NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 12, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 12, 2020

Islanders get their first win of the Eastern Conference Final, Nathan MacKinnon wins the Lady Byng Trophy, the Penguins trade Nick Bjugstad to the Wild, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brock Nelson’s tie-breaking goal late in the third period powered the New York Islanders to a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Lightning rallied from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game in the third before Nelson scored and Jean-Gabriel Pageau netted the insurance goal. Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves for the win.

The Lightning leads the best-of-seven series two games to one. They were without two regulars in this contest. Winger Alex Killorn served a one-game suspension for boarding Nielsen in Game 2. Center Brayden Point was unfit to play following an undisclosed injury in Game 2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win for the Isles to avoid falling behind 3-0 in the series. It appeared the Lightning were going to pull off a come-from-behind victory but the Isles proved their mettle in this one. Their top-six forwards led the way with Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier each netting a goal and an assist while Josh Bailey collected two assists.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon is this year’s winner of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL player who best displays sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability. He took just five minor penalties during the regular season while finishing fifth in points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins traded Nick Bjugstad last night to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a conditional draft pick in 2021. The 28-year-old center has a year remaining on his contract. Cap Friendly indicates they’re retaining $2.050 million of Bjugstad’s $4.1 million salary-cap hit for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquired by the Penguins from the Florida Panthers in February 2019, Bjugstad was frequently sidelined by injuries, limited to just 13 games this season. He’ll get a chance to get his career back on track in his hometown next season. This is a salary dump by the Penguins as they attempt to clear some cap space, perhaps for other offseason moves.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner rejected a report yesterday claiming he and the Golden Knights agreed to a five-year, $25-million contract back in June. “Yeah, well, it’s not true,” said Lehner. “You know, you have some talks and kind of (discuss) where you’re at, what you want to do. Nothing has been finalized.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report might not be true but Lehner seems to suggest his camp has had some discussions with Golden Knights management. We know Lehner seeks stability after bouncing from Buffalo to the Islanders to the Blackhawks to Vegas since 2018. Perhaps he’ll find it with the Golden Knights. If so, that will only stoke speculation about Marc-Andre Fleury’s future with the club.

The 2020 NHL Draft will be held virtually from Oct. 6 and 7. The first round begins at 7 pm ET on Oct. 6, with rounds 2 through 7 taking place the following day beginning at 11:30 am ET. Broadcast times to be determined.

The NHL free-agent market opens at noon et on Friday, Oct. 9.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings re-signed defenseman Sean Walker to a four-year, $10.6 million contract extension. The annual average value is $2.65 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable move by the Kings. As the report observed, Walker’s blossomed into a speedy, productive two-way blueliner. He’ll be a key piece of their rebuilding roster.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 10, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 10, 2020

Lightning edge Islanders to take 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Final, Bruce Cassidy wins the Jack Adams Award, GM of the Year finalists announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Nikita Kucherov scored with 8.8 seconds remaining in regulation as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the New York Islanders 2-1 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Lightning holds a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Islanders winger Matt Martin opened the scoring in the first period but Victor Hedman tied it before the period was over.

This was a close-checking, physical contest. Lightning winger Alex Killorn was ejected early in the first period for boarding Isles center Brock Nelson, who left the game under concussion protocol but returned to action. Martin and Luke Schenn received fighting majors early in the second period. Martin and Pat Maroon received roughing minors later in the period.

It was a costly victory for the Lightning as first-line center Brayden Point left the game in the second period with an apparent lower-body injury. Head coach Jon Cooper said an update on Point’s condition could be revealed on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a heartbreaking loss for the Islanders. They rebounded well from their 8-2 blowout loss in Game 1 and did a good job for the most part shutting down the Lightning’s offense until Kucherov struck in the dying seconds. They outshot the Bolts 13-4 in the first period and 28-21 overall.

However, the Isles couldn’t get more than one puck past Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and failed to capitalize on four power-play opportunities. They now find themselves in a deep hole against a very talented club approaching Game 3 on Friday night.

Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins is the 2020 winner of the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year. He guided the Bruins to this season’s best record as they were the only club to reach 100 points, winning the Presidents’ Trophy for their efforts.

