NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2021

The latest on the Canadiens and Lightning, top prospect Owen Power still leaning toward returning to university, the Kraken announces the hiring of two assistant coaches, the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Expect the Canadiens to ice the same lineup in Game 5 as they did in their previous contest. That means Jake Evans will replace Jesperi Kotkaniemi again on the third line while Alexander Romanov and Brett Kulak will replace Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill on the third defense pairing.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That shouldn’t come as a surprise considering those changes contributed to their 3-2 victory in Game 4. Romanov scored an even-strength goal with an assist from Evans.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh is enjoying perhaps the best postseason performance of his career. He’s set up several big goals, leads all postseason skaters with a plus-minus of plus-14, and is one of his club’s top shot blockers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDonagh’s been overshadowed by teammates such as Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Points, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Victor Hedman. Nevertheless, he’s a big reason why the Lightning holds a 3-1 lead in this series over the Canadiens.

ESPN.COM: A league source told Greg Wyshynski there is “zero chance” Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final will be postponed despite Tropical Storm Elsa bearing down on Tampa Bay. That assessment was made based on the forecast, though NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated they have “an amount of flexibility.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, unless the storm’s impact proves far worse than anticipated, it’s game on tonight in Tampa Bay.

WGR 550: University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power is still leaning toward returning to university for one more season before making the jump to the NHL. Power is ranked as this year’s top prospect. He is expected to be selected by the Buffalo Sabres, who hold the first-overall pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some teams might prefer a prospect who could be ready to jump to the NHL right away. However, it’s unlikely Power will drop in this year’s draft order. Many highly-touted prospects need another year or two of seasoning before they’re ready for the big time.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken yesterday announced the hirings of Kelly McFarland and Jay Leach as assistant coaches. McFarland will oversee the power-play unit and forwards while Leach will be in charge of the defensemen.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed goaltender Scott Wedgewood to a one-year, two-way deal worth $825K at the NHL level.

NHL.COM: The Los Angeles Kings signed defenseman Christian Wolanin to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets yesterday signed center Dominic Toninato to a two-year contract worth $750K at the NHL level. It’s a two-way deal in the first season.

CBS SPORTS: Former Boston Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer signed a one-year contract with KHL team AK Bars Kazan.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes have hired Alan Hepple as their new director of pro scouting. He’s the former director of amateur scouting with the Colorado Avalanche.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 26, 2021

The Leafs and Hurricanes are on the verge of advancing to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Tuukka Rask and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs are on the verge of winning their first playoff series in 17 years after blanking the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 in Game 4 of their opening-round series. Alexander Kerfoot and Alex Galchenyuk each had three points, William Nylander tallied his fourth goal in as many games, Joe Thornton tallied his first playoff goal as a Leaf, and Jack Campbell kicked out 32 shots for his first NHL playoff shutout. The Leafs can wrap things up in Game 5 on Thursday in Toronto.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the third straight game, the Leafs took control in the second period. They’ve done a fine job nullifying the Canadiens’ popgun offense and they’re getting more production from their secondary scorers as this series goes on.

The Habs have the depth to be a better team than what we’ve seen in this series and most of this season. However, their coaching staff doesn’t seem to know how to get the best out of them. Part of that could be due to pressure they’re getting from their desperate general manager.

Even if the Canadiens were playing better, they still couldn’t match the offensive depth the Leafs bring to bear in this series. While Austin Matthews was kept off the scoreboard in three games and Mitch Marner in two games, William Nylander has proven to be the biggest Hab killer in this series.

An overtime goal by Jordan Staal gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of their first-round series. Martin Necas scored two goals for Carolina while Yakov Trenin tallied twice for the Predators. Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin returned to the lineup following a three-game absence and collected an assist. With a 3-2 series lead, the Hurricanes can end this series in Nashville on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes will have to become the first team in this series to win a road game if they hope to wrap this up on Thursday.

