NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 5, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 5, 2023

The Capitals sign Tom Wilson to a contract extension, Penguins winger Jake Guentzel suffers an ankle injury, an update on Ducks center Trevor Zegras and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: The Capitals announced Friday they reached an agreement with Tom Wilson on a seven-year contract extension for Tom Wilson worth an average annual value of $6.5 million.

Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson (NHL Images).

Wilson, 29, is entering the final season of a five-year deal worth an AAV of $5.16 million. As per Cap Friendly, his new contract is comprised of a total of $23 million in signing bonuses and $22.5 million in base salaries. He also has a 15-team no-trade list through the first four seasons, dropping to a 10-team NTC in the final three years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson’s new contract has generated a mixed reaction among observers.

Some believe it will benefit the Capitals over the long term given Wilson’s rise from a fourth-line grinder to a versatile top-six power forward and team leader. Others believe this contract won’t age well given his age, his recent injury history and the projected decline of his performance over the term of the contract.

If Capitals winger T.J. Oshie’s response is anything to go by, Wilson’s teammates are not only thrilled about his new contract but also consider it well-deserved.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins winger Jake Guentzel underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair his injured right ankle. He will be re-evaluated in 12 weeks. There was no immediate word as to the severity of the injury and when it occurred.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be a serious setback for the Penguins. Their best left winger, Guentzel could miss at least the start of their season. This news could affect whether management uses its current 48-hour contract buyout window to shed the contract of forward Mikael Granlund. It could also affect the Penguins’ reported interest in San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson.

NHL.COM: Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras is hopeful of getting a new contract signed soon. Linemate Troy Terry inked a seven-year, $49 million contract earlier this week. Zegras, 22, completed his entry-level contract last season, leading the Ducks with 65 points.

Hopefully, we get something done soon,” said Zegras. He acknowledged that this situation is up to his representatives to sort this out with Ducks management.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks have over $20 million in cap space for 2023-24 with Zegras and defenseman Jamie Drysdale left to sign. It’s not unusual for players coming off ELCs to have their negotiations drag out through the summer. There’s still plenty of time for both players to sign new deals before training camp opens next month.

Some assume Terry’s new contract could act as a cap for someone like Zegras. Terry, who turns 26 next month, is nearly four years older than his young linemate, who has considerably more upside. What will be interesting is whether Zegras gets a long-term contract worth $1-$2 million more per season than Terry or a shorter one for around the same cap hit in order to cash in on a much higher salary cap within the next three or four years.

CAP FRIENDLY: Speaking of Zegras and Drysdale, they’re among the 14 unsigned restricted free agents still remaining in the market. Other notables include New York Rangers winger Alexis Lafreniere, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard and Ottawa Senators center Shane Pinto.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: According to a study conducted by US Betting Report, the Toronto Maple Leafs led the NHL last season in Fan Cost Index (FCI), that is the metric that calculates the total cost for a family of four to attend a sporting event. The Leafs topped the list at $697.75.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some fans will point at the Leafs’ high salary-cap payroll as the reason why their FCI is so high. However, it’s the market that determines the cost of attending a Leafs game, not the players’ salaries.

TSN: Former NHL defenseman and Winnipeg Jets coach Bob Murdoch passed away at age 76. He played 757 games over 12 seasons (1970-71 to 1981-82) with the Montreal Canadiens, Los Angeles Kings, and the Atlanta/Calgary Flames, netting 60 goals and 278 points as well as winning two Stanley Cups with the Canadiens in 1971 and 1973.

Murdoch was also head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks in 1987-88 and the original Winnipeg Jets from 1989 to 1991, winning the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 1989-90. He also spent six seasons coaching in Germany.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Murdoch’s family, friends, former teammates and players who played for him.