Matthew Tkachuk is ready to start the season, Josh Bailey bids farewell to the Islanders and their fans, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk has recovered from the fractured sternum suffered during the 2023 Stanley Cup Final and is looking forward to the start of training camp. “I am feeling great,” said Tkachuk.
Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images)
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s good news for the Panthers, who will be starting the season with top two defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour sidelined by offseason shoulder surgeries. Tkachuk can’t help them defensively but the two-time 100-point winger and 2023 playoff hero will be a key cog in their offensive attack.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: Former long-time Islanders winger Josh Bailey bid farewell to the club and its fans in a letter posted on The Players’ Tribune.
“I want to thank not just this great fan base, but the people of Long Island as a whole,” wrote Bailey. He indicated that Long Island will always be home for himself and his family.
A first-round pick (ninth overall) by the Islanders in the 2008 NHL Draft, the 33-year-old Bailey spent 15 seasons with the club. He was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in June, who bought out the final season of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent decline in Bailey’s production led to his trade and contract buyout. The unrestricted free agent faces an uncertain future as he’s yet to land with another NHL club as training camp approaches.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: The paint job on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov’s new mask resembles that of former Leafs netminder Curtis Joseph.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Samsonov can channel prime “CuJo” the Leafs will be in good shape between the pipes this season.
NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of goaltending, the Devils brought back Keith Kinkaid on a one-year, two-way contract worth $775K at the NHL level.
ESPN.COM: The NHL is considering making changes to their digital ad boards following complaints from fans regarding technical glitches and other issues that were found distracting to ongoing play. The league considers the criticism as coming from a “vocal minority”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The ads haven’t bothered me but I have noticed some glitches at times. That’s to be expected from this type of technology and will likely be corrected over time. Some critics on social media want the ads to be removed. Judging by the league’s tone, that’s not going to happen.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes majority owner Alex Meruelo is looking to buy out the minority stake in the club from Andrew Barroway, who owns five percent of the club. Barroway took over majority ownership of the club in 2014 until Meruelo acquired the controlling interest in the club in 2019.
The latest on Matthew Tkachuk, Spencer Knight, and Nick Foligno, a roundup of notable contract signings, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
DAILY FACEOFF: Florida Panthers star Matthew Tkachuk is still recuperating from injuries received during the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He suffered a fractured sternum and four broken ribs.
The best-case scenery for Tkachuk’s recovery is he could begin some upper-body workouts at the end of July. Nevertheless, he’ll spend his offseason focused on healing and training once he’s medically cleared to do so and hopes to be ready for training camp in September.
Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images)
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the severity of Tkachuk’s injuries and his shortened offseason, Panthers fans should expect that his performance at the start of 2023-24 might not be at the same level that made him a Hart Trophy finalist last season.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Panthers, goaltender Spencer Knight spoke publicly on Wednesday for the first time since leaving the club in February for personal reasons. He received special permission from the NHL to participate in the club’s prospect development camp as he works toward returning to action in 2023-24.
Knight felt it was important for him to get back with the team and resume organized hockey activities. He declined to speak about why he left the club and entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program but indicated he would do so when the time is right. It has been stressed that it was not due to drug or alcohol abuse.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It sounds like Knight needed time to deal with mental health issues. Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery and resumes his NHL career.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruins forward Nick Foligno was not happy about being a healthy scratch for Game 7 of their first-round series against the Panthers. The 35-year-old winger signed with the Chicago Blackhawks after they acquired his rights from the Bruins last month.
Foligno said he spoke with Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery about it. He indicated that the decision didn’t sit well with him. “It never will,” he said.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks signed Leo Carlsson to an entry-level contract. The 18-year-old center was the second-overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. He could play for the Ducks, their AHL affiliate in San Diego or return to Sweden next season.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of 2023 first-rounders signing entry-level deals, the Red Wings inked center Nate Danielson. He was chosen ninth overall by the Wings.
