NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 1, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 1, 2020

The latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cory Schneider, the updated salary-arbitration list and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Michael Arace recently reported contract talks between the Blue Jackets and Pierre-Luc Dubois have stalled. The 22-year-old center is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images)

Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, however, isn’t concerned by the lack of progress in contract talks with the Dubois camp. “It’s funny how everyone’s worried about RFAs, because I’m not worried at all,” he said on Tuesday. “They get done when they get done.” He pointed out contract talks for defenseman Zach Werenski weren’t settled until right before training camp last year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen has every reason to be unconcerned. Dubois lacks arbitration rights plus there’s uncertainty over what league revenue will look like over the next couple of years. Those factors alone give the Jackets GM the hammer in contract talks.

The Jackets have over $12 million in cap space so there’s plenty of room for Dubois’ next contract. I think Kekalainen will attempt to get Dubois under a short-term bridge contract with the promise of a bigger payday down the road.

NHL.COM: New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello said Friday he’s considering signing Cory Schneider. The goaltender had his contract bought out by the New Jersey Devils, making him an unrestricted free agent. “There’s a good sort of chance of that transpiring,” said Lamoriello.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported on Oct. 12 the Isles were finalizing a one-year, $700K deal with Schneider. Lamoriello gives nothing away, of course, but LeBrun is a well-respected, well-sourced NHL insider. He probably got that info from someone close to the Isles’ front office or the Schneider camp.

I suspect the Islanders’ limited cap space explains why this hasn’t been finalized yet. They’ve got $8.9 million remaining but Lamoriello must also re-sign RFAs Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock. Once that’s sorted out, the Schneider contract will be probably be finalized.

NHLPA.COM: Only six players of the 26 who filed for arbitration this year are slated for hearings. Carolina’s Warren Foegele’s is on Nov. 4, the New York Rangers’ Ryan Strome on Nov. 5, the Rangers’ Brendan Lemieux and the Islanders’ Ryan Pulock are on Nov. 6, Ottawa’s Christian Jaros is on Nov. 7, and Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar is on Nov. 8.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Only one – Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi – went before an arbiter. There’s a good chance the rest could be settled before their respective hearings.

THE SCORE: Ontario premier Doug Ford said Saturday his government is engaging with the Ontario Hockey League on a safe return-to-play plan for this season that must be confirmed by health experts. “To date no decisions have been made. I would like to see the OHL return as normal as possible with bodychecking.”

Ford’s remarks contradict comments made by Ontario sports minister Lisa MacLeod on Friday. She stated “prolonged or deliberate contract while playing sports is not permitted” to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wonder if Premier Ford got a phone call from NHL headquarters regarding MacLeod’s comments. The OHL is one of the NHL’s main development leagues. They would probably frown upon their promising prospects being forced to play an entire season without bodychecking.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 31, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 31, 2020

More on the league’s potential plans for 2020-21, no Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2021, plus the latest on Tyler Seguin, Roope Hintz, Vince Dunn, Alexander Steen and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league intends to take its time exploring its options for 2020-21 despite a tentative start date of Jan. 1. He also indicated it appears last season’s seven non-playoff clubs will get additional training camp time, though it hasn’t yet been finalized with the NHL Players Association.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly (NHL.com).

Daly also dismissed the idea that the NHL must crown a Stanley Cup champion before the Tokyo Summer Olympics begin on July 22, 2021. He said there’s a lot to be played out on the Olympic front, adding the league has models that extend beyond the Olympic period.

Border restrictions between Canada and the United States will also factor in what the 2020-21 schedule looks like. If travel for NHL teams remains difficult between the two countries, it could result in what Daly called a possibility to “create competition within the league among the Canadian clubs.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s interesting to note that Daly isn’t rejecting the notion of the NHL schedule coinciding with the Summer Olympics. However, I don’t think that’s going to benefit the league if the playoffs are going on during the two weeks when their main US broadcaster is putting its focus on the Tokyo Games. If the Olympics are canceled or the dates changed, however, it wouldn’t affect the league’s US TV coverage.

For now, of course, this is all speculation. We don’t know yet how long the NHL season will be, let alone when the puck drops for certain.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports Bruins defenseman and NHLPA representative Brandon Carlo said the PA and its members remain committed to staging a full 82-games schedule for 2020-21.

Murphy believes one reason behind the 82-game push is to avoid the possibility of the league looking to amend the new collective bargaining agreement to prorate player salaries if the season is shortened by COVID-19.

Carlo also suggested there would be some hesitancy among the players to play under quarantine bubbles again, though they are open to ideas. However, they would be reluctant to be separated from their families as they were during the 2020 playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One possibility recently raised is starting next season in several hub cities where the teams play for two weeks, followed by a week back in their home cities to practice and reunite with their families. That scenario could be acceptable to the PA membership.

