NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 23, 2021

Another multi-point game for Connor McDavid, the Sharks are unbeaten in four straight, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid collected two assists while Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman each scored twice to give the Edmonton Oilers a 5-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. The Oilers captain has a league-leading 13 points in five games. Only Wayne Gretzky had more points (15) in franchise history over the same period to start a season. The Oilers sit atop the overall standings with a 5-0-0 record while the Golden Knights are 1-3-0.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

The San Jose Sharks pushed their season-opening win streak to four games (4-0-0) by downing the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3. Logan Couture scored two goals and set up another while goalie Adin Hill made 30 saves for his third straight victory. The Leafs are 2-2-1 in their first five.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks general manager Doug Wilson entered this season on the hot seat as his club missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. He was also criticized for his handling of Evander Kane’s off-ice issues. The Sharks will eventually lose some games but building on this impressive start will reduce the heat on Wilson.

A 35-save performance by Linus Ullmark backstopped the Boston Bruins to a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres, handing the latter their first loss of the season (3-1-0). Charlie Coyle had a goal and two assists while Taylor Hall and Brad Marchand chipped in two points. This was Ullmark’s first game against his former club.

An overtime goal by Denis Gurianov lifted the Dallas Stars over the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Miro Heiskanen had a goal and two assists for the Stars. Kings captain Anze Kopitar tallied his sixth goal of the season and has scored in all four of his club’s games. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty left the game in the second period following a knee-on-knee hit by Stars blueliner Jani Hakanpaa, who received a five-minute major and game misconduct for kneeing. Doughty’s status remains unknown.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hakanpaa could receive supplemental discipline for what was a dirty hit on Doughty, who could end up missing significant time as a result.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks forward Max Jones will be sidelined between four and six months after suffering a torn pectoral tendon during Monday’s game against the Calgary Flames.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry was removed from COVID protocol yesterday and rejoined his teammates in practice. Jarry had received a false positive test on Thursday.

SPORTSNET: Winger Alex Barre-Boulet was reclaimed off waiver by the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday. He was originally claimed by the Seattle Kraken on Oct. 11 and saw action in two games with them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I look forward to his video tribute by the Kraken the next time those two clubs meet.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the NHL and its team of medical experts are currently debating the merits of testing asymptomatic players. This comes after several players, including Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifle and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jeff Carter missed games due to a positive COVID-19 test despite being asymptomatic. That’s led to growing frustration among players and general managers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli speculates this could lead to changes to the protocol only to test players and team staff who show symptoms of COVID-19. However, he notes even the experts have split opinions on the matter.

The league and the NHLPA will meet on Nov. 1 to review the protocol. Given the 99.5 percent vaccination rate among players and staff and the strict rules on social distancing, it wouldn’t be surprising if the testing rules become adjusted.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 14, 2021

Alex Ovechkin moves up the all-time goals leader board, new contracts for the Islanders’ Ryan Pulock and Predators’ Mattias Ekholm, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin moved into sole possession of fifth place among the NHL’s all-time goalscoring leaders as his Washington Capitals thumped the New York Rangers 5-1. Ovechkin scored twice to surpass Hall-of-Famer Marcel Dionne with 732 goals. The Capitals captain collected four points on the night, linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov had three assists and rookie Hendrix Lapierre tallied his first NHL goal.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is nine goals behind Brett Hull (741), who sits fourth overall on the all-time leader list. He could pass The Golden Brett by the end of this month.

The Edmonton Oilers edged the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 on a shootout goal by Kyle Turris. Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected two assists and Mike Smith made 36 saves. The Canucks forced the extra frame by overcoming a two-goal deficit in the third period on goals by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Quinn Hughes.

Darcy Kuemper made 32 saves as the Colorado Avalanche doubled up the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2. Gabriel Landeskog, Nazem Kadri and Bowen Byram each had a goal and an assist for the Avs. It was a rough outing for Blackhawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury as the reigning Vezina Trophy winner gave up three goals in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seth Jones’ debut with the Blackhawks was not one he’ll remember with any fondness. The Avalanche dominated play when the 26-year-old Jones was on the ice in five-on-five situations.

