NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2020

The latest on Tyler Johnson and Steven Stamkos, plus a look at yesterday’s notable free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


THE SCORE: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Tyler Johnson cleared waivers yesterday. The Lightning had hoped a rival club would claim Johnson and clear his $5 million annual average value from their books.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bolts hope to shed some salary to create cap space to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. Trading Johnson is still possible but the Lightning will have to include a sweetener in the deal like a quality draft pick, prospect or young player. He has a full no-trade but has reportedly submitted a list of preferred trade destinations.

TSN: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair an abdominal core muscle. He’s expected to make a full recovery before the start of the 2020-21 season.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos will have plenty of time to recover. The NHL and NHLPA have targeted Jan. 1 for the start date of next season. I believe March 1 could be a more realistic start date, depending on the course of the second wave of COVID-19.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed defenseman Tyson Barrie to a one-year, $3.75-million contract and brought back goaltender Mike Smith on a one-year, $2-million deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Barrie addition is an affordable short-term acquisition to address Oscar Klefbom’s anticipated lengthy absence as he deals with a nagging shoulder injury. Bringing back Smith, however, doesn’t improve their goaltending, which is their biggest weakness. After failing to find an upgrade via free agency, GM Ken Holland seems unwilling to take a chance in the trade market.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks are reportedly close to bringing back winger Patrick Marleau for a third stint.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marleau’s had a long, productive NHL career, most of it with the Sharks. However, the 41-year-old winger is well past his prime. This could be based more on sentimentality than what he can actually bring to their lineup.

SPORTSNET: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed former Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu to a one-year, $1.5-million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild opted not to re-sign their long-time captain after the 37-year-old Koivu dropped down their depth chart last season. His best days are behind him but he could still have one decent season left as a fourth-line center with the Jackets.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings signed goaltender Thomas Greiss to a two-year deal with an annual average value of $3.6 million and defenseman Troy Stecher to a two-year deal with an AAV of $1.7 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Two decent short-term deals bringing some much-needed goaltending and blueline depth to the rebuilding Wings.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins signed winger Craig Smith to a three-year deal with a $3.1 million AAV.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed winger Jesper Fast to a three-year deal ($2 million AAV).

SPORTSNET: The Buffalo Sabres signed center Cody Eakin to a two-year, $4.5-million contract.

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed defenseman Zach Bogosian to a one-year, $1-million contract.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed forward Johan Larsson to a two-year, $2.8-million contract.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to a one-year, $800K contract.


NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The Sharks re-signed winger Kevin Lebanc to a four-year deal worth an AAV of $4.725 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is Lebanc’s reward for only taking a one-year, $1-million contract last year when the Sharks were facing a salary-cap crunch. His production was down last season but that could be due to the Sharks’ overall poor performance last season. This could be a worthwhile contract for the Sharks if Lebanc regains his 56-point form from 2018-19.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed wingers Andre Burakovsky and Valeri Nichushkin to two-year contracts. Burakovsky’s AAV is $4.9 million while Nichushkin’s is $2.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. Both forwards were key contributors to the Avalanche last season. Burakovsky enjoyed a career-best 20 goal, 45 point performance in 58 games last season while Nichushkin has turned into a versatile checking-line forward.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres re-signed defenseman Brandon Montour to a one-year, $3.85-million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montour was the frequent topic of trade speculation last season. It’ll be interesting to see if he has a future in Buffalo beyond next season.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-signed winger Jordan Greenway to a two-year, $4.2-million contract.


TSN: The Ottawa Senators acquired forward Austin Watson from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a 2021 fourth-round pick.

NHLPA: 26 NHL players filed yesterday for salary arbitration. The arbitration period begins Oct. 20 and concludes Nov. 8.

