NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 28, 2021

Recaps of Saturday’s action, the Rangers and Kings make a trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Third-period goals by Nick Ritchie and Craig Smith lifted the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres 3-2, handing the latter their 17th straight loss. Boston winger Brad Marchand missed the game when he was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. With 39 points, the Bruins hold a three-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for fourth place in the MassMutual East Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres were actually the better team through the first two periods but couldn’t close the deal in the third.

The Flyers ended a four-game losing skid by edging the New York Rangers 2-1. Samuel Morin’s first NHL goal was the game-winner. The Rangers (34 points) sit two points behind the Flyers and five back of the Bruins.

Max Pacioretty’s overtime goal gave the Vegas Golden Knights a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Golden Knights (47 points) hold a one-point lead for first place in the Honda West Division over the Avalanche, who extended their points streak to 10 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the day’s most entertaining game and perhaps a preview of a playoff series between these two clubs later this spring.

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Calvin Pickard made 21 saves for his first win since 2018 by backstopping his club to a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dylan Larkin collected two assists and Robby Fabbri tallied what proved to be the game-winner as the Wings snapped a three-game losing streak. The loss leaves the Blue Jackets (34 points) one point behind the fifth-place Nashville Predators and three back of the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Discover Central Division.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Martin Necas (NHL Images).

Martin Necas scored twice and added two assists to lead the Carolina Hurricanes over the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. Teammate Dougie Hamilton picked up an assist to extend his team points record to 14 games. Pat Maroon had a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay. With 49 points, the Hurricanes sit one back of the first-place Lightning in the Central Division.

An overtime goal by Auston Matthews lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 4-3. The Leafs overcame a 3-1 deficit on third-period tallies from John Tavares and William Nylander. Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists for the Oilers while Connor McDavid collected two assists. The win gives the Leafs (46 points) a two-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Scotia North Division. The Oilers sit one behind the Jets.

A hat trick by Bryan Rust powered the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders, bringing goalie Ilya Sorokin’s eight-game win streak to an end. Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist for the Penguins (46 points), who move within two points of the second-place Islanders in the MassMutual East.

The Nashville Predators picked up their fourth straight victory by downing the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1. Luke Kunin collected two assists in his first game since being sidelined on Feb. 28 with a lower-body injury. Blackhawks center Kirby Dach was held pointless in his season debut after missing 34 games with a fractured wrist. The win moves the Predators (35 points) just two points behind the fourth-place Blackhawks in the Central.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm and forward Mikael Granlund are considered among the players most likely to move by the April 12 trade deadline. That could change, however, if the Predators overtake the Blackhawks.

Aaron Ekblad scored the game-winner as the Florida Panthers edged the Dallas Stars 4-3 in overtime. Ekblad tallied earlier in the frame but that goal was overturned on an offside review. Carter Verhaeghe had a hat trick for the Panthers (46 points), who remain three points back of the second-place Hurricanes in the Central. The Stars (31 points) sit six points behind the fourth-place Blackhawks but hold four games in hand.

The Arizona Coyotes got a natural hat trick from Phil Kessel and a 34-save shutout performance from Adin Hill to blank the San Jose Sharks 4-0. The Coyotes have won three straight and move into a tie with the St. Louis Blues with 37 points in the West Division. The Blues, however, hold fourth place with a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes were expected to become sellers at the April 12 trade deadline. That will change if they stay in the thick of the West Division playoff race.

Third-period goals by Andrew Mangiapane and Sam Bennett enable the Calgary Flames to double up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2 and snap a four-game losing skid. Calgary winger Johnny Gaudreau collected an assist in his 500th career NHL game. The Flames (35 points) move two points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens in the North Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudreau showed a lot of energy in this game after being publicly called out by head coach Darryl Sutter before this contest.

HEADLINES

NEW YORK POST: The New York Rangers traded winger Brendan Lemieux to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Post reports the Rangers were looking to free up a roster spot, perhaps for promising Vitali Kravtsov after he recently joined the team following a stellar season in the KHL. Lemieux, 25, will bring some grit to the rebuilding Kings’ checking lines.

TSN: Boston Bruins defenseman John Moore will be sidelined five-to-six months after electing to undergo hip arthroscopy and labral repair on March 22. He appeared in just five games this season.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes forward Nick Schmaltz was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL’s department of player safety for boarding San Jose Sharks defenseman Radim Simek on Friday.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Brandon Tanev and Mark Jankowski were placed on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list.

CBS SPORTS: Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert is listed as week-to-week with an undisclosed injury.