The Toronto Maple Leafs nipped the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 on William Nylander’s game-winner early in the third period. Jack Campbell picked up the win with a 31-save performance. Jonathan Drouin scored his first goal for the Canadiens since taking time away in the second half of last season to deal with anxiety and insomnia issues.

Anaheim Ducks rookie Mason McTavish tallied his first NHL goal as his club upset the Winnipeg Jets 4-1. The 18-year-old McTavish became the youngest goalscorer in Ducks history. Rickard Rakell, Adam Henrique and Kevin Shattenkirk also scored for the Ducks while John Gibson kicked out 33 shots for the win.

HEADLINES

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the New York Islanders have agreed to an eight-year contract extension with defenseman Ryan Pulock. It’s believed to be just under $50 million with a full no-trade clause in the first five years and a limited no-trade in the final three.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per JFreshHockey, the 27-year-old Pulock is “a high-end, top-pairing two-way defenseman who’s the primary puck-mover on one of the league’s best pairings.”

Pulock’s annual average value could come in at around $6.25 million, slightly higher than the $5.75 million defense partner Adam Pelech is earning on his new contract. General manager Lou Lamoriello wasted little time ensuring this underrated defense pairing is locked up to reasonable long-term contracts.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators inked defenseman Mattias Ekholm to a four-year, $25 million contract extension. The annual average value is $6.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm gets a big raise over the $3.75 million of his current contract while the Predators get a sensible term for the 31-year-old blueliner, who wasn’t shy about publicly expressing his desire to remain in Nashville.

Some observers believe the raise is too high for a defenseman at this stage of his career but Ekholm was significantly underpaid as one of their most reliable top-four blueliners. While his performance could decline they obviously feel his experience and leadership are worth retaining while the club undergoes its’ “competitive rebuild.”

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed Colton Sceviour to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings named Danny DeKeyser and Marc Staal as their alternate captains this season.

NHL.COM: Seattle Kraken forward Marcus Johansson is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.

THE ATHLETIC: San Jose Sharks defenseman Nikolai Knyzhov is also out with a lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers claimed Charlottetown native Zack MacEwen off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks.

GWINNETT PREP SPORTS: The Columbus Blue Jackets suspended defenseman Mikko Lehtonen for his failure to report to their AHL affiliate in Cleveland and placed him on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2021

The NHL finds no evidence Evander Kane bet on games, several players remain unvaccinated or partially vaccinated as training camps open plus the latest contract signings, injury updates & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NO EVIDENCE KANE BET ON GAMES, SAYS NHL

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The NHL announced Wednesday it found no evidence San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane bet on league games. The accusation was leveled by Kane’s estranged wife Anna several weeks ago, prompting the league’s investigation.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

However, the NHL is now investigating “additional unrelated allegations involving potential wrongdoing by Mr. Kane” linked to a domestic violence restraining order filed by Anna on Tuesday. The Sharks released a statement yesterday indicating the 30-year-old winger has agreed not to participate in training camp until further notice.

LATEST NHL COVID-19 NEWS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith will miss the opening week of training camp. He’ll be in quarantine until Oct. 1 after traveling to the United States to get a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccination.

Meanwhile, Oilers general manager Ken Holland said winger Josh Archibald is the only unvaccinated player in training camp. If he remains that way for the coming season, he’ll need a 14-day quarantine to participate in road games in the United States. He will be suspended without pay during that period which won’t count against the club’s salary cap. Archibald could miss 30-plus games and forfeit $600k in wages.

