NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2023

Teams will not wear specialty warmup jerseys for 2023-24, four Flames stars not interested in signing contract extensions, prospect winger Matvei Michkov to meet with teams before the draft, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

SPORTSNET: In an interview with Elliotte Friedman, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league will no longer have teams wear themed jerseys for pre-game warmups. That includes Hockey Fights Cancer, military appreciation, and Pride Night.

The decision is a result of a small number of NHL players who generated headlines this season by refusing to wear Pride jerseys. Bettman said it had become a distraction that drew attention away from host nights honoring various groups and causes.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (NHL.com).

Bettman indicated those events will continue as before only without the warmup jerseys. The various jerseys will continue to be manufactured and sold to raise money for those causes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I offered up my thoughts on Ivan Provorov’s refusal to wear a Pride Jersey back in January. His decision prompted several players on a few other teams to follow suit while some clubs opted not to have their players wear Pride jerseys.

At the time, I considered the story a bump in the NHL’s road toward inclusivity. It appears there are more to come.

I think this decision is a knee-jerk reaction by the league. Judging by the reactions on social media, I’m not the only one who shares that view, though there are also folks who support this decision.

It’s good to know that the NHL will continue to stage those events for those causes they support but his decision still isn’t a good look for them. The warmup jerseys were the most visible way to express their support, especially for causes supporting minorities and the LGBTQ+ community who feel that hockey culture shuts them out.

The NHL has made some progress in addressing those issues in recent years but there is still a long way to go. I share Friedman’s hope that there can be a better solution down the road.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reported the Calgary Flames could have a different look next season. Four of their best players – Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, Mikael Backlund and Tyler Toffoli – don’t intend to sign contract extensions or are leaning against doing so. They’re all eligible to become unrestricted free agents next July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll all be traded this summer. Nevertheless, it’s likely that at least one of them could be shopped, perhaps by the end of the NHL draft next week (June 28-29).

The Flames hired Craig Conroy as general manager a month ago. He’s had little time to get comfortable in his new role and now faces big decisions on four key players that will shape his roster for the next several years. I’ll have more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Flames, they’ve hired Marc Savard as an assistant coach. A former NHL forward, Savard spent the past two seasons as head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: cites TSN’s Bob McKenzie indicated top Russian prospect Matvei Michkov will be meeting with NHL teams prior to next week’s draft. Concerns were raised among clubs interested in the promising young winger following reports that he was spurning interview requests this season.

Those concerns grew after Michkov skipped the NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo earlier this month. However, McKenzie reports that his agent has been scheduling interview times with a multitude of clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One theory had Michkov giving certain teams the cold shoulder as an attempt to manipulate where he’ll be selected in the draft. Most experts expect he’ll be chosen in the top 10, perhaps between No.4 and No. 9 in the order.

TSN: Erik Johnson’s 13 seasons with the Colorado Avalanche could be drawing to a close. Multiple reports suggest he’ll be hitting the free-agent market on July 1. He’s the longest-serving member of the Avalanche, who acquire him from the St. Louis Blues ahead of the 2011 trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Age and injuries have slowed the 35-year-old Johnson, who managed just eight points in 63 games this season. However, he’s only a year removed from 25 points in 77 games as he helped the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup in 2022. Contenders seeking an affordable veteran defenseman with playoff experience on a short-term contract could come calling on July 1.

TSN: The New Jersey Devils officially hired former Vancouver Canucks bench boss Travis Green as an associate coach.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Former Panthers assistant coach Derek MacKenzie has been hired by the Nashville Predators as an assistant coach.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Washington Capitals have hired former AHL coach Mitch Love as an assistant coach.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2022

The Lightning reveal their list of injured players, the 2022 draft order is complete, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point suffered a significant tear to a quadriceps muscle during the Stanley Cup playoffs and will require several weeks of recovery.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point (NHL Images)

General manager Julien BriseBois revealed Point wasn’t the only player hampered by injuries during the Lightning’s run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare entered the playoffs with an MCL injury in one of his knees. Forwards Anthony Cirelli, Nick Paul and Corey Perry suffered shoulder/AC joint sprains during the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers. Cirelli also dislocated his other shoulder while Paul suffered an MCL sprain in the Stanley Cup Final.

Forward Brandon Hagel fractured a foot during the second-round series with the Florida Panthers. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh suffered a mangled finger blocking a shot in the Rangers series.

Nikita Kucherov suffered a sprained MCL in the Stanley Cup Final. BriseBois also said nearly every player on the roster sustained multiple contusions over the course of the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper wasn’t kidding earlier this week when he said they would’ve had to ice half of their minor-league roster if this had been the regular season. Such is the price paid in pursuit of hockey’s greatest price.

NHL.COM: The end of the Stanley Cup Final means the final positions in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft have been set. The Montreal Canadiens hold the first-overall selection having won the draft lottery in May. The Edmonton Oilers hold the No. 29 position and the Winnipeg Jets No. 30 having acquired that pick from the New York Rangers. The Lightning will select 31st overall and the Stanley Cup champion Avalanche will pick 32nd overall.

The draft will be held at the Bell Centre in Montreal with the first round on Thursday, July 7 and rounds two through seven on Friday, July 8.

TSN: Slovakian winger Juraj Slafkovsky edged out Canadian center Shane Wright in Bob McKenzie’s final ranking of the top 100 prospects in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wright was considered the top prospect throughout this season and remained so on most final rankings, including NHL Central Scouting’s list.

Bear in mind that whoever is ranked No. 1 doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be chosen by the Canadiens. Quality depth at center has been a longstanding issue for the Habs. While they could select Slafkovsky, I expect they’ll choose Wright or Logan Cooley of the US National Team Development Program.