New York Islanders forward Michael Dal Colle will miss the next two games with a lower-body injury.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed high-touted US college prospect forward Cole Caufield to a three-year entry-level contract. He will start his pro career with the Habs’ AHL affiliate in Laval. Caufield is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 24, 2020

A look at Sportnet’s list of possible contract buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BUYOUT CANDIDATES

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner, Edmonton Oilers winger James Neal and New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist top Luke Fox’s list of 14 players who might be considered for contract buyouts.

Will the New York Rangers buy out Henrik Lundqvist? (NHL Images)

Buying out Neal would free up $3.83 million if the Oilers need room to go shopping in the trade or free-agent markets. The Rangers, meanwhile, don’t intend to carry three goalies as they did this season, making Lundqvist a possible buyout candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Alzner has two years left on his contract with an annual average value of $4.625 million. The Habs have kept him buried in the minors and could afford to do so again for 2020-21. Cap Friendly indicates buying him out would only give them over $666K in cap savings next season, though that increases to $2.66 million in 2021-22.

The first buyout period runs from Sept. 25 to Oct. 8. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks suggests the Rangers could wait until the 24-hour second buyout window following the settlement or award on filings by any one of their arbitration-eligible restricted free agents. That would allow some additional time to determine if there’s a trade partner for Lundqvist once the goalie market carousel slows down.

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Olli Maatta, Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, and Vancouver Canucks forwards Loui Eriksson and Sven Baertschi are also on Fox’s list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks would see substantial savings buying out Maatta, as the annual cap hit over the next four years would be over $680K. I believe the Golden Knights will attempt to trade Fleury if they re-sign Robin Lehner. A buyout could be the option of last resort.

Fox points out an Eriksson buyout wouldn’t provide much cap relief for the Canucks, but they would get $1.7 million in relief by buying out Baertschi. Canucks GM Jim Benning could prefer the trade route for one or both, even if it meant absorbing some salary.

Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris, New York Islanders winger Andrew Ladd, Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader and Florida Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman are other possible buyout candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox points out Turris has four years at $6 million annually on his contract, Ladd has three years with an AAV of $5.5 million, while Abdelkader has three years at $4.25 million annually remaining on his deal.

Because buyouts are at twice the remaining tenure, their respective teams could be reluctant to go that route. The Isles won’t get much immediate cap relief buying out Ladd. Stralman has two years at $5.5 million annually left. A buyout would provide $3 million in cap savings for next season.

Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo, Anaheim Ducks winger David Backes, and Boston Bruins defenseman John Moore round out Fox’s list. It was subsequently noted the Ducks informed Backes they’ll keep him for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Okposo and Moore each have three years remaining on their contracts. The Sabres have gone the buyout route in the past so we can’t dismiss the possibility they’ll do it again. However, an Okposo buyout would count as $4 million against their cap for next season and $5 million in 2021-22.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 18, 2020

The latest return-to-play news, more reaction on the Sabres’ front-office purge, and updates on Jonathan Drouin, Pavel Datsyuk, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

RETURN-TO-PLAY UPDATES

TSN: The NHL’s bottom line could face a short-term blow from the COVID-19 pandemic. Last season, the league cracked $5 billion in revenue for the first time. Former Buffalo Sabres managing Larry Quinn speculates that could be cut in half in the short term. It’s already being felt among several clubs, with at least 10 having laid off or furloughed employees and executives taking pay cuts.

Could an influx of NHL players in Las Vegas increase coronavirus rates in the area?

The players, meanwhile, are bracing themselves for lost salaries with an ongoing deferral of their final paychecks for this season. Hockey analyst and former NHL GM Brian Burke reported one option being discussed is the further deferral of part of players’ wages until revenues bounce back.

Gate revenue will be affected as long as fans are prohibited by COVID-19 restrictions from attending games. The reduced value of the Canadian dollar will also take a toll on league revenue, as well as uncertainty over the league’s next U.S. television deal. That’s led to questions over what the salary cap will look like and the effect upon a new collective bargaining agreement.

Sports attorney Irwin Kishner believes the NHL must consider out-of-the-box promotional ideas to generate revenue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why the league and the NHL Players Association is considering starting next season on Jan. 1, 2021, in hopes fans will be allowed back in arenas by then.

Various reports suggest both sides could maintain the salary-cap at $81.5 million for next season to ensure teams don’t have to significantly slash player payrolls. There’s also talk of a CBA extension implemented before the playoff tournament begins in August.

