NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 30, 2021

The Canadiens force Game 7 against the Leafs, David Pastrnak leads the Bruins to a Game 1 victory over the Islanders, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Jesperi Kotkaniemi lifted the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 6 of their first-round series before 2,500 fans at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The seventh and deciding game of this series goes Monday night in Toronto.

Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi (NHL Images).

Power-play goals by Corey Perry and Tyler Toffoli gave the Canadiens a 2-0 lead in the first half of the third before Jason Spezza and TJ Brodie tied it for the Leafs. Habs goalie Carey Price made 41 saves for the win, including 13 in overtime.

Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin left the game in the third period with an apparent groin injury. Canadiens blueliner Jon Merrill missed his game with an undisclosed injury and could be sidelined 1-2 weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teetering on the brink of elimination after Game 4, Montreal has stormed back to set up a winner-take-all match on Monday night. For the second straight game, the Canadiens took a multi-goal lead, the Leafs rallied to tie it, but the Habs get the win on goals by their young forwards.

I expected the Leafs to put forth a better effort in this game after they came out flat in Game 5. Instead, they were worse in Game 6, with only the goaltending of Jack Campbell (especially in the first period when he made 15 saves) preventing a lopsided Montreal victory.

The series momentum has shifted in the Canadiens’ favor, leaving the Leafs reeling as they face the ghosts of recent Game 7 failures. As someone noted on Twitter last night, even if the Leafs win this series, it doesn’t bode well for their Stanley Cup chances when they needed seven games to beat the worst team to qualify in this year’s playoffs.

If the Canadiens pull off this upset, it would be arguably the greatest series comeback in franchise history.

David Pastrnak tallied a hat trick to lead the Boston Bruins to a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders in Game 1 of their second-round series. David Krejci collected three assists for the Bruins, who lost winger Craig Smith with a lower-body injury. Jordan Eberle had two assists for the Isles. Game 2 is Monday night in Boston. The game was played before some 17,000 fans at Boston’s TD Garden as pandemic restrictions ease in Massachusetts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: More fans being allowed back into NHL arenas in recent weeks brings a feeling of normalcy that was missing for most of the regular season.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman expects Mike Sullivan will return as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins next season. There were questions about Sullivan’s future following the Penguins’ first-round exit against the Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins haven’t formally announced Sullivan’s return. Friedman, however, is among the best-connected insiders in the league. I daresay he’s heard from a reliable team source (President of hockey ops Brian Burke, perhaps?) regarding Sullivan’s status.

CBS SPORTS: Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin injured the AC joint in his left shoulder during Game 7 of his club’s series with the Vegas Golden Knights. He’s not expected to require surgery and should be ready for training camp in September.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Brian Daccord, the Coyotes special assistant to the general manager and director of goaltending operations, reportedly resigned from the team.


NHL Trades – Sunday, April 11, 2021

NHL Trades – Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired forwards Nick Foligno from the Columbus Blue Jackets and Stefan Noesen from the San Jose Sharks.

The Blue Jackets receive the Leafs’ first-round pick in 2021 and a fourth-round pick in 2022. The Sharks, meanwhile, receive the Leafs’ 2021 fourth-round pick.

The Jackets also retain 50 percent of Foligno’s $5.5 million cap hit ($2.25 million). The Sharks retain half, meaning the Leafs are only charged $1.375 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another skillful bit of salary-cap management by Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas. A well-respected and versatile forward, Foligno’s two-way skills and work ethic should make him a solid addition to the Leafs. Noesen will join the Leafs’ taxi squad or be sent to their farm team. The Jackets now have three first-round picks in this year’s draft having also acquired the Tampa Bay Lightning’s yesterday in the David Savard trade.

The Montreal Canadiens acquired defenseman Jon Merrill from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2021 and minor-leaguer Hayden Verbeek.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin delves into his deep bag of 2021 draft picks to add a veteran depth left-side defenseman in Merrill. The 29-year-old blueliner can play left or right-side defense and has some shutdown skills. He’ll likely feel the third defense pairing role.

Washington Capitals trade defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a conditional third-round pick in 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A salary dump by the Capitals, freeing up $800K in cap space. Siegenthaler is a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 17, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 17, 2018

A day after being a healthy scratch, Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza scored twice against the Detroit Red Wings (Photo via NHL Images).

