NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2021

Recaps of Monday’s games, the stars of the week, plus updates on Patrik Laine, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Mitch Marner scored twice and Frederik Andersen made 27 saves to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Winnipeg Jets 3-1. John Tavares also scored for the Leafs. Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 35 shots. The Jets were also playing without winger Patrik Laine, who’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Earlier in the day, the Leafs learned winger Nick Robertson will be out at least four weeks with a knee injury.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the Leafs’ most complete game of this young season after inconsistent defensive play dogged them in their previous contests.

The Buffalo Sabres picked up their first win of the season by thumping the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. Sam Reinhart and Curtis Lazar each scored twice while Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall each collected three assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-earned victory by the Sabres, who blew the game wide open with a three-goal second period. Their dominating performance seemed to catch the Flyers off-guard.

Jake Allen made 25 saves in his Montreal Canadiens debut while rookie Alexander Romanov scored his first NHL goal in a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers. The Habs held Oilers stars Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins goalless for the second straight game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen’s steady performance is a reminder of why the Canadiens acquired him as Carey Price’s backup last summer. Expect to see Allen spelling off Price in more back-to-back games throughout this season.

Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan each had two points to lead the Calgary Flames over the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom made 25 saves to pick up his second straight win over his former club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks dominated the first period, outshooting the Flames 16-4 but the latter turned the tables and changed the course of the game by outshooting the Canucks 20-3.

The Columbus Blue Jackets picked up their first win of the season by hanging on to defeat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. Joonas Korpisalo made 35 saves, while third-period goals by Alexandre Texier and Pierre-Luc Dubois secured the win. Bobby Ryan scored both goals for the Wings, who played without Robby Fabbri and Adam Erne due to COVID-19 protocols.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois only played one shift in the final seven minutes of the second period but head coach John Tortorella denied benching the center. Dubois has requested a trade so his lack of playing time in the middle frame was bound to raise some eyebrows.

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov turned in a 27-save shutout to blank the Boston Bruins 1-0. Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored the only goal as the Isles managed just 17 shots against Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask. Boston defenseman Matt Grzelcyk left the game with what appeared to be an injured right shoulder. No update was provided on his status following the game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins are the league’s lowest-scoring club thus far with just three goals. They’re definitely feeling the absence of sidelined sniper David Pastrnak. They’re also missing the blue-line production of departed defenseman Torey Krug while winger Jake DeBrusk is off to a disappointing start.

Justin Faulk scored two goals, Mike Hoffman collected his first of the season and Jordan Kyrou tallied the game-winner as the St. Louis Blues edged the San Jose Sharks 5-4. Logan Couture scored twice and collected an assist while Brent Burns had a goal and two assists.

The Carolina Hurricanes held on for a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators. Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho and Vincent Trocheck each had a goal and an assist. Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson also had a goal and an assist.

Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson’s 34-save performance backstopped his club to their first win of the season in a 1-0 shutout of the Minnesota Wild. Nicolas Deslauriers netted the game’s only goal.

The Vegas Golden Knights rallied past the Arizona Coyotes with four straight goals on route to a 4-2 victory. Reilly Smith scored twice in the third period, including a shorthanded goal. Earlier in the day, the Coyotes learned captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson will be sidelined three-to-four weeks with a lower-body injury.

HEADLINES

Minnesota Wild rookie winger Kirill Kaprizov, Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny and Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 17, 2021.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Winger Kasperi Kapanen has finally joined the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup. A delay in processing his work visa and a mandatory seven-day quarantine period resulted in Kapanen missing training camp and the Penguins’ opening games of the season.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Blake Coleman was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed defenseman Michael Stone to a one-year, two-way contract. He’d attended Flames training camp on a professional tryout offer.

TSN: The New Jersey Devils claimed goaltender Aaron Dell off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 16, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 16, 2020

A recent survey of player agents revealed which high-profile players they expect to be traded and which teams they feel still need to make a significant move. Check it out in today’s NHL rumor mill

THE ATHLETIC: A recent survey of 21 player agents conducted by Craig Custance revealed Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel, and Toronto Maple Leafs forwards Mitch Marner and William Nylander topped their list of high-profile players who could change teams in the next year.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

One agent pointed to the recent trade speculation surrounding Laine in recent weeks. Another feels Eichel will tire of losing in Buffalo. Another feels Marner could become a trade candidate if the Leafs decide to move one of their expensive forwards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m also leaning toward Laine because of the ongoing trade chatter and the uncertainty over his future beyond this season when he’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Eichel could decide he’s had enough in Buffalo if the Sabres fail to improve but I don’t think he’s reached that point yet.

