coach Manny Legace revealed he was recently hospitalized fighting for his life with a severe case of COVID-19. He spent a week in intensive care before being released. He and his wife must now wait eight weeks before getting vaccinated as per CDC guidelines, something they had put off based on advice from doctors related to medical conditions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Legace and his wife for a speedy and complete recovery.

THE PROVINCE: An internal document shared with NHL teams earlier this week reveals the league believes 30 of its 32 teams could start the season with full capacity at their arenas. The exceptions are the Vancouver Canucks (50 percent) and the Montreal Canadiens (33 percent). The memo also revealed the various anticipated vaccine guidelines for all the franchises. 










Notable Trades and Contract Signings – July 24, 2021

Notable Trades and Contract Signings – July 24, 2021

Here’s a listing of the notable trades and free-agent signings during the second day of the 2021 NHL Draft. This will be updated throughout the day.

The Sam Reinhart trade reported early this morning is official. The Buffalo Sabres trade Reinhart to the Florida Panthers for prospect goaltender Devon Levi and a 2022 first-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s one year away from UFA eligibility. That could explain why the Sabres got a prospect rather than a player as part of the return, though they did get a first-rounder as well.

The Philadelphia Flyers trade Jakub Voracek to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Cam Atkinson. The Flyers did not retain any of Voracek’s salary in this transaction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers and Blue Jackets are among the busiest teams this weekend in the trade market as they continue shaking up their respective rosters. Voracek and Atkinson were both reportedly seeking a change of scenery. They are still reliable top-six wingers though their best seasons are likely behind them.

Voracek is returning to the team where his NHL career began. He was traded by the Jackets to the Flyers prior to the 2011 NHL Draft as part of the deal that sent Jeff Carter to Columbus. Now 31, he has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million.

Atkinson, 32, spent his entire 10-season NHL career to his point with the Blue Jackets. He has four years remaining on his deal with an annual cap hit of $5.875 million. The Flyers are freeing up $2.75 million over the next three years.

The Colorado Avalanche sign defenseman Cale Makar to a six-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $9 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quite the pay raise for the 22-year-old blueliner coming out of his entry-level contract. He quickly became one of the league’s top rearguards, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2019-20 and was a finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy this season.

I’m only surprised that it wasn’t more. Some observers estimated he could receive over $10 million annually. Given his youth and talent, this contract will probably age very well for the Avalanche.

The Edmonton Oilers sign goaltender Mike Smith to a two-year, $4.4 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith played well for the Oilers over the last two seasons…when healthy. The 39-year-old has had injury issues in recent years. He missed 12 games at the start of this season with an undisclosed injury. The annual cap hit is affordable but a two-year deal for a goalie who turns 40 next March seems one year too long.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 30, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 30, 2021

Could the Blues shop Vladimir Tarasenko? Could Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar receive an offer sheet? Are big moves in store for the Blackhawks or the Coyotes? What’s the latest on Frederik Andersen and Tony DeAngelo? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BLUES SHOPPING TARASENKO

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the St. Louis Blues are exploring a trade for Vladimir Tarasenko. The 29-year-old winger has a full no-trade clause but has informed management of several preferred trade destinations. Tarasenko has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7.5 million. He’s been limited to 34 games over the last two seasons due to shoulder surgeries.

St. Louis Blues are reportedly shopping winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli indicates Tarasenko’s recurring shoulder injury has been corrected and he’s healthy. When he’s healthy he’s a consistent 30-goal scorer.

Still, there could be clubs on his trade list leery of acquiring him because of those three surgeries. His cap hit could also prove difficult to move with the salary cap remaining flattened for this season.

COULD MAKAR GET AN OFFER SHEET?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there are different sources around the league who believe Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar is the one player who could receive an offer sheet this summer. The Avs have several players (Makar, Gabriel Landeskog, Philipp Grubauer, Brandon Saad) due for new contracts. They must also ensure sufficient cap room to re-sign Nathan MacKinnon to a monster extension next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun indicates Makar wants to remain with the Avalanche and the club is “guarding internally” again a possible offer sheet. He said there are some who believe rival clubs could come calling if the 22-year-old blueliner isn’t signed by July 28.

Offers sheet signings are rare but do happen from time to time. Bear in mind, however, the player has to be receptive to receiving one. Just because other teams would love to sign Makar doesn’t mean he’s interested in going that route.

BIG MOVES COMING FOR THE BLACKHAWKS OR COYOTES?

TSN: Darren Dreger reports media has linked the Chicago Blackhawks to Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel. He finds it hard to imagine they can fit another $10 million player into their lineup with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane already there. He also noted winger Alex DeBrincat will soon become a big-money player.