Boston Bruins

Matt Grzelcyk

Buffalo Sabres

Victor Olofsson

Sam Reinhart

Linus Ullmark

Calgary Flames

Andrew Mangiapane

Carolina Hurricanes

Clark Bishop

Haydn Fleury

Warren Foegele

Gustav Forsling

Colorado Avalanche

Ryan Graves

Detroit Red Wings

Tyler Bertuzzi

Florida Panthers

MacKenzie Weegar

Minnesota Wild

Kaapo Kahkonen

New York Islanders

Joshua Ho-Sang

Ryan Pulock

Devon Toews

New York Rangers

Tony DeAngelo

Alexandar Georgiev

Brendan Lemieux

Ryan Strome

Ottawa Senators

Connor Brown

Christian Jaros

Nick Paul

Chris Tierney

Toronto Maple Leafs

Ilya Mikheyev

Vancouver Canucks

Jake Virtanen

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 20, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 20, 2019

Updates on Nicklas Backstrom, Matthew Tkachuk, Brock Boeser plus the latest contract signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Nicklas Backstrom hopes to remain with the Washington Capitals for the rest of his career. The 31-year-old center is entering his contract year and spent his entire NHL career to date with the Capitals. He and goaltender Braden Holtby are eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer but the Capitals have limited salary-cap space for 2020-21.

Nicklas Backstrom hopes to finish his career with the Washington Capitals (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have over $62 million invested in 15 players for ’20-’21. Unless they shed salary they cannot afford to re-sign both players. It’s assumed they’ll retain Backstrom and let Holtby depart via free agency next July.

SPORTSNET: Player agent Don Meehan, who represents Matthew Tkachuk, said they made what they consider a fair offer to the Calgary Flames in early June. He said negotiations are ongoing and he doesn’t anticipate a contract standoff dragging on into the regular season. The Flames have around $7.7 million in salary-cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will likely cost more than $7.7 million annually to re-sign Tkachuk. Recent speculation suggests the Flames could attempt to trade winger Michael Frolik ($4.3 million) to free up sufficient cap room.

SPORTSNET’s Iain MacIntyre tweets Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning is expected to speak to the media today about his new three-year contract extension. He’ll have nothing new to report on the contract talks with Brock Boeser. “Everyone in NHL seems to be waiting for someone else’s RFA to set market,” writes MacIntyre.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed the Boeser camp seeks a multi-year deal worth $7 million annually.

THE ATHLETIC’s Scott Powers reports the Chicago Blackhawks and Brendan Perlini continue to discuss a new contract. Powers cites a source claiming both sides are hopeful of getting a deal done “over the next week or so.”

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed winger Valeri Nichushkin to a one-year, one-way contract worth $850K. General manager Joe Sakic considers Nichushkin a big, young winger who will add depth to the Avs roster. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A former Dallas Stars first-round draft pick, Nichushkin struggled to reach expectations following a serious knee injury in his sophomore season. This could be his last chance to continue his NHL career.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders re-signed forwards Josh Ho-Sang and Michael Dal Colle. Ho-Sang received a one-year, two-way contract while Dal Colle got a two-year, one-way deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of last chances, this is likely Ho-Sang’s final opportunity to establish himself as an NHL regular with the Islanders.

NHL Rumor Mill – August 17, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – August 17, 2019

An update on Patrik Laine plus the latest on the Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports Patrik Laine said contract talks with the Winnipeg Jets have been non-existent this summer and he isn’t sure what that means for his future with the club. The 21-year-old left-winger is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.

No progress yet in contract talks between the Winnipeg Jets and Patrik Laine (Photo via NHL Images).

Laine said he’s unconcerned about the situation, noting he’ll be playing somewhere this season. “Well, you never know. It’s still business, you’ve got to be prepared for anything,” Laine said. “But yeah, you never know where you’re going to play next year so I’m just prepared for anything.” He also said he’s got nothing bad to say about Winnipeg.

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck also reported on Laine’s comments. He pointed out the young Finn is among several big-ticket RFAs this summer, including teammate Kyle Connor. Billeck notes the Jets have over $17 million in salary-cap space with 17 players signed for next season. The impasse with Laine and Connor hasn’t helped them bolster their depth.

Billeck feels the Jets must avoid a lengthy standoff like the one the Toronto Maple Leafs had last season with William Nylander. The decline in Laine’s production last season and a lingering back issue could factor into the negotiations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine’s not the only RFA this summer who’s had little or no contract discussions with their respective teams. A report emerged earlier this week indicating Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic last spoke with Mikko Rantanen’s agent two months ago.

I don’t think a lack of talks between Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Laine camp is anything to be concerned about right now. The time to worry is if there’s no progress as training camp approaches.

For now, fans should avoid reading too much into this. It’s an unusual summer, with several noteworthy young RFA stars still unsigned. It seems like everyone is waiting to see who gets signed first. It’s also mid-August, a time of little significant player movement or signings.

