NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 19, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 19, 2022

The Flames and Hurricanes win the opening games of their respective second-round series, the Lady Byng Trophy finalists are revealed, the Kings extend GM Rob Blake, the Predators re-sign coach John Hynes, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Calgary Flames drew first blood in the “Battle of Alberta” by downing the Edmonton Oilers 9-6 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Calgary blew a 6-2 lead as the Oilers rallied to tie the game before the Flames scored three unanswered goals in the third period for the win.

Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images).

Matthew Tkachuk tallied a hat trick, Johnny Gaudreau collected three assists, Andrew Mangiapane and Rasmus Andersson each had a goal and two assists and Blake Coleman scored twice for the Flames. Connor McDavid had four points, Leon Draisaitl three points and Zach Hyman tallied twice for the Oilers, who pulled goalie Mike Smith after he gave up three goals on 10 shots in just over six minutes early in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a wild throwback to high-scoring ’80s-style hockey though the two clubs had far more low-scoring games during their previous playoff games back in their rivalry’s heyday. This was a wildly entertaining match to kick off this series but I daresay we’ll see more closer-checking games as this series progresses.

An overtime goal by Ian Cole gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 1 of their second-round series. Filip Chytil opened the scoring in the first period for the Rangers, who clung to that narrow lead until Sebastian Aho tied it late in the third period. Hurricanes goaltender Antti Raanta made 27 saves while Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin stopped 24 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers controlled the play for most of this game. However, Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour’s line shuffling in the third provide the spark his club needed to find a way to win.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin and Minnesota Wild blueliner Jared Spurgeon are this year’s finalists for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s most gentlemanly player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some will wonder why Spurgeon made the cut given he was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking St. Louis Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. This award honors regular-season performance and the votes were likely cast before the start of the postseason.

TSN: The Los Angeles Kings have signed general manager Rob Blake to a new three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. Blake’s done a good job rebuilding the Kings since taking over as their GM.

THE ATHLETIC: A source claims the Nashville Predators have signed head coach John Hynes to a new multi-year contract. An official announcement is expected at the Predators’ end-of-season press conference on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators weren’t expected to qualify for the playoffs this season. Hynes’ coaching played a key role in the club exceeding expectations.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins GM Don Sweeney said his contract with the club has yet to be extended but he expects a resolution should be reached soon.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Philadelphia Flyers will be meeting with former New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz, who interviewed with the Winnipeg Jets earlier this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trotz is said to be weighing his options as to his next NHL coaching gig. There’s been speculation linking Trotz to the Vegas Golden Knights. So far, however, there’s no indication they’ve scheduled an interview with him.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Golden Knights, captain Mark Stone underwent back surgery on Wednesday. A timeline for when he’ll return to the ice isn’t expected until a month into his rehab.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Tim Stueztle’s participation in the IIHF World Championships has been derailed by a knee strain. The injury isn’t serious but he faces a two-week recovery period.

NHL.COM: Florida Panthers defenseman Ben Chiarot was fined $5,000.00 for head-butting Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ross Colton during Game 1 of their second-round series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Incidents of head-butting among NHL players have been on the rise recently. The league should do more to address this but I don’t hold out much hope given their foot-dragging on other disciplinary issues over the years.

NHL.COM: Ratings for the opening round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs were the highest since the advent of cable television.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s because of the league’s return to ESPN and the additional coverage TNT and TBS in the United States. Something that should’ve happened a long time ago.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 22, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 22, 2022

The Panthers claim the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Blues and Wild will meet in the first confirmed first-round series, Steven Stamkos, Matthew Tkachuk and Artemi Panarin reach scoring milestones, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers picked up their 12th straight win and clinched first place in the Eastern Conference by clipping the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau collected two assists to tie Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid atop the league scoring race with 113 points. With 118 points, the Panthers sit two ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for first overall.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers also tallied their 320th non-shootout goal to set a new record for the most goals in a season in the salary-cap era.

