NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2024

More speculation about Sidney Crosby’s future plus the latest on the Flames and Blue Jackets in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks noted there is some trepidation that Sidney Crosby might leave the Pittsburgh Penguins. He indicated that next season will be Crosby’s 20th with the Penguins. He cited Martin Brodeur and Mike Modano as two stars who changed teams after 20 years.

If Crosby wants out, Brooks speculates he’ll let Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas know at the end of this season. That would allow Dubas time during the summer to trade Crosby to a contender like Colorado, Tampa Bay or perhaps Vegas.

However, the majority opinion expects the 36-year-old Penguins captain will sign a contract extension early this summer ahead of an attempted accelerated roster reconstruction.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That is the overall consensus among the pundits but it hasn’t stopped some folks from playing “What If”?

Everything I’ve read and heard coming out of Pittsburgh has Crosby signing an extension before the start of next season to finish his career as a Penguin. Crosby could decide to chase a fourth Stanley Cup ring somewhere else but I think he’s staying put.


THE SCORE: Josh Wegman looked at what could be in store for the Calgary Flames after missing the playoffs for the second straight season.

Wegman doesn’t advocate for Flames GM Craig Conroy to tear down his roster. Nevertheless, he must avoid handing out long-term contracts to aging players and focus on bringing more youth into the lineup.

Trade candidates could include goaltender Jacob Markstrom and 2025 pending UFAs Andrew Mangiapane and Andrei Kuzmenko. Wegman noted the New Jersey Devils’ interest in Markstrom and how it became a prominent distraction this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Conroy signaled his intentions when he traded pending UFAs Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev. It will likely be more of a retool than a rebuild.

Markstrom’s no-movement clause gives him full control over his situation. Depending on which story you believe, Flames ownership spiked a potential trade to the Devils because the Flames were still in wildcard contention. It’s anticipated Markstrom could agree to go to a contender this summer. Whether it’s the Devils or somewhere else remains to be seen.

Mangiapane and Kuzmenko could hit the trade block this summer.

Wegman recommends extending Yegor Sharangovich. He’s eligible next summer for UFA status but the 25-year-old forward could still be part of the solution when the Flames turn the corner in a few years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharangovich was among the bright spots for the Flames this season, reaching 30 goals for the first time in his career. Maybe Conroy will extend him this summer on a five-year deal worth around $5.5 million.

The Flames could also weaponize their cap space by targeting teams looking to clear space and are willing to include draft picks and prospects in the deal. They could sign playoff-type UFAs to one-year contracts and flip them at next year’s deadline for draft picks.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli and Tyler Yaremchuk recently discussed what could be in store this summer for the Columbus Blue Jackets under a new general manager.

Seravalli thinks the Jackets should look at moving on from some of their veteran players to make room for their younger talent. He pointed out that they haven’t won anything with their current group. Apart from Zach Werenski and perhaps Boone Jenner, none of their veterans should be safe.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Easier said than done for some of those veterans.

Forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine carry expensive contracts and haven’t played as well as expected.

Goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made headlines in January regarding an on-again, off-again trade request. However, he’s had his struggles and carries a $5.4 million AAV through 2026-27.

Defenseman Damon Severson carries a $6.25 million AAV through 2030-31 and has a full no-trade clause.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 6, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 6, 2023

The Ducks upset the Golden Knights, the Devils defeated the Blackhawks, plus the latest on Jack Hughes, Igor Shesterkin, Mathew Barzal and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Anaheim Ducks tallied four unanswered third-period goals to upset the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2, ending the latter’s points streak at 12 games. Sam Carrick scored twice while John Gibson made 30 saves as the Ducks improved to 7-4-0. Jack Eichel had a goal and an assist for the Golden Knights (11-1-1), who sit atop the Western Conference with 23 points.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Offseason acquisition Alex Killorn made his season debut with the Ducks but was held scoreless in this contest. He’d been sidelined with a fractured finger through their first 10 games of this season.

