NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 21, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 21, 2022

Evgeni Malkin scores in his milestone game, the Blackhawks honor Marian Hossa, the Kraken send Shane Wright to their AHL affiliate and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin scored in his 1,000th career NHL game as his club defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 5-3. Sidney Crosby scored and collected three assists as the Penguins improved to 9-7-3. Patrick Kane scored for the 6-9-3 Blackhawks, who honored Marian Hossa by retiring his No. 81 in a pregame ceremony.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Malkin joins Crosby as the only two players to play 1,000 games in a Penguins uniform. He has 20 points in 19 games this season and sits third all-time among Penguins scorers with 452 goals, 714 assists and 1,166 points.

Hossa spent seven of his 19 NHL seasons with the Blackhawks, helping them win three Stanley Cups. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2020.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Daniil Tarasov made 47 saves as he carried his club to a 5-3 upset of the Florida Panthers. Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and two assists for the Blue Jackets (7-10-1) while the Panthers dropped to 9-8-2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Blue Jackets placed goaltender Elvis Merzlikins on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 15. He’s expected to miss one-to-two weeks with a hip injury.

HEADLINES

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken have sent Shane Wright to their AHL affiliate in Coachella Valley on a one-time conditioning stint of five to 14 days. It is then expected he’ll be sent to play for Canada at next month’s IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships following his AHL stint. However, Kraken general manager Ron Francis indicated the club intends to recall him for a game or two before making that decision.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report also indicates the Kraken used a loophole in NHL rules to send Wright to the AHL. As a teenager drafted from major junior last summer, he wouldn’t ordinarily be eligible to be sent to the minors. However, it’s allowed if the player is a healthy scratch for five consecutive games, which is what happened in Wright’s case.

Wright, 18, was projected as the top prospect entering the 2022 NHL Draft but he slipped to fourth overall when he was chosen by the Kraken. He’s seen limited playing time in just seven games this season. He can play two more NHL games before the Kraken must decide if they’ll keep him for the remainder of the season or send him back to junior, thus avoiding using up the first year of his entry-level contract.

SPORTSNET: The Capitals have loaned Connor McMichael to their AHL affiliate in Hershey. After tallying 18 points in 68 games as a rookie last season, the 21-year-old center has been held scoreless in six games. He was chosen 25th overall by the Capitals in the 2019 draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals hoped McMichael would make a significant step forward in his sophomore campaign, especially as injuries began to deplete the lineup. His struggles have resulted in his name surfacing in recent trade rumors as the Capitals try to avoid sinking further in the standings.

TWINCITIES.COM: Speaking of promising players struggling at the NHL level, Minnesota Wild center Marco Rossi was a healthy scratch on Saturday after being held to an assist in 16 games. It’s raising questions about whether it would be worthwhile to send the 21-year-old to their AHL affiliate to help him find his game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rossi was chosen ninth overall by the Wild in the 2020 NHL Draft. He missed the entire 2020-21 season to COVID-related complications but put up a respectable 53 points in 63 games last season with the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker will miss at least a month with a high-ankle sprain. Meanwhile, blueliner Thomas Chabot remains day-to-day with a concussion but has resumed skating again.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 16, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 16, 2022

The Leafs’ John Tavares tallies his 400th career goal, the Devils extend their win streak to 10 games, the latest on the sale of the Senators, the Hurricanes owner is sued for $184 million, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares tallied his 400th career NHL goal in a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Matt Murray made 35 saves in his first game for the Leafs (9-5-3) since being sidelined following their season-opener on Oct. 12 while Michael Bunting scored twice. Sidney Crosby and Rickard Rakell scored for the Penguins as they fell to 6-7-3.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins forward Teddy Blueger was activated off injured reserve for this game.

The New Jersey Devils extended their winning streak to 10 games by downing the Montreal Canadiens 5-1. Jack Hughes led the way with two goals and an assist while Vitek Vanecek made 25 saves for the win as their record rose to 13-3-0. Evgenii Dadonov scored his first of the season for the 8-7-1 Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens announced before the game that Jonathan Drouin would miss four-to-six weeks with an upper-body injury while Joel Armia is also out with an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, Canadiens executive VP Jeff Gorton revealed they’re laying the groundwork on a contract extension for winger Cole Caufield.

An overtime goal by Alex Killorn lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-4 win over the Dallas Stars. Killorn also collected two assists for the Lightning (9-6-1) while teammate Steven Stamkos picked up his 500th career assist. Joe Pavelski, Jason Robertson and Miro Heiskanen each had two points for the 9-5-2 Stars.

