NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2021

The Sabres strip Jack Eichel of his captaincy, plus several stars are already sidelined or returning from injuries as training camps open. Check out the details in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams confirmed yesterday the club had stripped Jack Eichel of the captaincy. The 24-year-old center also failed his team physical and will be placed on injured reserve.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Eichel and Sabres’ management remain in a standoff over which medical procedure he should receive to repair a herniated disc in his neck. He favors disc replacement surgery while the team doctors prefer fusion surgery. Adams also indicated the team is still open to trading Eichel at the right price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt any NHL fan or pundit is surprised by this news. It’s just another chapter in an impasse with no end in sight. There could be teams willing to let Eichel undergo disc replacement but they’re unwilling to pay the Sabres’ high asking price to acquire him.

Don’t expect to see Eichel on the ice this season unless one side blinks. I also don’t anticipate seeing him traded this season unless the Sabres drop their price. Even then, Eichel’s $10 million annual average value over the next five seasons is difficult for most teams to absorb even when he’s healthy.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin is expected to miss at least the first two months of this season recovering from offseason surgery on his right knee. The Penguins also have one unidentified player not yet fully vaccinated though he’s expected to be within the next few weeks.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane said he’s been dealing with a nagging injury since prior to the 2020 NHL playoffs but downplayed the severity. He and GM Stan Bowman didn’t elaborate but said it was a common ailment among hockey players.

Meanwhile, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was back with his teammates in his first formal practice since missing all of last season with Chronic Immune Response Syndrome. He’s hoping to be ready to play when the season opens next month.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and winger Mike Hoffman are likely to miss training camp and the start of the season. Price is recovering from offseason knee surgery while Hoffman has been sidetracked by a lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is listed as week-to-week due to ongoing rehabilitation on his hip. Meanwhile, teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov said he’s feeling good mentally and physically and ready to put a difficult 2020-21 season behind him.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck confirmed he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Aug. 20. He was unvaccinated at the time and took about 10 days to recover. He’s since been vaccinated but felt rushed into doing so in order to be ready for training camp so soon after recovering from the coronavirus.

I’m not anti-vax by any means,” he said. “But I’d like to have that decision for myself. It felt very forced on me.” He added the post-vaccination symptoms made him feel as though he had COVID again.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hellebuyck’s situation was unique and probably should’ve allowed him more leeway to become vaccinated so soon after recovering from COVID-19. NHL protocols would allow him to join his teammates under certain restrictions until he received his shots.

The league isn’t forcing its players to be inoculated. However, they face travel restrictions, additional testing, forfeiture of portions of their salaries if they miss playing time and social interaction limitations as a result.

Some might feel the NHL’s protocols are too restrictive. However, the league and the NHLPA don’t want a repeat of 2020-21 when multiple game postponements due to outbreaks of COVID-19 among several teams wreaked havoc on an already compressed schedule.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Center Tyler Seguin, winger Alexander Radulov and goaltender Ben Bishop were on the ice for the Stars’ opening day of training camp. Seguin missed all but three games last season to hip and knee surgeries. Radulov was sidelined most of last season by a core muscle injury requiring offseason surgery. Bishop, meanwhile, is hopeful of playing after missing all of last season to knee surgery.

CALGARY SUN: Flames center Sean Monahan revealed a hip injury bothered him for most of last season. He underwent offseason surgery and was on the ice for the club’s opening day of training camp.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche forward Stefan Matteau and defenseman Roland McKeown had both tested positive for COVID-19 but are nearing the end of their recovery. Meanwhile, head coach Jared Bednar said defenseman Cale Makar underwent an upper-body procedure recently but isn’t expected to miss any practice or preseason time.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins center Charlie Coyle began training camp yesterday wearing a non-contact red jersey. He’s coming off a pair of knee surgeries but is expected to be ready for the start of the season.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken center Yanni Gourde took part in drills yesterday wearing a non-contact jersey. GM Ron Francis indicates Gourde could return to action sooner than expected from offseason shoulder surgery. He was originally expected to be sidelined until December.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets goaltending coach Manny Legace revealed he was recently hospitalized fighting for his life with a severe case of COVID-19. He spent a week in intensive care before being released. He and his wife must now wait eight weeks before getting vaccinated as per CDC guidelines, something they had put off based on advice from doctors related to medical conditions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Legace and his wife for a speedy and complete recovery.

THE PROVINCE: An internal document shared with NHL teams earlier this week reveals the league believes 30 of its 32 teams could start the season with full capacity at their arenas. The exceptions are the Vancouver Canucks (50 percent) and the Montreal Canadiens (33 percent). The memo also revealed the various anticipated vaccine guidelines for all the franchises. 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 19, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 19, 2021

Check out the latest on the Flames, Oilers and Senators in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently reported Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving scoured the trade market this summer but couldn’t find many options to shake up his roster core. Treliving pointed out the difficulty in finding a trade partner to make a deal that made sense.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Francis noted few Flames drew much interest in the offseason trade market. Johnny Gaudreau’s struggles over the past two seasons hurt his trade value, as did the hip injury that affected Sean Monahan’s performance last season. Several other Flames, including Matthew Tkachuk, also played poorly.

