NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 26, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 26, 2020

The Pacific Division wins the All-Star Game, David Pastrnak named tournament MVP, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Vancouver’s Elias Petterson scored twice and San Jose’s Tomas Hertl tallied the game-winner as the Pacific Division edged the Atlantic Division 5-4 to win the 2020 NHL All-Star Game. The Pacific Division all-stars received a check for USD 1 million for winning the tournament.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak is the MVP of the 2020 NHL All-Star Game (Photo via NHL Images).

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak was named tournament MVP through a fan vote on social media.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Despite scoring five goals, including the tournament winner, Tomas Hertl was left off the tournament MVP ballot. The Sharks winger was unperturbed, “I’m happy we won and we won the prize, so it’s exciting,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I watched the ASG because it’s my job, but it was such a farce that I was more absorbed in following social media comments about the game. While the ASG still matters as a locally-staged event, this glorified pond-hockey contest tends to be a national TV ratings dud in the U.S. and Canada. Los Angeles Times’ hockey writer Helene Elliott put it best:

 

Bob Duff, meanwhile, pitched several suggestions on how to improve the NHL ASG format. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs recalled Jake Muzzin and Trevor Moore from their conditioning stints with the Marlies.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Muzzin should provide a welcome boost to a defense that became porous during his absence.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: A source claims the Dallas Stars are a “highly considered” candidate to play games in China next season. Their opponent, as well as dates and locations, are unclear. It’s also uncertain if the NHL will stage games in China in 2020-21.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 24, 2020

PHWA midseason award winners, All-Star Game skills competition participants announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is the midseason favorite for the Hart Trophy (Photo via NHL Images).

The Professional Hockey Writers Association announced their 2019-20 Midseason NHL Award winners. Among them are  Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (Hart Trophy), Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson (Norris Trophy), Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (Vezina Trophy), and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (Calder Trophy). The PWHA also named Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander as their comeback player of the year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring serious injury or a significant decline in performance, McDavid is a lock for the Hart, Carlson for the Norris, and Makar for the Calder. Hellebuyck’s had an outstanding first half, but he’s struggled of late, which could affect his Vezina chances over the remainder of the season.

Participants for the skills competition for the upcoming 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis were announced yesterday.

CALGARY SUN: The upcoming All-Star game is a family affair for Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk and Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk. The brothers grew up watching their father Keith play for the St. Louis Blues in the early 2000s until his retirement in 2010.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The effects of Kendall Coyne Schofield’s participation in the skills competition at the 2019 NHL All-Star Game are examined in a new documentary.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks owner Hasso Plattner voiced his support of general manager Doug Wilson despite the club’s disappointing season. “While we are all very disappointed in the team’s performance thus far this season, Doug has a long history of leading our team to success,” said Plattner. He pointed to the club’s quick turnaround under Wilson after missing the playoffs in 2015.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Plattner’s confidence of Wilson, but I think the Sharks GM is facing the biggest challenge of his management career. He’s saddled himself with expensive veterans and doesn’t have much to draw upon in the prospect pipeline for trade bait.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs assigned defenseman Jake Muzzin to their AHL affiliate on a conditioning stint.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Muzzin’s imminent return is good news for a Leafs blueline that’s struggled in his absence.

CBS SPORTS: The Pittsburgh Penguins activated defenseman Justin Schultz off injured reserve.

TSN: Marc Methot believes his playing career has come to an end. He underwent knee surgery a year ago while with the Dallas Stars, but the knee continues giving him pain. The 13-year NHL veteran spent five seasons with the Ottawa Senators. Methot said he hasn’t made an official decision yet on his future.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2020

Check out the latest on the Wild, Penguins, Leafs, Blackhawks and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PENGUINS STILL INTERESTED IN ZUCKER

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports the Pittsburgh Penguins remain interested in Jason Zucker. However, they must find a way to make his contract ($5.5 million annually for the next three seasons) work. He also has a 10-team no-trade clause. Russo believes Zucker’s hometown Vegas Golden Knights are on his “yes list.”

