Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner will be sidelined for the season by hip surgery, Flyers prospect facing trial in Russia, Ed Olczyk officially joins the Kraken broadcast team, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner will undergo hip surgery that is expected to sideline him for the entire 2022-23 season. Lehner, 31, battled injuries last season, including season-ending shoulder surgery in April.
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner (NHL Images).
The Golden Knights currently have goaltenders Logan Thompson, Laurent Brossoit and Michael Hutchinson under contract for the coming season. Brossoit’s status remains uncertain after undergoing hip surgery earlier in the offseason.
With the Golden Knights already exceeding the salary cap, Lehner is expected to be placed on long-term injury reserve. While that would provide $5 million in cap relief, most of that will go toward signing restricted free agents Nic Hague and Jake Leschyshyn.
CAP FRIENDLY: indicates the Golden Knights can exceed the $82.5 million salary cap by over $12.857 million by placing Lehner and Shea Weber ($7.857 million) on LTIR.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the cap relief, this is a big blow for the Golden Knights. Lehner was supposed to be their starting goaltender this season. This news has sparked speculation over how they’ll replace him. I’ll have more about that in today’s NHL Rumor Mill update.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers prospect goaltender Ivan Fedotov will face a preliminary hearing in Russia on Sept. 20. The 25-year-old signed a contract with the Flyers in May and was expected to back up Carter Hart this season. However, Fedotov was reportedly arrested last month on suspicion of evading military service. He has filed a complaint against the Russian government’s attempts to recruit him for military service.
Meanwhile, Mikhail Vorobyev pleaded guilty to bribery charges related to evading Russian military service. He played the last two seasons in the KHL but his NHL rights are still owned by the Flyers.
NHL.COM: Ed Olczyk has officially joined the Seattle Kraken’s broadcast team as a television analyst. Olczyk spent the past 15 years as the Chicago Blackhawks’ TV color analyst.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins recently announced the promotion of Jamie Langenbrunner to assistant general manager. He’s spent the past eight seasons in the Bruins’ hockey operations department.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: The Sharks are reportedly bringing back a California Golden Seals’ look for their 2022-23 Reverse Retro jersey. The Oakland Seals were part of the NHL expansion in 1967-68 and changed their name to California Golden Seals in 1970 until their relocation to Cleveland in 1976.
The Flames take Matthew Tkachuk to arbitration, the latest noteworthy contract signings, the Ducks aren’t done making off-season moves, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: The Flames are taking winger Matthew Tkachuk to arbitration after the 24-year-old winger opted not to file for player-elected arbitration by Sunday’s deadline.
Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The move sets a deadline for the two sides to hammer out an agreement on a new contract. It also prevents Tkachuk from receiving offer sheets from rival clubs.
This decision by the Flames will likely raise concerns among the fanbase that he could end up with just a one-year deal taking him up to unrestricted free agent status next summer. It could also lead to his name popping up in trade rumors.
The arbitration period begins on July 27 and ends on Aug. 11. The schedule for those hearings has yet to be released.
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: The Canadiens signed restricted free agent goaltender Samuel Montembeault to a two-year, one-way contract worth an average annual value of $1 million. The signing leaves the Canadiens with $1.2 million in cap space with 22 roster players signed for 2022-23.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is likely an insurance move by the Canadiens given the ongoing uncertainty over the status of starting goalie Carey Price as he continues to deal with the effects of last summer’s knee surgery. Center Kirby Dach is their sole remaining free agent among their roster players.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks re-signed restricted free agent forward Luke Kunin and goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen to two-year contracts with an average annual value of $2.75 million.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek continues to work on his off-season roster makeover. He’d like to sign a free-agent forward and a defenseman but didn’t indicate which players he’s targeted in the UFA market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Verbeek made two notable free-agent additions last week, bringing in forwards Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano.
TSN: Arizona Coyotes defenseman Conor Timmins released a statement on Monday indicating he was not involved in an alleged sexual assault involving members of Canada’s 2018 world junior team. His statement comes a week after Hockey Canada announced it was reopening its investigation into the alleged assault.