Outside of signing Blake Coleman, it was difficult for the Flames to attract notable free agents. Francis cited “the dated arena, winter weather, high taxes, the team’s lack of playoff success, the scrutiny in a Canadian market and a coach (Darryl Sutter) who scares some players off.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving drew considerable criticism for what was perceived as his lack of effort to make significant changes. He didn’t make any excuses but it’s apparent some of those issues raised by Francis hampered Treliving’s offseason plans. It’s worth pointing out, however, the Flames had little difficulty landing Jacob Markstrom, who was last summer’s top free-agent goaltender.

Gaudreau is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July and could become a trade candidate if he and the Flames fail to reach an agreement on a contract extension. A bounce-back campaign could draw interest from other clubs at the March trade deadline.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples points out the Oilers will have difficulty re-signing Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi next summer if both play well this season. The club will have limited salary-cap space for the foreseeable future with the flat cap and the big contracts of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman.

It’s hard to imagine the Oilers having enough cap space to re-sign Yamamoto and Puljujarvi. They could try to move out Zack Kassian and his $3.2 million cap hit but maybe they can’t. Staples expects they’ll have to choose one or the other.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have over $74.5 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23 according to Cap Friendly. They’ll need to find a suitable goaltender to share the duties with Mike Smith as Mikko Koskinen and Alex Stalock probably won’t be re-signed.

Moving Kassian in a cost-cutting deal isn’t impossible but it won’t be easy. Holland might have to include a sweetener (draft pick or prospect) to get someone to take the full value of his remaining contract. That will also depend upon his performance this season.

They will also likely put Oscar Klefbom ($4.167 million) on long-term injury reserve if he’s unable to return from the shoulder surgery sidelining him for the coming season. They could also attempt to move him to a team seeking an LTIR player for cap relief. Still, that might not be enough to keep Yamamoto and Puljujarvi.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators center Logan Brown asked to be traded and changed agents in hopes of getting a deal. However, the club has insisted it’s not going to just give him away. With no value in the trade market, Brown signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Senators. He could get picked up by another club off waivers.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 6, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 6, 2021

A look at which players the Canadiens may have pursued before acquiring Christian Dvorak, plus the latest on Elias Pettersson, P.K. Subban and what the Leafs and Kraken must still address in the Labor Day edition of the NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In their latest “31 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek discussed the aftermath of the Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer-sheet saga. Friedman believes Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin may have called around asking about San Jose’s Tomas Hertl, Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov and Calgary’s Sean Monahan. Bergevin acquired Christian Dvorak from the Arizona Coyotes almost immediately after declining to match the Kotkaniemi offer sheet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dvorak seemed to be at or near the top of Bergevin’s list during his search last week for a replacement for Kotkaniemi. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels mentioned him as a trade target soon after the offer sheet was signed. I don’t doubt the Habs GM shopped around to see what other options were available but I don’t think he just settled for Dvorak.

Friedman also reported the Kotkaniemi offer sheet had the Vancouver Canucks’ front office nervous about another club doing the same with Elias Pettersson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contract talks are ongoing between Pettersson and the Canucks. The 22-year-old center would be a tempting target despite the Canucks’ public stance that they’d match any offer.

New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban (NHL Images).

However, the high cost of signing away Pettersson ($9 million or more per season) plus the compensation owed to the Canucks for a successful signing (at least two first-round picks, a second, and a third-round pick) make an offer sheet unlikely in this case.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports multiple sources confirmed the Bruins, on more than one occasion, explored what it would take to acquire P.K. Subban from the New Jersey Devils. At the same time, they hope to convince the Devils to pick up half of his $9 million cap hit for this season. Murphy also said the Toronto Maple Leafs had “more than lukewarm interest” in Subban.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would take a substantial offer to convince Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald to eat half of Subban’s cap hit. He can afford it but why do another club a favor for a less than worthwhile return?

Fitzgerald also isn’t under any pressure to move Subban. He’s only on their books for this season after which he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Devils also aren’t facing any cap crunch this season.

If Fitzgerald decides to trade Subban it could be close to the March trade deadline provided the Devils are out of playoff contention by then. Most of the 32-year-old blueliner’s salary will be paid out by then, making him more enticing to other clubs.

