NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 14, 2020

A roundup of notable news from the opening day of Phase 3 training camp, including the latest on Auston Matthews, David Pastrnak, Corey Crawford, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: The league revealed a total of 30 positive COVID-19 tests from 4,934 tests administered to over 600 players taking part in the Phase 2 voluntary training period (June 8 to July 12). They’re also aware of an additional 13 players who tested positive outside the Phase 2 training. All players who tested positive were/have been self-isolated and followed CDC and Health Canada protocols.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league will continue testing players in Phase 3 and will release weekly updates. Bear in mind this doesn’t mean all the players with positive tests remain sidelined. A number of them may have already recovered. 

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews confirmed he tested positive for COVID-19 last month. He said he was asymptomatic during his two weeks of self-quarantine at his Arizona home and is now fully healthy. Matthews indicated he couldn’t really pinpoint how and when he contracted the virus.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews remains the only player to be publicly identified as testing positive for the Coronavirus.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were missing from the opening day of Bruins’ training camp. Their absence was due to their quarantine period since returning from the Czech Republic. They’re expected to join their teammates within the next couple of days.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford missed practice yesterday and was declared “unfit to play” by head coach Jeremy Colliton. Under the NHL’s return-to-play protocols, the Blackhawks cannot disclose the reason behind Crawford’s absence or how long he’ll be away. Center Zack Smith (back injury) was also absent. 

TSN: Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw opted out of participating in the return-to-play plan to recover from ongoing concussion symptoms. He hopes to return to action for the 2020-21 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deadline for opting out was 5:30 pm ET yesterday.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko and forward Robert Bortuzzo were absent from practice yesterday. General manager Doug Armstrong said he expects the duo will return soon.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Patric Hornqvist is among 11 players absent from Penguins practice yesterday The others include forwards Anthony Angello, Adam Johnson, Sam Miletic, Sam Poulin, Phil Varone, defensemen Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Juuso Riikola, goaltenders Casey DeSmith, Alex D’Orio, and Emil Larmi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nine of the players were reportedly sidelined because of exposure with a person who has been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, though the teams didn’t identify them as per league protocols. They won’t be participating in practices until they’ve passed additional screenings. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi and forward Colton Sissons weren’t with the main group at practice but skated earlier in the day.

THE ATHLETIC: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland was listed as unfit to play yesterday. It’s believed linked to post-concussion symptoms related to a head injury suffered nine months ago.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Martin Necas was the notable absence from the Carolina Hurricanes practice yesterday.

THE ATHLETIC’s Arpon Basu updated his story on three Montreal Canadiens reportedly testing positive for COVID-19, indicating two of those players tested were false positives.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: reported Brett Kulak, Xavier Ouellet, and Josh Brook missed practice yesterday. Max Domi is taking 7-10 days to decide if he’ll rejoin his teammates because he’s a type-1 diabetic with celiac disease.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Caleb Jones was listed unfit to play with the main group yesterday, but would skate with a smaller group working with extra goaltenders.

CALGARY SUN: Flames forwards Dillon Dube and Buddy Robinson were absent from yesterday’s practice.

TSN: Florida Panthers assistant coach Mike Kitchen opted out of the return-to-play plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We better get used to this lack of information regarding the absence of players throughout the return-to-play plan. Don’t be surprised if this trend continues beyond the return-to-play period. It could make one yearn for the days when a player was absent because of an “upper-body” or “lower-body” injury.

CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gotisbehere underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during the league’s hiatus. He was at training camp yesterday but admitted he’s not fully 100 percent.

TSN: Speaking of the Flyers, Nolan Patrick remains sidelined with a migraine disorder. He’s not expected to participate in the return-to-play plan.


MONTREAL GAZETTE/NEW YORK POST/TWINCITIES.COM: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov, New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin, and Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov signed their entry-level contracts (ELC) yesterday. They’re allowed to practice with their new clubs but cannot participate in the upcoming playoff tournament in Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan. They will also burn off the first year of their ELCs.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild removed the interim label from head coach Dean Evason’s title, signing him to a two-year contract extension.

SPORTSNET: Mikhail Grigorenko is returning to the NHL in 2020-21, signing a one-year, $1.2-million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He spent the past three seasons in the KHL.