STLTODAY.COM: Oskar Sundqvist is returning to the St. Louis Blues, signing a one-year, $775K contract. The 29-year-old forward spent nearly five seasons with the Blues prior to being traded to Detroit in 2021-22.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins signed former New Jersey Devils forward Jesper Boqvist to a one-year, $775K contract.
DAILY FACEOFF: Goaltender Thomas Greiss has announced his retirement after 14 NHL seasons with the San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues. He finishes with a record of 162 wins, 130 losses and 37 overtime losses with a 2.77 goals-against average, a .911 save percentage and 16 shutouts.
LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights hired Dominique Ducharme and Joel Ward as their new assistant coaches. Ducharme is the former head coach of the Montreal Canadiens. Ward, an 11-year NHL veteran, spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Golden Knights AHL affiliate in Henderson, Nevada.
DAILY FACEOFF: The Arizona Coyotes hired Blaine Forsythe as an assistant coach. He spent the past 17 seasons with the Washington Capitals.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Kenny McCudden has resigned as a Blue Jackets assistant coach. He’d been with the club since 2015.
THE PROVINCE: Former NHL player Brendan Leipsic has reportedly applied for Russian citizenship, according to the head coach and owner of KHL club SKA St. Petersburg. Originally from Winnipeg, Leipsic has played in the KHL since 2020 after being released by the Capitals for making misogynistic comments about women and disparaging current and former teammates on a private group chat that was leaked on Instagram.
The Vegas Golden Knights are the 2023 Stanley Cup champions, the Senators move closer to having a new owner, the Rangers have a new head coach, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS ARE THE 2023 STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights thumped the Florida Panthers 9-3 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final to become the 2023 champions. The Golden Knights take the series four games to one.
Vegas Golden Knights – 2023 Stanley Cup Champions (NHL.com).
Vegas captain Mark Stone tallied a hat trick, Jack Eichel and Shea Theodore each had three assists and Reilly Smith scored what proved to be the winning goal. Adin Hill stopped 32 shots for the win.
Jonathan Marchessault won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He was tied for first among this year’s postseason scorers with 13 goals and was second in points with 25.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the first Stanley Cup championship in the Golden Knights’ six-year history. This game had a sense of inevitability after they took a 2-0 into the second period. The Panthers cut the lead in half early in the second but that only seemed to spark the Golden Knights. They dominated the rest of that period with four unanswered goals to put the game out of reach.
Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy started five of the six remaining original Golden Knights – Marchessault, Smith, Theodore, William Karlsson and Brayden McNabb – for Game 5. They, along with William Carrier, were the first Golden Knights to hoist the Stanley Cup following the game after Stone received it from league commissioner Gary Bettman.
Stone is just the third player in NHL history to tally a hat trick in a Cup-clinching game, joining Jack Darragh of the 1920 Ottawa Senators and Babe Dye of the 1922 Toronto St. Pats.
The Golden Knights earned this championship after missing the playoffs last season and trading scorer Max Pacioretty to Carolina last summer in a cost-cutting deal.
They began the season with starting goaltender Robin Lehner out for the season recovering from hip surgery. They played with five goalies this season, with Hill taking over midway through their second-round series against Edmonton after Laurent Brossoit was sidelined.
Stone missed part of this season to his second back surgery in less than a year. There were questions about Eichel’s effectiveness after missing most of last season recovering from neck surgery.
For Cassidy, this is sweet redemption after being fired a year ago by the Boston Bruins. The Bruins set records this season for wins (65) and points (135) but were upset by the Panthers in the opening round of the playoffs.