Back-to-back third-period goals by Carter Verhaeghe gave the Florida Panthers a 5-2 victory against the Washington Capitals. The Panthers improved to 9-6-1 as Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 41 shots while Matthew Tkachuk collected three assists and Aleksander Barkov had a three-point night. John Carlson had two points for the Capitals (7-9-2) as they’ve lost seven of their last nine games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette returned behind the bench after being sidelined by a bout with COVID-19.

Nashville Predators center Matt Duchene collected his 700th career assist and scored the game-winning goal as his club held off the Minnesota Wild 2-1. Juuse Saros kicked out 32 shots for the Predators (7-8-1) while Frederick Gaudreau scored for the 7-7-2 Wild.

The San Jose Sharks (6-9-3) picked up their third straight win with four unanswered third-period goals to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2. Logan Couture, Erik Karlsson and Alexander Barabanov each had two points for the Sharks. Jack Eichel scored for the Golden Knights (13-4-0) to reach his 400th career point.

An overtime goal by Vladislav Gavrikov gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Boone Jenner scored twice for the Jackets as they move to a record of 5-9-1. Travis Konecny, Kevin Hayes and Noah Cates each had two points for the 7-6-3 Flyers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The injuries continue to mount for the banged-up Blue Jackets. Goaltender Elvis Merzlikins left the game in the second period with an injured left leg while defenseman Jake Bean left with an undisclosed injury later in the period. Earlier in the day, the Flyers announced winger Wade Allison will miss at least three weeks with an oblique strain and a hip pointer.

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat had a goal and two assists as his club hung on to beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-4. Jeff Skinner tallied twice for the 7-9-3 Sabres, who’ve now dropped six straight games. The Canucks improved their record to 5-9-3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Canucks announced center Jack Studnicka was being placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. Meanwhile, the Sabres welcomed back defenseman Henri Jokiharju off injured reserve after missing 11 games with a facial fracture.

The Anaheim Ducks nipped the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 on an overtime goal by Ryan Strome. Trevor Zegras and Cam Fowler each collected two assists while John Gibson made 31 saves for the Ducks (5-10-1). Rookie Jonatan Berggren tallied his first career NHL goal for the 7-5-4 Red Wings.

HEADLINES

OTTAWA SUN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated there’s been “a fair level of interest” in the Senators since the club was put up for sale by its current ownership. He said several groups have come forward expressing interest in buying the franchise.

A condition of the purchase is the Senators must remain in Ottawa. Daly didn’t give a timeline for the completion of the sale but cautioned it wouldn’t be quick.

Sources told the Sun that Toronto-based businessman Paul Rivett is trying to put together a wealthy group of investors to buy the club. Meanwhile, Andre Desmarais of Montreal-based Power Corp is teaming up with former Pittsburgh Penguins minority owners Jeffrey and Michael Kimel to partner on a deal to purchase the Senators and build a new arena.

Other potential buyers could include Toronto billionaire Michael Andlauer, who owns the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. Oshawa Generals owner Rocco Tullio could also be in the mix.

THE ATHLETIC: Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon is being sued for at least $184 million by the Alliance for American Football. The suit alleges Dundon tanked the startup when there were financial alternatives. Dundon, meanwhile, is suing the AAF’s founder, Charlie Ebersol, for $70 million alleging he was misled over the financial start of the AAF.

DAILY FACEOFF: The NHL’s bi-annual general managers’ meetings discussed whether to ask the NHL Players’ Association about making the wearing of cut-resistant gear mandatory. This comes days after Edmonton Oilers winger Evander Kane suffered a gruesome wrist injury when he was accidentally slashed by the skate blade of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Pat Maroon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league cannot unilaterally impose that ruling on the players. As per the collective bargaining agreement, they need the PA’s concurrence.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins have hired former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to conduct an independent review of their player-vetting process. This comes following the club’s ill-advised signing of Mitchell Miller to an entry-level contract. They’re now attempting to get out of that deal after learning of Mitchell’s bullying and physical assault of a disabled Black classmate as a teenager.

NHL.COM: Ottawa Senators forward Mathieu Joseph was fined $5,000.00 for high-sticking New York Islanders defenseman Sebastian Aho on Monday.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 13, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 13, 2022

Recaps of Wednesday’s games, the Sabres sign head coach Don Granato and defenseman Mattias Samuelsson to contract extensions, Andy Greene retires and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid tallied a hat trick as the Edmonton Oilers overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 5-3. McDavid netted the game-winning and insurance goals, Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists while Darnell Nurse had a goal and an assist. J.T. Miller had a goal and an assist for the Canucks.