Dreger also indicates Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is trying to add an elite-level defenseman. They’ve been linked to Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton and Columbus’ Seth Jones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bowman could be performing due diligence by looking into Eichel’s availability. I don’t see them acquiring him unless the Sabres pick up half of his cap hit, or if Toews is going on permanent long-term injury reserve, or Bowman intends on shedding a significant salary.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the Boston Bruins could revisit their interest in Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He also wondered if a potential trade package could involve Coyotes winger and Boston native Conor Garland.

The Bruins were on Ekman-Larsson’s list of preferred destinations last fall but discussions between the two clubs failed to produce a deal. The Coyotes were willing to shave $1.25 million off the blueliner’s $8.25 million annual average value last year. Seravalli wonders if they’ll retain more to facilitate a trade this time.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman recently expressed his belief that Ekman-Larsson and winger Phil Kessel could get traded this summer. He also recommended keeping an eye on Garland and goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

Ekman-Larsson’s trade value is unknown right while Kessel as a rental player won’t fetch a lot of young assets. Garland and Kuemper, however, could bring the picks and prospects the Coyotes need.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have expressed a need for a top-four, left-side defenseman. Ekman-Larsson’s declining numbers over the last three seasons are cause for concern but perhaps he’ll bounce back playing on a deeper roster. The Coyotes will have to pick up a bigger chunk of Ekman-Larsson’s cap hit if they hope to move him.

The Bruins could have interest in Garland if unable to re-sign Taylor Hall or if they finally decide to put Jake DeBrusk on the trade block. The 25-year-old winger is a restricted free agent completing a two-year, $1.55 million contract. He’d be more affordable than Hall, perhaps costing as much as DeBrusk’s annual cap hit ($3.675 million) to sign.

Like Kessel, Kuemper will become an unrestricted free agent next summer. With Adin Hill looking like a potential starting goalie, they could peddle Kuemper if they feel he doesn’t fit into their long-range plans.

COULD ANDERSEN REMAIN A MAPLE LEAF?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there’s a chance Frederik Andersen could remain with the Toronto Maple Leafs. His agent, Claude Lemieux, said he was asked by the club if his client was interested in potentially signing and staying put. Lemieux said yes but LeBrun points out getting a deal done could be difficult within the Leafs’ limited cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersen will have to accept less than his $5 million annual average value of his expiring deal. LeBrun said he’s ready to share the Leafs’ goaltending duties with Jack Campbell. So what say you, Leafs fan? Should they bring back Freddy on a reduced cap hit as a backup?

RANGERS TO BUY OUT DEANGELO

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the New York Rangers have finalized plans to buy out the remaining year of defenseman Tony DeAngelo’s contract. It will become official once the first buyout window opens within 24 hours after the Stanley Cup Final concludes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everyone expected this after the Rangers couldn’t find any takers for DeAngelo via trade or waivers during the regular season. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. Seravalli said the annual cap hit to the Rangers is $383K for 2021-22 and $883K for 2022-23. It’ll be interesting to see if other clubs will take a chance on him when he’s no longer carrying a $4.8 million cap hit.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 11, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 11, 2021

A look at what could be ahead for the Avalanche in the offseason, more Bruins speculation and the latest on Jack Eichel in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE AVALANCHE?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski observes the Colorado Avalanche face some big free-agent decisions in the offseason. Captain Gabriel Landeskog, Vezina Trophy finalist Philipp Grubauer, and winger Brandon Saad are among those slated to become unrestricted free agents. Defenseman Cale Makar, meanwhile, is a restricted free agent in line for a significant pay raise coming off his entry-level contract.

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog (NHL Images).

The Avs also risk losing a good defenseman to the Seattle Kraken in next month’s expansion draft. Even if sidelined Erik Johnson agrees to waive his no-movement clause, someone like Ryan Graves or Jacob MacDonald could be left exposed if they opt to protect three defensemen.

Head coach Jared Bednar could be under the microscope after failing to get the Avs past the second round. He has a year remaining on his contract and could return to finish that season.

THE DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla believes Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic needs to build a tougher roster and replace Bednar as head coach, citing the latter’s inability to make strategic roster adjustments against the Vegas Golden Knights during their second-round series. “The Avs are pretty, not gritty,” opined Kiszla among his colorful descriptions of their lack of postseason toughness.

Ryan O’Halloran agreed with Kiszla in less hyperbolic terms. He feels the Avs aren’t in the same depths as the early-era Alex Ovechkin Washington Capitals. Nevertheless, he believes “they need to get bigger on defense and deeper at center” to beat the Golden Knights next season.

