NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2022

Gabriel Landeskog and Nick Suzuki are among notable stars sidelined as training camps open. Ryan Ellis is expected to miss the entire season, plus the latest on Kirill Kaprizov, Mark Stone, Mathew Barzal and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog is expected to miss the start of the 2022-23 season with a lower-body injury that’s been nagging him since last season. Meanwhile, winger Valeri Nichushkin is not participating in on-ice activities with a lower-body injury.

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landeskog underwent knee surgery in March and missed the remainder of the regular season but returned in the playoffs to lead the Avalanche to the Stanley Cup.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki will be sidelined for two weeks with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Joel Edmundson will be out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Winger Josh Anderson and Jake Evans are day-to-day with upper-body injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmundson missed all but 23 games last season recovering from a back injury.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis is expected to miss the entire upcoming season with a torn psoas muscle causing hip and core muscle issues. General manager Chuck Fletcher said it’s possible the 31-year-old blueliner’s career is in jeopardy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ellis’ injury sidelined him for all but four games last season. His absence is a big blow to the Flyers blueline.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Golden Knights captain Mark Stone said the nerve pain in his back is fully gone following surgery earlier this year. The 30-year-old winger missed 45 games last season. He said he’s looking forward to getting into at least one preseason game before the regular season begins next month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stone’s absence contributed to the Golden Knights missing the playoffs last season.

TSN: Golden Knights forward Nolan Patrick will miss the coming season with an upper-body injury. A former first-round pick, the frequently sidelined Patrick played just 25 games last season.

THE ATHLETIC: A number of lawyers and diplomats worked with the Minnesota Wild and the agent for Kirill Kaprizov to help the Russian winger secure a U.S. work visa for the coming season. There were concerns the 25-year-old Kaprizov wouldn’t be able to return to the Wild due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Wild general manager Bill Guerin said he doesn’t think there was much truth to reports claiming Kaprizov used a fake military ID. The young winger has been in Minnesota for the past seven weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see if Kaprizov and other Russian NHL players encounter further difficulties getting work visas next summer if the war is still going on by then.

NEW YORK POST: Mathew Barzal isn’t stressed about not having a contract extension yet with the Islanders. The 25-year-old center remains hopeful of getting a deal done before the start of the season in two weeks’ time. There appears to be genuine sentiment between Barzal and Islanders management toward getting a new contract in place soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barzal will be a restricted free agent next summer and will be a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility

NHL.COM: The Anaheim Ducks won’t be discussing contract extensions with forwards Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry and defenseman Jamie Drysdale until after the 2022-23 season. GM Pat Verbeek wants to see how the season goes and doesn’t want contract negotiations to be a distraction for the players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zegras and Drysdale will be completing their entry-level contracts. Terry will be completing his second NHL contract and will have arbitration rights next summer.

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Flyers goaltender Carter Hart said he’s fully cooperating with the NHL investigation into sexual assault allegations aimed at eight players on Canada’s 2018 World Junior team.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin will miss the opening week of training camp with a sore back.

TSN: The Arizona Coyotes placed Andrew Ladd on long-term injury reserve for the coming season. He was acquired from the New York Islanders last year. Per the terms of the deal, the Coyotes will receive a 2023 third-round pick from the Isles as a result of Ladd being placed on LTIR.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ladd is in the final year of his contract. Given his age and injury history, the 36-year-old winger’s NHL playing career appears to be over.

Former Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne has rejoined the team as a special alumni advisor.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed forward Ryan McLeod to a one-year, $798K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That bargain price could enable the Oilers to start the season with a 21-man roster while GM Ken Holland seeks ways to free up additional cap space if unable to do so over the next two weeks.

THE ATHLETIC: Russian players who are scheduled to participate in upcoming NHL games in Prague will not be allowed into Czechia owing to that country’s stance on Russia’s war with Ukraine.

The Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks are scheduled to play in Prague on Oct. 7 and 8. Yakov Trenin plays for the Predators while Alexander Barabanov and Evgeny Svechnikov skate for the Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks GM Mike Grier said the NHL is handling this situation with Czechia. He doesn’t anticipate his club will forfeit those games but added, “we all go or we don’t go.”