Julien BriseBois of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders, and Jim Nill of the Dallas Stars are this year’s finalists for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is still targeting an 82-games schedule for 2020-21. However, he admitted the projected start date of Dec. 1 appears less likely. They’re also hoping to have fans in the stands when they reopen but can’t guarantee that’ll be the case. Daly also doesn’t think it would be a problem if the league staged games next summer, pointing to how well ice conditions held up in the bubble cities of Edmonton and Toronto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a miracle, next season won’t open on Dec.1. Or Jan. 1. And I have my doubts it’ll start on Feb. 1. My guess is we’ll see a shortened schedule between 50-60 games starting in mid-February at the earliest, with the playoffs running into late-July.

THE SCORE: NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire is no longer in the running for the Arizona Coyotes’ vacant general manager position.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several folks on Twitter yesterday observed McGuire almost always seems to be in the running for a GM job and always seems to be the first one eliminated from the competition.

Meanwhile, Arizona Coyotes Insider Craig Morgan reports former Coyotes captain Shane Doan isn’t under consideration for the job. He cites several sources suggesting the club believes Doan, who works for the NHL, had a hand in the sanctions the league handed the Coyotes for violating fitness testing rules for draft-eligible players. However, there’s no indication Doan was involved in the league’s decision.

THE ATHLETIC: Dan Hinote is expected to join the Nashville Predators as an assistant coach.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 31, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 31, 2020

The Stars, Islanders, and Golden Knights are on the verge of advancing to the Conference Finals. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars took a 3-1 series lead over the Colorado Avalanche with a 5-4 victory in Game 5 of their second-round series. Goals by Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov within 32 seconds in the third period opened a 5-2 lead for the Stars, who held off a late surge by the Avs. Radek Faksa had a goal and two assists for the Stars while Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin scored twice. Colorado goalie Pavel Francouz was lifted in the third after giving up five goals on 26 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars can wrap this up with a win in Game 5 later tonight. They won this game in the first period, jumping to a 3-0 lead and out-shooting Colorado 10-5. The Avs were forced to play catch-up for the remainder of the game. While they dominated most of the next two periods and narrowed the Dallas lead to 3-2 entering the third, those two quick goals by Hintz and Gurianov were the game-breakers.

New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (NHL Images).

Brock Nelson scored twice as the New York Islanders held on for a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 and a 3-1 series lead. Jean-Gabriel Pageau broke a 1-1 tie in the third period followed by Nelson’s second goal which proved to be the game-winner. Isles goalie Thomas Greiss made 36 saves for his first playoff win since 2016.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, most of the Flyers’ leading scorers struggled to find the back of the net. Jakub Voracek’s four goals all came in the previous series against Montreal. Two of Kevin Hayes’ three playoff goals came in Game 2 against the Isles. Couturier’s two goals have come in this series, but Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, and James van Riemsdyk still seek their first goals of this postseason.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves in just his third start of this postseason to backstop the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks and a 3-1 series lead. The Golden Knights overcame a 3-2 deficit with three unanswered third-period goals by Nate Schmidt, Max Pacioretty and William Karlsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a heartbreaking loss for the Canucks. They played well through two periods but defensive breakdowns in the third proved costly against the Golden Knights, who maintained their poise despite blowing 1-0 and 2-1 leads.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Boston Bruins winger Nick Ritchie won’t receive supplemental discipline for boarding Tampa Bay Lightning forward Yanni Gourde in Game 4 of their second-round series on Saturday. Ritchie received a five-minute major for the hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen if Ritchie plays tonight. His undisciplined play in Game 4 didn’t help the Bruins.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins named Evgeni Malkin as their MVP for 2019-20.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports former NHL coach Peter Laviolette is “very much a contender” for the Washington Capitals’ vacant head-coach position.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 10, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 10, 2019

Game recaps, the league is introducing measures to address abusive behavior, the three stars of the week, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Sean Monahan’s overtime goal lifted the Calgary Flames to a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche overcame a 4-2 deficit to force the extra frame. The Flames are 6-0-1 in their last seven games, and 5-0-0 under new coach Geoff Ward. The Avalanche’s winning streak ended at six games. Colorado defenseman Cale Makar missed the game with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

Brock Nelson scored twice as the New York Islanders beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 (Photo via NHL Images).