New Jersey Devils goalie Vitek Vanecek stopped 32 shots as his club doubled up the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2. Dawson Mercer scored his first goal of the season while Curtis Lazar netted what proved to be the game-winner for the 7-3-1 Devils. Taylor Hall and Ryan Donato replied for the Blackhawks (4-7-0), who got a 36-save effort from Arvid Soderblom.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the Devils’ first game without leading scorer Jack Hughes. He is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered during Friday’s game against the St. Louis Blues.


NEW YORK POST: Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin is reportedly day-to-day with “minor soreness.” He could miss Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

DAILY FACEOFF: New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal was fined $5,000.00 for high-sticking Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo on Saturday.

CALGARY SUN: Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane received a one-game suspension for a “reckless cross-check” on Seattle Kraken forward Jared McCann on Saturday.

THE ATHLETIC: The Toronto Maple Leafs recently held a team meeting to address what was considered their meek response to Timothy Liljegren suffering an ankle injury after being tripped by Boston Bruins captain Brad Marchand on Thursday.

I hated everything about it,” said head coach Sheldon Keefe. He and general manager Brad Treliving addressed the players about the issue before their 6-4 loss on Saturday to the Buffalo Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving added Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi and Ryan Reaves during the offseason in the hope they would bring more toughness and character to the Leafs lineup. So far, however, the results have been disappointing.

Bertuzzi and Domi are struggling to score and haven’t had much of a physical impact. Reaves, meanwhile, is a first-class chirper but he hasn’t backed up his words with actions. Indeed, he’s been a non-factor since getting roughed up by Montreal Canadiens defenseman Arber Xhekaj during the season-opener for both clubs last month.

THE SCORE: Kent Johnson is adjusting to his recent demotion from the Columbus Blue Jackets to their AHL affiliate in Cleveland. The fifth-overall pick in the 2021 draft, Johnson had three points in eight games to start the season with the Jackets before his demotion.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson is taking his situation in stride and understands that he remains part of the Jackets’ plans. Nevertheless, his demotion and his recent change of agents sparked some speculation about his future. I’ll have more about that in today’s Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: A former Chicago Blackhawks player is suing the club alleging former video coach Bradley Aldrich “groomed, harassed, threatened and assaulted him” and the club hushed up his complaint during their 2010 Stanley Cup run.

The player is listed as “John Doe” and was a teammate of Kyle Beach. Both were call-ups from the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate in Rockford who practiced with the team during their Stanley Cup run in case someone got injured.

A review from an outside law firm hired by the Blackhawks in response to two lawsuits in 2021 found the club mishandled Beach’s allegations that he was assaulted by Aldrich. The club reached a confidential settlement with Beach.

General manager Stan Bowman and former coach Joel Quenneville resigned following the release of the report. Quenneville was the head coach of the Florida Panthers at the time.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 5, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 5, 2023

The Golden Knights extend their season-opening points streak, the Sharks give up 10 goals again, and much more as we recap a busy Saturday in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights extended their season-opening points streak to 12 games by blanking the Colorado Avalanche 7-0. Golden Knights captain Mark Stone scored two shorthanded goals and collected two assists, Jack Eichel and William Karlsson each tallied twice while Adin Hill kicked out 41 shots for the shutout. Alexandar Georgiev made 27 saves for the 7-3-0 Avalanche while the league-leading Golden Knights sit at 11-0-1.

Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No sign of any Stanley Cup hangover yet for the Golden Knights thus far. Some of those victories came against lesser opponents like the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks but they’ve also played well against good clubs like the Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, and Winnipeg Jets.