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 12, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 12, 2022

Evgeni Malkin to test UFA market while Penguins re-sign Rickard Rakell, Avs promote Joe Sakic and re-sign Valeri Nichushkin, Senators trade Matt Murray to the Leafs and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Darren Dreger broke the news yesterday that long-time Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin intends to test the free-agent market when it opens on Wednesday at noon ET. Colleague Pierre LeBrun reported there was a bit of progress in negotiations between Malkin and the Penguins but his decision to go to market reflects his frustration with the process.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins reportedly are offering Malkin a three-year term while he’d prefer a longer deal. I can’t say I blame him considering the Pens re-signed teammates Kris Letang and Bryan Rust to six-year contracts.

There’s still time for the two sides to reach an agreement and the Pens have the cap space to re-sign him. Nevertheless, Malkin could draw plenty of interest in the open market. Whether he’ll get a long-term deal remains to be seen.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins re-signed Rickard Rakell to a six-year deal worth an annual average value of $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rakell was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks at the March trade deadline, netting 13 points in 19 regular-season games with the Penguins. The AAV is reasonable but the term is too long for a 29-year-old winger who last reached 30 goals in 2017-18.

Maybe Rakell will regain that form with the Penguins, but I think his chances of doing so would be better skating alongside Malkin. His linemates for next season could include an aging Jeff Carter and a frequently injured Jason Zucker.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche promoted general manager Joe Sakic to president of hockey operations. Assistant general manager Chris MacFarland takes over as the GM.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sakic will still be involved in the major decisions but MacFarland will handle the day-to-day work. The move was made in part because other clubs were expressing interest in hiring MacFarland as a general manager. This was a shrewd decision by the Avs to keep him in the fold.

Speaking of the Avalanche, they signed Valeri Nichushkin to an eight-year contract with an annual average value of $6.125 million. The 27-year-old winger was slated to become a UFA on Wednesday. Meanwhile, it appears winger Andre Burakovsky will be testing the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bought out by the Dallas Stars in 2019, Nichushkin turned his career around in Colorado, enjoying a career-best 52-point regular season and netting nine goals and 15 points in 20 playoff games in their march to the Stanley Cup. It’s a major raise for Nichushkin on a deal that seems rather lengthy. However, it could work out for the Avs over the long term if he maintains that high level of two-way play.

OTTAWA SUN: The Ottawa Senators traded goaltender Matt Murray to the Toronto Maple Leafs along with a third-round pick in 2023 and a fourth-rounder in 2024 for future considerations. The Senators also retained 25 percent of the 28-year-old Murray’s $6.25 million annual cap hit through 2023-24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As more than one pundit and fan pointed out on social media, this trade will either make Kyle Dubas look like a genius or ensure the coming season will be his last as Maple Leafs GM.

When healthy, Murray is a good goaltender who backstopped the Pittsburgh Penguins to two Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017. However, he’s been plagued by injuries in recent years that have sidelined him for lengthy periods of time and hampered his performance. Dubas now needs to find a reliable backup goaltender for Murray.

Senators GM Pierre Dorion is enjoying a fine off-season thus far. He acquired a proven 40-goal scorer last week in Alex DeBrincat and freed up a logjam in goal while shedding the bulk of Murray’s cap hit. He now has room to pursue some additional veteran depth via free agency or the trade market.