NHL.COM: Mike Zeisberger wondered who will join Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander among the Toronto Maple Leafs top-six this season. The Leafs are top-heavy and will need more secondary scoring from their supporting cast.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could be Nick Ritchie, Alex Kerfoot, and/or Ilya Mikheyev skating among the top six. Perhaps Michael Bunting gets a shot at left wing if Ritchie or Kerfoot don’t work out in those roles.

Nicholas J. Cotsonika believes the Seattle Kraken still needs more firepower up front. He wonders if they have enough depth at center with Yanni Gourde sidelined for at least the opening month of the season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kraken GM Ron Francis could attempt to address that issue depending on how things go during the club’s first training camp and preseason games.










NHL Morning Headlines and Rumors – August 16, 2021

NHL Morning Headlines and Rumors – August 16, 2021

Updated salary arbitration schedule including the latest on Kevin Fiala, the Sharks sign William Eklund, plus the latest speculation on the Flames and Oilers in today’s NHL morning headlines and rumors.

CAP FRIENDLY: Only five of 20 cases remain in this summer’s NHL arbitration schedule.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala’s hearing is slated for Aug. 17, Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros’ is set for Aug. 18 and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Dennis Gilbert’s is Aug. 21. Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Travis Sanheim and Calgary Flames rearguard Nikita Zadorov are scheduled for Aug. 26.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports Fiala seeks $6.25 million while the Wild are countering with $4 million. THE ATHLETIC’s Michael Russo tweeted Fiala chose a one-year contract. If the arbiter awards him that, he’ll be a restricted free agent again next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All cases thus far have been settled without going before an arbiter. The remainder could go the same route.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings avoided arbitration with Adam Erne, reaching an agreement on a two-year, $4.2 million contract.

PUCKPEDIA.COM: The San Jose Sharks signed William Eklund to a three-year, entry-level contract. The 18-year-old forward was the seventh overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As with the other 2021 picks signed to entry-level contracts, those deals will slide forward to next season if they play outside the NHL this season. Eklund could get a taste of action with the Sharks if he performs well in training camp. They could also play him in nine NHL games without burning the first year of his contract.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Hailey Salvian was asked if other moves could be in store for the Calgary Flames. She feels they still have some obvious holes on the defense, especially on the right side. They could consider going the trade or free-agent route or look within their system to address that issue.

Asked if the Flames could make a big move, Salvian believes they’re not done and there’s plenty of time remaining in the offseason. They’ve been linked to Buffalo’s Jack Eichel and St. Louis’s Vladimir Tarasenko. She also wondered if they might shop Sean Monahan or perhaps attempt to pry Christian Dvorak away from the Arizona Coyotes.

NHL.COM: Tim Campbell believes the Flames need a reliable backup goaltender for Jacob Markstrom. They must also negotiate a contract extension for winger Johnny Gaudreau.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames general manager Brad Treliving acknowledged changes had to be made following his club’s disappointing performance over the past two seasons. So far, he’s lost Mark Giordano in the expansion draft, acquired defenseman Nikita Zadorov, winger Tyler Pitlick and goalie Dan Vladar, and signed Blake Coleman to a six-year deal.

I don’t see the Flames winning the Eichel sweepstakes. Treliving shot down speculation of a Tarasenko-for-Matthew Tkachuk swap. Monahan’s 10-team no-trade clause is a stumbling block in any attempt to move him. Meanwhile, the Coyotes seem reluctant to move Dvorak unless a club is willing to overpay for his services.

Treliving could be keen to make another significant move and he still could pull it off. However, he could be finding suitable deals difficult to come by.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins speculates the Oilers could use a professional tryout offer route as training camp approaches to add an experienced No. 4 defenseman with a right-hand shot. He suggested Michael Stone or Sami Vatanen as possible options.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 18, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 18, 2021

Check out the latest on Matthew Tkachuk, Sean Monahan, Seth Jones, Martin Jones and more in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

NOTE: The NHL expansion draft roster freeze went into effect at 3 pm EST on Saturday. It expires on Thursday, July 22 at 1 pm EST.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Calgary Flames are “open for business”. Everyone is keeping an eye on Matthew Tkachuk, who faces an uncertain future in Calgary. The St. Louis Blues are believed among several teams interested in the 23-year-old winger.

Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan (NHL Images).

There’s also talk Flames general manager Brad Treliving is trying to gauge the trade market for center Sean Monahan. The Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators are among teams seeking help at center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch said the Flames are seeking players who compete and work hard to fit coach Darryl Sutter’s system. Tkachuk would seem to be a good fit in that system but he was said to be unhappy about his reduced playing time after Sutter took over.

A St. Louis native, Tkachuk’s been tied to the Blues in recent rumors. Treliving firmly denied the winger was unhappy in Calgary and wanted out. Still, the Flames GM could be willing to entertain offers from around the league.

