NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 21, 2023
An update on Sebastian Aho’s contract talks, the latest on Brock Boeser and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, plus the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said the club is closing in on a contract extension with Sebastian Aho. The 25-year-old center is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He’s in the final season of a five-year contract with an average annual value of $8.454 million.
“We’re working on it, getting close,” said Waddell. The Hurricanes GM indicated the two sides are talking “almost daily”, adding that he remains hopeful of reaching an agreement “in the next week or so.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This shouldn’t come as a surprise. There’s no way the Hurricanes are going to let their best offensive player walk away next summer.
Aho is a key reason why the Canes are a Stanley Cup contender this season. He could be in line for a maximum eight-year contract worth an AAV between $9.5 million and $10 million.
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser is working out with a new trainer this summer in the hope of reaching peak fitness for this season. The 26-year-old winger’s performance improved after Rick Tocchet took over as head coach. There’s reason for optimism if Boeser can also avoid injuries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A healthy, productive Boeser will be a crucial part of the Canucks playoff aspirations in 2023-24.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Oliver Ekman-Larsson is looking forward to a bounce-back performance with the Panthers after being bought out of his contract by the Canucks last month. The 32-year-old defenseman admitted a broken foot suffered during the 2022 IIHF World Championship adversely affected his offseason training last summer and contributed to his poor performance in 2022-23.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson’s performance has been in decline for several years but it really fell off last season. Perhaps a healthier offseason with a new club will lead to some improvement. Having signed a one-year, $2.25 million contract, he’s an affordable gamble for the Panthers.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs hired Guy Boucher and Mike Van Ryn as assistant coaches. Boucher will work with the power play while Van Ryn is expected to help with the defense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The additions of Boucher and Van Ryn prompted questions about head coach Sheldon Keefe’s future with the Leafs. He has a year remaining on his contract but remains unconcerned about his status. “The other stuff will work itself out over time,” said Keefe.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of hiring assistant coaches, the Capitals have brought in Kirk Muller and Kenny McCudden. Muller spent the past two seasons as an associate coach with the Calgary Flames while McCudden is coming off an eight-year tenure with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
TSN: The Dallas Stars have added former goaltender Ben Bishop as a player development coordinator. His main focus will be working with players from their AHL affiliate as well as prospects from Junior A and the NCAA.
TSN: The Chicago Blackhawks and forward Philipp Kurashev await an arbiter’s decision after entering his scheduled hearing yesterday without a deal. The decision will come within 48 hours.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per the 2020 memorandum of understanding (MOU) extending the collective bargaining agreement, negotiations cannot continue between the team and the player once the arbitration hearing has begun.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Former Pittsburgh Penguins forward Derek Grant has signed with the ZSC Lions in Switzerland’s National League. Grant, 33, has 132 points in 427 NHL games with the Penguins, Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres, Nashville Predators, Anaheim Ducks and Philadelphia Flyers.