TSN: Speaking of the Senators, they’re working on trading winger Connor Brown and hired former Sens defenseman Wade Redden as a player development coach.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers have granted Evander Kane’s agent permission to speak with other clubs. However, they remain hopeful of working out an agreement on a new contract with the 30-year-old winger. It’s believed they offered Kane a three-year deal worth $4.75 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how Kane’s situation pans out. The uncertainty over the outcome of his contract termination grievance with the San Jose Sharks plus his well-documented personal baggage could scare off other clubs, making the Oilers perhaps his best option.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports St. Louis Blues winger David Perron could be heading to market. The Blues want to re-sign him but currently lack sufficient cap space to do so. Perron could command up to $6 million annually on the open market.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins are reportedly in negotiations with David Krejci for a potential return to Boston. The 36-year-old center spent last season playing Czechia.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks placed Henrik Borgstrom and Brett Connolly on unconditional waivers yesterday for the purpose of buying out their contracts. They’ll become UFAs on Wednesday. They’ve also brought back Derek King as an assistant coach following his solid stint as their interim bench boss in 2021-22.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Islanders defenseman Alexander Romanov has been offered a one-year contract by his former KHL club CSKA Moscow. He’s a restricted free agent who cannot be signed to an offer sheet. It’s believed this is an attempted leverage move by his agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The KHL offer is for less than $1 million US. I doubt Isles GM Lou Lamoriello will be swayed by this tactic. There was concern over whether this offer meant Romanov would have difficulty returning to the United States. However, he and his wife are reportedly in Miami.

TSN: Washington Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov, Toronto Maple Leafs winger Ondrej Kase and Chicago Blackhawks forwards Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik were among a number of restricted free agents who did not receive qualifying offers by Monday’s 5 pm ET deadline. They are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puck Pedia also has a list of RFAs who didn’t get qualifying offers. Some, like Samsonov, Kase, Strome and Kubalik would’ve cost more to qualify than their teams could afford because their actual salaries were higher than their annual cap hit. Some of them could’ve also received higher salaries through arbitration. These players could still sign with their current clubs but it would be for less than what they would’ve received through qualifying offers or arbitration.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Ben Bishop has returned to the Dallas Stars as a coach in an informal capacity.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks have parted ways with scouting director Doug Wilson Jr.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 27, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 27, 2022

What next for the Avalanche and Lightning following the Stanley Cup Final? What’s the latest on the Islanders and Sabres? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE AVALANCHE AND LIGHTNING?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski and Kristen Shilton looked at what the offseason could hold for the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning following the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic has some notable free agents to deal with, starting with forwards Nazem Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin. Both are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 13 and are coming off strong regular-season and playoff performances.

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper, winger Andre Burakovsky and defenseman Josh Manson could receive lucrative offers from other clubs in the upcoming free-agent market. Trade deadline acquisition Artturi Lehkonen is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility.

Hanging over all of his is the knowledge that superstar center Nathan MacKinnon is a year away from UFA eligibility. Sakic must manage his future cap space carefully and might have to get creative if they hope to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche have a solid core next season in MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, Samuel Girard and Bowen Byram. However, maintaining their supporting cast could be challenging.

Cap Friendly shows the Avalanche with over $25 million in salary cap space with 14 players under contract for 2022-23. They’re enough room to re-sign Kadri, Nichushkin, Kuemper and Manson but it will eat up most of that cap space as well as bite deeply into their available space for 2023-24 when MacKinnon will be due for a big raise on a long-term deal.

Sakic might keep one of those key UFAs. It could be Kadri to ensure their depth at center but he could price himself out of their market. It could be Kuemper to maintain their solid goalie tandem with Pavel Francouz. I don’t think Burakovsky and Manson will be back.

My guess is Nichushkin is the most likely to return. Sakic took a chance on him after the Dallas Stars bought him out and he found his game with the Avs. He’s completing a two-year deal worth $2.5 million per season and should be the more affordable to retain.

The Lightning’s decisions start with pending UFAs Ondrej Palat, Nick Paul and Jan Rutta. They’re up against the salary cap once again with 19 players under contract for next season. That makes a major roster overhaul unlikely.

Like Sakic, GM Julien BriseBois will have to use some creativity to maximize his bargaining power. He’ll need to decide if he’s happy with the club’s current depth, especially on the blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: BriseBois has proven skillful at finding inventive ways to maintain a championship roster. That ability will once again be put to the test.

The Lightning will get some wiggle room with Brent Seabrook ($6.875 million) on permanent long-term injury reserve. Still, it’s unlikely BriseBois be able to bring back all three of those UFAs. I expect BriseBois will put his efforts into signing Palat.