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers dressed just 17 skaters as wingers Kailer Yamamoto and Warren Foegele missed this game with undisclosed injuries. Salary-cap constraints limited them to 11 forwards and six defensemen.

The Colorado Avalanche celebrated their 2021-22 Stanley Cup banner raising with a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Artturi Lehkonen scored twice and collected an assist, Valeri Nichushkin tallied two goals and Mikko Rantanen had four assists. Jonathan Toews and Max Domi replied for the Blackhawks.

Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson’s goal with 19 seconds remaining in the third period lifted his club to a 4-3 upset of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Cole Caufield scored twice and Nick Suzuki picked up two assists. John Tavares and William Nylander each had two points for the Leafs.

David Krejci had a goal and two assists in his first NHL game since 2020-21 as the Bostons Bruins beat the Washington Capitals 5-2. David Pastrnak led the way with a goal and three assists while Linus Ullmark made 33 saves for the win. It was a costly victory as Jake DeBrusk left the game in the second period with what appeared to be an injured right arm.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krejci looked good in his return to the Bruins after spending last season playing in his native Czechia. However, it was Pastrnak who was the standout in this contest. He was dominant throughout this game and is already making the case for a big raise on his next contract.

The Carolina Hurricanes rolled to a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Martin Necas had a goal and two assists while Frederik Andersen made 31 saves for the win. Patrik Laine scored for the Jackets but left the game in the second period with an injured right arm following a collision with Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet on the severity of Laine’s injury. Jackets starting goalie Elvis Merzlikins missed this game due to a non-COVID-related illness.

Anaheim Ducks forward Troy Terry opened and closed the scoring in his club’s 5-4 overtime victory over the Seattle Kraken. Terry and Ryan Strome finished with three points while Trevor Zegras had two points. Kraken rookie center Matty Beniers had a goal and an assist.

HEADLINES

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres announced the signing of head coach Don Granato to a two-year contract extension. They also announced defenseman Mattias Samuelsson agreed to a seven-year, $30 million contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granato’s extension was no surprise given the improvement of the Sabres thus far under his watch. The length of Samuelsson’s deal raised some eyebrows given his limited body of NHL action with just 54 games over the past two seasons.

Sabres management evidently believes Samuelsson’s going to be a key part of their blueline in the coming years. The 22-year-old’s average annual value starting next season will be over $4.285 million starting in 2023-24. If he develops as projected this contract could turn into a bargain for the Sabres.

TSN: Andy Greene retires as a member of the New Jersey Devils after signing a one-day contract with them. Greene spent 14 seasons with the Devils and was their captain from 2015 to 2020 before getting traded to the New York Islanders. The 39-year-old defenseman finishes with 264 points in 1,057 career games over 16 NHL seasons. He was part of the Devils’ run to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Greene in his future endeavors.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Tampa Bay Lighting defenseman Ian Cole met with NHL security yesterday but there was no formal announcement or resolution in the aftermath. The league and the NHL Players Association declined to comment. Cole was suspended with pay pending an investigation following a social media post accusing him of sexual assault and grooming.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Vitali Kravtsov will miss the club’s current two-game road trip with an upper-body injury. It’s hoped he’ll rejoin his teammates next week but there is no definitive timeline for his return.

TSN: The Colorado Avalanche reclaimed goaltender Jonas Johansson off waivers from the Arizona Coyotes.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed winger Brad Lambert to a three-year entry-level contract. The 30th overall pick in this year’s draft, he will start the season with their AHL affiliate.

CAP FRIENDLY: The New York Islanders loaned forward Richard Panik to Swiss League team Lausanne HC for the season. His contract will still count against the Isles’ salary-cap payroll at the amount for players demoted to the minors.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Former San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson will attend a pregame ceremony in his honor before the club’s game on Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Wilson stepped down from his post for medical reasons last year.

NHL.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins named Kerry Huffman as their director of professional scouting.