SPORTSNET: Alex Ovechkin could become an unrestricted free agent this summer but the 35-year-old left winger wants to remain with the Washington Capitals. “I’m confident, we still have time,” said the Capitals captain. “Obviously, I want to finish my career here, I’m pretty sure we will do something.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals owner Ted Leonsis also wants Ovechkin to finish his career in Washington. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of deal they can hammer out and how long it takes to get it done.

NHL.COM: Boston Bruins president Cam Neely said management and Tuukka Rask have agreed to table the goaltender’s contract talks until after the playoffs. The 34-year-old Rask is due to become a UFA this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask understands he’s not getting a long-term extension given his age. The sticking point could be salary. He’s earning an annual average value of $7 million on his current deal. He could point to his performance as justification for maintaining that annual salary. He backstopped the Bruins to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, was a finalist last year for the Vezina Trophy, and helped them advance to the second round of this year’s playoffs.

THE SCORE: Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler joked about taking a Kris Russell slapshot to the groin during Game 4 of his club’s first-round series against the Edmonton Oilers. “I’ve got three beautiful kids, we’re not having anymore, so what the hell,” he joked with reporters following the Jets’ series-clinching 4-3 triple-overtime victory.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ballsy guy, that Wheeler. The Jets captain left the game briefly in obvious pain after blocking that shot but returned to play in all three overtime periods.

NEW YORK POST: New York Islanders winger Oliver Wahlstrom could be sidelined for Game 5 tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He suffered an apparent right-knee injury following a collision with Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson in Game 4.

TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning forward Pat Maroon and defenseman Ryan McDonagh received fines from the NHL department of player safety for their actions during Game 5 against the Florida Panthers. Maroon was fined over $3,800.00 for unsportsmanlike conduct while McDonagh was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking Panthers forward Mason Marchment.

NEW YORK POST: Wayne Gretzky has stepped down as vice-chairman of the Edmonton Oilers and is reportedly joining TNT as a lead hockey analyst starting next season.

The New York Rangers interviewed former Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet for their vacant head-coaching position. The Blueshirts already interviewed former Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant, who is considered the leading candidate for the job.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 22, 2021

Recaps of Sunday’s action, updates on Max Pacioretty and Ryan McDonagh, the Kings re-sign Matt Roy, the Capitals re-up Trevor van Riemsdyk, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Tyler Johnson scored the winning goal in the third period as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Florida Panthers 5-3. Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde each had a goal and an assist for the Lightning. They’ve won four straight and sit atop the Discover Central Division with 48 points, opening a four-point lead over the Panthers. It was a costly win for the Lightning as defenseman Ryan McDonagh left the game with a lower-body injury.

Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar (NHL Images).

The Los Angeles Kings downed the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 to snap the latter’s five-game win streak. Goaltender Cal Petersen made 41 saves and Anze Kopitar collected two assists for the Kings (32 points), who sit five points behind the fourth-place St. Louis in the Honda West Division. Vegas winger Max Pacioretty was scratched from this contest with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. The Golden Knights (43 points) sit atop the West Division.

An overtime goal by Jesper Bratt lifted the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby scored for the Penguins and Sami Vatanen replied for the Devils, who got a 35-save performance by Mackenzie Blackwood. Pittsburgh (40 points) picked up a point to open a four-point lead over the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division. Penguins forward Brandon Tanev missed the game with an undisclosed injury and is considered day-to-day.

The Nashville Predators overcame a two-goal deficit to nip the Dallas Stars 4-3 on a shootout goal by Calle Jarnkrok. Eeli Tolvanen had a three-point performance, including scoring the game-tying goal. With the win, the Predators (29 points) moved within four points of the fourth-place Columbus Blue Jackets in the Central. Stars forwards Radek Faksa and Joel Kiviranta left the game with lower-body injuries.

