Arizona Coyotes Renounce 2020 Draft Rights to Mitchell Miller
The Sabres avoid arbitration with Victor Olofsson, the Stars name Rick Bowness as a full-time coach, former Panthers GM Dale Tallon cleared of wrongdoing, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres avoided salary arbitration with Victor Olofsson by reaching an agreement on a two-year, $6.1 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Olofsson had an impressive first full NHL season, scoring 20 goals and 42 points in 54 games to become a finalist for the 2019-20 Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. This is a reasonable raise for the 25-year-old winger, who becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in 2022.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars removed the interim tag from head coach Rick Bowness’ job title as he signed a two-year contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise. Bowness took over behind the bench on Dec. 10 and guided the Stars to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The NHL has cleared former Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon of wrongdoing following an investigation into whether he used racially-charged language during the club’s time in the Toronto playoff bubble.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tallon was reportedly being considered for an advisory role with the Pittsburgh Penguins. This could clear the way for his new job but is being greeted with criticism by some observers.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes are renouncing the rights of 2020 fourth-round pick, Mitchell Miller, after reports emerged of his bullying and racially taunting an African-American classmate with developmental issues four years ago.
THE DENVER POST: Former Colorado Avalanche winger Colin Wilson discussed his struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as drug and alcohol abuse, in The Players’ Tribune on Thursday. The 31-year-old center also indicated hip injuries may have brought his NHL career to a close. He’s now sober, receiving therapy and back in New England preparing for the next step in his life.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson spent 11 seasons in the NHL with the Nashville Predators and the Avalanche, tallying 113 goals and 286 points in 632 games. Best wishes to him in his future endeavors.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon has an option to sell the club back to former owner Peter Karmanos. While the coronavirus is affecting the NHL’s economics, Dundon doesn’t believe it will affect his ownership of the club. “I don’t have any intention of not owning the team,” he said.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning officially announced the signings of Patrick Maroon and Luke Schenn. The pair signed new contracts with the Lightning on Oct. 9.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks have loaned center Kirby Dach to Team Canada’s roster for the 2021 World Junior Championships.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A wise decision by the Blackhawks. This will allow Dach to get in some meaningful playing time under a quarantine bubble in Edmonton as he and the Hawks await the start of the 2020-21 season.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed restricted free agent defenseman Sami Niku to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $725K.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed defenseman Colton White to a one-year, two-way contract.
TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens have been refused access to their practice facility in Brossard by public health officials. The facility is within a COVID-19 red zone.
SPORTSNET: Travis Roy, who was left paralyzed in his first college hockey game with Boston University in 1995, has died at age 45. He went on to become an advocate for spinal cord injury survivors both in and outside the sports world, raising over $9 million through the Travis Roy Foundation. He also worked in tandem with the Boston Bruins, with team president Cam Neely and former Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque among those extending condolences.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sympathies to Roy’s family, friends, and former teammates. Neely put it best when he called him “the ultimate symbol of determination and courage.”
In today’s NHL morning coffee headlines: The Senators avoid arbitration with Chris Tierney, the latest on the Penguins and Coyotes, and long-time Edmonton sports icon Joey Moss passes away.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators avoided salary arbitration with Chris Tierney as the two sides agreed to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $3.5 million. The 26-year-old center’s arbitration hearing was slated for Nov. 8.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another affordable move by the Senators to keep a key veteran in the folk. Acquired from the San Jose Sharks in the Erik Karlsson trade in 2018, Tierney’s become an invaluable two-way center for the Sens, netting 37 points in 71 games last season.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins fired assistant general manager Jason Karmanos yesterday. No reason was given for the move. He’d been in the position since 2014, hired a week after Jim Rutherford was named general manager. Karmanos also served as GM of the Penguins’ AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
The Penguins also announced Trevor Daley was hired as a hockey operations advisor. Daley, 37, has retired as an NHL defenseman after 16 seasons spent with the Penguins, Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. He won two Stanley Cups with the Pens in 2016 and 2017, finishing his career with 89 goals and 309 points in 1,058 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Daley in his future endeavors.
AZCENTRAL.COM: The Arizona Coyotes are facing criticism for selecting Mitchell Miller in this year’s draft after it was revealed the defenseman admitted to repeatedly bullying, hitting and racially taunting an African-American classmate with developmental disabilities four years ago. The club and GM Bill Armstrong responded with statements pointing out Miller sent a letter to all 31 NHL teams acknowledging his behavior and expressing remorse, but the mother of the victim said he has never personally apologized. Armstrong had not officially taken over as GM when Miller was selected.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Coyotes are under fire for their selection, The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell points out there were many others in the hockey world willing to have Miller on their team despite his checkered past. Campbell raises legitimate questions over Miller’s character, if he’s truly remorseful for his actions, and if he’s deserving of a chance to play in the NHL.
SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Coyotes, they’re reportedly in discussions with Shane Doan regarding the possible return of their former captain to the organization.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Joey Moss, the long-time dressing-room attendant for the Oilers and the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos, passed away at 57 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease and recent hip surgery. Moss, who had Down syndrome, was hired by the Oilers in 1984 and the Eskimos in 1986 on the recommendation of Wayne Gretzky. He quickly endeared himself with both clubs, becoming a popular, well-recognized part of the Edmonton community. In 2015, he was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moss was an inspiration as well as a beloved icon of the Oilers and Eskimos. My condolences to his family, friends and the Oilers’ and Eskimos’ organizations.
The Stars hope to re-sign Anton Khudobin, the Wild are close to re-signing Carson Soucy, the Senators acquire Josh Brown from the Panthers, the Jets re-sign Laurent Brossoit, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun reports sources say the Dallas Stars hope to re-sign Anton Khudobin. The 34-year-old goaltender is due to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9. General manager Jim Nill has reached out to Khudobin’s agent, Kent Hughes, expressing the club’s desire to re-sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise the Stars hope to keep Khudobin in the fold following his heroics in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. LeBrun reports Hughes said his client is interested in staying.
The question, of course, is the cost. Khudobin’s completing a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $2.75 million. He could seek between $3.5 million and $4 million annually on a two- or three-year deal.
Cap Friendly indicates the Stars have over $15 million in cap space, but they must also re-sign restricted free agents Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov. They could be keen to bring back pending UFA Corey Perry for another season. A new contract for Khudobin could be a tight fit, depending on how close to the salary cap ownership is willing to go.
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the Minnesota Wild are closing in on re-signing defenseman Carson Soucy to a three-year contract at $2.75 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Soucy is completing a one-year deal worth $750K. Seravalli recently reported the pending UFA blueliner was attracting a lot of interest.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday acquired defenseman Josh Brown from the Florida Panthers in exchange for the Senators’ fourth-round pick (95th overall) in the 2020 NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the Senators found their potential replacement for the departing Mark Borowiecki. The 6’5”, 217-pounder is a restricted free agent completing a two-year, $1.35-million contract.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed goaltender Laurent Brossoit to a one-year, $1.5-million contract.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs re-signed forward Denis Malgin to a one-year, $700K contract.
ESPN.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights revealed their metallic gold third jersey for 2020-21.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes named Ryan Jankowski as their new associate director of amateur scouting. He spent the last two years as the Buffalo Sabres director of amateur scouting.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Tim Smith, who performed as the Los Angeles Kings’ team mascot Bailey, was fired following allegations of sexual misconduct.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Former Bruins winger Bobby Miller passed away yesterday at age 64. Miller spent his first four NHL seasons with the Bruins from 1977 to 1981, scoring 20 goals as a rookie in ’77-’78. He also spent two seasons with the Colorado Rockies and one with the Los Angeles Kings, finishing his NHL career with 75 goals and 194 points in 404 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Miller’s family, friends and former teammates.
Uncertainty over the status of Coyotes GM John Chayka, plus updates on Sidney Crosby, Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford, Torey Krug, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
IS CHAYKA OUT AS COYOTES GM?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there’s a growing sense John Chayka and the Arizona Coyotes are headed for a divorce. The Coyotes general manager was not present during a meeting last week between several key members of the club’s ownership group and pending free agent winger Taylor Hall. It has yet to be determined if Chayka will be traveling with the club to Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. One source claims his office has been cleaned out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting bit of intrigue as the Coyotes prepare for the upcoming qualifying round. Chayka has yet to speak with the media about this situation. We’ll likely learn more about his fate in the coming days.
Friedman wondered if this might be tied to accusations the Coyotes violated draft-eligible workout rules earlier this year, but he added the NHL denied that was the case. He also mused over whether assistant GM Steve Sullivan might become Chayka’s replacement.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun pointed out Chayka has three years remaining on his contract following the tournament, but Coyotes insider Craig Morgan indicates the extension runs through 2023-24. He also noted the two sides seem headed for a split.
NOTABLE TRAINING CAMP NEWS
TRIBLIVE.COM: Sidney Crosby got a round of applause from teammates as the Pittsburgh Penguins captain returned to full practice for the first time in nearly a week. League protocols prevented the club from elaborating on Crosby’s absence, but a team source explained he’d been withheld from practice as a precautionary measure as he dealt with a minor ailment.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Defenseman Brent Seabrook won’t be joining his teammates in Edmonton for the Blackhawks’ upcoming qualifying-round series against the Oilers. He attempted to return from two hip surgeries and a shoulder surgery earlier this season but felt he wasn’t fully up to speed. Seabrook intends to spend more time building up his strength for next season’s training camp in the fall.