The Tampa Bay Lightning extended their AHL affiliation with the Syracuse Crunch through the 2026-27 season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2022

The three stars and the rookie of the month for April are announced, the Red Wings fire head coach Jeff Blashill, plus the latest on Carey Price, Ryan Ellis, Patrik Laine, Mathew Barzal and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith and St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko are the NHL’s three stars for April 2022. Florida Panthers goalie Spencer Knight was named the rookie of the month.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings yesterday fired head coach Jeff Blashill. They also announced assistant coach Doug Houda and goaltending coach Jeff Salajko were relieved of their duties.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blashill spent seven seasons as the Wings’ bench boss. He wasn’t to blame for the club’s struggles as management tore down and rebuilt the roster during those years. However, the Wings’ failure to meet heightened expectations this season led to his downfall.

Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen reports Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman could seek a head coach who will demand more from his players and develop the club’s young talent. He listed former NHL coaches like John Tortorella, Paul Maurice, Claude Julien, and Jim Montgomery among the possible candidates Yzerman could consider as Blashill’s replacement. It’ll be interesting to see if the Wings GM hires one of those veterans or opts for someone else.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price said he didn’t believe the current state of his surgically repaired knee would be sustainable to play an entire season. He indicated he’ll be seeking a second opinion regarding ongoing swelling of the knee after games and didn’t rule out a second procedure.

Price, 34, admitted he approached Friday’s season-closing game against the Florida Panthers as if it could be his last. Nevertheless, he remains determined to resume his playing career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price will have a longer offseason recovery period this time around compared to last year. Still, the uncertainty over his future could affect the Canadien’s offseason plans. I’ll have more in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Canadiens, general manager Kent Hughes said he’d like to sign interim head coach Martin St. Louis to a three-year contract. On Friday, St. Louis indicated he would be shedding the interim tag and returning next season behind the Canadiens’ bench.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens showed noticeable improvement once St. Louis took over in February. It bodes well for what he might be able to achieve with a better, healthier roster.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Sidelined Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis dismissed recent speculation suggesting he was unhappy with the team. He also indicated he and the club have determined the root cause of the pelvic injury that limited him to just four games this season. Ellis indicated they now have a clear rehab plan in place and he’s hoping to be healthy for training camp in September.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ellis was expected to be the core piece of the Flyers’ defense corps and an important part of what management hoped would be a bounce-back season for the club. His absence played a big part in their downfall. Getting him back healthy for 2022-23 could help the Flyers get back on track.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: On the subject of Flyers defensemen, Keith Yandle played the final game of his NHL career on Saturday as confirmed by teammate Nick Seeler. The 35-year-old reigning NHL Ironman (989 consecutive games) didn’t speak to the media yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yandle’s performance has been in decline over the past three seasons. In 1,109 games with the Flyers and the Arizona Coyotes, New York Rangers and Florida Panthers, he has 103 goals and 516 assists for 619 career regular-season points.

NHL.COM: Patrik Laine doesn’t see any issues that would prevent him from signing a new contract this summer with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 24-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He also thanked the club for their support as he coped with injuries and the death of his father in November.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine had 56 points in as many games to finish third among Jackets scorers. He’s completing a one-year, $7.5 million contract and could seek a lucrative long-term deal.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Speaking of the Blue Jackets, goaltender Elvis Merzlikins admitted he found it difficult at times this season to maintain his focus while dealing with the grief of the sudden death last summer of his close friend Matiss Kivlenieks. He said he and goalie coach Manny Legace relied on each other to cope with the emotional trauma. Kivlenieks died during a fireworks accident at Legace’s home last July 4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Merzlikins admitted he was rattled at times earlier this season by the celebratory cannon fired at Blue Jackets home games and from fireworks displays during last New Year’s Eve celebrations. He managed to overcome those issues thanks in part to Legace’s support.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders center Mathew Barzal indicated his willingness to sign a contract extension. The 24-year-old has a year remaining on his current deal with an annual cap hit of $7 million. “This is where I want to be, this is where I want to win,” said Barzal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello would probably love to ink Barzal to a new deal this summer. His reputation as a tough negotiator, however, could make it a slow process. I’m not saying it won’t get done, but I wouldn’t be surprised if talks drag on through the summer.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets chairman Mark Chipman confirmed general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will continue in his role into the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That douses the recent rumors floating around about Cheveldayoff’s future. He has a busy offseason coming up as he must find a new head coach, improve the Jets’ porous defense, and sign restricted free agent center Pierre-Luc Dubois to a new contract.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Kurtis MacDermid was fined $2,187.50 by the NHL department of player safety for kneeing Minnesota Wild winger Marcus Foligno on Friday. Avs forward Logan O’Connor was fined $1,812.50 for cross-checking Wild defenseman Dmitry Kulikov in the same game.