TSN: The Kings announced they’ve signed defenseman Matt Roy to a three-year, $9.45 million contract extension. The annual average value is $3.145 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A seventh-round pick by the Kings in 2015, Roy has steadily risen up the club’s blueline depth chart since his debut in 2018. He skates on their second defense pairing and has become a reliable presence on the blue line.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $950K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: J.J. Regan speculates this move could be insurance for this summer’s expansion draft as the Capitals could lose a rearguard like Justin Schultz or Nick Jensen to the Seattle Kraken.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have had preliminary discussions with local health officials about a plan to host some fans at Rogers Arena this season. The Montreal Canadiens have also pitched the Quebec government about allowing a limited number of fans at the Bell Centre.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Currently none of the seven Canadian franchises are allowing fans in their arenas. The Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators have also broached the subject with their respective provincial governments. Much will depend upon COVID-19 case counts and vaccine distribution. If all goes well, whatever four Canadian clubs qualify for the playoffs in May could be allowed to welcome back some fans for postseason games.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 2, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 2, 2020

Could the Lightning and Red Wings become trade partners? Are the Predators preparing for more moves? What’s the latest on Mikael Granlund? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Duhatschek was asked what moves the Tampa Bay Lightning could make to shed sufficient cap space to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak while staying cap compliant for 2020-21.

Could the Detroit Red Wings take Tyler Johnson off the Tampa Bay Lightning’s hands? (NHL Images)

Duhatschek suggested the Detroit Red Wings as “the obvious first landing place” to address the Lightning’s cap issues. Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman is the former Lightning GM and responsible for many of the contracts on their books.

In a perfect world,” Duhatschek said he’d try to move Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn to Detroit, along with a first-round pick and quality young player. He thinks the Wings would jump on that deal if the young player was Cernak but the Bolts don’t want to part with him. Whatever moves the Lightning make they won’t be taking back players in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duhatschek’s colleagues Joe Smith and Max Bultman discussed the possibility of a Lightning-Red Wings swap. They agree Johnson or Killorn to the Wings could make sense depending on what the rest of the package looks like.

As Duhatschek points out, the Wings seem a logical trade partner for the Lightning given their cap space and Yzerman’s ties to the Bolts. However, that depends on whether the Wings are among the preferred trade destinations for Johnson or Killorn.

Duhatschek also commended the Nashville Predators for a “quietly successful” offseason, creating nearly $13 million in cap space while adding affordable grit such as Luke Kunin, Nick Cousins, Brad Richardson and Mark Borowiecki. He feels they’ve done their heavy lifting and suggests they hoard their cap space to see what the club looks like on the ice and what areas of the roster still needs improvement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators have been tied to unrestricted free agent Mike Hoffman. Some believe GM David Poile is playing the waiting game with Hoffman hoping he’ll lower his asking price.

Poile could add Hoffman on a one-year deal for considerably less than the $5.5 million to $6.5 million the winger’s camp reportedly seeks. That would still leave sufficient cap room to make other additions over the course of the season if required.

If Poile has made his significant moves this offseason it won’t hurt to have that cap space for the coming season, especially near the trade deadline.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2020

Islanders blank the Flyers, Stars take 2-0 series lead over the Avalanche, the mental challenge of life inside the playoff bubble, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Semyon Varlamov made history with 29 saves as the New York Islanders blanked the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Varlamov became the first goalie in franchise history to record consecutive playoff shutouts. Defenseman Andy Greene’s first-period goal proved to be the game-winner. It was also his first postseason goal in 10 years, with the last also coming against the Flyers.

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders did a fine job neutralizing the Flyers with strong defensive play, solid goaltending, and an aggressive forecheck. Many of the Flyers’ leading scorers are struggling to find the back of the net in this postseason. Their playoff bubble will burst if they don’t address this soon.

The Dallas Stars overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2, taking a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. The Stars tallied four goals in the second period, including two on the power-play. Joe Pavelski netted his team-leading seventh goal while Alexander Radulov had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs’ inability to score with a 5-on-3 when the game was tied was the turning point. Esa Lindell’s controversial goal late in the second period gave the Stars a 4-2 lead that the Avs couldn’t overcome. Colorado also came into this game without goaltender Philipp Grubauer and defenseman Erik Johnson. Both are sidelined indefinitely following injuries suffered in Game 1.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The NHL’s received no positive COVID-19 tests for the fourth straight week inside their Edmonton and Toronto bubbles.