Game recaps plus latest on Corey Crawford, Jason Spezza, Viktor Arvidsson and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist reached the 20-win plateau for the 13th time in his career as he backstopped his club to a 5-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Rick Nash tallied two goals for the Blueshirts, who also lost defenseman Marc Staal to a hip-flexor injury. An update on Staal’s status is expected later today,

One day after being a healthy scratch, Jason Spezza returned to action and scored twice as the Dallas Stars doubled up the Detroit Red Wings 4-2.

The New Jersey Devils snapped a six-game losing skid by defeating the New York Islanders 4-1. Damon Severson scored two goals, Taylor Hall extended his points streak to five games and Keith Kinkaid made 25 saves for the win. The Islanders got some good news, as sidelined winger Josh Bailey (lower-body injury) could return to action on Thursday against the Boston Bruins.

Juuse Saros made 43 saves and Kevin Fiala tallied the only goal as the Nashville Predators shut out the Vegas Golden Knights 1-0. Earlier in the day, the Predators placed winger Viktor Arvidsson (lower body) on injured reserve. Meanwhile, the Golden Knights re-signed defenseman Jon Merrill to a two-year, $2.75-million contract extension and recalled blueliner Jason Garrison from the minors.

The San Jose Sharks collected their third straight win as Joe Pavelski’s shootout goal gave them a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Earlier in the day, Sharks defenseman Paul Martin cleared waivers and was assigned to the club’s minor-league affiliate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Martin’s age (36), contract ($4.85 million annual salary-cap hit through 2018-19) and the fact he’s missed all but three games this season recovering from ankle surgery, it’s unsurprising he went unclaimed. However, it’s believed he could attract interest in the trade market with a strong showing in the minors. There’s talk some rival GMs want to see if Martin is still capable of being an effective defenseman before making a pitch for his services.  

Vince Dunn’s overtime goal gave the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Sources say Blackhawks starting goaltender Corey Crawford could miss the remainder of the season due to vertigo-like symptoms. It’s the second time in his career he’s suffered from this condition. The Blackhawks have declined to publicly comments on Crawford’s status. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sitting three points out of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks face a tough fight to lock up a playoff spot this season. They’ve been making due with backup Anton Forsberg and call-up Jeff Glass but neither have Crawford’s pedigree. If he goes on long-term injured reserve the Hawks could use the cap savings to pursue a replacement, but there’s no one available in the trade market who could suitable replace him on a short-term basis. 

TSN: The Los Angeles Kings placed winger Jussi Jokinen on waivers. Earlier this season, they acquired Jokinen from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for winger Mike Cammalleri. 

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Staff members, associates and alumni from the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning teamed up with Habitat for Humanity in Collier County, Florida to help build affordable housing for those who lost homes to Hurricane Irma last fall. 

TSN: Data shows fighting in the NHL is on the verge of extinction. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fighting will never be eradicated from the game, but there’s no question it’s in decline. Changes to the rules and pace of the NHL game have been contributing factors. 

YAHOO SPORTS: The NHL’s choice of Kid Rock to headline festivities at the 2018 NHL All-Star Game was greeted with derision on Twitter. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This announcement would’ve been big news twenty years ago. 


NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2017

Latest on the Edmonton Oilers, Vegas Golden Knights, Detroit Red Wings and Winnipeg Jets in your NHL rumor mill. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL’S Jim Matheson recently tweeted he thinks the Oilers are still looking at the Vegas Golden Knights for help on defense until blueliner Andrej Sekera returns from knee surgery. He suggests Jon Merrill as a cheap defensive blueliner while Jason Garrison is a more expensive power-play guy. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights carry 10 defensemen on one-way contracts. It’s widely assumed they want to move at least one of them via trade. Merrill was a healthy scratch in four of the Knights’ first five games while Garrison skated in four. Of the two, Merrill would be the easiest to trade. Garrison’s $4.6 million cap hit and no-trade clause could make him difficult to move unless the Knights pick up part of that cap hit and he agrees to waive his clause. 

THE DETROIT NEWS: Gregg Krupa speculates there could be more than just salary issues behind restricted free agent winger Andreas Athanasiou’s contract standoff with the Detroit Red Wings. The 23-year-old has no arbitration rights and little leverage, leading Krupa to suggest Athanasiou “is serious about diverting his career, playing in Europe and waiting for management to make a move.” He also notes this is a tactic the winger’s agent, Darren Ferris, used before with another client, Columbus Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson. Noting this strategy didn’t work with Anderson, Krupa doubts it’ll work for Athanasiou. Rather than trade the young winger, Krupa speculates the Red Wings could let him play in Europe this season and revisit the issue next summer. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Krupa observes, it seems odd that Athanasiou would stage this impasse over a mere $500K difference in salary. The Wings are offering $1.9 million per season on a two-year deal but the Athanasiou camp seeks $2.5 million annually. This could be a case of a young player and his agent over-valuing his worth or maybe there’s some real issues there regarding his role with the club. Wings general manager Ken Holland is reportedly speaking with Ferris this week. Perhaps a resolution will come shortly. 