Two third-period goals by Brock Nelson powered the New York Islanders over the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1. Semyon Varlamov made 31 saves for the Isles, handing the Lightning their fourth loss in their last five home games. Anders Lee and Josh Bailey each had a goal and an assist for the Islanders, who are the third team to reach 20 wins this season. The Isles played without defenseman Nick Leddy, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Lightning center Tyler Johnson missed the game with a lower-body injury. The Lightning sit 12th overall in the Eastern Conference.

Cam Atkinson scored two goals and Joonas Korpisalo kicked out 37 shots as the Columbus Blue Jackets upset the league-leading Washington Capitals 5-2. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and an assist in his first game since Nov. 18, while teammate Alex Ovechkin tallied his 21st goal of the season. The Jackets snapped a four-game losing skid.

The Ottawa Senators upset the Boston Bruins by a score of 5-2. Senators goaltender Anders Nilsson turned aside 38 shots while Anthony Duclair scored twice and set up another. Bruins center Patrice Bergeron scored in his first game since Nov. 23. Linemates Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak each had two assists. Earlier in the day, the Senators placed goaltender Craig Anderson (knee injury) on injured reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like Duclair is settling in nicely in his first full season with the Senators. His 15 goals and 22 points are his second-highest single-season totals since his 20-goal, 44-point rookie campaign in 2015-16. At his current pace, the 24-year-old could reach 40 goals and 60 points.

HEADLINES

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league will implement a four-point action plan to raise awareness among players and coaches following several weeks of accusations of alleged abusive behavior by certain coaches. “Our message is unequivocal,” said Bettman. “We will not tolerate abusive behavior of any kind.”

As per TSN, “The NHL plans to establish an anonymous hotline for players and team personnel to report inappropriate conduct; coaches and management will participate in mandatory annual training on inclusion and harassment; inappropriate conduct will result in discipline from teams, the league or both; and the NHL put all 32 franchises “on notice” that failure to report inappropriate conduct in the future will result in “severe discipline.”

Bettman also said the league with work with the NHL Players Association and the NHL Coaches’ Association in the creation of these plans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent allegations were a black eye for the league, forcing it to take proactive measures to confront and address the issues. It’ll be interesting to see how effective these new programs will be, what kinks will need to be worked out, and the impact upon the relationship between coaches and players going forward.

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry, and Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 8.

PHILLY.COM: Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion while teammate Philippe Myers left practice yesterday with back spasms.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks placed winger Andrew Shaw (concussion) on injured reserve backdated to Nov. 30.

The NHL department of player safety fined New York Rangers winger Brendan Lemieux $2,000.00 for elbowing Vegas Golden Knights forward Cody Glass.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings placed defenseman Madison Bowey on waivers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 24, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 24, 2019

Updates on the Stanley Cup Finalists, Islanders re-sign Brock Nelson, Oilers reportedly to hire Dave Tippett as head coach, and the Senators hire D.J. Smith as head coach. Details and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Over 16,000 fans turned out for a Bruins intra-scrimmage game last night at Boston’s TD Garden. Bruins winger Brad Marchand left the game after jamming his left hand in a collision with Connor Clifton but returned to finish the contest. 

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Vince Dunn has resumed skating after missing the last three games of the Western Conference Final. Dunn was sidelined after taking a puck to the face during Game 3. He’s believed to be dealing with concussion symptoms. There’s no timetable for his return. 

NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders re-signed center Brock Nelson to a six-year, $36-million contract. Nelson was slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s completing a one-year, $4.25-million deal. 

New York Islanders re-sign center Brock Nelson (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a considerable pay raise for Nelson, who’s coming off a career-high 53-point performance.  Cap Friendly indicates the deal ($6 million annual average value) comes with a full no-trade clause in the first two years and a modified no-trade for the remaining term.

Such is the market value for a second-line center under a constantly rising salary cap. I anticipated Nelson would get at most $5.5 million on a five-year contract. 