SPORTSNET: The Hockey Hall of Fame announced it is postponing the induction ceremony for the Class of 2020 to next year and will not name a new class for 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The induction weekend is a significant event that involves a Hall of Fame game in Toronto on the Saturday prior to the actual induction ceremony gala, which takes place in the Hall with family, friends and former teammates of the inductees, as well as NHL executives and established Hall of Famers in attendance. The pandemic makes it impossible to safely stage those events.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars forward Tyler Seguin is expected to undergo hip surgery next week. His recovery period could take four months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seguin labored through that injury (and a lingering knee injury) during the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, during which he got some flak from fans and pundits for what they considered a sub-par performance on his part, with calls that he should “step up his play”. Once again, it’s worth remembering that an NHL player performing below expectations in the postseason could be nursing an injury that adversely affects their game.

Stars general manager Jim Nill said he hopes to have a new deal for Roope Hintz within the next week or two. The 23-year-old forward is a restricted free agent without arbitration rights. Nill said he’s had great discussions with Hintz’s agent. The Stars have about $4 million in cap space. Hintz’s new contract could carry an annual cap hit of between $2.5 million and $3 million.

The Stars also signed Julius Honka to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700K at the NHL level. The 24-year-old defenseman spent last season playing in Finland and had asked for a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Honka is well down the Stars’ blueline depth chart and faces a daunting challenge cracking the lineup. He must also clear waivers to be demoted to their AHL affiliate.

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong isn’t concerned over Vince Dunn remaining unsigned, indicating the 24-year-old defenseman is still part of their plans for next season. He pointed out it’s not unusual for restricted free agents to wait until training camp to sign contracts.

The Blues are about $1.1 million over the $81.5 million salary cap. However, Armstrong pointed out they’ll have “an abundance of cap space” given the Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen “situations”. Tarasenko will miss the start of the season recovering from shoulder surgery. Armstrong’s comments are a strong indicator Steen could miss the start of the season with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly lists Tarasenko and Steen on injured reserve. Their combined salaries ($13.25 million) provides the Blues with ample room to re-sign Dunn. It could also provide sufficient room to make a short-term addition to their roster if necessary.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed restricted free agent forward Joey Anderson to a three-year contract (two-way in the first two seasons) worth an annual average value of $750K. They also signed unrestricted free agent goalie Michael Hutchinson to a two-year, two-way contract worth $750K annually.

SPORTSNET: The Ontario government reaffirmed its stance that bodychecking and deliberate physical contact will not take place during sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) indicates it will follow scientific studies in crafting its return-to-play plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Bob McKenzie raises some important questions about the Ontario government’s plan:

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 29, 2020

The latest on Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Tyler Bertuzzi, the Senators sign Alex Galchenyuk, the updated arbitration schedule and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson didn’t want to be traded and is happy to be staying put. He made those comments in an interview with a Swedish hockey website. The 29-year-old defenseman has a no-trade/no-movement clause in his contract but said he didn’t want to stand in the organization’s way if they wanted to move him.

Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson (NHL Images).

Ekman-Larsson provided a list of two clubs (Boston and Vancouver) he’d accept being traded to but indicated he wanted nothing better than to remain in Arizona. He added he really enjoyed living there. He’s currently in Sweden but is expected to return to Arizona in mid-November.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes were attempting to shed salary by moving Ekman-Larsson, who has seven years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $8.25 million. His happiness at remaining in Arizona aside, this might not be the last time the club approaches him about a possible trade within the next couple of years. One wonders if he’d agree to expand his list of possible trade options or put his foot down and refuse.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Tyler Bertuzzi isn’t taking it personally that it required arbitration to get a one-year. $3.5 million contract with the Red Wings. He downplayed the possibility of acrimony toward management, saying there was “nothing personal at all.” While admitting it was different than anything he’d gone through in previous contract negotiations, he said he was happy with the result and looking forward to next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bertuzzi filed for arbitration and is eligible again next year. However, I think he and the Wings will attempt to avoid going through that again, especially if he has another solid performance.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed Alex Galchenyuk to a one-year, $1.05 million contract. The 26-year-old forward is joining his fourth team over the last two seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable short-term move to replace the departed Anthony Duclair. This could also be Galchenyuk’s last chance to salvage an NHL career that’s declined following a career-best 30-goal, 56-point season with the Montreal Canadiens in 2015-16.