Timmins joins Toronto Maple Leafs blueliner Victor Mete in publicly declaring their innocence. The agent for Colorado Avalanche rearguard Cale Makar said his client wasn’t involved in the incident and had cooperated in the initial investigation.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ed Olczyk is leaving the Blackhawks broadcast teams after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. He’ll be joining the Seattle Kraken broadcast booth and continuing as a hockey analyst for TNT.
TSN: Jake Virtanen’s sexual assault trial is underway in British Columbus. The alleged incident took place in Sept. 2017 when he was a member of the Vancouver Canucks.
NHL.COM: Defenseman Andrej Sekera has retired after 16 NHL seasons. He had 253 points in 842 regular-season games with the Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres between 2006-07 to 2021-22.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Sekera and his family in their future endeavors.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers are reportedly replacing their trainers as well as long-time equipment manager Harry Bricker.
THE PROVINCE: Former Canucks general manager Jack Gordon passed away last month in Minnesota at age 94. He was GM of the clubs from 1985 to 1987, during which he’s remembered for trading a young Cam Neely to the Boston Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Gordon’s family, friends and the Canucks organization.
Speculation over who could become the next general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers listed their potential candidates to replace Stan Bowman as general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks. Bowman stepped down on Tuesday following the release of Tuesday’s report into the findings of an independent investigation into allegations of sexual assault of two players by former video coach Bradley Aldrich.
Former New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton (NHL.com).
Among the notable names on their list were NHL senior director of player safety Patrick Burke, analytics guru Meghan Chayka, former Los Angeles Kings assistant GM Michael Futa, former Rangers GM Jeff Gorton, former player and current TV commentator Ed Olczyk, Carolina Hurricanes assistant GM Eric Tulsky and NHL analyst Kevin Weekes.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli included Gorton and Weekes on his list of potential candidates, joining interim Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson, Montreal Canadiens assistant GM Scott Mellanby, Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray and former Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford.
TSN: Darren Dreger believes the Blackhawks need experience in the GM’s chair going forward. He suggested Rutherford, Gorton and former Penguins and New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks could stick with Davidson or look to someone else within their organization. Perhaps they think outside the box and bring in someone with limited management experience such as Chayka. Olczyk or Weekes.
Dreger could be right that they’ll look to someone with experience who can be a steady hand on the tiller. Gorton could be the best bet here given his rebuilding efforts with the Rangers.
The Jets clinch a playoff spot, T.J. Oshie get a hat trick the day after his father’s passing, Marc-Andre Fleury and Anze Kopitar reach milestones, the Blues salute David Backes and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets became the third team in the Scotia North Division to clinch a playoff spot by blanking the Calgary Flames 4-0. Connor Hellebuyck made 32 saves for the shutout, Blake Wheeler collected his 800th career point and Mark Scheifele got his 500th career point. The win moved the Jets into third place in the division with 59 points, two up on the Montreal Canadiens.
Speaking of the Canadiens, they failed to secure a playoff berth by falling 5-1 to the Ottawa Senators. Erik Brannstrom collected three assists and Shane Pinto tallied his first NHL goal as the Senators have won seven of their last nine games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 57 points, Montreal still holds a 10-point lead over Calgary, though the latter has a game in hand. The Flames playoff hopes, however, are now hanging by a thread.
Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie (NHL Images).
T.J. Oshie scored a hat trick the day following his father’s death as the Washington Capitals doubled up the New York Rangers 4-2. Oshie’s performance, however, was overshadowed by several brawls between the two clubs in the fallout over Capitals winger Tom Wilson receiving a fine for roughing Pavel Buchnevich and injury Artemi Panarin in the previous game between the two clubs. Wilson left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury while Buchnevich received a major penalty and game misconduct for cross-checking Capitals winger Anthony Mantha in the face.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Oshie and his family. His hat trick was a fitting honor to his father and a better story than that clown show of a game. With the win, the Capitals regained first place from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the MassMutual East Division with 73 points and hold a game in hand over the Penguins.