It will be interesting to see the effect of the pandemic beyond next season. The league wants a full 82-game schedule starting next January, but a second COVID-19 wave could force them to scrub part of it and reducing hockey-related revenue for 2021-22.

SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre weighed the pros and cons of Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver as one of the NHL’s two proposed host cities for its playoff tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The biggest sticking point is Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine period for anyone arriving from abroad. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated his government is comfortable with one of those Canadian cities as an NHL hub provided local health officials are ok with it. So far, officials in those three cities have expressed support.

LAS VEGAS SUN: With Las Vegas considered a lock as one of the two NHL host cities, Justin Emerson reports local officials believe the presence of players from 12 NHL teams won’t spread the coronavirus further into an area that’s already infected.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 12 NHL teams will be quarantined away from the general public in a bubble area encompassing the arena, training facilities, and hotels where they’ll be staying. The players will be tested daily and anyone testing positive will be quarantined.  A greater concern is whether rising COVID-19 numbers in the Las Vegas area poses a threat to the players. 

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Equipment changes, such as full-face shields, haven’t been part of the ongoing return-to-play talks between the league and the PA. Both sides are focused on off-ice protection from the coronavirus.

MORE REACTION TO THE SABRES’ FRONT-OFFICE PURGE

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun was critical of the Sabres’ constant hirings and firings, especially among their management and coaching staff. League officials told LeBrun it takes around five years for a general manager’s program to take hold. Former Sabres GM Jason Botterill and his predecessor, Tim Murray, each had three years in the role.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy believes Kevyn Adams, the Buffalo Sabres new general manager, will be scrambling to replenish his club’s scouting and development after those departments were gutted in a front-office purge earlier this week. Compounding the problem is finding suitable talent to fill those roles during a pandemic.

TSN’s Frank Seravalli posted the complete list of those who were fired by the Sabres. Their scouting department was hardest hit, slashed from 21 down to seven.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Time will tell if the Sabres’ moves will pay off. If recent history is anything to go by, don’t expect much improvement. It doesn’t help that some observers are already writing off Adams as a yes-man for Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula.

IN OTHER NEWS…

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Fully recovered from wrist and ankle injuries, Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin is looking forward to participating in the playoff tournament.

In other Canadiens news, Hall-of-Famer Bob Gainey raised over $300K from the sale of his hockey memorabilia. A portion will be donated to the Canadiens Children’s Foundation.

NHL.COM: Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller isn’t considering retirement after undergoing four surgical procedures on an injured kneecap. He hasn’t played since April 2019 and is an unrestricted free agent following this season.

BOSTON HERALD: Bruins blueliner John Moore has fully recovered from the shoulder surgery that limited him to 24 games this season.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Calgary Flames assistant GM Chris Snow is showing remarkable resilience as he battles ALS. Given six to 18 months to live, an experimental drug has lengthened his horizon and maintained his quality of life.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Snow in his ongoing fight with this dreadful disease.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: A report from Russia Today claimed Hall-of-Famer Pavel Datsyuk was said to be holed up with his family with a rogue priest at a Russian monastery. Keith Gave, author of “The Russian Five”, said he spoke with Datsyuk’s agent, who said the Datsyuk family is actually spending time at their cottage.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dan Milstein posted a video this morning showing his client splitting wood at his cottage.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 30, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 30, 2020

Check out recent speculation on the Bruins, Golden Knights, and Hurricanes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHICH BRUINS COULD BE ON THE MOVE FOLLOWING THIS SEASON?

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Joe McDonald believes Torey Krug should be among the Boston Bruins’ untouchables, but the 29-year-old defenseman unrestricted free agent status at season’s end creates uncertainty over his future in Boston. Krug expressed his desire to remain a Bruin, but McDonald believes he’ll have to accept a hometown discount. Krug recently said there have been no contract discussions because nobody knows what the financial implications will be for the league.

McDonald also believes pending UFAs Jaroslav Halak and Kevan Miller could be on the move. John Moore‘s spot on the blueline is up in the air because of the Bruins’ growing blueline depth. UFA center Joakim Nordstrom could also be a goner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krug’s future with the Bruins will remain a hot topic in the rumor mill until the NHL and NHLPA work out next season’s salary cap. That hometown discount could be around $6.5 million annually, but Krug would get more on the open market. That, of course, is assuming the cap remains at $81.5 million.

Could the Vegas Golden Knights try to re-sign Robin Lehner? (Photo via NHL Images)

This year’s UFA class could find it difficult getting hefty pay raises in the off-season. Nevertheless, clubs with plenty of salary-cap space could be willing to pay big bucks for a top free agent like Krug.

