NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 24, 2020

Highlights from Friday’s general managers’ meeting, the latest notable free-agent signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reported the draft lottery and free agency dominated Friday’s virtual meeting of NHL general managers.

There was a lengthy discussion about tweaking the draft lottery for the second time in six years after the Detroit Red Wings, which had the worst record last season, slid to fourth overall in the 2020 Draft Lottery. There was also talk about reintroducing an interview period of 48 to 72 hours for unrestricted free agents leading up to the start of the annual free-agent period. Such changes, however, would have to be negotiated with the NHL Players’ Association.

Seravalli also reported the NHL’s target date for opening the 2020-21 season remains Jan. 1, 2021. Whenever the puck drops, it will likely be in a unique setting. The planning for that, however, must wait until the joint NHL-NHLPA committee begins its return-to-play meetings.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also reported Jan. 1 remains the target date for opening next season but there are no guarantees on that. There’s no decision yet on how many games will be played or how far into the summer the schedule could go.

There was talk about opening the season in Lake Louise, Alberta, but that won’t happen in part because of the limited sponsorship opportunities in a federal park. However, the league is still considering starting the season in a unique location.

The draft lottery discussions focused on increasing the odds for teams that finish the lowest in the standings. The Red Wings were clearly upset about ending up with the fourth-overall selection in a season where it was clear they weren’t tanking. While there’s support for the Wings’ position, the league is asking for specific proposals.

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reported NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said planning for next season will be more challenging than this summer’s return-to-play postseason.

One of the major obstacles is the Canadian government’s 14-day quarantine period for international travelers. However, there could be some flexibility there as the government is considering a pilot program to test international travelers as a means of relaxing the quarantine rule if they agree to a second test within a week.

If successful, Daly said that would make it “very, very helpful” in the league’s plans for next season. Otherwise, there’s talk the league could begin next season with four hub cities or an all-Canadian division, though Daly said he’s not committed to a specific format right now.

Russo reports the league is continuing to gather information (particularly financial) from its teams to determine what’s feasible for 31 owners who will have minimal revenue if there are no fans in attendance next season. He also suggests it’s possible the NHL could conceivably start next season at a later date if there’s a chance of getting fans in the stands at some point in late winter or early spring.

While the league still hopes for a full 82-game schedule, Russo speculates a shortened season of 48 to 60 games seems likely.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL is going to take its time to get this right. We’ll learn more details about what next season will look like in the coming weeks once the joint NHL-NHLPA committee begins their return-to-play meetings.

Based on recent media speculation, my guess is they’ll start up sometime in February aiming at 60 games played in hub cities under modified quarantine conditions. That would mean training camp begins in early-to-mid January, though the seven teams that didn’t make the cut in the 2020 return-to-play plan will have a longer training camp.

Next season could begin without fans in attendance in regional hubs. Should the pandemic fade, teams could return to playing in their home arenas and gradually allow in fans under local health and safety guidelines with season-ticket holders the priority. The playoffs will likely stretch into mid-July, ending before the 2021 Tokyo Olympics open on July 23.

The draft lottery and free-agent interview periods are secondary issues that can wait to be addressed after next season is underway. The priority will be staging as many games as is safely possible in as many arenas as possible with fans in the stands to generate revenue and ease the clubs’ financial burdens.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed defenseman Travis Dermott to a one-year contract worth $874,125.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are over the $81.5 million cap by $1.049 million with restricted free agent Joey Anderson still to sign. However, GM Kyle Dubas has suggested they could garner cap relief next season by shuttling players to the minors.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings and winger Tyler Bertuzzi are reportedly just over $1 million apart in contract negotiations. Bertuzzi seeks $4.25 million while the Wings countered with $3.15 million. His arbitration hearing is slated for Sunday.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed free-agent defenseman Nikita Nesterov to a one-year, $700K contract. Nesterov played three seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens from 2014-15 to 2016-17 before spending the past three seasons with KHL club CSKA Moscow.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed Marco Rossi to an entry-level contract. Rossi was their first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2020 NHL Draft.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators hired Todd Richards as an assistant coach. Richards spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

NHL Rumor Mill – June 4, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 4, 2020

Could the Canadiens pursue Torey Krug or Taylor Hall via free agency? Does Shayne Gostisbehere fit into the Flyers’ long-term plans? What’s the latest on the Kings? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Engels was asked about the possibility of the Montreal Canadiens pursuing a left-handed defenseman like Torey Krug during the off-season.

The 29-year-old Boston Bruins defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. While Engels believes the Canadiens would love to have Krug’s skills in the lineup, he doubts the long-time Bruin will sign with the Habs.

Could the Montreal Canadiens target Taylor Hall in the off-season free-agent market? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have plenty of cap space to make Krug a tempting offer. While the idea of Krug in a Montreal jersey could excite Habs fans and infuriate Bruins’ followers, I agree with Engels. If Krug hits the open market, it’s doubtful he’ll sign with the Canadiens.