NHLPA.COM: Seven hearings remain on the NHL salary-arbitration schedule. Buffalo’s Victor Olofsson and Carolina’s Warren Foegele are slated for hearings on Nov. 4, New York Rangers’ center Ryan Strome on Nov. 5, the Rangers Brendan Lemieux and the New York Islanders’ Ryan Pulock on Nov. 6, Ottawa’s Christian Jaros on Nov. 7 and Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar on Nov. 8.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bertuzzi was the only one that required a hearing to receive a new contract. It’ll be interesting to see if any of the remainders also require arbitration.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars unveiled a new black and neon green alternate jersey.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former Oilers defenseman Andy Sutton is launching his own hockey equipment brand specializing in high-end products at affordable prices.

THEAHL.COM: The American Hockey League announced it has moved its anticipated target date for its 2020-21 season to Feb. 5, 2021 because of the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.

SPORTSNET: The Ontario Hockey League is discussing a 40-game regular-season schedule for 2020-21 beginning on Feb. 4, 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both leagues are among the main development systems for the National Hockey League. Those dates could signal when the NHL could return to action in 2020-21.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 18, 2020

A Senators player tests positive for COVID-19, NHL players propose a summer postseason schedule, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SENATORS PLAYER TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19, SEVERAL TEAMMATES BEING TESTED

NHL.COM: The Ottawa Senators released a statement indicating one of their players tested positive for COVID-19. The unnamed player has mild symptoms and is in isolation. The club also indicated they’re in the process of notifying anyone who had known close contact with the player and is working closely with team doctors and public health officials.

THE ATHLETIC: Other Senators players are believed to be ill and they’re awaiting test results. It’s thought the infection occurred when the Senators played the Los Angeles Kings on March 11 at Staples Center, the day after the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets (who have four players who tested positive for COVID-19) played the Lakers at the same arena. The Sens also played games against the Ducks in Anaheim and the Sharks in San Jose and could’ve picked up the virus in one of those locations.

An Ottawa Senators player has tested positive for COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was inevitable an NHL player would test positive for COVID-19. Here’s hoping whoever it makes a full recovery, while the others receive negative results from their tests.

NHL.COM: A relative of a Buffalo Sabres employee tested positive for COVID-19 outside of New York state. They are receiving care and are in isolation outside the state.

MORE PROPOSALS FOR SAVING THE 2019-20 NHL SEASON

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports some NHL players have proposed resuming the season in July and August after recent reports from health experts suggest resuming the season in May or June seem overly optimistic. They’d rather not jump straight into the postseason, preferring a shortened regular-season schedule (following a brief training camp) that ends in late-July, followed by a two-month playoff run finishing in late-September.

After that, the proposal suggested a three-to-four week transition in October to allow for the draft, free agency and training camps. The 2020-21 season would follow with a condensed, 82-game regular-season schedule. The proposal is making its way to the NHL Players Association and potentially to the league,

The NHL is willing to consider all options to salvage this season. Seravalli pointed out the players’ proposal is similar to one recently pitched by a league governor. The biggest concerns, however, is broadcast availability (NBC Sports is covering the 2020 Summer Olympics from July 24 to Aug. 6) and arena availability.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston examined how a 24-team Stanley Cup playoffs could look following a halted season. Based on the seedings, the first-round matchups would look like this:

Pittsburgh vs. Montreal

Toronto vs. N.Y. Rangers

Carolina vs. Florida

N.Y. Islanders vs. Columbus

Dallas vs. Chicago

Vancouver vs. Arizona

Nashville vs. Minnesota

Calgary vs. Winnipeg

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Michael Traikos examined the NHL’s options when the season resumes. Among them could be a wild card play-in, or a round-robin, or a shortened playoff featuring the top-eight teams, a rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup Final, or an inverted playoff pyramid with the first round a best-of-seven series, the second round a best-of-five, the Conference Finals a best-of-three, followed by a single-game winner-take-all Stanley Cup Final.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly reiterated the league’s intent to finish the 2019-20 regular season and the playoffs, but it won’t happen until approval is received from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Other factors must also be taken into consideration, such as broadcasting and arena availability. Daly also said every scenario is being considered.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players and the league appears to be on the same page with saving this season. One reason is the desire to crown a Stanley Cup champion, but trying to salvage as much remaining revenue as possible is another motivating factor. Another issue will also be ice conditions in each arena during the summer. At this point, I think the league will face canceling the season outright if they can’t at least resume action by mid-May.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: With quarterback Tom Brady’s long tenure with the NFL’s New England Patriots having ended, Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron becomes the longest-tenured active pro athlete in Boston.

KHL.RU: The Kontinental Hockey League has suspended its playoffs until April 10 in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19.

THE SCORE: The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) has canceled its regular season, with the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and Western Hockey League (WHL) are expected to follow suit.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield will spend another season in the NCAA.