THE ATHLETIC: Peter Baugh believes the Avalanche must address how long and for much they’re willing to sign Landeskog for. He also thinks paying Makar $10 million annually is worthwhile and considers it too risky to let Grubauer walk via free agency. He also recommends they explore creating cap space through trades and add some low-cost veterans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sakic did a fine job building the current roster. He must now figure out how to get this team to the next level without the salary-cap flexibility he enjoyed in recent years.

Yes, the Avalanche needs more depth at center and size on defense. Yes, they need to get tougher. However, Sakic and his staff must avoid overreacting as the 2010 version of the Capitals did following their first-round upset by the Montreal Canadiens. Those missteps set the Caps back several seasons before they finally won the Stanley Cup in 2018.

Landeskog, 28, will seek a substantial pay raise over his current $5.57 million cap hit. Some might scoff at Makar earning $10 million annually but his rise to Norris Trophy finalist in just three seasons provides his camp with sufficient grounds to seek that much. Sakic could try to go the bridge deal route but that seems unlikely given Makar’s talent. Grubauer’s Vezina nod this season also works in his favor as he pursues a big bump over his $3.33 million AAV.

Sakic has shown in the past a willingness to make bold moves to improve his roster. We should expect he’ll do the same this summer as he attempts to retain his core free agents and address his roster needs.

He could use one of the defensemen he risks losing in the expansion draft as a trade chip. Perhaps he’ll move a skilled blueliner like Samuel Girard for a bigger physical rearguard. Maybe he shops center Nazem Kadri to free up cap space to add a tough, cool-headed two-way replacement.

MORE BRUINS SPECULATION

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Matt Porter wonders where the Bruins go from here after falling short against the New York Islanders in the second round.

His optimistic forecast regarding Tuukka Rask has the goaltender signing a short-term deal between $5 million and $6 million, undergoing whatever offseason surgery he requires and gradually returning to the lineup next season. He also suggests signing Taylor Hall to a five-year deal worth $6 million annually and David Krejci for a year at around $5 million. The latter would give the Bruins time to determine if Jack Studnicka or Charlie Coyle can play at second-line center or if they need to bring in someone for that role.

Porter also speculates Jake DeBrusk could be shopped for a helpful secondary player. The lack of quality left-side defense options via free agency could see them bring back Mike Reilly if another club doesn’t offer to double his $1.5 million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss suggests the Bruins should transition Jeremy Swayman to the starter’s job but bring back Rask on a one-year deal worth between $3 million and $5 million. It’s a sensible suggestion but that depends on whether Rask is prepared to accept the backup/mentor role with the Bruins or look elsewhere for a starter’s job.

Hall was a good fit with the Bruins and he really wants to stay but that depends on how much he wants on his next deal and for how long. I think Krejci’s open to returning for another year or two for a lesser cap hit, perhaps around $5 million.

The Bruins were reportedly reluctant to trade DeBrusk this season over fear he’d regain his scoring touch elsewhere. However, I think they should explore the trade market while he still has some decent trade value. It’ll be interesting to see if Reilly is willing to stick in Boston for perhaps a little less than market value.

LATEST ON JACK EICHEL

WGR550: Franklin Heinzmann cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman’s recent appearance on “The Instigators” discussing possible trade interest in Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel.

Friedman believes the Sabres want to move on from their captain. He said the teams around the league with interest in Eichel are trying to convince GM Kevyn Adams to move the unhappy center sooner rather than later. Friedman feels Adams should set the marketplace himself rather than be influenced by those clubs.

The Sabres GM could try to play the interested clubs against each other to drive up Eichel’s trade value. Some teams, however, are pointing to the center’s neck injury to suggest Adams isn’t dealing from a position of strength.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman didn’t indicate which teams could be calling the Sabres. I’ve posted up a list of potential teams in my latest column for The Hockey News, including several suggested by Friedman last month.

If the Sabres trade Eichel during the offseason it’ll likely happen just before or during the opening day of this year’s NHL draft on July 23. Adams will use the next several weeks to evaluate the clubs with the most interest while also gauging Eichel’s ongoing treatment.










NHL Betting: Adam Fox and Cale Makar Help Youth Serve Notice For Norris Trophy

NHL Betting: Adam Fox and Cale Makar Help Youth Serve Notice For Norris Trophy

 










NHL Betting: Cale Makar Leads Norris Trophy Odds For Now…

NHL Betting: Cale Makar Leads Norris Trophy Odds For Now…