Team owner Bill Foley’s 2016 prediction of his club winning the Stanley Cup in their sixth season came true. “I’m going to relax and think about my next asinine statement,” said Foley with a big smile following the game.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Despite their disappointing finish to the Stanley Cup Final, the Florida Panthers had an extraordinary postseason run. They squeaked into the playoffs, upset the record-setting Presidents’ Trophy-winning Bruins, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the second-overall Carolina Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have a solid core of talent led by Matthew Tkachuk, Aleksander Barkov, Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad to remain a playoff contender next season. However, they couldn’t match the Golden Knights’ roster depth in the Final. Expect management to get to work on addressing that issue this summer.
SPORTSNET: The Panthers paid a heavy physical price in this postseason. Following Game 5, head coach Paul Maurice revealed Tkachuk suffered a fractured sternum in Game 3. Tkachuk played a limited role in Game 4 and couldn’t play in Game 5.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: One report indicated Tkachuk needed help from his brother Brady to get out of bed following his pregame nap before Game 4. He was their leading scorer in this postseason. Tkachuk’s feisty style at times drew criticism from fans but no one can say he didn’t give his all.
Maurice also revealed Ekblad suffered a broken foot, dislocated his shoulder twice, and tore his oblique during the Panthers’ playoff run. He missed only one game. He said blueliner Radko Gudas played with a high-ankle sprain that should’ve sidelined him for six weeks. He missed one period.
The Panthers coach didn’t reveal any more details on his injured players. However, he admitted that multiple players will require surgeries, with some facing recovery periods of four-to-six months. Most of those injuries occurred during their first-round series with the Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We should learn more details in the coming days. Some of those players could end up missing the opening weeks of the 2023-24 season.
IN OTHER NEWS…
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have an agreement in principle with Toronto billionaire Michael Andlauer to purchase the club. His bid is believed to be worth $950 million. A part-owner of the Montreal Canadiens, Andlauer must now sell his share of that team.
The agreement will go before NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who will present it to the Board of Governors meeting later this month in New York. It requires a two-thirds majority for approval.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will still take several weeks for the sale to close and for Andlauer to take over the Senators. Barring the unforeseen, however, it’s expected he’ll become their new owner.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers have hired Peter Laviolette as their new head coach. He received a three-year contract worth slightly less than $5 million per season.
TSN: Patrick Roy officially stepped down as head coach of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts. When asked if any NHL clubs had reached out to him regarding a coaching position, Roy said “absolutely none”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some fans think it’s more than a coincidence that Roy made this announcement on the same day that the Senators reached an agreement in principle with Andlauer. However, he indicated at the start of this season that he would be stepping down as Remparts coach.
SPORTSNET: Patrick Sharp is returning to where his NHL career began by joining the Philadelphia Flyers as a special advisor to hockey operations.
TSN: The Edmonton Oilers signed forward Derek Ryan to a two-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $900K.
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Changes are coming to the Canadiens’ medical staff after the club finished with the most man-games lost to injury for the second straight year. They fired head athletic therapist Graham Rynbend and head physiotherapist Donald Balmforth on Tuesday.
The latest on the Golden Knights and Panthers on the eve of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, Flames name Ryan Huska as head coach, Rangers to reportedly hire Peter Laviolette as their new bench boss, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
STANLEY CUP FINAL NEWS
FLA HOCKEY NOW: The Florida Panthers return to Las Vegas hoping to bounce back from the 3-2 loss in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Vegas Golden Knights hold a 3-1 lead in the series and can win the Cup tonight in Game 5.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Panthers forwards Matthew Tkachuk, Nick Cousins, and defensemen Brandon Montour and Radko Gudas skipped practice on Monday. Head coach Paul Maurice offered no updates on their conditions heading into Game 5 but said he would provide an update on Tuesday.
Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images)
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those four would have to be seriously injured to miss Game 5 with the Stanley Cup on the line. I wouldn’t be surprised if they play but how effective they’ll be depends on how banged up they are.