Four-point performances from Jake Guentzel, Reilly Smith and Bryan Rust powered the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 10-2 drubbing of the San Jose Sharks. Penguins defenseman Erik Karlsson collected two assists against his former club, Evgeni Malkin tallied twice and Sidney Crosby collected an assist in his 1,200th career NHL regular-season game. Tomas Hertl, Anthony Duclair and Jacob MacDonald each had two points for the Sharks as they sank to 0-10-1 on the season while the Penguins are 4-6-0.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks became the first team since the 1965-66 Boston Bruins to give up 10 goals in consecutive games as they also lost 10-1 to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

Buffalo Sabres winger Alex Tuch scored twice in the third period to lift his club over the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 6-4. The Sabres improved their record to 6-6-0. Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews regained the NHL goal-scoring lead (11) by netting his third hat trick of the season while Mitch Marner had a four-point night. The Leafs sit at 5-4-2 on the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is tied with Rick Vaive for the fourth-most hat tricks (10) in Leafs history. He’s netted three this season in 11 games, joining Cy Denneny and Babe Dye (four), Newsy Lalonde (five), Joe Malone (seven) and Odie Cleghorn (10) among the players requiring the fewest games in NHL history to net three hat tricks in a single season.

Earlier in the day, the Leafs placed defenseman Timothy Liljegren (lower body) on long-term injury reserve (LTIR). Meanwhile, Sabres forward Dylan Cozens missed this game with an upper-body injury.

The Nashville Predators defeated the Edmonton Oilers 5-2. Predators center Ryan O’Reilly netted a hat trick, Filip Forsberg had a goal and two assists and Kevin Lankinen stopped 33 shots for the 5-6-0 Predators. Darnell Nurse and Zach Hyman replied for the Oilers as they dropped to 2-7-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers now have the second-worst record in the NHL. Changes could be coming soon if this club fails to snap out of its tailspin. I’ll have more about that in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup. Predators defenseman Ryan McDonagh missed this contest with a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day.

Winnipeg Jets forward Nino Niederreiter’s hat trick powered his club to a 5-3 comeback victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Brenden Dillon had a goal and two assists for the Jets as they moved to 5-4-2. Lawson Crouse had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes (5-5-1), who held leads of 2-0 and 3-2 during this game but couldn’t close the deal.

The Detroit Red Wings held off the Boston Bruins 5-4 to snap the latter’s 10-game points streak. David Perron had a goal and two assists while Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond each had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings as they improved to 7-4-1. David Pastrnak, James van Riemsdyk and rookie Matthew Poitras each tallied a goal and an assist for the 9-1-1 Bruins, who still sit atop the Eastern Conference with 19 points.

Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Brayden Point (three goals, one assist) and Nikita Kucherov (one goal, four assists) led the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Ottawa Senators 6-4, boosting their record to 5-3-3. Senators captain Brady Tkachuk scored twice and collected an assist as his club sank to 4-6-0, putting them at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following the game, Tkachuk took issue with Senators fans booing his club’s performance. “It’s frustrating, the negativity from the outside, the constant booing and the bullshit, kind of, from the crowd tonight,” he said. The Ottawa captain added that he understood their frustration but felt that he and his teammates are playing as hard as they can in every game.

The Washington Capitals got a 34-save performance from goaltender Charlie Lindgren to hold off the Columbus Blues Jackets 2-1. Tom Wilson and Sonny Milano scored for the 5-4-1 Capitals while Dmitri Voronkov replied for the Blue Jackets as they fell to 4-5-2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blue Jackets left wing Johnny Gaudreau was benched during the final 16 minutes of the third period. Head coach Pascal Vincent wasn’t pleased with his performance, claiming he felt that Gaudreau “wasn’t there” during this contest. That’s a pretty obvious shot across the bow by Vincent against his highest-paid player.

Meanwhile, Capitals defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk left this game early in the first period with a lower-body injury. There was no update on his status following the game.

Los Angeles Kings goalie Cam Talbot had a 24-save shutout in a 5-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Quinton Byfield collected three assists while Arthur Kaliyev and Trevor Moore each had a goal and an assist for the Kings as they moved up to 7-2-2. Cal Petersen allowed five goals on 30 shots from his former team as the Flyers fell to 5-6-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Flyers shifted defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to LTIR with an undisclosed injury.