The Pittsburgh Penguins are reportedly still interested in acquiring Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker (Photo via NHL Images).

Russo also speculates defenseman Jonas Brodin (signed through 2020-21, $4.16-million annual average value) would be attractive to clubs seeking a top-four defenseman. Those would include Carolina, Toronto, Florida, and Vegas. The Hurricanes have serious interest, but Russo wonders if Dougie Hamilton’s recent injury could make them change course.

The Wild also possesses an attractive right-shot blueliner in Matt Dumba. His production and defensive play have declined this season. There’s a risk in trading him, as the 25-year-old could regain his form. His poor play this season could also affect his trade value.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also reports the Penguins continue to pursue Zucker. However, the Wild aren’t ready to concede anything just yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Wild fail to climb back into the playoff chase by mid-February, first-year general manager Bill Guerin will become a seller. He won’t just ship out guys like Zucker, Brodin or Dumba for pennies on the dollar, but if he gets a solid offer for one them, I believe he’ll pull the trigger. There are others he could shop, but those three offer the best chance for a return that helps the Wild now and over the long term.

The Penguins made a failed attempt to land Zucker last spring. What could work in the Wild’s favor this time is Guerin joined them last summer from the Penguins’ front office. He’s well aware of Pittsburgh’s best young players and prospects. You can bet a couple of those could be in the asking price.

And no, I don’t see Mikko Koivu waiving his no-movement clause. Eric Staal could be moved if a team that’s not on his 10-team no-trade list comes calling, but I think Guerin would approach Staal to get his blessing.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said there’s a sense around the league the only way the Toronto Maple Leafs move winger Kasperi Kapanen is in a big deal that makes them significantly better. He also thinks the Leafs have been asked about pending UFA defensemen Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, and Jake Muzzin.

Friedman doesn’t see the Leafs becoming sellers, so the only way something happens there is is they want to give one of their younger blueliners more permanent minutes. It also sounds like there are some contract discussions between the Leafs and Muzzin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Kapanen won’t be used as trade bait for a backup goalie like the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev. If the 23-year-old winger can fetch them a reasonably priced top-four defenseman, preferably one with term remaining on his contract, I believe GM Kyle Dubas will take that deal.

No surprise they want to keep Muzzin. He’s their best defensive blueliner. With over $68 million invested in 12 players, they have sufficient room to re-sign Muzzin, but it won’t leave much space to fill out the rest of the roster unless they shed salary.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

Nothing’s happening with the Chicago Blackhawks as long as they remain in the playoff chase. Should that change before the trade deadline, Friedman wonders if Florida Panthers head coach (and former Blackhawks bench boss) Joel Quenneville would ask to approach Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith on the virtues of playing in southeast Florida.

Speaking of the Blackhawks, goaltender Robin Lehner still wants to be paid fairly for his services. The pending unrestricted free agent wouldn’t say for sure if a long-term deal is a priority, but Friedman feels he won’t take a lesser annual average salary to get a longer-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Friedman that the Blackhawks won’t become sellers if they remain in the postseason hunt. If they do test the trade market, I still don’t see Keith or Lehner going anywhere. Keith has a full no-movement clause and there’s no hint that he wants out. Lehner, meanwhile, is out-playing long-time Hawks starter Corey Crawford. I think Chicago GM Stan Bowman intends to re-sign Lehner.

New Jersey Devils forward Travis Zajac wants to stay put. His agent claims something was offered to his client earlier this season, but he was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause at that time. His camp will see about the future after the season. Friedman guesses the offer came from the New York Islanders,

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zajac has a year remaining on his contract worth $5.75 million. He’s spent his entire 14-season NHL career with the Devils. Maybe he’ll consider a trade during the off-season if the right club come calling.