All eyes will be on Tkachuk. The Panthers’ leading scorer was clearly hampered in Game 4 by what appeared to be a shoulder injury. Montour’s performance will also be worth monitoring as he’s been their top defenseman in this postseason.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Jack Eichel provided context to his recent meeting with former NBA great and TNT basketball analyst Charles Barkley. In an interview on Hockey Night in Canada during Game 4, Barkley said Eichel didn’t seem to know who he was when he approached the Golden Knights center in a hotel to wish him good luck in the series.
Eichel insisted he knew who Barkley was but was engaged in conversation with someone else when Barkley approached him. He said Barkley was polite and didn’t want to interrupt him but wanted to meet him. “That was the extent of it,” said Eichel, adding he was a big fan of Barkley but felt the encounter was taken a bit out of context.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo will not face supplemental discipline for leaving the penalty box for joining a scrum at the end of Game 4.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: During his 32 Thoughts podcast on Monday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said the league looked into the incident and decided against a suspension. Pietrangelo was released from the penalty box at the end of the period and was not the aggressor in the scrum.
THE TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran cited Hockey Night in Canada’s Ron MacLean wondering if NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman would break with tradition and award the Stanley Cup to Golden Knights owner Bill Foley instead of team captain Mark Stone if Vegas wins the Cup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McGran noted that MacLean was merely musing but he hopes that doesn’t come to pass. “Who wants to see an owner be first to hoist the Cup?” writes McGran. “It would be a bit of an emotional letdown”.
I don’t expect Bettman will break the longtime tradition of awarding the Cup to the team captain. If he does, the reaction from fans and pundits will be swift and furious.
IN OTHER NEWS…
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: As expected, the Flames formally announced Ryan Huska has become their new head coach. Huska had been an assistant coach with the Flames for the past five years. He replaces Darryl Sutter, who was fired last month.
DAILY FACEOFF: cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman tweeting that it appears Peter Laviolette will become the new head coach of the New York Rangers. The former Washington Capitals bench boss would replace Gerard Gallant, who was fired on May 6.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson isn’t considering retirement, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Johnson is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He’d like to return with the Avs but if not, he will hit the open market.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong said he guarantees the Chicago Blackhawks will get inquiries about their willingness to part with the first-overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would take one hell of an offer to tempt Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson into trading that pick. The prize is generational center Connor Bedard, who’s been compared to Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby.
Some fans and pundits are dreaming up trade scenarios that would see the Blackhawks part with that pick. Don’t expect any of them to take place. The Hawks will retain that pick and select Bedard as expected.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the sale of the Senators could be days away. He writes that the estate of the club’s late owner Eugene Melnyk is closing in on selling the team to a preferred bidder. Once an agreement in principle is reached, it will require approval from the league.
Three suitors remain in the bidding. Toronto billionaires Michael Andlauer and the Kimel brothers are believed to be the finalists. Los Angeles-based producer Neko Sparks remains in the pictures.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent departure of billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos from the bidding might have sped up the evaluation process. He reportedly made the biggest bid ($1 billion USD) but withdrew over the weekend as he was apparently frustrated by the slowness of the process.
Updates on the Panthers and Golden Knights, the latest on the bidding for the Senators, Connecticut governor expresses interest in moving the Coyotes to Hartford, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines
STANLEY CUP FINAL NEWS
FLA HOCKEY NOW: Matthew Tkachuk’s status for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final remains uncertain after the Florida Panthers winger saw limited playing time in his club’s Game 4 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images)
Florida head coach Paul Maurice said the club has two days to evaluate Tkachuk’s condition. It appears the Panthers star was playing with an injured shoulder during the 3-2 loss on Saturday.
CBS SPORTS: Tkachuk isn’t the only Panther nursing an injury. Winger Anthony Duclair is being evaluated to determine his availability for Tuesday’s crucial game. He was shaken up during Game 4. An update on his status is expected on Monday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing Tkachuk and Duclair for Game 5 would rob the Panthers of two of their leading scorers as they try to stave off elimination. Even if they play, their injuries could hamper their effectiveness.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights center Jack Eichel is expected to play in Game 5 on Tuesday in Las Vegas. Eichel left Game 4 during the second period when he suffered an upper-body injury after being struck with a puck off the stick of teammate Jonathan Marchessault. He returned to action in the third period.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports NHL officials have reportedly served notice to representatives of the estate of Eugene Melnyk to complete the sale of the Senators as soon as possible. The three remaining bidders are also pushing for a decision.