The Carolina Hurricanes overcame a 3-0 deficit to nip the New York Islanders 4-3 on an overtime goal by Sebastian Aho. Andrei Svechnikov and Jesperi Kotkaniemi each collected two points for the Hurricanes (7-5-0). Mathew Barzal and Bo Horvat each had two points and Ilya Sorokin stopped 43 shots for the 5-2-3 Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech missed this game as he’s listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Chicago Blackhawks rookie Conor Bedard scored for the third straight game in a 5-2 upset of the Florida Panthers. Philipp Kurashev had a goal and two assists while Petr Mrazek turned aside 38 shots for the 4-6-0 Blackhawks. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Matthew Tkachuk replied for the Panthers as they sit at 5-4-1.

The St. Louis Blues got a goal and two assists each from Jordan Kyrou and Brayden Schenn to beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-3. With the win, the Blues improved to 5-4-1. Juraj Slafkovsky, Brendan Gallagher and Nick Suzuki replied for the 5-4-2 Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens center Christian Dvorak made his season debut after being sidelined by a knee injury since March 7. He saw 14:53 of ice time and was held scoreless.

A shootout goal by Matt Boldy lifted the Minnesota Wild (4-5-2) to a 5-4 win over the New York Rangers (8-2-1), snapping the latter’s six-game win streak. Mats Zuccarello had a goal and an assist in regulation as the Wild overcame a 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead before the Rangers’ Chris Kreider tied it in the third period. Artemi Panarin had a goal and an assist as the Rangers winger extended his season-opening points streak to 11 games.

The Calgary Flames snapped a six-game losing skid by defeating the Seattle Kraken 6-3. Mikael Backlund scored twice and rookie Martin Pospisil scored his first NHL goal on his first shot for the 3-7-1 Flames. Oliver Bjorkstrand, Eeli Tolvanen and Jaden Schwartz replied for the 4-6-2 Kraken.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames winger Andrew Mangiapane was ejected from this game in the first period for cross-checking Jared McCann in the upper back while the Kraken forward was lying on the ice after blocking a shot.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko made 27 saves in a 2-0 shutout of the Dallas Stars. Pius Suter and Elias Pettersson were the goal scorers as the Canucks now sit at 8-2-1 on the season. Joel Oettinger stopped 26 shots for the 7-2-1 Stars.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2023

Check out the latest on the Flames’ Andrew Mangiapane, the Avalanche’s Jonathan Drouin, the Sharks’ Filip Zadina and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

CALGARY SUN: Andrew Mangiapane said he’s “healthy and ready to go” following recovery from shoulder surgery in April. The injury limited the 27-year-old Flames winger to 17 goals after a career-high 35 goals the previous season.

Calgary Flames winger Andrew Mangiapane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mangiapane injured his shoulder during the opening month of last season but still played the full 82-game schedule. He and the club didn’t reveal his condition until after his surgery. A return to form could help the Flames bounce back from missing the playoffs in 2022-23.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Drouin is looking forward to playing for a winning team with the Avalanche under less of a spotlight compared to what he faced during his tenure with the rebuilding Montreal Canadiens.

There’s a little less media, a little less stuff going on,” said Drouin. The 28-year-old forward believes it will do him good to play for “a really good team” that “has a chance to make the playoffs, maybe more.” He’s also looking forward to reuniting with Nathan MacKinnon, his teammate from their days with the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drouin faced a harsh spotlight in Montreal. Injuries hampered his performance while the anxiety of the pressure of playing for the Habs affected his mental health, forcing him to take a leave of absence during the 2020-21 season. Playing with the Avs could help him get his career back on its once-promising track.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Former Red Wings forward Filip Zadina believes the club brought him into their lineup before he was ready. “It’s tough for a young rookie to come to a team under rebuilding like Detroit was then,” he told a Czechia reporter. Zadina, 23, joined the San Jose Sharks after his contract was terminated by the Red Wings earlier this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zadina is going from a team further along in its rebuild than the Sharks, though the latter still has a decent veteran core of forwards in Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Anthony Duclair. Perhaps he’ll have better luck in San Jose reaching his potential.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Vancouver Canucks winger Ilya Mikheyev’s agent is making terrific strides in recovering from season-ending knee surgery. However, Dan Milstein wants his client and the Canucks to ensure they don’t rush his return to action.

