NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 11, 2021

The Golden Knights advance to the semifinals, the Hart Trophy finalists are revealed, the Blue Jackets hire a new head coach and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights are heading to the semifinals of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs after eliminating the Colorado Avalanche with a 6-3 victory in Game 6 of their second-round series. Alex Pietrangelo snapped a 3-3 tie late in the second period with what proved to be the winning goal, with William Carrier and Max Pacioretty putting the game away in the third period. Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar missed practice due to an irregularity in his COVID-19 test result but was cleared to be behind the bench for Game 6.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex PIetrangelo (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights’ depth made the difference as they overcame a 2-0 series deficit with four straight victories. They were built for the heavy going of playoff action and it showed as this series progressed. The speedy Avs were outstanding during the regular season and made short work of the struggling St. Louis Blues but they couldn’t match the Golden Knights’ grinding physical style.

The Stanley Cup Semifinals schedule indicates the Golden Knights will face the Montreal Canadiens beginning Monday, June 14 in Las Vegas. The Tampa Bay Lightning will square off against the New York Islanders on Sunday, June 13 in Tampa Bay.

Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid are this year’s finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy.

THE ATHLETIC: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton had some choice words for the Tampa Bay Lightning in his end-of-season press conference on Thursday. “We lost to a team that was $18 million over the cap or whatever they are,” he said. Hamilton’s Hurricanes were eliminated by the Lightning from the second round in five games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton wasn’t far off in that assessment as Cap Friendly shows the Lightning used $17.3 million in long-term injury reserve this season, in part because top-line right winger Nikita Kucherov ($9.5 million) missed the entire regular season recovering from hip surgery. That gave Bolts management sufficient cap relief to maintain their roster, including the addition of defenseman David Savard at the trade deadline.

Critics accused the Lightning of gaming the system but what they did is allowable under the collective bargaining agreement. As long as a team can prove to the league that a player cannot play during the regular season for medical reasons, they’re allowed to keep them on LTIR until the playoffs, when the cap no longer applies. That rule is applicable for all NHL teams.

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets announced Brad Larsen has been named their new head coach. He spent the past seven years with the club as an assistant coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting move by the Jackets in promoting from within rather than looking outside their organization for a new bench boss. His familiarity with the players and the team could make for a smooth transition as the Jackets prepare for what could be a roster rebuild after several notable players departed via trades and free agency in recent years.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames hired Kirk Muller as an associate coach. Muller held the same title with the Montreal Canadiens until relieved of his duties in February.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith underwent core-muscle surgery on Thursday. His recovery time is expected to be six to eight weeks

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen has denied allegations he sexually assaulted a woman in 2017.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed forward Devin Shore to a two-year contract extension on Wednesday worth $1.7 million. The annual average value is $850K. On Thursday, forward Gaetan Haas signed a five-year deal with EHC Biel in Switzerland. He spent the past two seasons with the Oilers.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2018

Jets re-sign Josh Morrissey plus the latest on Victor Rask, Brent Seabrook, Mika Zibanejad and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: The Winnipeg Jets re-signed Josh Morrissey to a two-year contract worth $6.3 million. The annual average value is $3.15 million.

Winnipeg Jets re-sign Josh Morrissey to a two-year contract. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A reasonable contract for Morrissey coming off his entry-level contract. He quickly blossomed into a reliable top-four defenseman in just two NHL seasons. If he continues to develop as projected he’ll be in line for a considerable raise on his next deal.

Morrissey’s new contract could also affect restricted free agent blueliners such as Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse and Vegas’ Shea Theodore. More on that later this morning in the Rumors section.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER’s Chip Alexander reports Carolina Hurricanes forward Victor Rask could be sidelined for months. He accidentally sliced tendons and fingers on his right hand last week preparing food at home.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A tough break for Rask, who was hoping to bounce back from a 31-point performance last season.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook returned to the ice Sunday after missing the opening two days of training camp with an abdominal injury.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers center Mika Zibanejad avoided serious injury following a collision with a teammate during a training-camp practice yesterday. He left practice but cleared all concussion testing. Rangers coach David Quinn said Zibanejad had the wind knocked out of him but was otherwise fine.

LA PRESSE: The Montreal Canadiens re-signed assistant coach Kirk Muller to a two-year contract extension. 