Moving Marner and his $10.8 million annual average value will be more difficult to trade than Nylander’s $6.96 million under the current economic climate. I know Dubas reportedly said Nylander wouldn’t be traded as long as he was general manager, but that doesn’t mean he can’t change his mind, especially if the Leafs make another early playoff exit.

The Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Edmonton Oilers topped their list of teams they feel still need to make a significant offseason move.

One agent believes the Bruins must figure out what direction they’re going in. Another felt they’re still a Stanley Cup contender but must find a suitable defenseman to replace the departed Torey Krug

One agent said the Lightning need to get out of their salary-cap hell. Another believes the Oilers must get better faster or they’ll run into a problem.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of the Bruins offseason speculation suggests they’re waiting to re-sign restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk until after they’ve sorted the left side of their blue line. DeBrusk has also been mentioned as a possible trade chip to address that need.

The Lightning’s cap issues are well known and dominate the offseason rumor mill. They must free up sufficient cap space to re-sign RFAs Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak. Forwards Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn are oft-mentioned as trade candidates.

Goaltending remains the Oilers’ Achilles heel but they couldn’t or wouldn’t invest in an upgrade over the current tandem of Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith. They’re just over the $81.5 million salary cap but could get some relief by placing defenseman Oscar Klefbom and his $4.167 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve if he should undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. That could provide a little wiggle room for other moves during the season.










NHL Playoffs: Ten Players Who Were Stanley Cup Disappointments

NHL Playoffs: Ten Players Who Were Stanley Cup Disappointments

 










NHL Rumor Mill – August 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 11, 2020

Check out the latest on the Maple Leafs and the Wild in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons doesn’t believe Kyle Dubas should be fired, but feels the Maple Leafs general manager could be looking for work in a year if he hasn’t reversed the club’s fortunes by then.

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas (NHL.com)

Simmons feels Dubas has to strengthen the Leafs after turning over almost half the roster last summer, weakening their depth in the process. The top of the roster wasn’t productive enough, the bottom of the roster not good enough, and the team defense was taken advantage of physically during puck battles.

Simmons called on Dubas to make bold changes via trades or free agency. He wondered if the Leafs GM will come back with goaltender Frederik Andersen next season or look for someone like Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, who Dubas knows from their days with the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds. He also noted there are desperate teams with salary-cap issues, roster issues, disappointed owners, or those like Pittsburgh and Nashville that have somehow lost their way.

TORONTO STAR: Dave Feschuk also wondered what Dubas has in store for the Leafs. He notes that fans and pundits are calling on the Leafs GM to trade William Nylander, or Mitch Marner, or Kasperi Kapanen and/or Andreas Johnsson. While Dubas could stubbornly stick to his plan, Feschuk suggests he needs to adjust it, pointing out the Leafs had this season’s sixth-worst goals-against per game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bloom is definitely off the Dubas rose. He’ll be under tremendous pressure to improve the Leafs this off-season.

Dubas isn’t afraid to make bold moves (signing Tavares and acquiring Tyson Barrie, Alex Kerfoot, and Cody Ceci). The problem is those decisions failed to address the Leafs’ glaring weaknesses. He must get it right this off-season or the calls for his dismissal will grow.

The Leafs GM has limited salary-cap space to work with, carrying over $76.9 million invested in 17 players. He and his capologist were able to free up sufficient cap space last summer to re-sign Marner, but they’ll have to get more creative this year to address the club’s issues. Fixing those problems could mean moving one of the Leafs’ top forwards, or one or two of their more affordable secondary scorers.

WILD

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani reports Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin knows his club is a long way from being a Stanley Cup contender. “There definitely have to be changes,” he said. “We haven’t had success here. Things need to get better. That’s just the way it is.”

Guerin indicated he’ll attempt to land a true first-line center, indicating that will likely come via free agency or the draft. “Teams don’t trade No. 1 centers. They just don’t,” he said. The Wild GM also indicated he was unhappy with his goaltending this season and didn’t rule out looking outside the organization for help.