ASSOCIATED PRESS (via Chicago Sun-Times): Bubble fatigue is becoming a mental challenge for teams participating in the NHL’s return-to-play plan. Close confines, daily COVID testing, restricted access, monotony, and separation from families are weighing heavily on everyone.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly indicated the league is “actively trying to minimize” the length of the playoffs because of “the dynamics and constraints of ‘bubble life’”. He added the league “will continue to pursue all ‘move up’ opportunities aggressively as we go forward.” The league is still checking with health officials to determine if families can join the players within the bubbles before or during the Conference Finals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the most part, everyone involved is doing their best to cope with this situation. Nevertheless, it’s apparent the league will try to keep the postseason moving briskly to complete the schedule as quickly as possible.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh is a game-day decision for tonight’s second game of his club’s second-round series with the Boston Bruins. McDonagh left the third period of Game 1 with an undisclosed injury.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: The Bruins might have to turn to rookie backup goalie Dan Vladar for Game 3 against the Lightning tomorrow night. Jaroslav Halak is expected to start Game 2.

THE SCORE: Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk suffered a concussion against the Dallas Stars in their first-round series. Defenseman Rasmus Andersson suffered a broken foot and forward Sam Bennett had a torn triceps muscle.

STLTODAY.COM: Long-time Blues forward Alexander Steen indicated he intends to return for his 16th NHL season, which would also be his 13th with the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Steen is frequently mentioned as a cost-cutting candidate as the Blues attempt to free up salary-cap space to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo and blueliner Vince Dunn. Steen, however, carries a full no-trade clause into next season.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings yesterday re-signed forward Robby Fabbri to a two-year, $5.9-million contract extension.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 24, 2020

The Bruins and Golden Knights are victorious in the opening games of their respective second-round series, the Capitals fire head coach Todd Reirden, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each had a goal and an assist as the Boston Bruins held off the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Jaroslav Halak made 35 saves for the win. Victor Hedman scored twice for the Lightning, who also lost defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the third period to an undisclosed injury.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The score flattered the Lightning. They were dominated through the first two periods by the Bruins, who took a 3-0 lead before Hedman’s goals made it interesting. There could be an update on McDonagh later today.

Robin Lehner turned in a 26-save shutout while Mark Stone, Reilly Smith, and Alex Tuch each had a goal and an assist as the Vegas Golden Knights blanked the Vancouver Canucks 5-0 in the opening game of their second-round series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights blew this open with three goals in the second period. They outshot, out-skated, out-hit, and out-chanced the Canucks. Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves got under the skin of Canucks winger Antoine Roussel, goading him into taking a misconduct penalty in the third period and taunting him for the rest of the game.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights had to deal with an off-ice issue before Game 1. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury attempted to distance himself from his agent’s provocative social media post criticizing coach Peter DeBoer over his client’s lack of playing time.

Referring to his agent, Allan Walsh, Fleury felt he was “just trying to protect me a bit.” He indicated he’s spoken with DeBoer and Lehner and doesn’t want to be a distraction. “I just want to be behind it and move on,” he said, adding he’s focused on winning and what’s best for the team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walsh’s post and Fleury’s response is sparking speculation over his future with the Golden Knights. I’ll have more later today in the Rumors section.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals yesterday relieved Todd Reirden of his duties as head coach. The move comes shortly following the club’s elimination from the opening round of the 2020 playoffs.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun reports the Capitals seek an experienced replacement to keep their championship window open.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. Reirden was outcoached by Isles bench boss (and former Caps coach) Barry Trotz in that series. His firing has generated a lot of conjecture over his possible replacement. Experienced options include Mike Babcock, Gerard Gallant, and Peter Laviolette.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer (leg injury) won’t be playing in Game 2 against the Dallas Stars tonight. Defenseman Erik Johnson (undisclosed) is doubtful while Matt Calvert is listed as unfit to play and day-to-day.

WEEI.COM: The Bruins re-signed backup goalie Dan Vladar to a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $750K. It’s a two-way deal in the first two years and becomes a one-way deal in the final season.