THE ATHLETIC: Murat Ates takes an in-depth look at the huge disparity between the Winnipeg Jets’ top-six forwards and its bottom six and how it’s holding the club back. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ates isn’t speculating about a trade or suggesting the Jets make one to address the issue, but I wonder if they could go shopping for help if this issue persists. The Jets face heightened expectations this season that could put pressure on management to address their problem areas. 


Latest Senators & Golden Knights Rumors – October 6, 2017

Latest Senators & Golden Knights Rumors – October 6, 2017

Speculation over Kyle Turris’ future with the Ottawa Senators and the Vegas Golden Knights could soon get busy in the trade market.

TSN: Darren Dreger believes contract discussions between the Ottawa Senators and center Kyle Turris could be headed to a trade by the Feb. 26 trade deadline. Turris, 28, is eligible for unrestricted free agency next July. Dreger said there’s been “a fair bit of dialogue” between Senators management and Turris’ agent stretching back to early summer.

Turris seeks a seven- or eight-year deal but Dreger said the Sens “so far” aren’t willing to do that. He also notes the Senators simply cannot allow such an important player to simply walk away as a free agent. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Turris is completing a five-year contract worth an annual average salary of $3.5 million. He’s become a reliable 50-point center for the Senators.

Term, not dollars, appears to be the issue here.  If Turris cannot be re-signed the Senators will have to find a suitable replacement and that won’t be easy.

It’s still early days and it’s possible the two sides could work something out before the trade deadline. Perhaps the Sens might offer to pay him a little more in actual salary up front to accept, say, a four- or five-year deal. 

TSN: The Vegas Golden Knights are expected to be busy in the trade market before their inaugural game on Friday night. Bob McKenzie recently reported the Knights are expected to retain defensemen Deryk Engelland, Jason Garrison, Luca Sbisa, Shea Theodore, Nate Schmidt and Colin Miller. That could leave Brad Hunt, Griffin Reinhart and Jon Merrill as trade candidates.  

McKenzie also speculated the Golden Knights could shop a goaltender. On Thursday, they placed Calvin Pickard on waivers. He’s become the odd man out after the Knights claimed Malcolm Subban off waivers from the Boston Bruins earlier this week. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pickard hitting the waiver wire and being mentioned as a trade candidate caught a lot of NHL observers by surprise. He showed some promise with the Colorado Avalanche and was outstanding for Team Canada at this year’s World Championships. However, Pickard struggled last season with the Avs and didn’t have a good preseason with the Knights. If Pickard goes unclaimed today, he could still end up being moved via trade in the next day or two. 


Updates on the Flames & Oilers – October 2, 2017

Updates on the Flames & Oilers – October 2, 2017

Flames reportedly talking to Jagr and the Oilers could use some blueline depth.

CALGARY SUN: cites TSN’s Pierre LeBrun yesterday reporting via Twitter the Calgary Flames are in talks with right wing Jaromir Jagr. The 45-year-old Jagr is an unrestricted free agent. He netted 46 points in 82 games last season with the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As LeBrun’s colleague Travis Yost recently observed, the Flames are lacking offense at right wing. They used Micheal Ferland, Michael Frolik, Curtis Lazar and Troy Brouwer on the right side during training camp and preseason. Not a lot of firepower there.

That they’re talking to Jagr indicates they want to bolster their depth at that spot. It could also be an indication of what little talent is available at that position in the trade market. 

**UPDATE** The Flames have reportedly signed Jagr to a one-year contract worth a base salary of $1 million plus $1 million in bonuses. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples recently observed the Oilers have a lack of skilled depth among their bottom-three defensemen. If one or two of their top blueliners gets hurt it could become an issue over the course of the season.

Staples noted colleague Jim Matheson recently suggested the Oilers target the Vegas Golden Knights, who are in need of making some room on their crowded blueline. Matheson suggests Colin Miller or Jon Merrill as trade options. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With preseason over and teams required to submit their cap-compliant rosters by 3 pm ET on Tuesday there could be some trade activity over the next couple of days. If the Oilers are keen to add some depth to their blueline, perhaps they’ll make that move soon.