ARIZONA HOCKEY NOW: The Coyotes played their final game at Gila River Arena on Friday. After 19 seasons, they’ll be moving next season to Arizona State’s new hockey arena while awaiting word on a proposed new NHL arena in Tempe.

THE ATHLETIC: Malcolm Subban earned praise from his Buffalo Sabres teammates after singing the National Anthem during the club’s final game of the season on Friday night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban sounded pretty good. Maybe there’s a future for him as a singer following his playing career.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 26, 2021

T.J. Oshie and Drake Batherson get dueling hat tricks in high-scoring Capitals-Senators game, the Panthers, Hurricanes and Blues remain undefeated, the Sabres upset the Lightning and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals defeated the Ottawa Senators 7-5 in a wild game that saw Washington’s T.J. Oshie and Ottawa’s Drake Batherson each tally a hat trick. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice to move within four goals of Brett Hull (741) for fourth place among the all-time goal leaders. With seven goals, he takes over the goal-scoring lead from Edmonton’s Connor McDavid. The Capitals led 4-1 at one point but the Senators stormed back to tie it in the second period to make it interesting before the Caps regained the lead.

Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie (NHL Images).

Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Bennett and Brandon Montour had two-point performances and Joe Thornton scored his first goal of the season as the Florida Panthers beat the Arizona Coyotes 5-3. The Panthers take over first place in the overall standings with a 6-0-0 record. Coyotes goalie Carter Hutton and defenseman Conor Timmins both left the game with lower-body injuries.

Carolina Hurricanes goaltenders Frederik Andersen made 24 saves against his former team to backstop his club over the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1. Andrei Svechnikov and Jaccob Slavin each had two points for the Hurricanes, who remain unbeaten at 5-0-0. Auston Matthews tallied his first of the season (the 200th goal of his career) for the slumping Leafs, whose record drops to 2-4-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of unhappiness in Leafs Nation as their club’s early-season woes are drawing comparison to their similar difficulties two years ago. That led to a November coaching change as Sheldon Keefe replace Mike Babcock. Could Keefe face a similar fate if the Leafs fail to reverse their fortunes? Stay tuned…

Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals and Ville Husso turned in a 34-save shutout as the St. Louis Blues blanked the Los Angeles Kings 3-0. The Blues extended their record to 5-0-0.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues, Hurricanes and Panthers join the Edmonton Oilers as the only clubs to remain unbeaten through their first five games of the season. It’s the first time in league history four teams begin the season with records of at least 5-0-0.

The Buffalo Sabres stunned the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 5-1. Craig Anderson made 35 saves for the win while Victor Olofsson scored twice for the Sabres, who maintain their surprising hot start with a 4-1-1 record. The Lightning are still without winger Nikita Kucherov, who could be sidelined for another eight weeks by a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning definitely miss Kucherov’s offense but other factors are also behind their stumbling start. Their forward depth was depleted by this summer’s departures of Tyler Johnston, Blake Coleman, Yanni Gourde and Barclay Goodrow. A shortened offseason also gave them less time than most clubs to rest and prepare for this season.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made 31 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. On his way to pre-game warmups, Merzlikins was heckled by a Stars fan making a negative comment about the death of his close friend Matiss Kivlenieks, who was killed in a fireworks accident in July. “I was expecting a shutout because I believe in karma,” said Merzlikins. “There is some stupid people in this world. That was really, really bad what happened in the tunnel when I was walking out. There was a fan from Dallas who (provoked) me about Matiss.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are some disgusting people in this world whose lives are so pathetic that their only source of joy is trying to incite sadness or anger in other people. Good on Merlikins for not letting that douchebag’s remarks knock him off his game.

A 28-save shutout by Jacob Markstrom and two goals from Andrew Mangiapane carried to the Calgary Flames to a 5-1 win over the New York Rangers. Blake Coleman and Mikael Backlund each had a goal and two assists for the Flames, who’ve now won three straight games.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, and New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 24, 2021.

YARDBARKER: The Vegas Golden Knights have moved Max Pacioretty (fractured foot) from injured reserve to long-term IR.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The move provides the Golden Knights some flexibility to call up a player or acquire one via trade. However, they must become cap compliant when Pacioretty returns to the lineup.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins confirmed defenseman Kris Letang tested positive for COVID-19 and remains in COVID protocol.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury after being checked awkwardly into the board by the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos on Saturday.