The first opening-round series of the 2022 Stanley Cup players is confirmed following the Minnesota Wild’s 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Kevin Fiala scored twice and Kirill Kaprizov tallied his 44th goal of the season for Minnesota, who’ll meet the St. Louis Blues in the opening round. Both clubs are tied with 105 points but the Wild holds second place in the Central Division with a game in hand. Elias Pettersson scored two goals for the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 87 points, Vancouver remains four points behind the Dallas Stars in the final Western Conference wild-card berth. The Canucks, Stars and Vegas Golden Knights (89 points) all have four games remaining, setting the stage for what should be an exciting finish as those three teams jockey for that final postseason berth.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos set the franchise points record during an 8-1 rout of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Stamkos had a goal and two assists to surpass Martin St. Louis as Tampa Bay’s all-time points leader with 956. Alex Killorn and Ross Colton scored twice for the Lightning, who hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 102 points. The Leafs sit six points ahead of the Bolts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs playing with two key players missing from their respective lineups. Leafs superstar Auston Matthews missed his third straight game with an undisclosed minor injury while Lightning center Brayden Point is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk set a personal single-season best with his 40th goal and 100th point as his club doubled up the Dallas Stars 4-2. The Flames have clinched the Pacific Division with 106 points while the Stars cling to the final Western wild-card spot with 91 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau are the first Flames teammates to have 100 points in the same season since Al MacInnis and Theo Fleury in 1990-91.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin collected four assists and Andrew Copp tallied a hat trick in a 6-3 victory against the New York Islanders. Panarin set a single-season Rangers record for most assists by a forward with 74 and sits third among their single-season scorers. The Blueshirts are tied with the Carolina Hurricanes with 108 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders center Jean-Gabriel Pageau and associate coaches Lane Lambert and Jim Hiller missed this game as they were placed in COVID-19 protocol. Winger Anthony Beauvillier was also sidelined by an upper-body injury.

Third-period goals by Jaccob Slavin, Seth Jarvis and Jordan Staal lifted the Carolina Hurricanes over the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. With 108 points, the Hurricanes maintain their hold on first place in the Metropolitan Division with 44 regulation wins. Jets winger Kyle Connor scored his 44th goal of the season.

Jake Guentzel tallied a hat trick to reach his 40th goal of the season to match a career-high as the Pittsburgh Penguins blanked the Boston Bruins 4-0. Casey DeSmith kicked out 52 shots for the shutout. The Penguins opened a two-point lead over the Washington Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan Division with 99 points. The Bruins remain in fourth place in the Atlantic with 99 points.

The St. Louis Blues set a franchise-record 14-game points streak with a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and an assist while Robert Thomas netted his 20th goal of the season. Blues defenseman Torey Krug missed this game with an upper-body injury.

Los Angeles Kings center Phillip Danault extended his goal streak to five games to help his club drop the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. Adrian Kempe collected two assists for the Kings (94 points), who opened a five-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for third place in the Pacific Division.

Buffalo Sabres rookie Owen Power scored his first NHL goal in a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Victor Olofsson collected three assists and Craig Anderson stopped 29 shots.

The Philadelphia Flyers snapped a six-game losing skid by downing the Montreal Canadiens 6-3. James van Riemsdyk scored twice for the Flyers. The Canadiens have lost seven straight.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 19, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 19, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor mill, an update on Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau’s contract situation plus some off-season goaltender targets for the Sabres.

UPDATE ON GAUDREAU’S CONTRACT TALKS

CALGARY SUN: On Sunday, Wes Gilbertson reported Flames general manager Brad Treliving promised his club’s fans that he will “move heaven and earth and do everything we possibly can” to sign Johnny Gaudreau to a new contract. Gaudreau, 28, becomes eligible for unrestricted free agent status on July 13. He’s in the midst of a career year with 107 points and a key reason why the Flames are sitting atop the Pacific Division as the regular season draws to a close.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

We’re going to do everything we humanly possibly can to have him be back here and be a Flame for a long, long time,” said Treliving. The Flames GM praised Gaudreau for how well he’s performed under head coach Darryl Sutter.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun said Treliving had better move heaven and earth because that’s what it’s going to take to sign Gaudreau. He indicated there’s nothing new regarding his contract talks, pointing out the two sides agreed to pick up those conversations following this season.

LeBrun said there’s been “really good dialogue” all season long and there’s still time to sign him after this season. He also praised both sides for the lack of drama regarding this situation. It hasn’t proved to be a distraction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to cost the Flames a lot of money to keep Gaudreau in Calgary. His performance this season (sitting third overall in league scoring) has pushed his value much higher than it would’ve been last summer. At that point, I think the Gaudreau camp would’ve sought between $8 and $9 million annually. Now, it could be closer to $10 million annually on a long-term deal. Maybe the Flames can get it close to $9 million by selling Gaudreau on an eight-year contract, something he can’t get on the open market where the limit is seven years.

