NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 7, 2020
NHL still looking at a Jan. 1 start to the 2020-21 season, Brendan Lemieux and MacKenzie Weegar avoid arbitration, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said opening the 2020-21 season on Jan. 1 remains the objective. Pierre LeBrun reports the joint NHL-NHLPA return-to-play committee has yet to meet, though the top leaders of the league and the PA have been in daily contact over the season.
TVA SPORTS’ Renaud Lavoie reports the NHL hopes to make its return-to-play announcement as soon as possible. “It could take another 7 to 10 days,” tweeted Lavoie. “Lots of works (sic) to be done until then.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL brain trust will likely keep an eye on the NBA’s plans to return to action in December. Both leagues share many of the same arenas. While caution remains the watchword for the NHL, they’ll maintain a close watch on the NBA’s return-to-play for any meaningful information it can apply to its own plans.
I’m skeptical about Lavoie’s timeline for an official start date if the return-to-play committee hasn’t even met yet. It could more than several days to work out an agreement.
NEW YORK POST: Brendan Lemieux avoided salary arbitration with the Rangers, agreeing to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $1.55 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a slight bump over the $925K Lemieux earned last season. It puts the 24-year-old checking-line winger in a position for another go at arbitration in two year’s time, where he could push for a more substantial pay raise.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers avoided arbitration with MacKenzie Weegar as the 26-year-old defenseman signed a three-year contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weegar was the subject of some trade speculation but the Panthers obviously value his physical presence on their blue line. Cap Friendly indicates the annual average value is $3.25 million, more than doubling the AAV of his previous contract. He’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agent status at the end of this deal.
The signings of Lemieux and Weegar completes this year’s NHL arbitration schedule. Of the 26 players filing for arbitration, only one (Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi) required a hearing.
THE SCORE: cited Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland telling The Edmonton Journal he expects defenseman Oscar Klefbom to be sidelined by a nagging shoulder injury for the entire 2020-21 campaign.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been widely assumed Klefbom could miss most or all of the coming season. The Oilers can place him on long-term injury reserve if necessary to get some salary-cap wiggle room for a potential replacement.
NHL.COM: Former NHL defenseman Jim Neilson has passed away at age 79. Neilson spent 12 of his 16 NHL seasons (1962-63 to 1977-78) with the New York Rangers, followed by two seasons with the California Golden Seals and two with the Cleveland Barons. A solid stay-at-home defender, Neilson played 1, 024 games, amassing 368 points. He also spent one season in the WHA with the Edmonton Oilers before retiring in 1979.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Neilson’s family, friends and former teammates.