NBC SPORTS: The New Jersey Devils confirmed goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood received his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine last week. He’ll have to continue following league protocols for unvaccinated players until two weeks after his second dose.

TSN: New York Islanders goaltender Cory Schneider hit the waiver wire yesterday. Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks placed forward Alexander Volkov on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.

THE PLAYERS’ TRIBUNE: Former NHL player Colin Wilson opens up about his addiction to drugs, including cocaine and prescription drugs. He cited the recent death of Jimmy Hayes motivating him to come clean about his addiction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a difficult but invaluable story that everyone should read. Wilson’s tale will hopefully motivate other players with addictions to seek help and perhaps provoke more positive change with the NHL toward addressing this issue.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2021

The Wild sign Kirill Kaprizov, the Blues Jackets re-up Elvis Merzlikins and the Blues ink Robert Thomas. Check out the details of these signings plus the latest PTO contracts and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed winger Kirill Kaprizov to a five-year, $45 million contract on Tuesday night. The annual average value of the deal is $9 million. This comes on the eve of the Wild opening training camp today.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report adds Kaprizov is in North America, will travel to Minnesota today and will be in training camp tomorrow. The 24-year-old winger’s one NHL season has raised questions over whether he’s worth that type of contract.

The Wild, however, had no choice. Kaprizov may have a short body of work but he won the Calder Memorial Trophy last season, becoming the most exciting offensive star they’ve had since Marian Gaborik was in his heyday 15 years ago. Cap Friendly indicates they’re also facing a short-term cap crunch over the next three seasons. They needed certainty over how much he’ll cost them per season, especially when the salary cap begins rising again.

Kaprizov now faces the pressure of justifying that hefty raise and building on his promising NHL debut. If he does, the Wild should remain a legitimate playoff contender despite their upcoming salary-cap issues. If not, things could get ugly very quickly for him and for general manager Bill Guerin.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed goaltender Elvis Merzlikins to a five-year, $27 million contract extension. The annual average value is $5.4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This signing cements Merzlikins as the Blue Jackets’ starting goaltender. It also means Joonas Korpisalo could depart next summer as an unrestricted free agent unless he’s moved before the March trade deadline if the Jackets are out of playoff contention.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues inked center Robert Thomas to a two-year, $5.6 million contract with an annual average value of $2.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s the same deal teammate Jordan Kyrou recently signed but there was speculation Thomas would get less than that because of his struggles last season. The signing pushes the Blues above the cap by around $1.3 million but it’s expected they’ll offset that by placing sidelined forward Oskar Sundqvist (knee injury) and his $2.75 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve to start the season.

The Blues must become cap compliant when Sundqvist returns to action. That could come about via demoting or trading a lower-salaried player or perhaps they’ll find a trade partner for Vladimir Tarasenko by then.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings signed Bobby Ryan to a professional tryout offer. The 34-year-old winger played for the Wings last season.

TSN: Alexander Galchenyuk signed a PTO with the Arizona Coyotes. The 27-year-old forward last played for the Coyotes in 2018-19.

NHL.COM’s Brian Compton tweets the New York Islanders signed defenseman Erik Gustafsson to a PTO, inked goaltender Cory Schneider to a two-way contract and signed Kieffer Bellows and Michael Dal Colle.

Freelancer Ken Campbell reports Edmonton Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith is still quarantining after receiving his second COVID-19 vaccination. He’s expected to miss the first week of training camp.

TSN: The Philadelphia Flyers announced center Kevin Hayes underwent abdominal surgery and will be sidelined four to six weeks and defenseman Samuel Morin will be out six to eight weeks recovering from knee surgery. Forward Wade Allison is out indefinitely with a right ankle sprain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ll feel Hayes’ absence for the opening weeks of this season. His spot as second-line center could be filled by Morgan Frost.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have barred forward Zac Rinaldo from attending training camp due to his unvaccinated status. He’s on a one-year, two-way contract and has been vocal in his stance against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. He’ll instead attend the training camp of their AHL affiliate in Cleveland later this month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rinaldo can forget about getting called up by the Jackets. The club is taking a firm stance on ensuring all its players are fully vaccinated, operating under the NHL’s COVID protocols for this season.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Motte remains sidelined by an undisclosed injury suffered on April 29 in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’ll miss the start of training camp and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

SPORTSNET: After 42 years in broadcasting, Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Jim Hughson has retired. He called his first game on radio in 1979 and become the main play-by-play for the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and national broadcasts on HniC.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hughson and his family for a happy retirement.