This is something we’re going to talk about once we get the doctor’s blessing,” said Milstein. He said he keeps reminding Mikheyev that “this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” adding that it’s not about the preseason but the full 82-game regular season and perhaps the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, don’t rush things in training camp and preseason play and risk a setback that could affect your regular-season performance.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins signed defenseman Mark Pysyk and Libor Hajek to professional tryout offers (PTOs).

DAILY FACEOFF: Speaking of PTOs, defenseman Jordie Benn signed one with the Dallas Stars, rejoining his brother Jamie. Jordie played for the Stars from 2011-12 to 2016-17.

CAROLINA HOCKEY NOW: Forwards Cory Conacher and Brendan Perlini are joining the Hurricanes on PTO contracts.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Former Penguins president Brian Burke has taken on a new role with the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL). He’s the new executive director of its players’ association. The PWHL plans to start its season in January 2024 with teams in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, New York, Boston and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 26, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 26, 2023

The Oilers and Stars take 3-2 leads in their respective series, the Islanders stave off elimination, Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar suspended, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers are poised to eliminate the Los Angeles Kings following a 6-3 victory in Game 5 of their best-of-seven first-round series. Nick Bjugstad scored twice while Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse and Mattias Ekholm each collected two assists for the Oilers, who hold a 3-2 lead in the series. Adrian Kempe had a goal and an assist for the Kings, who pulled goaltender Joonas Korpisalo after he gave up four goals on 19 shots.

Dallas Stars center Roope Hintz (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There will be a long layoff for both clubs as Game 6 goes Saturday in Los Angeles. The Oilers will hope this doesn’t stall their momentum following back-to-back wins while the Kings attempt to regroup and prepare for a season-saving win on home ice.

Dallas Stars center Roope Hintz had three assists in his club’s 4-0 win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 5 of their first-round series. Jake Oettinger kicked out 27 shots to become the first goaltender in the 2023 playoffs to record a shutout. With a 3-2 series lead, the Stars can close out the series in Game 6 on Friday in Minnesota.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hintz has 11 points this postseason, setting a franchise record for most points in a single series. Wild forward Marcus Foligno was ejected from this game for a knee-on-knee hit on Stars forward Radek Faksa, who was helped from the ice but did return to action later in the game.

The New York Islanders staved off elimination by nipping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Brock Nelson and Pierre Engvall each had a goal and an assist while Ilya Sorokin stopped 34 shots. Sebastian Aho and Paul Stastny replied for the Hurricanes, who hold a 3-2 series lead heading into Game 6 on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win by the Islanders as they showed considerably more energy and determination than they did in Game 4 on home ice.


NHL.COM: The department of player safety levied a one-game suspension on Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar for interference against Seattle Kraken forward Jared McCann during Game 4 of their series on Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCann suffered an upper-body injury. He will miss Game 5 tonight and could be sidelined indefinitely.

TAMPA BAY TIMES/TORONTO SUN: Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy isn’t solely to blame for his club’s collapse in their last two games putting them on the brink of elimination. However, the Bolts need him to be at his best in Game 5 on Thursday to avoid elimination by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vasilevskiy remains a very good goaltender but the team in front of him isn’t as deep as it once was. The Lightning’s roster has been steadily depleted as salary-cap constraints led to several key players departing via free agency or cost-cutting trades. That means the Lightning’s opponents are getting more scoring chances.

