NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 5, 2023
Latest on the Golden Knights and Panthers ahead of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, the salary cap remains flattened for 2023-24, musing about a possible Leafs-Penguins rivalry, Patrick Roy’s future, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Only six players remain from the original Golden Knights roster that reached the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. None of them are taking for granted their Game 1 victory over the Florida Panthers in the current Cup Final.
Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, William Karlsson, Shea Theodore, William Carrier and Brayden McNabb remain from the original team that took the opening game of the 2018 Final against the Washington Capitals. They never won another game in that series as the Capitals won the next four to win the Cup.
“I think we’re a little bit more humble about the situation now, and we know that it doesn’t mean anything when it’s one game in the series,” said Marchessault. “So for us, the focus is on the next game, and that’s how we approach every game.”
NHL.COM: Taking their cue from head coach Paul Maurice, the Panthers remain a loose, relaxed group as they prepare to face off against the Golden Knights in Game 2 tonight in Las Vegas.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Matthew Tkachuk’s Stanley Cup Final debut was not among the finest hours in his club’s postseason run. He was held scoreless in Game 1 and finished that contest in the dressing room after earning a misconduct in the final minutes of the third period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m looking forward to how both teams perform in Game 2. The series opener was at times a ragged affair as both clubs adjusted to each other and attempted to establish a physical edge. Vegas dominated play in the first two periods but the score was tied at 2 until the Golden Knights blew it open with three unanswered third-period goals to win it 5-2.
THE SCORE: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced on Saturday that the salary cap will remain flattened for the 2023-24 season, rising by just $1 million to $83.5 million.
Despite the ongoing increase in hockey-related revenue this season, the players’ share of escrow owed to the team owners from the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season will require another season before it is fully repaid.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once that escrow is repaid, the salary cap is expected to significantly jump in 2024-25. It’s been projected that it could rise by $4 million to $87.5 million but I wouldn’t be surprised if it reaches between $88 million and $89 million.
THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle speculates a heated rivalry could be brewing between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins after former Leafs GM Kyle Dubas was hired as the Penguins new president of hockey operations.
That move came less than two weeks after Leafs president Brendan Shanahan fired Dubas after the latter’s contract negotiations broke down amid rumors Dubas wanted more money and autonomy over roster decisions.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some folks in Leafs Nation are upset at Dubas for joining the Penguins after he stated that it was Toronto or nothing during what turned out to be his last end-of-season media availability with the Leafs. I’m sure they’d like to see this turn into an intense rivalry with Dubas as the bad guy but I don’t think it’ll garner any sustained traction with the fans of both clubs.
Perhaps the intensity rises if Dubas and Shanahan start sniping at each other in the media over the course of the summer. Maybe Dubas riles up Leafs fans by signing restricted free agent goalie Ilya Samsonov to an offer sheet and then has the Penguins PR taunt the Leafs about it on social media.
Front-office feuds usually don’t provide much fodder for a heated rivalry between two clubs. That’s often sparked by the players and the coaches in the thick of the action, not by executives high above the ice in their private suites.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Quebec Remparts won the Memorial Cup on Sunday by defeating the Seattle Thunderbirds 5-0 in what could be Remparts coach Patrick Roy’s final game behind their bench. It would be a fitting bookend to Roy’s tenure as he also guided them to the 2006 Memorial Cup title in his first season as their coach.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation linking Roy to the New York Rangers, though they reportedly haven’t contacted him yet for their head-coaching position. He’s also been tied to the Ottawa Senators as one of the prospective owners is reportedly interested in hiring him.
NHL.COM: Connor Bedard, the projected No. 1 pick in the upcoming 2023 NHL Draft, became the first player to win all three major trophies when the Canadian Hockey League awards were recently announced. The Regina Pats center was the CHL Top Prospect, Top Scorer, and the David Branch Player of the Year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bedard is expected to be chosen by the Chicago Blackhawks, who won the draft lottery last month.