Guerin will meet with pending UFA Mikko Koivu and intends to get started on contract extension talks with players such as Kevin Fiala. Jonas Brodin, Marcus Foligno, and Joel Eriksson Ek. He also said contract buyouts are a last resort, but Mizutani speculates Victor Rask could be a buyout candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guerin took his time evaluating his roster until midseason when he traded Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh and replaced Bruce Boudreau as head coach with Dean Evason. He’ll start putting a bigger stamp on this team through the offseason.

Several good goalies are available in this summer’s UFA market, but Guerin might stick with his current netminders next season to buy time for promising Kaapo Kahkonen. The current tandem (Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock) are under contract for next season, meaning one of them will have to be moved to acquire another netminder.

There aren’t any No.1 centers available in this year’s UFA market. Guerin could draft a promising center this year but that prospect won’t address that need next season. If he can’t find help in the trade market, he could try the offer sheet route. With over $65 million invested in 17 players, that’s probably not a wise course of action.

Rask has an annual average value of $4 million through 2021-22. Mizutani pointed out a buyout will leave the Wild with over $1.33 million in dead cap space through 2023-24.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 3, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 3, 2020

More NHL players speak out against racial injustice, the latest on the league’s return-to-play format, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

GROWING LIST OF PLAYERS, TEAMS SPEAK OUT AGAINST RACIAL INJUSTICE

THE SCORE: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner joined many in the sports world yesterday taking part in Blackout Tuesday on social media yesterday to bring attention to racial injustice.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (Photo via NHL Images).

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba released a statement yesterday supporting the anti-racism movement across North America. “I’ve been sad, angry, and disturbed by the senseless unjust we have all witnessed this past week. I have been scared for the families in my community. I know I do not want to feel this way ever again; the feeling of helplessness. The feeling too many have to face each day. I am here for you. To lean on, to listen, to embrace, to have a voice and to be a leader in our community!”

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets captain Blake Wheeler vows to become more involved in speaking out against racism. We have to be as involved in this as black athletes. It can’t just be their fight,” he said. “And I want to be real clear, here. I look in the mirror about this before I look out at everyone else. I wish that it didn’t take me this long to get behind it in a meaningful way. But I guess what you can do is try to be better going forward.”

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos expressed compassion and support for peaceful protesters and didn’t approve of the looting and riots since George Floyd died in the custody of Minneapolis police last week. But, as many of YOU have opened my eyes to, I see that these actions may be coming from real pain and suffering,” Stamkos wrote. “I can at least try to comprehend that.”

Teammate Patrick Maroon expressed his respect for law enforcement but also anger toward the injustice of George Floyd. Maroon added he felt he needs to set a better example. I’m sorry and I promise to do better for you,” he finished.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby and his wife Brandi sent out a message of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the protesters in Washington through Brandi’s Instagram account. Holtby’s teammate John Carlson did the same via his Instagram account.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues and St. Louis Cardinals issued a joint statement yesterday speaking out against racial injustice. Blues goalie Jordan Binnington took to his Instagram account vowing to stand in solidarity with those fighting for change, equality and justice,” encouraging his followers to “ask questions, listen, learn and pass your knowledge on to your friends.”

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings and Tigers also released a joint statement in support of “equality, justice, and respect for all.”

THE BOSTON GLOBE: The Bruins also released a statement on Tuesday. Black lives matter,” the statement issued Tuesday begins. “Bigotry, ignorance and senseless violence in any and all forms is wrong.”

WGR550: Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula issued a statement standing with those peacefully protesting to eradicate racism and inequality and against those motivated by hatred and violence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s heartening to see more NHL teams and players taking a stand against racism, bigotry, injustice, and intolerance. I don’t doubt the sincerity of the words but their actions will speak much louder. Time will tell if their words result in action that leads to positive change within the sport and in society in general.

THE SCORE: Madison Square Garden Company chairman and New York Rangers owner James Dolan released a statement yesterday defending the organization’s decision not to release a public statement following the death of George Floyd. “As companies in the business of sports and entertainment, however, we are not any more qualified than anyone else to offer our opinion on social matters. What’s important is how we operate. Our companies are committed to upholding our values, which include creating a respectful workplace for all, and that will never change. What we say to each other matters. How we treat each other matters. And that’s what will get us through this difficult time.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dolan’s been criticized for his position. The NBA’s New York Knicks, also owned by Dolan, are reportedly furious that the team hasn’t released a statement. He’s since sent out a second e-mail to his employees condemning racism, but that’s unlikely to go down well with those upset over his previous comments. 