This comes after Toronto billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos recently withdrew his rumored $1 billion USD bid. He was reportedly frustrated about the ongoing selection process.
That has made Toronto billionaire businessman Michael Andlauer more aggressive in his pursuit of the franchise. He’s reportedly informed officials with the Melnyk estate and broker Galatito Sports Partner that he’s ready to sign immediately and wants this done. His bid is believed to be between $900 million and $950 million.
Andlauer and billionaire brothers Jeffrey and Michael Kimel are considered the two legitimate bidders remaining in the process. Los Angeles-based producer Neko Sparks has also made a bid but it’s being considered a fall-back position in case the other two bids fall through.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league could be understandably anxious after Apostolopoulos become the second major bidder in less than a month to withdraw from the process. Garrioch claims sources indicate the sale would be completed soon as it’s believed negotiations are in the final stages with the preferred bidder. It’s worth noting that Andlauer is now considered the front-runner and has NHL experience as he owns 10 percent of the Montreal Canadiens.
WTNH.COM: Connecticut governor Ned Lamont said he has a group in place to buy the troubled Arizona Coyotes and move them to Hartford. The club would replace the Whalers, which relocated to Carolina in 1997 and become the Hurricanes.
Lamont said the XL Center (formerly known as the Hartford Civic Center) would have to be refurbished to accommodate an NHL franchise.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I said yesterday on Twitter, as much as I’d love to see the NHL return to Hartford, the league (especially Commissioner Gary Bettman) isn’t interested in relocating the Coyotes. They’ll continue fighting to keep the club in Arizona.
Should the league’s efforts fail, I expect their preference would be moving the Coyotes to a western US city such as Houston, Salt Lake City or Portland.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen was disappointed that prospects Adam Fantilli and Leo Carlsson didn’t take part in the physical testing during last week’s NHL draft combine in Buffalo. The pair opted out citing their recent participation in the World Championships as a competitive disadvantage.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets have the third-overall pick in the upcoming draft. Fantilli or Carlsson could be available to the Jackets when it’s time to make their selection. Could their decision to skip the physical testing affect who Kekalainen chooses with that pick? We’ll find out during the opening round on June 28.
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers reports Jonathan Toews isn’t returning to the Chicago Blackhawks. He believes we’ll hear from Toews in the coming weeks whether he’ll retire or continue his NHL playing career with another club.
Power also wrote that the Blackhawks aren’t expected to re-sign their remaining unrestricted free agents after inking Andreas Athanasiou to a new contract last week. Those UFAs include goaltender Alex Stalock and winger Jujhar Khaira.
THE ATHLETIC: Retired Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is making a smooth transition as an in-studio NHL analyst for TNT.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: An upcoming ESPN documentary traces the Anaheim Ducks franchise from its founding 30 years ago based on a Disney movie to reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2003.
ECHL: The Florida Everblades are the Kelly Cup champions for the second straight year. They won the ECHL championship on Friday night with a four-game sweep of the Idaho Steelheads in front of a franchise-record crowd of 7,855 fans at Hertz Arena in Estero, Florida. The Everblades are the ECHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers and the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.
The Golden Knights are one game away from winning the Stanley Cup, the league’s sponsorship revenue surges, plus the latest on the Blue Jackets and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS DOWN PANTHERS TO TAKE 3-1 LEAD IN STANLEY CUP FINAL
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights held off the Florida Panthers for a 3-2 victory in Game 4 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Final to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Vegas Golden Knights center Chandler Stephenson (NHL Images).