Fatigue could also be a factor. Vasilevskiy and his fellow Lightning core players have played a lot of hockey over the past three seasons. Reaching the Stanley Cup Final in three straight seasons eventually takes its toll.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Mark Scheifele traveled with the Jets to Las Vegas for Game 5 of their series against the Golden Knights. He left Game 4 with an apparent shoulder/collarbone injury but it’s hoped he’ll be able to play in Thursday’s crucial game. The Jets face elimination as they’re down three games to one to Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets coach Rick Bowness said Scheifele is day-to-day but added he looked better yesterday. “Let’s put him in the hopeful category for Thursday,” said Bowness.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Speaking of the Golden Knights, team captain Mark Stone warned his teammates against complacency as they head into Game 5 with a chance to close out the series on home ice. “It’s going to be the hardest one, boys,” said Stone following their Game 4 victory. “Be ready!”

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Patrice Bergeron could make his series debut against the Florida Panthers in Game 5 tonight in Boston. The Bruins captain has been sidelined by an upper-body injury. Center David Krejci remains out with an upper-body injury.

THE SCORE: Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad and winger Anthony Duclair will return to action in Game 5 against the Bruins tonight. Both players missed Game 4 with injuries.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant is calling out his best players following their lackluster loss to the New Jersey Devils in Game 4. “For me, it’s the top-six forwards,” said Gallant. “They’ve got to be a lot better. They’ve got to be more productive.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those players include Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko and Vincent Trocheck. The only one who’s played well consistently is winger Chris Kreider. He’s had points in every game and leads the Rangers with five goals.


CALGARY SUN: The long, sometimes acrimonious negotiations between the city of Calgary and the Flames regarding a new arena have finally ended in a deal. The city has an agreement in principle with the team and the province of Alberta on a $1.22-billion deal to replace the aging Saddledome.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, I’m happy for Flames fans and players that they’re going to get a new state-of-the-art arena. It will put an end to concerns about the club relocating without a deal, ensuring their longstanding rivalry with Edmonton (“The Battle of Alberta”) continues to provide entertainment for hockey fans for a long time.

On the other hand, that $1.22 billion price tag is considerably higher than the original estimate of $550 million before cost escalations to $634 million prompted the city to reject it. This new agreement sees the bulk of the cost being picked up by municipal and provincial governments.

Speaking of the Flames, winger Andrew Mangiapane is recovering from shoulder surgery and is expected to be ready for the start of training camp. He admitted that his shoulder had bothered him on and off during the season. That would explain the drop in his production this season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators’ improved performance this season resulted in improved ticket sales. They played to 90 percent capacity in their 41 home games this season. They averaged 16, 757 fans this season, their highest since 2016-17.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2022

Kyle Dubas faces an uncertain future as Leafs GM plus the latest on Auston Matthews David Pastrnak, Jason Robertson and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas will not be receiving a contract extension this season. Michael Traikos speculates the decision could be a wait-and-see approach by his bosses after the Leafs failed to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs. He also suggested it could be because Dubas didn’t bring in a true No.1 goaltender or upgrade the defense during the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas downplayed the notion that this could be a make-or-break season for him, but there’s really no other way to look at it. For most of the past four seasons, the Leafs were among the top teams during the regular season but never staged a deep playoff run. Another early playoff exit (or worse) probably spells the end of Dubas’ tenure as Leafs general manager.