DAILY FACEOFF: Matt Larkin looks back at the 2012 NHL Draft and what went wrong with top-four picks Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray, Alex Galchenyuk and Griffin Reinhart.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting review of how the scouts and the teams got it wrong with those players. Because of those flops, there’s a belief the 2012 draft was one of the worst in NHL history. However, Larkin reminds us that Vezina Trophy winners Andrei Vasilevskiy and Connor Hellebuyck, Lady Byng Trophy winner Jaccob Slavin, puck-moving blueliner Morgan Reilly and scoring winger Filip Forsberg were among the notable stars to emerge from that draft.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Golden Knights have added John Stevens, Sean Burke and Mike Rosati to their coaching staff.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruins center Marc Savard has become in demand to return to the NHL assistant coaching ranks. However, he’s not interested in leaving his job as the bench boss of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires unless he gets an offer to become an NHL head coach.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres co-owner Kim Pegula is progressing well and recovering from an undisclosed health issue. The family requests their need for privacy continue to be respected during this time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Pegula for a full recovery.

DAILY FACEOFF: Scotiabank and Canadian Tire are pausing their sponsorship of Hockey Canada over a settled lawsuit that stated several OHL players sexually assaulted a woman at a Hockey Canada event in the summer of 2018. Hockey Canada has come under fire for its handling of the investigation and the lawsuit, including the federal government passing a motion calling for an independent investigation of the organization.

THE ATHLETIC: Sportsnet has confirmed it is canceling its Hometown Hockey series after eight seasons. Host Ron MacLean will be returning full-time to “Hockey Night in Canada”. It is not immediately clear what the cancellation means for co-host Tara Stone.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 22, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 22, 2022

In the Sunday NHL rumor roundup, a collection of the latest Canucks speculation, the latest coaching rumors plus updates on the Stars and Devils.


THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal recently reported the Vancouver Canucks were thought to be ready to restart contract talks this past week with Brock Boeser’s representatives. They have sufficient salary-cap flexibility to tender a $7.5 million qualifying offer to Boeser by the July 11 deadline to retain his rights.

They feel the Canucks are unlikely to take Boeser to arbitration and could qualify him if a compromise isn’t reached beforehand. It’s believed that’s something the winger’s camp prefers as well. It could be a short-term extension, perhaps for three years and below the $7.5 million qualifier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s annual cap hit on his current deal is $5.875 million. He’s going to seek a significant raise, especially after seeing what teammates Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes got last season. Granted, their raises came from the previous management but Boeser’s within his rights to seek a big pay bump. It probably won’t reach $7.5 million but it could be close to $7 million.

Team sources also doused reports suggesting Oliver Ekman-Larsson could be shopped in a cost-cutting move this summer. While the club may have done some due diligence on his trade value, they remain impressed with Ekman-Larsson as a player and a person.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson’s big cap hit ($7.26 million) through 2026-27 plus his full no-movement clause would’ve made him difficult to move during an offseason when the salary cap is rising by just $1 million.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes J.T. Miller will draw plenty of trade interest if the Canucks cannot free up sufficient cap space to sign the 29-year-old center to a contract extension. He drew plenty of interest in this season’s trade market from the New York Rangers but Kuzma believes his career-best 99-point performance this season will draw a number of suitors attracted to his versatility.

If the Rangers still want Miller, Kuzma speculates the Canucks would want 2020 first-overall pick Alexis Lafreniere as part of the return. His former agent is Canucks assistant general manager Emilie Castonguay.

Re-signing Miller will be expensive. Kuzma cited the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad and the San Jose Sharks’ Tomas Hertl as comparables. Both were making similar to Miller’s current cap hit ($5.5 million) before signing lucrative long-term deals. Zibanejad’s is for eight years and $68 million while Hertl’s is also for eight years and is worth $65.1 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Either decision comes with risk for the Canucks. Trade Miller and the return might not pan out as hoped for their long-term plans. Sign him for over $8 million annually on an eight-year deal and it could become a drain on their cap space that grows burdensome as his skill decline in the final years of the deal.

The Rangers could revisit their interest in Miller but that will depend on whether they get pending UFAs Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp signed before July 13. They could also consider more affordable options on long-term deals in the trade market, such as the Winnipeg Jets’ Mark Scheifele if he becomes available.


SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman provided an update on Barry Trotz as the former New York Islanders head coach is drawing interest from teams seeking a new bench boss. He will meet with the Philadelphia Flyers this week. Marek believes the Flyers want to be thorough in assessing their coaching candidates. The Winnipeg Jets also met with Trotz while the Vegas Golden Knights and Detroit Red Wings could also be among his suitors.

The Dallas Stars could circle back to Rick Tocchet as a coaching candidate to replace Rick Bowness, who stepped down earlier this week. They had spoken with Tocchet earlier this season but couldn’t reach an agreement. They could also have an interest in the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires’ Marc Savard.

Speaking of the Stars, Marek believes they’d like to sign center Roope Hintz to a contract extension this summer. That could mean moving out a body. There could also be some clarity soon regarding the future of pending UFA defenseman John Klingberg.

Friedman reports the New Jersey Devils are considering all their options for the offseason. That could include shopping their first-round pick (second overall) in this year’s draft. He believes they should soon have a list of players that they would be interested in acquiring in exchange for that pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier this month, Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald stated he’d like to bring in an established player to complement his core of young forwards. He’s likely seeking a top-six winger to skate alongside Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier. Fitzgerald could also seek a starting goaltender given Mackenzie Blackwood’s ongoing injury and consistency problems.