Chandler Stephenson scored twice and William Karlsson scored what proved to be the winning goal as Vegas jumped to a 3-0 lead midway through the second period. Florida battled back on goals by Brandon Montour and Aleksander Barkov.
The Panthers pulled goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky with Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo in the penalty box for a six-on-four power-play with 17.4 seconds remaining in the third period. However, the Golden Knights held firm as netminder Adin Hill finished the game with 29 saves.
Game 5 will be in Las Vegas on Tuesday at 8 pm ET with the Golden Knights having the opportunity to win their first Stanley Cup title on home ice.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers faced a 3-1 deficit in their first-round series with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Boston Bruins but battled back to upset the Bruins and win that series. However, this is a different team they’re facing in the Golden Knights and a different situation with the stakes being much higher.
For the first time in this series, the Golden Knights failed to score on the power play. It didn’t matter as they jumped to an early lead on Stephenson’s game-opening goal and tallied twice more in the second at even strength.
Florida caught a break as Montour’s goal pinballed in off Vegas defenders Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore. Aleksander Barkov’s first of the series early in the third gave the Panthers life and made it interesting but they ultimately couldn’t crack the Golden Knights’ defense or Hill’s goaltending over the rest of the period.
The Panthers head into Game 5 with leading scorer Matthew Tkachuk hampered by an apparent shoulder injury suffered during Game 3. He struggled through the first two periods and skated just four shifts in the third, though he was on the ice for the final 2:26 of the frame. The Panthers star was noncommittal over whether he’ll play in Game 5.
With Tkachuk neutralized, other Panthers scorers must step up if they hope to overcome another 3-1 deficit. Barkov, Anthony Duclair and Carter Verhaeghe each have just one goal in this series while Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett have yet to find the back of the net against Vegas.
The league is expected to take a close look at a brawl that broke out around the Vegas net at the end of the game. Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo had been serving a delay of game penalty when he exited the penalty box and joined the skirmish. It remains to be seen if he’ll face supplemental discipline.
IN OTHER NEWS…
AD AGE: The NHL’s sponsorship revenue has surged thanks to their digitally enhanced dasherboard ads, an expanded field of advertisers and jersey sponsor patches. It rose by 21 percent this season to $1.28 billion.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That likely won’t elevate the league’s projected $1 million increase in the salary cap for 2023-24. That’s because the players still owe $70 million in escrow debt to the team owners stemming from the COVID-shortened seasons of 2019-20 and 2020-21. That debt is expected to be paid in full before the end of next season.
It does bode well for significant increases in hockey-related revenue for 2024-25 and beyond. However, it’s also going to raise concerns among some fans that the league could further clutter up jerseys with more ad patches and ice space with more digital advertisements.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Former NHL goaltender Niklas Backstrom is rumored to become the next goaltending coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Speaking of the Blue Jackets, THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’s Brian Hedger reports general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said he’s received multiple calls about his first-round pick (third overall) in the upcoming 2023 NHL Draft. However, he said it would take “an awful lot” to convince him to move it. So far, he’s received nothing even close that would tempt him to move that pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen could move that pick for the right offer but I wouldn’t hold my breath in anticipation. Given the depth in this year’s draft, they’re going to get a very good prospect with that pick that could blossom into an NHL star.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said he’s not chasing additional goaltending depth this summer. He’s comfortable heading into next season with oft-injured veteran Petr Mrazek and rookie Arvid Soderblom as his goalie tandem.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Soderblom should expect a heavy workload in 2023-24. Mrazek last played at least 40 games in a season back in 2019-20, though he did appear in 39 games this season.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Hall-of-Fame goaltender Dominik Hasek is getting offers from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and the Buffalo Sabres for his memorabilia. He recently had to remove those items from the Czech Hockey Hall of Fame, which closed due to economic issues. Hasek’s best seasons were with the Sabres from 1992-93 to 2000-01.