COULD THE ISLES SHOP BEAUVILLIER FOR A DEFENSEMAN?

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently pondered the possibility of the New York Islanders shopping Anthony Beauvillier for help on their blueline. While the 25-year-old winger’s development has stalled, he’s still young enough to improve. He also carries a reasonable $4.15 million annual cap hit for the next two seasons and lacks no-trade protection.

Zdeno Chara, Andy Greene, Sebastian Aho and Grant Hutton have likely played their final games for the Islanders. There are questions over whether those in the system, such as Robin Salo and Samuel Bolduc, are ready to move up.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun could be a trade target. Most Isles fans polled by Kurz would be fine with bundling Beauvillier with their first-round pick (13th overall) in this year’s draft for Chychrun, though Kurz believes the Coyotes would want a prospect included in the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders aren’t the only team expected to have an interest in Chychrun. However, the Coyotes have set a very high asking price. Beauvillier, a first and a prospect might not be enough to land him. I suspect GM Lou Lamoriello will explore more affordable options if he uses the winger as trade bait for a blueliner.

LATEST ON THE SABRES

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington doesn’t see the Sabres using their plentiful salary-cap space to pursue a big-ticket UFA like Johnny Gaudreau, Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang. He also doesn’t see them pursuing Marc-Andre Fleury to bolster their goaltending depth if Craig Anderson decides he’s not returning.

He doesn’t see the Sabres being interested in Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper. Toronto’s Jack Campbell might want a deal of three or four years and the Sabres aren’t interested in that type of term. He also believes St. Louis’ Ville Husso will want dollars and term that the Sabres aren’t interested in handing out.

Harrington advocates pursuing Braden Holtby to share the goalie duties and mentor promising Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen, suggesting they offer up a two-year, $8 million deal. It would also help the Sabres reach the $61 million salary-cap minimum.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see who the Sabres bring in to share the goalie duties with Luukkonen if Anderson hangs up his pads. The focus seems to remain on building up with their younger players, though I do see them adding affordable veterans to provide depth and leadership for next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 25, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 25, 2022

The Lightning stay alive with a Game 5 win in the Stanley Cup Final, Barry Trotz is in no hurry to return to coaching, the Blackhawks will name Luke Richardson as their new coach, Chris Kreider and Joel Farabee undergo surgery, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: Ondrej Palat’s third-period goal lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat (NHL Images).

Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up the win with a 35-save performance, Jan Rutta and Nikita Kucherov also scored while Corey Perry and Mikhail Sergachev each collected two assists for the Lightning.

Valeri Nichushkin and Cale Makar replied for the Avalanche, whose lead in the series has been cut to three games to two. Nichushkin tied a franchise record with his fourth goal in a Stanley Cup Final.

The series returns to Tampa Bay on Sunday for Game 6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the third time in this postseason, the Lightning battled back with a hard-fought victory when facing elimination. Once again, Vasilevskiy was stellar in a must-win game. And once again, it was Palat with a clutch goal, giving him a team-leading three game-winners in this postseason and 12 playoff winners for his career, ranking third in that category among active players.

The breaks went the Lightning’s way in this contest. After the Avalanche got lucky in Game 5 with a missed too-many-men call during Nazem Kadri’s game-winner in overtime, they were tagged this time with 2:43 remaining in regulation, all but snuffing out an opportunity to pull their goalie and push for the equalizing goal. The Bolts also benefited when a tripping call on Makar led to Kucherov’s 4-on-3 power-play goal in the second period.

WINNIPEG SUN: Former New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz turned down the opportunity to coach the Jets, basing his decision on spending more time with his family.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report indicated Trotz was impressed by the Jets’ approach in both their patience as he considered their offer and willingness to accommodate his needs if he accepted the job.