Engels was also asked if Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall had any connections with the Canadiens that might tempt him to come to Montreal as a free agent after this season. Engels isn’t aware of any but acknowledged the Habs are among the few clubs that can afford to make Hall a maximum contract offer. He’d be the type of high-end offensive player the Canadiens need, but Engels wonders if Hall sees the makings of a winner in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have long struggled to entice UFA talent to Montreal, even during years when they had the cap space to do so.

Hall, 28, wants to play on a winner after years of skating with non-contenders in Edmonton and New Jersey. If the Coyotes can’t convince him to stay in Arizona, I anticipate he’ll try to land with a potential contender.


THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: In a recent mailbag segment, Sam Carchidi was asked about where Shayne Gostisbehere fits in long term in the Flyers defense corps. Carchidi observers the 27-year-old defenseman struggled over the past two seasons and could be moved in an off-season trade.

Carchidi expects Gostisbehere will have a difficult time getting into the lineup when this season resumes. While he’ll be healthy and has impressive speed and offensive skills, the Flyers defense has excelled and showed great chemistry without him.

If the Flyers shop “Ghost Bear”, Carchidi expects they’ll hold out for a first- or second-round pick, or a winger with 20-goal potential.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: The decline in Gostisbehere’s performance hurts his trade value. However, a strong bounce-back effort in the 24-team playoff tournament could make him more enticing to clubs seeking a mobile blueliner. That could improve the Flyers’ chances of landing a solid pick or a scoring winger in return.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2017

Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet could become head coach of the Arizona Coyotes.

Update on the Coyotes coaching search plus latest contract signings in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Reports from TSN and Sportsnet indicate Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet could become the next head coach of the Arizona Coyotes. Elliotte Friedman reports hearing Tocchet and the Coyotes are working on a four-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tocchet played three seasons for the Coyotes (1997-2000) and was an assistant coach in 2005-06. No official word yet from the Coyotes but that could be coming soon. 

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers re-signed defenseman Mark Pysyk to a three-year, $8.2-million contract. 

CSN MID-ATLANTIC.COM: The Washington Capitals re-signed goaltender Philipp Grubauer to a one-year, $1.5-million deal. 

NBC SPORTS: The Dallas Stars retained forward Brett Ritchie to a two-year contract worth $3.5 million. 

The Los Angeles Kings re-upped center Nick Shore to a one-year, $925K deal. 

TVA SPORTS’ Renaud Lavoie reports the Nashville Predators placed goaltender Marek Mazanec on waivers. 

Player agent Dan Milstein announced via Twitter that former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Nikita Nesterov is headed to the KHL. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights signed forward Teemu Pulkkinen to a one-year, $700K contract. 

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings extended their affiliation agreement with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffin. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 17, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 17, 2017

NHL expansion draft trade & contract signing freeze is 3 pm ET today.

Expansion draft deadlines, salary-cap update, Flyers & Coyotes swing a trade and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

 NHL.com: The NHL’s expansion draft trade/waiver freeze and the moratorium on contract signings will begin at 3 PM ET today for all clubs except the Vegas Golden Knights. The deadline for the established 30 teams to submit their expansion draft protection lists to the league is 5 pm ET.

TSN: The NHLPA’s executive board is voting on a $75 million salary-cap ceiling for 2017-18.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If approved, the salary-cap floor will be set at $57 million. 

NBC SPORTS:  San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton is reportedly recovering well from his recent knee surgery. His contract talks with the Sharks are ongoing. He’s an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks have bought out the contract of defenseman Simon Despres. They will be on the hook for one-third of the remaining value of the contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see the contract buyout breakdown at CapFriendly.com. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes acquired forward Nick Cousins and goaltender Merrick Madsen from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for forward Brendan Warren and a fifth-round draft pick in 2018. The Coyotes intend to protect Cousins in the upcoming expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Flyers carrying over $64 million in cap space for 2017-18 invested in 17 players, Cousins evidently didn’t fit into their future plans.The Coyotes value his two-way style. The 24-year-old is a restricted free agent coming off a one-year, $840K contract.  

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Edmonton Oilers re-signed Jujhar Khaira to a two-year contract extension worth $675K annually.



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2017

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray is congratulated by Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury following their 6-0 victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

Penguins thump Predators in Game 5 of Stanley Cup Final plus updates on Ryan Callahan, Marc-Edouard Vlasic & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel each collected three points, Evgeni Malkin had two points and Matt Murray turned in a 24-save shutout performance as the Pittsburgh Penguins crushed the Nashville Predators 6-0 in Game 5 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. The series returns to Nashville for Game 6 on Sunday with the Penguins leading three games to two. 

It was a rough contest, highlighted by Crosby and Predators defenseman P.K. Subban’s first-period wrestling match in which the Penguins captain delivered a series of short punches to Subban’s head. Both received roughing minors. Crosby also tossed a water bottle in the ice in the second period prior to the Penguins’ fifth goal but he insisted it was an accident and not aimed at one of the Predators. 