LATEST NHL RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun reports we could learn as early as today if the first two rounds of the NHL’s 16-team playoffs will be best-of-five or best-of-seven. The league proposed best-of-five for expediency while the NHLPA has leaned toward best-of-seven. The play-in qualifying round will be best-of-five.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The pros and cons of the 10 cities under consideration to become the two hubs for the NHL’s return-to-play tournament.

TSN: Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said it would be great to have NHL games played in Canada, but ensuring everyone’s safety remains the priority as discussions continue about its return. Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver are among 10 cities under consideration to become one of the two NHL hubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There won’t be any NHL hockey this summer unless the Canadian government eases restrictions on non-essential border travel or deems NHL employees as essential workers.

NATIONAL POST: A recent survey indicates 47 percent of Canadians felt it’s not important that Canadian arenas host the NHL’s return-to-play tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The survey also suggested the fact fans won’t be in attendance for those games factored into the result. 

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov will donate “2,500 disposable masks and 25 containers of hand sanitizer (5.25 gallons each) to the Boys & Girls Clubs serving Wake County on Wednesday.”

SPORTSNET: The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) announced its intention to play a full 68-game schedule for 2020-21 with a certain percentage of fans in attendance, depending on the local social distancing rule in each province.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2020

Check out the latest on the Leafs and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE LEAFS PURSUE MURRAY OR HEISKANEN?

SPORTSNET: During a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked what a contract extension for Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen might look like, and if the Leafs should attempt to acquire Matt Murray. He believes they could push Andersen’s extension to 2021 and dismissed the notion of acquiring Murray.

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs dump Frederik Andersen in favor of Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray? (Photo via NHL Images)

Despite Murray’s two Stanley Cup rings, Fox is not convinced that the Pittsburgh Penguins netminder is better than Andersen, pointing out the latter has more wins over the past four seasons and a better career save percentage. Murray is also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forget about the comparisons of Andersen’s and Murray’s career stats, the Leafs can’t afford the latter even if they wanted to acquire him. As per Cap Friendly, they have almost $77 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21, with $6.65 million going to Andersen and Jack Campbell. Unless they intend on trading Andersen (and I don’t believe they do), there’s no room to take on Murray. 

Fox was asked if the Leafs should trade Mitch Marner to the Dallas Stars for Miro Heiskanen. He doesn’t see the Stars parting with their 20-year-old stud defenseman. He also cites Stars beat reporter Sean Shapiro declaring Heiskanen untouchable but speculates they could be willing to part with blueliner John Klingberg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, Marner for Klingberg, Leafs fans? Discuss! 

LATEST PULJUJARVI SPECULATION

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins cited a New York source claiming there was “renewed smoke” over the possibility of a trade that would see the Oilers ship winger Jesse Puljujarvi to the New York Rangers for center Lias Andersson. However, word out of New York is Oilers general manager Ken Holland would also demand a first-round pick from the Rangers, with the Oilers including another mid-level prospect in a two-for-two swap. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Under that scenario, I envision it ending with Rangers GM Jeff Gorton rolling his eyes skyward, politely thanking Holland for his offer, and hanging up the phone. 

Jim Matheson doesn’t expect to see the Oilers trading Puljujarvi to the Florida Panthers for center Henrik Borgstrom. The Panthers currently value centers over wingers, especially after trading away Vincent Trocheck. The Panthers also don’t need Puljujarvi when they’ve got Owen Tippett and Grigori Denisenko in their pipeline. Speaking of Tippett, sources consider swapping him for Puljujarvi a non-starter.

Regarding a recent suggestion of the Oilers shopping Puljujarvi to the Ottawa Senators for their third first-round pick in the 2020 draft, Matheson said sources indicate the Senators are lukewarm on the Oilers winger because they’re deep in farm forwards ready to make the jump to the NHL. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson also indicates Holland won’t be talking to other GMs about Puljujarvi’s rights until hockey resumes. In other words, the aforementioned rumors are probably just media spitballing.