What Can The Maple Leafs Do to Bolster Their NHL Roster?

What Can The Maple Leafs Do to Bolster Their NHL Roster?

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2019

Alex Ovechkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Steven Stamkos reach new career milestones, the latest injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Warren Foegele scored twice and collected an assist to lead the Carolina Hurricanes over the Washington Capitals 6-4. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his 256th career power-play goal to pass Teemu Selanne for third on the all-time list. Capitals winger Tom Wilson missed the game with a lower-body injury.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin sits third on the NHL’s all-time power-play goal list (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is in striking range of Dave Andreychuk (274) and Brett Hull (265) on the all-time list. 

Vegas Golden Knights netminder Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves for his 454th career victory in a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Fleury moves into a tie with Curtis Joseph for sixth place on the all-time wins list. Teammate Shea Theodore collected three assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury is just four wins behind the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, who’s fifth on the all-time list. Both are the wins leaders among active NHL goalies. 

A three-goal second period enabled the Tampa Bay Lightning to hold off the Montreal Canadiens 5-4. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos picked up his 800th career point, Victor Hedman collected four assists, and Alex Killorn scored twice. Brendan Gallagher had two helpers for the Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos is third among the Lightning’s all-time points leaders. Martin St. Louis is first with 953 points and Vincent Lecavalier second with 874. 

The New York Rangers edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 on an overtime goal by Tony DeAngelo, snapping the Leafs six-game win streak. Ryan Strome had a four-point performance and teammate Artemi Panarin collected three assists. Leafs center Auston Matthews scored two goals and set up another. The Rangers played without winger Brendan Lemieux, who’s sidelined 3-4 weeks with a fractured left hand. Earlier in the day, the Leafs announced defenseman Jake Muzzin is week-to-week with a broken foot whiile Ilya Mikheyev will miss at least three months following surgery to repair an artery and tendons in his wrist severed during Friday’s game against New Jersey.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray made 44 saves in a 6-4 win over the Nashville Predators. It was Murray’s first victory since Nov. 9. The Penguins blew 3-0 and 4-1 leads before Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust clinched the win with two late goals. Rust had a four-point night and Evgeni Malkin picked up three assists. Predators captain Roman Josi also had three assists while Mikael Granlund tallied twice. Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist returned to action since being sidelined on Nov. 30 by a lower-body injury. The Predators placed winger Colton Sissons on injured reserve with an ankle injury.

Timo Meier tallied a hat trick as the San Jose Sharks halted a four-game losing skid by downing the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. Sharks forward Melker Karlsson left the game in the first period after taking a slap shot to the head. He received some stitches and it’s hoped the injury isn’t as severe as it seemed.

Jacob Markstrom made a career-high 49 saves as the Vancouver Canucks nipped the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Elias Petterson had two points, including the game-winning goal. Kings captain Anze Kopitar also had a goal and an assist.

Ben Bishop made 41 saves in regulation and overtime backstopping the Dallas Stars over the Colorado Avalanche 3-2. Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov scored the only goals in the shootout. The Avalanche have dropped four of their last five games.

The Florida Panthers overcame a 3-1 deficit and held on for a 5-4 victory over the Detroit Red Wings, handing the latter their fifth straight defeat. Mike Hoffman had a three-point peformance for the Panthers.

IN OTHER NEWS…

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner is out three-to-four weeks with an upper-body injury suffered during Friday’s loss to the Boston Bruins.

NBC SPORTS: Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug (upper body, injured reserve) and Charlie McAvoy (upper body) won’t be available for tonight’s rematch against the Sabres.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers placed Markus Granlund and Brandon Manning on waivers.

CBS SPORTS: The Winnipeg Jets placed goaltender Eric Comrie on waivers.

 

 










Early-Season Free Agent Stock Watch: Top NHL UFAs for 2020

Early-Season Free Agent Stock Watch: Top NHL UFAs for 2020