Goaltender Corey Crawford, however, could be traveling with the team to Edmonton. While he missed the Blackhawks’ entire training camp, he’s reportedly on their roster list. It’s unclear if he’ll be in the lineup for Game 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t blame Seabrook for attempting to return to the lineup. As for Crawford, his addition speaks to the Blackhawks’ lack of skilled depth between the pipes. I doubt he’ll be that effective after missing their training camp following a four-month layoff.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Defenseman Torey Krug admitted the upcoming playoff tournament could be his final Stanley Cup run with the Boston Bruins. He’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and the flat salary cap for next season could make it difficult for the Bruins to re-sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the Bruins handle this. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $63.5 million invested in 18 players, with Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Zdeno Chara, Matt Grzelcyk, and Anders Bjork among their noteworthy free agents. It could prove a tight squeeze fitting them within their cap constraints.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Defenseman Aaron Ekblad missed his second consecutive Panthers’ practice yesterday. Coach Joel Quenneville couldn’t elaborate as per league protocols but indicated Ekblad had been at their training facility in recent days. He expects the blueliner will be ready for the upcoming playoff tournament.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Ekblad’s dealing with an issue that is not related to COVID-19. Probably a minor injury.
NEW YORK POST: Young Rangers winger K’Andre Miller won’t be joining his teammate for the playoff tournament despite a solid training camp. He’s ineligible because his entry-level contract doesn’t begin until next season. Meanwhile, the Rangers loaned center Lias Andersson to Swedish Hockey League team HV-71 for 2020-21.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens defenseman Brett Kulak admitted he’d tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month after self-isolating from his teammates when he first experienced symptoms. He’s fully recovered and rejoined the club in practice this week.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers will honor former teammate Colby Cave before their final scrimmage today by wearing his No. 12 on their jerseys. Cave passed away unexpectedly in April.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A nice tribute by the Oilers to Cave and his family. The club will auction off the jerseys at a later date with the proceeds going toward the Colby Cave Memorial fund.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE SEATTLE TIMES: National sales of Seattle Kraken merchandise is already 50 percent higher than what the Vegas Golden Knights sold in their first 24 hours of making their merchandise available in 2017. The Kraken unveiled their nickname, logo, and jerseys on Thursday.
NHL teams will be permitted to dress up to 13 forwards and seven defencemen when they play their exhibition game next week. A couple GMs wanted the larger roster with only one exhibition scheduled before the season resumes.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 24, 2020
Check out the latest Buffalo Sabres speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty suggests the Buffalo Sabres’ “dumpster fire” might be a good opportunity for the Bruins to look into acquiring Jack Eichel. The Sabres captain was born in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, providing the Bruins with a local boy possessing superstar potential. With Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci aging, Eichel would give the Bruins a dominant young center.
Haggerty noted Eichel’s recent exasperation with the Sabres’ ongoing mediocrity, suggesting perhaps he’s tacitly pining for a change of scenery. Acquiring him would be expensive. Haggerty felt it could cost the Bruins promising young center John Beecher, winger Jake DeBrusk, and a robust high draft pick package. They might also have to include a defenseman like Charlie McAvoy or Brandon Carlo, which would be a difficult decision.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Folks may be looking at Eichel’s comments and seeing more than is really there. There’s no question he’s frustrated over the constant losing, and Sabres’ ownership should be concerned if their franchise player isn’t happy. Nevertheless, there’s no indication Eichel wants out of Buffalo…yet.
Another season or two of mediocrity could test Eichel’s patience. If that happens, the Bruins could be among the clubs queuing up to inquire into his availability and the Sabres’ asking price.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington recently observed Sabres defensemen Brandon Montour and Colin Miller didn’t seem to fit into coach Ralph Krueger’s system. He wouldn’t be shocked if new general manager Kevyn Adams moved them in the off-season for some help on the forward lines. Harrington also noted Krueger really likes Rasmus Ristolainen, suggesting the recent change in management could be a good sign for the 26-year-old defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen, Montour, and Miller frequently surfaced in this season’s trade rumors. Ristolainen suggested he might be among the first to be moved if then-GM Jason Botterill wanted to make changes, but he also sang Kruger’s praises.
With Botterill gone, Ristolainen might not be a trade candidate after all. Montour and/or Miller, however, seem more likely to be moved by new management, especially if Krueger has any say in the matter.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: In his Sabres postmortem, Matt Larkin noted the Sabres will have over $34 million in salary-cap space to work with during the off-season. He feels that’s enough to re-sign restricted free agents like Montour, Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Dominik Kahun, and Linus Ullmark while leaving enough to go shopping in the free-agent market. Given the current status of the club, however, they could be forced to overpay to attract UFA talent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rather than chase overpriced UFAs, Adams should target clubs looking to shed salary before next season. With 13 teams carrying payrolls of over $70 million for next season, Adams could pluck away a couple of good young players from cap-strapped rivals.