Once the calendar turns to September, I anticipate we’ll see negotiations heat up for Laine, Connor and the other RFAs. And no, I don’t believe this means the Jets could shop Laine. There’s always a possibility he could be traded for the right offer, but I don’t believe any team can come up with one suitable enough to tempt Cheveldayoff.

I expect the Jets will re-sign Laine and Connor. For how much and for how long is anyone’s guess, but they will get signed. And if they need to free up cap space afterward to fill out the remainder of the roster, they could move someone like Nikolaj Ehlers ($6 million annual average value) or Mathieu Perreault ($4.125 million).


TRIBLIVE.COM: Jonathan Bombulie recently wondered if Justin Schultz has a future with the Pittsburgh Penguins beyond this season. The 29-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

The Penguins will face another salary-cap crunch next summer as they’ll also have to re-sign Matt Murray, Alex Galchenyuk, and Jared McCann, among others. If the club struggles this season, Bombulie predicts Schultz could be shopped before the trade deadline.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Wingers Valeri Nichushkin and Drew Stafford top Dan Kingerski’s list of potential professional tryout candidates for the Penguins. Others include defenseman Michael Stone, winger Tobias Rieder, and blueliner Ben Lovejoy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins must shed salary once Marcus Pettersson is re-signed. They probably won’t look at PTO candidates until after that’s sorted.

GM Jim Rutherford could peddle Schultz but I expect he’ll retain the rearguard for one more shot at a Stanley Cup run this season. I concur with Bombulie that he would be a late-season move if the Pens struggle to stay in playoff contention.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2019

Some fallout from the Penguins trading Phil Kessel to the Coyotes, Ryan Spooner, and Valeri Nichushkin to be bought out, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: cites reports indicating Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford and Phil Kessel disagree over the latter’s trade demands. After shipping Kessel last night to the Arizona Coyotes, Rutherford claimed the winger asked to be traded several times. Kessel claims Rutherford is mistaken, adding Rutherford met with him once and told him he would never be a Penguin again.

Phil Kessel disagrees with Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford over his trade requests (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regardless of who said what, the fact remains Kessel is now with the Coyotes and the Penguins got a decent return and freed up some valuable salary-cap space. 

VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks yesterday placed forward Ryan Spooner on unconditional waivers to buy out his contract. “By buying Spooner out, the Canucks reduce his cap hit to $1.033 million for each of the next two seasons. The Rangers, who had retained 22.5 percent of his salary when they traded him to the Oilers, will have their cap hit reduced to $300,000.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the Canucks are freeing up salary-cap room to make a significant signing when the unrestricted free agent market opens at noon ET tomorrow. It’s assumed they’re pursuing a defenseman like Tyler Myers or Jake Gardiner. 

SPORTSDAY: The Dallas Stars placed winger Valeri Nichushkin on unconditional waivers to buy out his contract. The move “allows the Stars to clear $2.25 million in cap space next season while adding $450,000 against the cap in 2020-21.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  The once-promising Nichushkin was never the same after suffering a knee injury in his sophomore season in 2014-15. This move will be seen as freeing up cap room to either re-sign pending UFA winger Mats Zuccarello or pursue Joe Pavelski in the free-agent market. 

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs hired former Philadelphia Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol as an assistant coach. They also re-signed defenseman Martin Marincin to a one-year, $700K contract.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames re-signed forward Alan Quine to a one-year, two-way deal worth $735K at the NHL level.



Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 26, 2019

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 26, 2019

Updates on Phil Kessel, Brett Pesce, Erik Karlsson, Anders Lee and more in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.


SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman suggests it won’t be easy for the Pittsburgh Penguins to trade Phil Kessel. He believes the 32-year-old winger vetoed a trade to the Minnesota Wild last week and both teams are unhappy. Kessel knows he’s going to be moved this summer but it will be on his terms. Friedman guesses the Arizona Coyotes would be among the winger’s trade preferences. It won’t be an easy fit because the Penguins want some scoring in return. The Coyotes were 28th in that category this season.

It won’t be easy for the Pittsburgh Penguins to trade Phil Kessel (Photo via NHL Images).

Friedman also thinks Wild winger Jason Zucker can’t be pleased. He was nearly sent to the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline and a deal that would’ve sent him to Pittsburgh for Kessel fell through. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel has an eight-team trade list. The Athletic’s Rob Rossi believes Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford might not be pleased with any offers from those clubs. He also suggests perhaps those clubs aren’t interested in Kessel at Rutherford’s asking price.