TSN: Calgary Flames co-owner Clay Riddell passed away on Sunday. He was 81. “Riddell joined Flames ownership in 2003 after spending much of his life building oil and gas companies, including Paramount Resources.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Riddell’s family, friends and the Flames organization.

CALGARY SUN: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league’s efforts to grow the game in China doesn’t necessarily mean it will participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Though Bettman didn’t say the league has slammed the door on the possibility, he said 2022 “is a long ways off and lots of things can happen between now and then.” The NHL declined to participate in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, citing the disruption to their regular-season schedule.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The fact Bettman is playing coy about the 2022 Games suggests the folks at NHL headquarters could be willing to take part provided certain conditions are met. While the league made a lot of noise about team owners unhappiness over shuttering the schedule for two-three weeks in midseason for the Olympics, I believe the real reason is they weren’t getting a bigger slice of the Olympic revenue pie. If the International Olympic Committee dangles more cash in front of the NHL, the owners could be more likely to go along. 


Latest on the Stars, Jets and Avalanche – April 10, 2017

Latest on the Stars, Jets and Avalanche – April 10, 2017

Could the Dallas Stars pursue LA Kings goaltender Ben Bishop via free agency in July?

Possible coaching candidates for the Stars, latest on Jacob Trouba and Toby Enstrom and an update on the Avalanche in your NHL rumor mill. 

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: With the Dallas Stars’ announcing yesterday Lindy Ruff will not return as their head coach, Mike Heika list former Stars bench boss Ken Hitchcock, former Florida Panthers coach Gerard Gallant and Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Kirk Muller as three options to consider.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Heika is offering up suggestions and isn’t saying the Stars are pursuing those three. General manager Jim Nill undoubtedly has his own ideas over who will replace Ruff. It could be one of the guys on Heika’s list or somebody else. 

Heika also recently examined which players the Stars will part ways with this summer and those they could pursue via trade or free agency. He speculated pending free agent Patrick Sharp might want to finish his career with the Stars and thinks the Stars could be interested in bringing back winger Ales Hemsky. He doesn’t expect Jiri Hudler will be back.

Free agent targets could include LA Kings goaltender Ben Bishop, Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner and Caps winger T.J. Oshie. Heika also recommended trying to pry promising goalie Joonas Korpisalo away from the Columbus Blue Jackets before the June expansion draft. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharp is 35 and underwent hip surgery. If he wants to return, the Stars have to determine if he’s a good fit under their new head coach. Same goes for Hemsky.

Bishop will be an expensive free-agent target. A more affordable option could be Chicago’s Scott Darling. Other goalie trade options could include Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Washington’s Philipp Grubauer and the New York Ranger’s Antti Raanta. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Ted Wyman reports defenseman Jacob Trouba has no problem with playing in Winnipeg. Finishing the first season of a two-year deal, his contract standoff last fall raises questions over the long-term future with the Jets. “The contract is a two-way street and both sides have to come to together and agree on something. It’s not completely me, it’s not completely them. It’s a mutual thing,” said Trouba. He adds he’ll speak with his agent and with management, but also said he’ll play out next year and see how things go. He’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next July.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike Sawatzky reports Jets defenseman Toby Enstrom has one season remaining on his contract. The 32-year-old could give the Jets more flexibility in the June expansion draft by agreeing to waive his no-movement clause, but he insists he’s happy with the Jets and hasn’t been asked by management to waive his clause. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trouba was the subject of trade speculation throughout last summer and into the opening month of the season before agreeing to his two-year deal. I expect the trade chatter could resurface following the playoffs. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could approach the Trouba camp about a long-term deal in July, but I have a feeling they’ll be content to wait until next summer in hopes his value will rise. As for Enstrom, I doubt he’ll waive his NMC simply to be exposed in the expansion draft. 

THE DENVER POST: Terry Frei recently reported Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic still considers Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Jost as untouchables. “They’re part of the rebuild because of their ages and the direction we want to go,” he said. “It’s like anything, I don’t know the calls you’re going to get, but those are building blocks.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent speculation suggested MacKinnon was no longer an untouchable. Sakic has publicly dismissed that idea. Of course, if a rival were to pitch an incredible offer to the Avs GM, maybe he’ll change his mind, but I’ll take Sakic at his word. MacKinnon is the closest to a franchise player the Avs have. Unless the offer is someone such as Toronto’s Auston Matthews or Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine as part of the return – and we all know those two aren’t going anywhere – I don’t see the Avs trading MacKinnon.