Complicating things is the Flames’ cap space for next season. Cap Friendly shows them with $55.4 million invested in 12 active players. That gives them plenty of space to re-sign Gaudreau, but they’ve got Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington due for new deals this summer as restricted free agents with arbitration rights.

That’s why there’s speculation the Flames could attempt to trade Sean Monahan, who has a year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $6.375 million and a 10-team no-trade clause. Muddling things further, however, is Monahan’s declining performance over the past two years and his recent season-ending hip surgery.

Trading Monahan to shed salary could prove very difficult. Buying him out this summer won’t be an option if he hasn’t fully recovered from his surgery during that period and he doesn’t agree to go along with it.

SUGGESTED SABRES GOALTENDER TARGETS

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski examined some potential off-season goalie targets for the Sabres if 40-year-old Craig Anderson decides not to return next season.

The Sabres have the cap space to overpay for an experienced netminder on a short-term deal. However, there are few options in this summer’s UFA market. That list includes Darcy Kuemper, Mikko Koskinen, Jaroslav Halak, Braden Holtby, Ville Husso, Joonas Korpisalo, Casey DeSmith, Tomas Greiss and David Rittich. Most have endured recent struggles while the others might not want to sign with the Sabres.

Lysowski believes they might have better luck in this summer’s trade market. Options could include the Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick, New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, Anaheim Ducks’ John Gibson or the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Sabres have a projected $40 million in cap space for 2022-23. They’ll have to spend to reach a cap floor that could be close to $61 million. Their ongoing struggles and perpetual rebuild could make them a difficult sell to potential free agents or as preferred trade destinations for the others.

Quick lacks no-trade protection but he only has a year remaining on his contract and it wouldn’t surprise me if Kings management lets him finish it in Los Angeles. Varlamov has a 16-team no-trade list and Gibson a 10-team no-trade list. Lysowski suggested Georgiev’s inconsistent play this season might not make him enticing for the Sabres.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 15, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 15, 2022

Vladimir Tarasenko reportedly wants to remain with the Blues plus the potential cost of Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau’s new contract in today’s NHL rumor mill.

REPORT: TARASENKO WANTS TO REMAIN WITH THE BLUES

BALLY SPORTS MIDWEST’s Andy Strickland recently tweeted that Vladimir Tarasenko has “made it clear to teammates and coaches” that he wants to stay with the St. Louis Blues.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko became a fixture in the NHL rumor mill after requesting a trade last summer amid reports of his unhappiness over the treatment he received by the team’s medical staff for his shoulder surgeries. The Blues were believed to have had trade discussions last summer with several clubs but couldn’t find a suitable offer.

After two injury-shortened seasons, Taranseko is enjoying a bounce-back performance with 31 goals and 72 points in 67 games. The 30-year-old winger is signed through next season with an annual cap hit of $7.5 million and a full no-trade clause.

GAUDREAU HEADED FOR BIG PAY RAISE ON HIS NEXT CONTRACT

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen looked at what Johnny Gaudreau’s next contract will look like. The 28-year-old Calgary Flames left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13. He’s earning $6.75 million annually on his current contract.

With Gaudreau enjoying a career-best 101-point (and counting) season and the Flames poised to clinch a playoff berth, he’s going to receive a significant raise on his next deal. Boylen speculates he could earn $8.5 to $9 million on a multi-year deal but wonders how his playoff performance might affect that number or if the Flames are willing to invest that much to sign him.

Further complicating things for the Flames is winger Matthew Tkachuk becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. It will cost the Flames $9 million to qualify his rights.

Flames management could be forced to choose between Gaudreau or Tkachuk. However, Boylen suggests they could garner cap relief to sign both by buying out the remaining year of center Sean Monahan’s contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Gaudreau camp could price him out of the Flames’ market if they push for well over $9 million annually by pointing to his performance this season. Tkachuk’s representatives could also do the same for their client.

Shedding Monahan’s $6.375 million cap hit for 2022-23 would go a long way to clearing space to re-sign Gaudreau and Tkachuk. Trading him would be preferable but the recent decline in his performance brought on by hip injuries would make it difficult to swing a cost-cutting deal.

That could leave buying out Monahan as the only reasonable option but that effort could be hampered by his recent season-ending hip surgery. They could place him on long-term injury reserve if he remains sidelined to start next season but would have to free up cap room at some point when he’s ready to return to the roster.