Oilers goaltender Alex Stalock is expected to be sidelined for the entire season due to a heart condition (myocarditis) related to his bout with COVID-19 last November. Holland said there are no plans at this time to seek another veteran goalie.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman said winger Tyler Bertuzzi is the only player on his team to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine. He’ll be unable to travel to Canada under current border restrictions which require a 14-day quarantine for unvaccinated players traveling into the country. He could forfeit $400K of his salary based on those Canadian road games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland and Yzerman indicated they aren’t going to force anyone to get vaccinated. The league’s COVID restrictions and the prospect of lost wages, however, could eventually convince Archibald and Bertuzzi to change their minds. Their stance has the potential to create a rift among teammates who could consider them a risk to their health and safety.

Most NHL players are well-conditioned athletes with good odds of avoiding the worst serious symptoms of COVID-19. Stalock’s situation, however, should serve as a warning that they’re not totally immune.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander is not yet fully vaccinated but will be when the season opens next month. “I had a couple of medical things that I had to take care of but I’ll be vaccinated by the beginning of the season.”

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Travis Hamonic was reportedly not in training camp and his absence isn’t injury-related. That led to speculation his absence was related to the league’s COVID protocols but GM Jim Benning said he’ll be in camp.

Benning also acknowledged winger Justin Bailey has tested positive for COVID-19 before crossing the Canada – US border. He’ll have to wait another 10 days before he can join his teammates in Vancouver.

Speaking of the Canucks, they signed winger Alex Chiasson to a professional tryout offer.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens forward Jesse Ylonen has changed his mind and agreed to be vaccinated.

TSN: More than a dozen infectious disease and critical care doctors are calling on the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers to drop plans to stage games in full-capacity arenas this season. The province of Alberta is reeling through an unprecedented medical crisis amid the fourth wave of COVID-19.

The Oilers issued a statement indicating fans will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to gain entry to Rogers Place. They will also insist fans wear masks when not eating or drinking.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Calgary Flames have a mandatory vaccine policy in place for fans attending their games this season.

NOTABLE CONTRACT SIGNINGS

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed defenseman Rasmus Dahlin to a three-year, $18 million contract. The annual average value is $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fair signing for both sides. Dahlin gets a significant pay raise coming off his entry-level contract while the Sabres commit to a short-term bridge deal. His signing leaves Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes and Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk as the only remaining notable restricted free agents.

THE SCORE: The Los Angeles Kings signed goaltender Cal Petersen to a three-year contract extension with an annual average value of $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petersen is the heir apparent to long-time Kings starting goalie Jonathan Quick. He took over the starter’s role last season, appearing in 35 games to Quick’s 22. The latter is signed through 2022-23 with an annual cap hit of $5.8 million.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed right wing Logan O’Connor to a three-year, $3.15 million contract extension.

INJURY UPDATES

GOPHNX.com’s Craig Morgan reports Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel is sidelined two-three weeks with a foot injury suffered during offseason training.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews will miss the first part of the upcoming season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Cal Foote will be sidelined by a hand injury for the entire training camp and preseason as well as the first two-to-four weeks of the regular season.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TSN: The St. Louis Blues announced they’ve named Peter Chiarelli as their vice-president of hockey operations while Ken Hitchcock rejoins the club as a coaching consultant.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers confirmed their arena will be called the FLA Live Arena for this season. The club is looking for a new naming rights partner for 2022.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2021

Updates on Jack Eichel, Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Brady Tkachuk, Rasmus Dahlin, Johnny Gaudreau and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman believes Jack Eichel will attend Buffalo Sabres training camp but won’t pass his physical and thus won’t be cleared to play. He also believes the club will remove his captaincy.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

The 24-year-old center remains in a standoff with Sabres management regarding which medical procedure he’ll undergo for a herniated disc in his neck. Friedman heard some trade talks a couple of weeks ago but he thinks teams want to hear what the doctors say.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless a team is willing to take a chance on Eichel’s wish to undergo a disc replacement procedure (which the Sabres are against), there’s no end in sight for this impasse. One side or the other will have to bend or Eichel won’t be playing this season.

Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes and center Elias Pettersson and Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk are the four restricted free agents to watch now.

Regarding Tkachuk, Friedman believes the Senators have talked about a long-term contract but he wonders if a short-term deal is necessary to get things done. He doesn’t think they’re far apart in dollars but the Senators’ reluctance to give bonuses could be an issue. A no-trade/no-movement clause near the end of the deal could also be a sticking point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports out of Ottawa claim the Senators tabled an eight-year deal worth $8 million annually for Tkachuk. Signing bonuses are likely the main sticking point here as that’s money the player gets upfront each season.

It appears the Canucks face a bit of a stalemate with Hughes and Pettersson. It’s thought the club is thinking short-term but Friedman wonders if a six-year deal might be the solution here. There’s also pushback to rumors the Canucks might make a cost-cutting trade to free up salary for those two with Tyler Motte remaining sidelined.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Canucks with over $10.6 million cap space. They will get another $3.5 million if necessary by placing Micheal Ferland (post-concussion symptoms) on long-term injury reserve to start the season. Motte would give them another $1.225 million if he ends up on LTIR. As I noted yesterday, I doubt they’ll get Hughes and Pettersson for less than a combined $14 million.

Friedman said the Dahlin rumors are all over the map. At first, it sounded like things were going well. However, the Sabres want a short-term deal not because of anything he did or didn’t do but because of overall frustration and an unwillingness to commit to a long-term agreement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dahlin’s development in Buffalo has been hampered in part by a revolving door of coaches. A short-term deal could set the stage for a messy arbitration battle down the road.

There were teams with interest in Robert Thomas. However, Friedman thinks St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told teams he wasn’t interested in trading him.

The cone of silence has dropped on Johnny Gaudreau’s contract talks with the Calgary Flames now that training camp has started. He’s told reporters he’s not talking to them about his contract situation. Meanwhile, the club won’t be releasing any updates. The 28-year-old left winger can become an unrestricted free agent next July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will only stoke speculation over his future in Calgary, especially if the club gets off to a slow start this season.

Friedman believes the Edmonton Oilers aren’t done in goal. “Mike Smith will be there, but what happens around him?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not much in the short term. Mikko Koskinen and Alex Stalock will be Smith’s backups for now. Koskinen carries that $4.5 million cap hit for this season plus a 15-team no-trade list.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 20, 2021

Zdeno Chara is poised to break a record this season, the Golden Knights sign Nolan Patrick, Tyler Ennis joins the Senators on a tryout basis, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Bob Duff reports Zdeno Chara is poised to knock former Red Wing Chris Chelios from the record books. If Chara plays 44 games this season, he’ll set the NHL record for most games by a defenseman. Chelios holds the current record with 1,651. Over the weekend, Chara signed a one-year contract with the New York Islanders.

New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 44-year-old Chara is expected to be a third-pairing defenseman with the Islanders this season. Barring injury, he should break Chelios’ record.

TSN: The Vegas Golden Knights signed Nolan Patrick to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $1.2 million. They acquired the 23-year-old center from the Nashville Predators in July during a three-way trade involving the Predators and Philadelphia Flyers, who sent Patrick and defenseman Philippe Myers to Nashville for Ryan Ellis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The former first-round pick (second overall) of the Flyers in 2017, Patrick is hoping to get his NHL career back on track after struggling to play up to expectations in Philadelphia. The Golden Knights hope he’ll blossom into a first- or second-line center.

Patrick’s signing pushes the Golden Knights above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $1.237 million according to Cap Friendly. However, they can garner some short-term relief by placing sidelined Alex Tuch on long-term injury reserve until his return from shoulder surgery in January.

OTTAWA SUN: Unrestricted free agent forward Tyler Ennis signed a professional tryout offer with the Senators.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers prospect defenseman Dmitri Samorukov suffered a broken jaw during Saturday’s prospect game against the Calgary Flames. Surgery is not required but he’ll be sidelined for six weeks.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings prospect blueliner Jared McIsaac was briefly knocked unconscious after taking a hit during a prospects game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. He was taken to a hospital, evaluated, and reportedly doing well. He wasn’t expected to be hospitalized overnight.