Rutherford needs to free up salary-cap room and bring in younger, cheaper scorers, which is why Kessel’s on the block. The winger might be receptive to a move but his modified no-trade will complicate thing.

If the Penguins can’t find a deal from one of the clubs on his list, Rutherford could be forced to take a lesser offer. He could use the savings and the return to address his scoring in a separate deal with another club. 

Following the Eastern Conference Final, sources told Friedman some in-season frustration from defenseman Brett Pesce could force the Carolina Hurricanes to trade him. GM Don Waddell said the issue was resolved. Pesce was unhappy with his playing time earlier in the season but it climbed significantly since New Year’s Day. If the Hurricanes shop a blueliner, Friedman thinks Haydn Fleury could be a candidate as he’s no longer waiver-exempt. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pesce’s name surfaced in the rumor mill a few times this season. I believe the Hurricanes will retain him. The 24-year-old is a good young rearguard coming off a career-best 29-point season.

It’s believed San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson wants to see if the Tampa Bay Lightning try to sign him this summer. Karlsson is an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Last summer, then-Lightning GM Steve Yzerman attempted to acquire him. ” Is there any reason Julien BriseBois would think differently?”, asks Friedman. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Limited salary-cap space was among the reasons the Bolts failed to land Karlsson last summer. It will be the biggest factor preventing them from signing him this summer. Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got over $74.4 million invested in 17 players. Center Brayden Point is coming off his entry-level contract and a 92-point season. He’s going to get a significant raise.

Tampa Bay GM Julien BriseBois could re-sign him to an affordable bridge deal with the promise of a bigger, better deal down the road. He could also find a taker for aging winger Ryan Callahan and his $5.8 million annual average value. Even then, that’s not going to leave much room to sign Karlsson to the lucrative deal he’s bound to pursue via free agency. Another player, perhaps one lacking no-trade protection like J.T. Miller, will have to be moved to make room.

I’m not suggesting the Lightning won’t try to sign Karlsson. It just won’t be easy to do. 

Friedman believes the Ottawa Senators will consider bringing back Jason Spezza. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spezza spent all but five of his 16 NHL seasons with the Senators. The 35-year-old center’s best years are well behind him. Still, he could provide leadership and experienced depth at center for the rebuilding Sens. He could have other plans, like trying to sign with a potential contender. 

Friedman also reports the Colorado Avalanche, Philadelphia Flyers, and Chicago Blackhawks could be among the clubs interested in Kevin Hayes. The 27-year-old Winnipeg Jets center is slated to become a UFA on July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hayes had some good seasons with the New York Rangers but struggled after being shipped to the Jets at the trade deadline. Finding the right team could be better for him than finding the most expensive contract.

The Vegas Golden Knights will try to move the contract of permanently sidelined winger David Clarkson. The deal has one year remaining at an annual average value of $5.25 million. However, the actual salary is $3.25 million. Friedman also anticipates they’ll make a move on defense. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights already have over $83 million invested in 19 players for 2019-20. They must also free up cap room to re-sign William Karlsson. They’re reportedly looking at trading defenseman Colin Miller. He carries a $3.875-million AAV through 2021-22. Center Cody Eakin ($3.85 million AAV) is another rumored trade option. 


NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports contract term could be a sticking point in Anders Lee’s contract negotiations with the New York Islanders. Lee could seek a seven-year deal but Cyrgalis said GM Lou Lamoriello doesn’t want to be more than four. He also feels the two sides could compromise at $7 million per season. If a deal can’t be reached, Cyrgalis suggests the Minnesota Wild could pursue Lee, a Minnesota native. 

Cyrgalis suggests Robin Lehner’s comfort level with the Islanders, and the opportunity they gave him to resurrect his career, could factor into his contract negotiations. ” Anything less than five years around $5 million per probably makes sense for both parties.” Cyrgalis also feels Lamoriello could let winger Jordan Eberle test the free-agent market and see what happens. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see Lamoriello offering between $7 million to $7.5 million on a four-year deal for Lee. Time will tell if the latter will accept it. Lehner’s Vezina-worthy campaign will affect his contract talks with the Isles. Still, I expect the two sides will worth something out. 