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas (NHL.com)

Speaking of the Leafs, Auston Matthews has two years remaining on his contract but that’s already sparking concern that he might depart Toronto as a free agent. Matthews told reporters he loves the city and considers it like home but won’t be entertaining any further questions about his contract. “There’s nothing that can be done for two more years,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: His critics will likely take him to task for not saying he would look forward to opening contract talks as soon as possible. However, he’s absolutely right that they can’t do anything about it now. The earliest Matthews and the Leafs can start contract extension discussions is July 1, 2023, so it’s pointless to badger him or Dubas about it during this season.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins GM Don Sweeney said he will continue to hold discussions with David Pastrnak’s representatives in hope of reaching an agreement on a contract extension. The 26-year-old right winger is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Pastrnak could start the coming season without an extension in place.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney was asked if Pastrnak might sign a team-friendly deal as some claim Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci did at Pastrnak’s age. He indicated that those players signed for what was market value at the time. Rising salaries during the course of their contracts made them seem like bargains over time.

In other words, Pastrnak’s camp will seek market value that could exceed $9.5 million annually based on his performance in the upcoming season. That could explain why the two sides haven’t reached an agreement on an extension yet.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Jason Robertson is expected to miss the start of the Stars’ training camp today. The 23-year-old winger was their leading goal scorer last season but remains an unsigned restricted free agent. GM Jim Nill said negotiations have been ongoing and he’s hoping an agreement can be reached as soon as possible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Stars have $6.3 million in cap space and could reportedly have $7-$8 million in salary-cap space for this season depending on their roster makeup. The Robertson camp could be angling for an expensive new deal but their client is coming off his entry-level contract.

Robertson’s only leverage is to refuse to report to training camp (and perhaps miss the start of the season) but that won’t do either side any good. The sooner Robertson’s in camp, the more effective he’ll be to their roster. The longer he holds out, the longer it’ll take for him to regain his form and that could hurt their production this season.

Speaking of the Stars, Ben Bishop’s front-office role will have to wait until next season. His career was ended by chronic knee injuries but he didn’t retire as he had a year remaining on his contract. The Stars traded that contract to the Buffalo Sabres in June to remove it from their books for this season. However, the league has informed the Stars it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to work for them while he’s still being paid by Buffalo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers raised the point that the NHL had no issue with permanently sidelined Chris Pronger working for their department of player safety while he was still under contract with the Arizona Coyotes.

Maybe the league realized its mistake with Pronger and didn’t want the Stars to repeat it with Bishop. Perhaps it’s a different story if a player is working for the department of player safety while still under contract with another club despite the potential for a conflict of interest.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres announced general manager Kevyn Adams has agreed to a multi-year contract extension. In a statement, team owner Terry Pegula praised Adams’ work over the past two seasons and believes the club is heading in the right direction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams’ lack of management experience raised questions over his suitability for the job when he was hired two years ago. Over that time, however, he’s made some good selections in the draft (including promising defenseman Owen Power) and got a solid return from the Vegas Golden Knights (including Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs) in the Jack Eichel trade. The Sabres also showed promising signs of improvement last season.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning center Brayden Point is “fully healthy” after recovering from a torn quad muscle suffered during the opening round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Andrew Copp is still recovering from off-season abdominal surgery and won’t be available until the start of the regular season. The versatile 28-year-old forward signed a five-year contract with the Red Wings in July.

THE ATHLETIC: Nicolas Hague isn’t expected to join his Vegas Golden Knights teammates when training camp opens for them today. The 23-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract. His agent, Murray Koontz, remains hopeful of getting a deal done with the Golden Knights but they’re not at that point yet.

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington (personal matter) and winger Andrew Mangiapane (undisclosed injury) will miss the start of training camp today.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: The Flames signed Adam Ruzicka to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $762K. It’s a two-way deal for this season and a one-way for 2023-24. Meanwhile, Brett Ritchie inked a one-year, $750K deal.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers restricted free agent Ryan McLeod remains without a contract but is expected to join his teammates for the start of training camp today. Management hopes to trade away some salary to clear up cap space to sign McLeod to a new deal.

The Oilers also announced defenseman Slater Koekkoek remains at home as he continues to work on improving his mental health.

DAILY FACEOFF: The New York Islanders signed UFAs Cory Schneider and Nikita Soshnikov and RFA Parker Wotherspoon to one-year contracts.