Sources told the Sun that Trotz was reluctant to face the grind of another NHL season after 23 straight years of coaching. The Islanders also owe him another season of salary ($4 million), allowing him time to step back, spend more time with his family and ponder his future.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reported the Chicago Blackhawks are expected to name Luke Richardson as their new head coach next week. Richardson has spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Chris Kreider underwent surgery to remove a small bone fragment from his wrist. His expected timeline of recovery is two-to-four weeks.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers forward Joel Farabee could miss the start of the 2022-23 season after undergoing disc-replacement surgery in his cervical area on Friday. He’s expected to make a full recovery in three-to-four months.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: The Canucks have hired former Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon as a senior advisor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tallon’s NHL career has now come full circle. He began his playing career with the Canucks in 1970-71.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins named Tom Kostopoulos as director of player development. He replaces Scott Young, who was named the Canucks director of player personnel on Friday.

NHL.COM: The Nashville Predators signed forward Cody Glass to a one-year, two-way contract worth over $874K at the NHL level.

TSN: Minnesota Wild prospect Pavel Novak is taking time away from hockey to deal with an oncological disease.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Novak in his treatments. Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery and resumes his playing career.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2022

The Avalanche crush the Lightning to take a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, Nicklas Backstrom undergoes hip surgery, the Oilers are on the verge of re-signing head coach Jay Woodcroft, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche holds a 2-0 series lead in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final after drubbing the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-0 in Game 2 on Saturday. Valeri Nichushkin and Cale Makar each scored two goals, Mikko Rantanen collected three assists while Darcy Kuemper made 16 saves for the shutout. The series shifts to Tampa Bay for Games 3 and 4 starting on Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was one of the most lopsided Stanley Cup Final games I’ve seen. The Avalanche dominated the defending champion Lightning from the opening whistle to the final buzzer. Their speed made the difference throughout this contest, leaving the Bolts chasing the game and struggling to keep up.

Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin (NHL Images).

Three years after being bought out by the Dallas Stars, Nichushkin had a career-best performance this season and is enjoying a solid postseason. In this series, he’s taken his game to a higher level, tallying two points in each of the first two games. Eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 13, Nichushkin is on his way to a lucrative new contract.

Following the game, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos called his club’s performance “unacceptable”. Head coach Jon Cooper said the Avalanche were playing at an elite level while his club was not. Andrei Vasilevskiy was in net for all seven goals-against but Stamkos and Cooper laid the blame on the poor defensive play in front of him.

Stamkos and Cooper said all the right things about the need for the Lightning “man up” and not give up. They’re capable of surmounting a 2-0 series deficit as the New York Rangers discovered in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Rallying back this time will be far more challenging for the Lightning. They’re up against the most formidable opponent they’ve faced over the course of their championship reign.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom underwent left hip resurfacing surgery on Friday. He faces a lengthy recovery process with no timetable for his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom will likely miss the opening weeks of the 2022-23 season and could be sidelined for much longer. His absence leaves a big hole in the second-line center position.

Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have $8.9 million in salary cap space with Backstrom carrying an annual average value of $9.2 million. Management could place him on long-term injury reserve to exceed the $82.5 million salary cap in order to find a suitable short-term replacement or to address other roster needs. Should he return to action during the season, however, they’ll have to shed salary to become cap compliant.

DAILY FACEOFF: cites ESPN’s Kevin Weekes and Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now reporting the Edmonton Oilers are on the verge of removing the interim tag from head coach Jay Woodcroft’s job title. They’re expected to reach an agreement on a three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Color me unsurprised. Woodcroft did a fine job after replacing Dave Tippett behind the bench. Taking over a struggling Oilers’ team that was in danger of falling out of playoff contention, he coached them to a 26-9-3 record in their remaining 38 games and guided them to the Western Conference Finals.

NBC SPORTS: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jack Johnson has earned his degree in general studies at the University of Michigan. He’s fulfilled a promise to himself and Red Berenson, who coached Johnson at Michigan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been a special season for Johnson. In addition to earning his degree and appearing in his first Stanley Cup Final, he also became the 21st American-born defenseman to play in 1,000 career NHL games.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have dismissed Chris Brumwell, who was their vice-president of communications and community partnerships for the past nine seasons.

PHILADELPHIA HOCKEY NOW: Flyers senior director of communications Zack Hill is retiring on July 1 after 29 years with the organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 17, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 17, 2022

The Flyers reportedly hire John Tortorella as head coach, the Predators are on the verge of being sold, the salary cap range for 2022-23 is set, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Sam Carchidi reports a source claims the Flyers have hired John Tortorella as their new head coach with the official announcement expected Friday.