TORONTO SUN: Canadian broadcasters are unhappy over NBC Sports serving as the world feed for all NHL games played in the hub city of Toronto. Sportsnet will provide the world feed for the hub city of Edmonton. The Stanley Cup Final, to be held in Edmonton, will have Canadian and American feeds for the individual rights-holders.


Midseason NHL Rookie Watch for 2019-20

Midseason NHL Rookie Watch for 2019-20


NHL Rumor Mill – December 21, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – December 21, 2018

Latest on Patrick Marleau, Jake Gardiner, Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs try moving Patrick Marleau next summer in a cost-cutting deal? (Photo via NHL Images)


TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons considers Patrick Marleau’s contract “a boondoggle” for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Marleau’s $6.25-million annual average value could contribute to a salary-cap crunch for the Leafs as they attempt to re-sign young superstars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

Simmons recommends management ask Marleau to waive his no-movement after this season. He points out $17.5 million of the winger’s bonus-laden $18.75-million contract will be paid out by July 1. “With only $1.25 million left on the deal, he’d be a bargain for teams that don’t spend to the cap,” writes Simmons. 

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel recently noted the Leafs path to re-sign pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Jake Gardiner is increasingly narrow. In addition to re-signing Matthews and Marner, they’ll also have to re-sign restricted free agents Kaspari Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson and re-sign or replace others, such as pending UFA Ron Hainsey. Even if Gardiner were to agree to less than market value, they might have to trade another player, “probably Nikita Zaitsev and/or Connor Brown.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs management faces a delicate balancing act trying to re-sign their key players. Matthews and Marner could cost at least $20 million, pushing the Leafs’ cap payroll for 2019-20 to over $76 million. Yes, they’ll get some cap relief with Nathan Horton on permanent long-term injured reserve, but they’ll still be hard-pressed to come up with sufficient space for Gardiner, Kapanen, Johnsson, and other moves. A cost-cutting trade or two could be necessary.

Simmons suggests trading Marleau would free up sufficient cap space to re-sign Gardiner. A team looking to reach the cap floor next season could be interested in taking on the final year of his contract, but would Marleau be willing to accept that deal? Maybe if the Leafs win the Cup this season, but that’s only speculation on my part. He could be insistent on playing out that final year in Toronto. 

Simmons also suggests another way could be trading someone like Kapanen but insisting that Zaitsev is part of the deal. While that’s possible, clubs with interest in Kapanen might balk at Zaitsev’s $4.5-million annual cap hit through 2023-24, which also includes a modified no-trade clause that kicks in next July. 


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports it sounds like the Carolina Hurricanes have been debating St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. He wonders if the Blues would want promising Hurricanes center Martin Necas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Blues are entertaining offers for Tarasenko, a top prospect such as Necas would have to be part of the package. It’s also worth wondering if the Hurricanes would be willing to part with him. They need a scoring forward and have depth in good young defencemen to draw upon as trade bait to address that need, but they could be squeezed to include a promising youngster or a first-round pick in the deal. 

Speaking of the Blues, Friedman notes Brayden Schenn played three seasons for Vegas Golden Knights assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon in the WHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman notes some of the Golden Knights rivals are wondering if they might have some interest in Schenn. With the Blues apparently willing to field offers for some of their veterans, it wouldn’t be surprising if Schenn might become a trade chip. 

If the Washington Capitals decide to trade winger Andre Burakovsky, Friedman said they’re not interested in futures unless they can be used to add a player who can help them right away. Trading him for a return that doesn’t help them win the Stanley Cup this season doesn’t appeal to them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Vancouver Canucks were reportedly among the teams “kicking tires” on Burakovsky. I don’t doubt there’s interest in the 23-year-old, who still has plenty of time to reach his full potential, but it appears the Capitals aren’t in a rush to move him. 

Friedman also wonders what the Canucks will do with veteran defensemen Alex Edler and Chris Tanev. Edler is an unrestricted free agent this summer and Tanev has a year remaining on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Have to wonder if they’ll attempt to move either guy near the trade deadline. They’re not a playoff contender and I don’t think these two fit into the club’s long-term plans. Edler will have to agree to waive his no-trade clause.