CROSSINGBROAD.COM: Flyers writer Anthony SanFilippo cited sources yesterday claiming Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin has suffered another serious knee injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hopefully we’ll learn more about Morin’s status later today. His NHL career has been hampered by several knee injuries. Another could bring his playing days to an end.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Speaking of the Flyers, winger Wade Allison left Sunday’s rookie game against the New York Rangers with an apparent leg injury. There was no immediate word on his status.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks pulled center Trevor Zegras from a rookie game against the Colorado Avalanche as a precautionary measure after he was slashed on the left leg in the first period. He limped to the bench and had to be helped to the dressing room but was later said to be “fine”.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens hopeful Jesse Ylonen has not been vaccinated for COVID-19 for personal reasons. Under NHL protocols, he could face suspension without pay if border restrictions prevent him from traveling to the United States for road games. He will also face severe restrictions, such as not being able to be in any public place other than arenas and training facilities.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports Jim Hughson is telling people he has retired. Hughson has been Hockey Night in Canada’s lead play-by-play man since 2008-09.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No official word yet from Hughson or HniC regarding his status.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 19, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 19, 2021

Check out the latest on the Flames, Oilers and Senators in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently reported Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving scoured the trade market this summer but couldn’t find many options to shake up his roster core. Treliving pointed out the difficulty in finding a trade partner to make a deal that made sense.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Francis noted few Flames drew much interest in the offseason trade market. Johnny Gaudreau’s struggles over the past two seasons hurt his trade value, as did the hip injury that affected Sean Monahan’s performance last season. Several other Flames, including Matthew Tkachuk, also played poorly.

Outside of signing Blake Coleman, it was difficult for the Flames to attract notable free agents. Francis cited “the dated arena, winter weather, high taxes, the team’s lack of playoff success, the scrutiny in a Canadian market and a coach (Darryl Sutter) who scares some players off.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving drew considerable criticism for what was perceived as his lack of effort to make significant changes. He didn’t make any excuses but it’s apparent some of those issues raised by Francis hampered Treliving’s offseason plans. It’s worth pointing out, however, the Flames had little difficulty landing Jacob Markstrom, who was last summer’s top free-agent goaltender.

Gaudreau is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July and could become a trade candidate if he and the Flames fail to reach an agreement on a contract extension. A bounce-back campaign could draw interest from other clubs at the March trade deadline.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples points out the Oilers will have difficulty re-signing Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi next summer if both play well this season. The club will have limited salary-cap space for the foreseeable future with the flat cap and the big contracts of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman.

It’s hard to imagine the Oilers having enough cap space to re-sign Yamamoto and Puljujarvi. They could try to move out Zack Kassian and his $3.2 million cap hit but maybe they can’t. Staples expects they’ll have to choose one or the other.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have over $74.5 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23 according to Cap Friendly. They’ll need to find a suitable goaltender to share the duties with Mike Smith as Mikko Koskinen and Alex Stalock probably won’t be re-signed.

Moving Kassian in a cost-cutting deal isn’t impossible but it won’t be easy. Holland might have to include a sweetener (draft pick or prospect) to get someone to take the full value of his remaining contract. That will also depend upon his performance this season.

They will also likely put Oscar Klefbom ($4.167 million) on long-term injury reserve if he’s unable to return from the shoulder surgery sidelining him for the coming season. They could also attempt to move him to a team seeking an LTIR player for cap relief. Still, that might not be enough to keep Yamamoto and Puljujarvi.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators center Logan Brown asked to be traded and changed agents in hopes of getting a deal. However, the club has insisted it’s not going to just give him away. With no value in the trade market, Brown signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Senators. He could get picked up by another club off waivers.