Philadelphia Flyers reportedly hire John Tortorella as their new head coach (NHL.com).

ESPN’s Kevin Weekes reports Tortorella’s new contract is expected to be in the range of four years at $4 million per season. That means the Flyers will be paying $9 million on coaches for next season as they still owe former coach Alain Vigneault $5 million for ’22-’23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tortorella has a reputation as a demanding coach who preaches an aggressive defensive style. He also has a long history of success in almost every NHL city he’s coached in.

Tortorella guided the Tampa Bay Lightning to their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2003-04, winning his first Jack Adams Award this season. He coached the New York Rangers to the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals and the Columbus Blue Jackets to their first-ever playoff series win in 2019 by sweeping the Lighting in the opening round. Tortorella won his second Adams Award with the Blue Jackets in 2016-17.

The Flyers, however, will be a challenge for Tortorella. While his hiring fits into management’s goal of “aggressive retooling” of its roster, there are questions about their scoring punch and their blueline depth. Signing him a four-year deal suggests they’re willing to give him the time he needs to reverse the Flyers’ on-ice fortunes.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators are nearing an agreement to sell the franchise to former Tennessee governor Bill Haslam. He’s expected to become the majority owner for an unspecified period of time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what changes, if any, Haslam could have in store for the Predators. One thing is certain: he won’t be moving the club out of Nashville.

NHL.COM: The NHL and NHLPA confirmed the salary cap limits for 2022-23. The upper limit will rise by $1 million to $82.5 million while the lower limit is set at $61 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: League commissioner Gary Bettman announced earlier this week that the upper limit will continue to rise by $1 million increments for at least the next two seasons. If hockey-related revenue continues to improve over that period, the increases will become more robust by 2024-25.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli believes it’s likely the San Jose Sharks and Evander Kane will reach some sort of settlement regarding the latter’s grievance over his contract termination. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly suggested an arbitrator might not be available to hear the case until after the NHL free-agency period begins on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane would still be allowed to sign with another NHL team if his case hasn’t been heard by July 13. However, the arbiter’s subsequent ruling could complicate things for both sides.

Seravalli suggests the arbiter could rule that the Sharks terminated Kane’s contract without cause. That would mean the winger would be reinstated with the Sharks and any contract he signed with another club would be voided. Kane would get the remainder of his original contract back but he’d have to return to the Sharks, which neither side wants at this stage.

THE DENVER POST: Valeri Nichushkin turned into the best bargain signing ever made by Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic. Inked to a one-year, $850K contract in 2019-20 after being bought out by the Dallas Stars, the two-way winger has gone on to become an invaluable member of the Avalanche’s march to the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nichushkin’s performance in 2019-20 earned him a two-year extension worth $2.5 million annually. This season has been a career year for the 27-year-old winger, tallying 25 goals and 52 points in 62 games during the regular season and six goals and 11 points in 15 postseason games thus far.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning aren’t panicking over their overtime loss to the Avalanche in the opening game of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final. They’re 1-3 in Game 1 in this postseason and 11-3 in every other game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be important for the Lightning to win Game 2 on Saturday and return home for Games 3 and 4 with this series tied. While they overcame being down 2-0 against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals, they could find it more difficult surmounting a similar deficit against the talented, swift-skatingAvalanche.

WINNIPEG SUN: Barry Trotz is set to meet again with the Jets for more discussions regarding the club’s vacant head coaching position.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That doesn’t mean it’s a certainty Trotz will sign with the Jets but it is a promising step in that direction.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers have signed Sammy Blais to a one-year, $1.525 million contract extension. The 26-year-old winger was slated to become a restricted free agent on July 13. He missed most of this season following a knee injury suffered in November.

Speaking of the Rangers, former Blueshirt Sean Avery was found guilty of using his scooter to hit a car that was blocking a bike lane in Manhattan in 2019. He was sentenced to time served.