The rebuilding Senators could benefit from acquiring someone like Monahan but I’m not sure he’s a fit with the Hurricanes. They’re already deep at center with Sebastian Aho, Vincent Trocheck and Jordan Staal.

The Chicago Blackhawks are trying to acquire Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets. To clear roster space, they’re attempting to move blueliner Nikita Zadorov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Scott Powers reports there’s a chance the Blackhawks won’t acquire Jones. A source also said they didn’t acquire Caleb Jones from Edmonton as bait to entice his older brother.

The Blackhawks also won’t be looking at signing Ryan Suter, who was bought out last week by the Minnesota Wild. Zadorov could be taken off their hands if left exposed in the expansion draft.

The San Jose Sharks addition of Adin Hill leaves staring goalie Martin Jones’ future uncertain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz recently speculated the Sharks could buy out Jones. It’ll save them $3.8 million next season, $3.33 million the following season and $2.8 million in 2023-24. The final three seasons will count as $1.66 million annually against their cap. A trade would get his contract entirely off their books but Kurz considers that unlikely.

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Julien BriseBois is trying to package draft picks with bad contracts in the hope a team with cap space (Arizona, Buffalo) might take them off his hands. He’s also hoping the Seattle Kraken take Tyler Johnson and his $5 million annual cap hit in the expansion draft.

Sources told Garrioch Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was trying to move winger Mason Appleton before the trade freeze. Those talks could continue if he’s not selected by the Kraken.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 6, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 6, 2021

Will the Blues trade Vladimir Tarasenko or Vince Dunn this summer? What could the Flames get for Sean Monahan? Check out the latest speculation in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

WILL TARASENKO OR DUNN HIT THIS SUMMER’S TRADE BLOCK?

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford was asked if St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong will consider trading Vladimir Tarasenko during a mailbag segment last week.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

He believes Armstrong will gauge Tarasenko’s trade value this summer. The 29-year-old winger has two years remaining on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $7.5 million and they need more production from him.

Tarasenko could improve with more playing time following his third shoulder surgery. However, if the Blues opt for a more hardworking, blue-collar lineup, they might feel it’s time to go in a different direction. Tarasenko might feel the same way.

If Armstrong feels Tarasenko cannot help the Blues, he’ll have to find a “hockey trade” because the Blues would benefit from a player or players at the equivalent of $7.5 million who can play within their system. Rutherford points out Tarasenko’s no-trade clause gives him some control here.

STLTODAY.COM: Jeff Gordon believes Tarasenko’s salary, shoulder surgeries and declining production will have limited appeal in this summer’s trade market. “Only a moron would pay a premium for him while assuming his injury risk and cap hit,” said Gordon. He did, however, acknowledge Armstrong got the Philadelphia Flyers to take “The Ghost of Jori Lehtera” for Brayden Schenn.

Armstrong’s more realistic trade chips include Vince Dunn, Zach Sanford, Ivan Barbashev, Robert Thomas, Jake Walman, Scott Perunovich and Klim Kostin. Gordon also speculates the Blues GM could be willing to part with premium draft picks while trying to get his talented nucleus back into the Stanley Cup chase.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Vince Dunn is drawing trade interest around the league. There was a time earlier in the year when the Blues were thinking about moving him and were asking for a first-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t rule out a Tarasenko trade but I wouldn’t anticipate it for the reasons cited by Gordon. He could be exposed in the expansion draft but those aforementioned factors could scare off the Seattle Kraken.

Dunn, on the other hand, seems the more likely trade candidate. The Blues were looking into moving him back in January but nothing came of it, perhaps because teams weren’t willing to part with a first-round pick.

At the time, I suggested the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets as potential destinations for Dunn. Maybe those clubs will be among the suitors.

If that move happens it’ll likely be near the July 23-24 NHL draft weekend. I daresay we’ll hear his name come up more frequently in the rumor mill over the next several weeks.

WHAT COULD THE FLAMES GET IN RETURN FOR MONAHAN?

THE ATHLETIC: Hailey Salvian was asked by a reader last week what kind of player the Calgary Flames could get in a one-for-one trade of Sean Monahan.

She isn’t certain what the return would be at this point, suggesting his value falls between what he was in 2018-19 and what we’ve seen in the last two years. The 26-year-old center’s recovery from recent hip surgery could be a factor. However, it’s not a big red flag because he’s expected to be ready in time for training camp.

The decline in his production over the last two seasons would have an effect on his trade value. His contract ($6.375 million AAV through 2022-23, modified no-trade clause) could also be a sticking point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Monahan also leaves a void at center that the Flames could struggle to fill. There’s also the risk of trading him this summer only to see him bounce back with another club while the Flames get a pittance in return.

Trading Monahan could be among the Flames’ options as management considers shaking things up following the disappointments of the last three seasons. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t surprise me if they stick with him for one more season and see where things stand after that.