COULD A CHANGE BE COMING IN THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS’ NET?

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently mused over the plight of the Vegas Golden Knights’ goaltending. They acquired Robin Lehner at the trade deadline, prompting O’Brien to wonder if they could try to keep him following this season. “Doing so would require some juggling, possibly including trying to convince MAF (Marc-Andre Fleury) to accept a trade … but it’s something the Golden Knights should at least consider.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Brien’s not the first pundit to speculate about the Golden Knights re-signing Lehner and shopping Fleury. If that scenario isn’t possible, they could dip into the UFA market for a more affordable, short-term backup option for Fleury. Halak, Anton Khudobin, Thomas Greiss, and Cam Talbot are among those potentially available.

LATEST ON THE HURRICANES FREE AGENTS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Sara Civian speculates the Carolina Hurricanes could part ways with recently-acquired defenseman Sami Vatanen. Their acquisition of Brady Skjei could mean Joel Edmundson won’t be back, but she doesn’t rule out the Canes re-signing blueliner Trevor van Riemsdyk for the right price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vatanen was meant to be a rental player with Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce sidelined in late-February. I doubt he’s part of their plans beyond this season. I don’t see Edmundson returning unless he accepts less money on a short-term deal or van Riemsdyk tests the market.










The NHL Buyout Barometer – Atlantic Division (Part II)

The NHL Buyout Barometer – Atlantic Division (Part II)

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 6, 2020

Game recaps, Leafs acquire Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford from the Kings, plus the latest on Mark Giordano, Anthony Mantha, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Charlie McAvoy’s overtime goal gave the Boston Bruins a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Sean Kuraly also scored for the Bruins (78 points), who picked up their fifth straight victory. They move one point ahead of the Washington Capitals into first place in the Eastern Conference and overall standings. Alex DeBrincat replied for the Blackhawks (58 points), who picked up a point to move within two of the Calgary Flames for the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

Chris Kreider scored and collected an assist in the New York Rangers 5-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images).

Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider scored six seconds apart in the first period as the New York Rangers downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3. Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and two assists. Auston Matthews scored twice for the Leafs (63 points), who remains two points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot and one back of the Florida Panthers for third in the Atlantic Division.

Following the game, the Leafs traded winger Trevor Moore, a third-round pick (originally from Columbus via Ottawa) in 2020, and a conditional third-rounder in 2021 to the Los Angeles Kings for goaltender Jack Campbell and winger Kyle Clifford. The Kings retain half of Clifford’s $1.6-million annual salary-cap hit. The 2020 third-rounder becomes a second-round pick if the Leafs re-sign Clifford, or Campbell wins six regular-season games and the Leafs reach the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas had no choice. Starting goalie Frederik Andersen is day-to-day with a neck injury, Michael Hutchinson isn’t getting the job done as the backup, and third-stringer Kasimir Kaskisuo has limited NHL experience. With the Leafs spinning their wheels and in danger of missing the playoffs, Dubas had to shore up his goalie depth.

Campbell’s stats (8-10-2, 2.85 GAA, .900 SP) are better than Hutchinson’s. He’s also signed through 2021-22 at an affordable $1.65-million AAV. Clifford, meanwhile, should bring some welcome grit and veteran leadership to the Leafs’ lineup. Moore, 24, is a Southern California native who can be an immediate fit with the rebuilding Kings’ checking lines.

If this deal doesn’t pan out, it’ll stoke ongoing criticism of Dubas’ inability to suitably address his club’s depth between the pipes. 

CALGARY SUN: No word yet regarding the status of defenseman Mark Giordano. The Flames captain underwent an MRI for a lower-body injury suffered during Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames were reportedly in the market for a top-six forward. Their priority could shift if Giordano is out long-term. 

OTTAWA SUN: Bobby Ryan rejoins the Senators for the first time since entering the NHL’s Players’ Assistance program on Nov. 20. While medically cleared to resume skating, there’s no timetable when he’ll return to action. 

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha revealed he suffered a punctured lung after being slammed to the ice by Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin during an altercation on Dec. 21. He also came down with the flu that week. Mantha estimates he could return to the lineup between Feb. 10 – 15. 

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier (laceration, left knee) and defenseman Sami Vatanen (lower-body bruise) will miss tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. 

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals rookie goaltender Ilya Samsonov is listed as day-to-day with a head injury from a high shot taken by Alex Ovechkin during practice on Tuesday.