Newsday’s Arthur Staple anticipated Islanders captain Anders Lee can expect a deal (from the Isles or someone else) worth $7 million annually. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins reports Dave Tippett is the new head coach of the Oilers. The hiring could be formally announced as early as today. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tippett has 14 seasons of NHL head-coaching experience under his belt. However, there’s some concern over whether he can coach the new up-tempo style prevalent around the league. If he can’t, there won’t be much change in the Oilers’ fortunes. 

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators introduced D.J. Smith as their new head coach. Smith was an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I like this hire by the Senators. Smith spent four seasons with the Leafs. Before that, he spent three seasons as head coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. In 2014-15, he guided the Generals to the OHL championship and the Memorial Cup. He has lots of experience with young players, which should prove invaluable for the rebuilding Senators. 

Speaking of the Leafs, they hired former Florida Panthers assistant coach Paul McFarland as Smith’s replacement. 

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Two members of the San Jose Sharks dealt with multiple injuries during the playoffs. Captain Joe Pavelski suffered a head injury in the opening round. He also aggravated a knee injury in Game 5 of the Conference Final and had surgery on his left hand. Tomas Hertl suffered a head injury in Game 5 of the Final and broke his left pinkie finger in the opening round.

Erik Karlsson confirmed he reaggravated a lower-body injury and hopes to avoid off-season surgery. Joe Thornton suffered a groin injury in the conference final.

Thornton also said he hasn’t reached a decision yet on his future. If he does return for one more season, he said it’ll only be with the Sharks. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Thornton has another year left in him. I also expect the Sharks will re-sign captain Pavelski. I don’t believe they can afford to re-sign Karlsson. 

MLIVE.COM:  Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin will be fine after being struck in the groin by a shot during a game against Canada in the IIHF World Championships. Larkin missed the remaining games for Team USA, who were eliminated yesterday by Russia. 

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild have hired Mike Modano as an executive advisor to Craig Leipold, the club owner. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings cut ties with defenseman Slava Voynov after his season-long suspension was cut in half by an independent arbitrator. Voynov pleaded no contest to a charge of misdemeanor corporal injury to his spouse in 2015. He was suspended indefinitely by the NHL and spent two months in jail before returning to Russia. The conviction was expunged last summer, but the league levied a one-year suspension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Voynov can sign with an NHL club after 41 games this coming season. Given the reason behind his suspension, I doubt any NHL team will risk the public backlash. 

SPORTSNET: Jacques Martin will be staying with the Pittsburgh Penguins as an assistant coach. He was interviewed by the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators for their head-coaching positions. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Speaking of the Penguins, they re-signed defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to a two-year deal worth $700K per season.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks hired Tomas Mitell as an assistant coach. 

ESPN.COM: On a non-NHL note, the National Women’s Hockey League “is increasing salaries, offering a 50-50 split of sponsor-related revenues and improved benefits in an agreement reached with its players’ association.”










NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2019

Updates on Evgeni Malkin, Milan Lucic, Patrick Marleau, Matt Duchene, Jason Zucker, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

RUMOR HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports a couple of NHL executives who felt there was something to the Evgeni Malkin trade rumors now think the speculation will die down. They suggest the goal of Penguins management was to rattle Malkin’s cage. The long-time Penguins center had a disappointing season, and some believe he could’ve played better. 

Will the Evgeni Malkin trade rumors die down? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I didn’t put much stock in the Malkin trade speculation. It arose because general manager Jim Rutherford declined to say he wouldn’t shop the veteran center.

If Rutherford was serious about trading Malkin, finding a deal wouldn’t be easy. He has a full no-movement clause and can kill any trade. He also carries a hefty salary-cap hit ($9.5 million annually for three more seasons). The Penguins would set a high asking price, one most clubs would be reluctant to pay for a 32-year-old center.

I’m not suggesting Malkin can’t be traded. Such a move, however, would be difficult to achieve. 