SPORTSDAY: In a recent live chat with Dallas Stars fans, Matthew DeFranks wondered if the club might buy out winger Valeri Nichushkin. He’s got one season remaining on his contract worth $2.95 million. That would make him their sixth-highest paid forward next season. Nichushkin failed to score any goals this season (10 assists) and skated in just one playoff game. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This season marked the once-promising Nichuskin’s return from a two-year stint in the KHL. The 24-year-old hasn’t been the same since undergoing hip surgery in 2014. A buyout would count as only $700K against next season’s cap payroll and $450K for 2020-21. Seems a likely course of action for the Stars. 

Notable NHL Free-Agent Signings – July 1, 2018

Notable NHL Free-Agent Signings – July 1, 2018

The NHL free-agent market opens today at noon ET. Here’s a list of today’s notable signings, which will be updated throughout the day. 

Toronto Maple Leafs signed center John Tavares to a seven-year, $77-million contract

Toronto Maple Leafs sign John Tavares to a seven-year contract (Photo via NHL Images)

Philadelphia Flyers reportedly signed left wing James van Riemsdyk to a five-year, $35-million contract. 

Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed defenseman Ryan McDonagh to a seven-year contract extension worth $6.75 million per season.

Arizona Coyotes officially announced the signing of defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to an eight-year contract extension worth $8.25 million AAV. They also re-signed defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to a two-year contract extension worth $5 million AAV, and signed free-agent winger Michael Grabner to a three-year deal worth $3.35 million per season. 

Vegas Golden Knights will sign center Paul Stastny to a three-year contract. The annual average value is $6.5 million. They’ve also signed defenseman Nick Holden to a two-year deal worth $2.2 million annually. 

Pittsburgh Penguins will reportedly sign defenseman Jack Johnson to a five-year, $16.25-million contract. They’ve also signed Matt Cullen to a one-year, $650K contract

St. Louis Blues expected to sign winger David Perron to a four-year deal worth $4 million per season. The Blues have also signed center Tyler Bozak to a three-year contract with an AAV of $5 million and goaltender Chad Johnson to a one-year, $1.75-million deal. 

Colorado Avalanche reportedly close to signing defenseman Ian Cole to a three-year contact worth an annual cap hit of $4.25 million.

Chicago Blackhawks sign goaltender Cam Ward to a one-year, $3-million contract with a full no-movement clause. They’ve also signed winger Chris Kunitz to a one-year, $1-million contract and defenseman Brandon Manning to a two-year deal. 

Boston Bruins expected to sign goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a two-year contract worth $2.75 million annually. They also signed winger Joakim Nordstrom to a two-year, $2 million deal and defenseman John Moore to a five-year contract worth an AAV of $2.75 million.

Columbus Blue Jackets sign center Riley Nash to a three-year contract worth $2.75-million per season. 

Buffalo Sabres will reportedly sign goaltender Carter Hutton to a three-year, $8.25-million contract.

New York Islanders have an agreement in place to bring back defenseman Thomas Hickey on a four-year deal worth an AAV of $2.5 million. They also signed forward Leo Komarov to a four-year, $12-million contract.

Detroit Red Wings expected to sign goaltender Jonathan Bernier to a three-year deal worth around $3 million annually and forward Thomas Vanek to a one-year, $3-million contract. 

Edmonton Oilers will sign forward Kyle Brodziak to a two-year deal with an AAV of around $1 million and forward Tobias Rieder to a one-year, $2-million contract.  

Dallas Stars expected to sign forward Blake Comeau to a three-year deal worth $2.4 million per season. They’ve also re-signed winger Valeri Nichushkin to a two-year deal worth $2.95-million annually. Roman Polak is reportedly heading to the Stars on a one-year contract worth $1.3 million.

Vancouver Canucks are expected to sign center Jay Beagle to a four-year contract worth $3 million annually and forward Antoine Roussel to a four-year deal worth $3.25 million per season. 

Calgary Flames expected to sign center Derek Ryan to a three-year deal worth an AAV of $3.125 million and center Austin Czarnik to a two-year deal worth $1.25-million annually. 

Carolina Hurricanes sign goaltender Petr Mrazek to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. 

Montreal Canadiens are expected to announced the signing of center Tomas Plekanec to a one-year deal worth a base salary of $2.25 million plus bonuses. 

Minnesota Wild will reportedly sign defenseman Greg Pateryn to a three-year contract and signed goaltender Andrew Hammond.