The Predators also suffered a loss to the defense corps as blueliner Ryan Ellis left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury. No word yet from the club as to his condition. For the second time in this series, the Penguins drove Pekka Rinne from the Predators net after he gave up three first-period goals on just nine shots. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the first time in this Stanley Cup Final, the Penguins dominated the Predators. It was apparent from the opening puck drop that the Pens came to play when Crosby bulled his way toward the Nashville net and clanged a shot off the right post. That pretty much set the tone for the evening, as the Penguins neutralized the Predators’ speed and offensive attack. Ellis’ injury could rob the Preds of one of their most effective players over the remainder of this series. 

If there’s one consolation for the Predators, it’s that they’re returning to Nashville for Game 6, as no one in this series has won a road game. The Preds need that trend to continue on Sunday or they’ll be watching the Penguins hoist the Stanley Cup in Bridgestone Arena. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning haven’t asked forward Ryan Callahan to waive his no-movement clause. That’s seen as an indication the club intends to protect him in the upcoming NHL expansion draft. 

CSN BAY AREA: The agent for San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said contract extension talks are going well and both sides hope to get a long-term deal in place by early July. 

TSN: Dan Milstein, the agent for Montreal Canadiens restricted free agent defenseman Nikita Nesterov, denied reports out of Russia claiming his client had signed with a KHL team. Milstein said his client intends to play in the NHL next season. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights hired Mike Kelly as an assistant coach. 

BSN DENVER: Windsor Spitfires head coach Warren Rychel has had discussions with the Colorado Avalanche regarding a possible front-office role. 

THE SCORE: Despite plans to renovate Seattle’s KeyArena, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league hasn’t made any commitments to putting a franchise in that city. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: In order to make room for future champions on the Stanley Cup, the top ring of the trophy will have to be removed. That means the names of such legends as Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Jacques Plante, Glenn Hall and Ted Lindsay won’t be on the Cup anymore. The ring containing their names will rest in the Hockey Hall of Fame. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2017

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Andrej Sekera (center) celebrates one of his two goals against the San Jose Sharks.

Game recaps, Marchand fined, Varlamov done for the season and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Andrej Sekera scored twice and Cam Talbot made 32 saves to give the Edmonton Oilers a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. With the win, the Oilers are tied with the Sharks for first place in the Pacific Division. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each had two points for the Oilers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s still a lot of hockey left to be played in this season, but barring a significant second-half collapse, the Oilers are in position to reach the playoff for the first time in 11 years. 

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored twice and Alex Ovechkin tallied his 23rd goal of the season as the Washington Capitals downed the New Jersey Devils 5-2. 

Andrew Ladd scored twice as the New York Islanders extended their points streak to six games (5-0-1) by defeating the Montreal Canadiens 3-1. The Canadiens also acquired defenseman Nikita Nesterov from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for AHL defenseman Jonathan Racine and a sixth-round draft pick in 2017. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable depth move in both salary ($725K) and return by the Habs to add another puck-moving defenseman to their blueline. Nesterov is a restricted free agent this summer and the Lightning couldn’t afford to re-sign him. He was also a frequent healthy scratch and obviously didn’t have a future with the Bolts. If he plays well, the Habs could re-sign him, though he’s also eligible to be exposed in June’s expansion draft. 

Brad Marchand scored twice as the Boston Bruins overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3. Earlier in the day, Marchand received a $10,000 fine for “a dangerous trip” on Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  The incident wasn’t considered a slew foot as Marchand “appeared” to kick Kronwall’s skate out from under him. Still, I suspect Marchand, who’s been suspended four times totaling 12 games, didn’t receive another one because Kronwall wasn’t injured on the play. 

Craig Smith scored two goals and Pekka Rinne kicked out 30 shots as the Nashville Predators nipped the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. The Jackets were without head coach John Tortorella, who’s taken an emergency leave of absence for family reasons. Earlier in the day, Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson was added to the upcoming NHL All-Star Game as a replacement for sidelined PIttsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin. 

Patrick Sharp scored twice in Kari Lehtonen made 16 third-period saves in relief of Antti Niemi as the Dallas Stars beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3. 

Nino Niederreiter scored a goal and set up two others as the Minnesota Wild thumped the St. Louis Blues 5-1. 

Third-period goals by Andrew Copp, Bryan Little and Mark Scheifele in a two-minute span carried the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Patrick Laine had a goal and an assist for the Jets. 

Johnny Gaudreau’s overtime goal lifted the Calgary Flames to a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators, snapping the Flames four-game losing skid. 

Jonathan Marchessault scored in overtime as the Florida Panthers ended their four-game losing streak by edging the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1. 

Wayne Simmonds netted his 21st goal of the season as the Philadelphia Flyers edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1. 

Peter Budaj had a 22-save shutout performance as the Los Angeles Kings blanked the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0. 

Mike Smith made 19 saves as the Arizona Coyotes shut out the Vancouver Canucks 3-0, entering the All-Star break with their first three-game winning streak of this season.  

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov underwent season-ending hip surgery on Thursday.

MIAMI HERALD: Florida Panthers right wing Jaromir Jagr wasn’t named to the All-Star Game in Los Angeles, but he will be attending as one of the final 67 players the league will unveil of their top 100 of all time. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Only Wayne Gretzky has more points than Jagr and only Gretzky and Gordie Howe scored more goals.