Before the Edmonton Oilers hired Ken Holland as general manager, they considered buying out Milan Lucic’s contract if a workable trade couldn’t be found. The first four years will be expensive, but the cap hit drops to only $625K per season through the final four years. Friedman also said the Oilers’ asking price for Lucic was “unreasonable” a year ago. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates a Lucic buyout would result in a $3.625-million cap hit in 2019-20, jumping to $5.625 million in 2020-21, dropping to $4.125 million in 2021-22 and rising to $5.625 million in 2022-23.

Trading Lucic would be preferable to a buyout but he’ll have to be packaged with a significant sweetener. The other option is taking back a toxic contract that could be less painful to buy out, but that could prove easier said than done. 

Friedman points out an “odd quirk” in the contract of Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Patrick Marleau. His signing bonus is paid in two installments (July and December), which “adds a wrinkle” to any possible trade. He points out Marleau still controls his future. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Malkin, Marleau has a full no-movement clause. Maybe a club would be willing to take him off the Leafs’ hands after July 1, when the first installment of his signing bonus is paid, but only with his blessing.

The Columbus Blue Jackets will have about $30 million in salary-cap room for next season. Friedman wonders if they’ll use that to target cap-strapped clubs or take a more patient approach. Center Matt Duchene is a UFA this summer and is expected to keep his options open. The Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens could be interested in him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets are going to lose Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky to free agency on July 1. GM Jarmo Kekalainen mortgaged part of his club’s future to land Duchene. He’ll have nothing to show for his investment if Duchene follows Panarin and Bobrovsky out the door. Kekalainen could be forced to overpay to keep the center in Columbus. 

Friedman wonders what the future holds for Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon and winger Jason Zucker. Spurgeon, 30, is a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. Friedman claims there’s plenty of interest in the veteran blueliner, who is among the Wild’s few tradeable assets. He reminds us Zucker was nearly shipped to the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline and there’s always interest in scorers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Friedman that it would be surprising if Zucker returns with the Wild next season. GM Paul Fenton purged his roster of veterans he considered under-achievers in favor of younger, affordable talent. Zucker could be next.

As for Spurgeon, he reportedly wants to say in Minnesota and Fenton is keen to keep him. Much will depend, of course, on how expensive he’ll be to re-sign and for how long. 

Friedman wonders what Cale Makar’s arrival on the Colorado Avalanche means for Tyson Barrie. The latter is a year away from UFA eligibility and has come up in previous trade chatter. Friedman said they’ve indicated to interested teams that it’ll take a “hockey trade” to get him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barrie’s fate could also depend upon how costly he’ll be to re-sign. GM Joe Sakic could attempt to re-sign him to an extension this summer. If Barrie proves too expensive to retain, Sakic could entertain trade offers. 

It’s assumed the Winnipeg Jets will lose defenseman Tyler Myers to the UFA market. However, Friedman suggests that’ll depend upon whether they trade Jacob Trouba and what they get in return. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With restricted free agents Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine in line for significant raises, the Jets can’t afford to re-sign Trouba and Myers. If they get a return of affordable young talent in return for Trouba, they could keep Myers in the fold. His asking price will also be a determining factor. Anything north of $6 million annually could be too expensive.

Friedman wondered how the Vegas Golden Knights will get under the salary cap for 2019-20. Defenseman Colin Miller fell out of favor and could be available but Vegas won’t be giving him away. Friedman feels there could be interest in Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights have no choice but to “give away” a salaried player or two to free up sufficient cap room. Cap Friendly indicates their projected salary-cap hit is over $82.3 million for 2019-20. Karlsson is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. If they intend on re-signing him, they must shed salary.

They’ll get some cap relief by placing permanently sidelined David Clarkson ($5.25 million) on long-term injury reserve. However, they can’t do that until the start of the season. They could try to trade his dead cap space by bundling his rights with a draft pick or prospect to a budget-minded club that must reach the cap minimum. Miller’s been mentioned as a trade candidate, as well as center Cody Eakin. 

The Vancouver Canucks will explore all possibilities regarding their blueline. It’s possible only one of Alex Edler, Ben Hutton and/or Chris Tanev return next season. 

Friedman said the New York Islanders are working away at getting pending UFA center Brock Nelson under contract.