The Dallas Stars playoff hopes suffered another blow as they fell 6-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Erik Cernak had a goal and two assists for the Lightning, putting them into a tie with the Florida Panthers in the Discover Central Division. Both clubs have 75 points but the Lightning holds second place with a game in hand. With 56 points, the Stars remain four back of the fourth-place Nashville Predators.
Meanwhile, the Predators dropped a 4-2 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored twice and collected an assist for the Jackets.
Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 490th career victory as the Vegas Golden Knights nipped the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on an overtime goal by Alex Pietrangelo. Fleury moved into sole possession of third place on the all-time wins list. Kirill Kaprizov scored twice for the Wild. The Golden Knights (76 points) maintained a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Honda West Division.
As for the Avalanche, they blew a 2-0 lead to fall 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks. Tomas Hertl scored twice and Evander Kane collected three assists for the Sharks. With 72 points, the Avs are one point ahead of the third-place Wild.
The St. Louis Blues failed to clinch a playoff spot in the West Division following a 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Troy Terry tallied the winner in the shootout. During the game’s first timeout, the Blues honored Ducks winger David Backes with a video tribute commemorating his 10 seasons in St. Louis.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backes, 37, is in the final season of his contract and is expected to retire.
Anze Kopitar collected his 1000th career NHL point to lead the Los Angeles Kings over the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. Sean Walker collected three points and Gabriel Vilardi tallied twice for the Kings to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Coyotes, meanwhile, have been eliminated from postseason contention.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kopitar’s been a model of consistency for the Kings throughout his 15 NHL seasons. He has 50 points on the season, marking the 14th time he’s reached that plateau.
TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Nick Foligno is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and will miss tonight’s game against the Canadiens and likely Saturday’s contest as well.
CBS SPORTS: Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle suffered an undisclosed injury during Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils and should be considered day-to-day.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere received a two-game suspension for boarding Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Mark Friedman.
MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan is recovering from triceps surgery three weeks ago. An unrestricted free agent at season’s end, Ryan hopes to remain with the Wings. Meanwhile, teammate Tyler Bertuzzi underwent back surgery last Friday and is expected to be fully recovered in time for next season.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed goaltender Anton Forsberg to a one-year, $900K contract.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks TV analyst Ed Olczyk will become the lead NHL game analyst for Turner Sports. He’ll join Kenny Albert as Turner’s top team on TNT when the network’s seven-year contract begins next season.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported if the Seattle Kraken select a player in this summer’s expansion draft who received a bonus on July 1, they will have to re-pay that player’s previous team. The Kraken must also draft at least $48.9 million under the salary cap.
FLYERS ALUMNI: tweeted the passing of former NHL player Jim Johnson at age 78. Johnson spent eight seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Flyers and Los Angeles Kings from 1964-65 to 1971-72. An original member of the Flyers, he spent nearly five seasons with the club. In 302 NHL games, Johnson had 75 goals and 186 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Johnson’s family, friends and former teammates.
The Lightning take a 3-1 series lead over the Bruins, the Islanders and Golden Knights go up 2-1 in their respective series, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Ondrej Palat scored twice and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves as the Tampa Bay Lightning downed the Boston Bruins 3-1 to take a 3-1 lead in their second-round series. Nikita Kucherov collected two assists for the Bolts.
Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat has four goals in his last three games against the Boston Bruins (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can read my take of this game by following this link. If both teams keep playing the way they have over the past three games, this series could be over on Monday evening.
Three unanswered goals by Matt Martin, Leo Komarov, and Anders Lee gave the New York Islanders a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers and a 2-1 lead in their second-round series. Semyon Varlamov returned to the net after giving up three goals on 10 shots in Game 2, stopping 26 shots for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A strong first period by the Flyers was snuffed out by the Isles’ solid defense and opportunistic scoring over the next two periods. In what’s become a running theme in this postseason, the Flyers’ leading scorers weren’t much of a factor. Their playoff bubble will burst if this trend continues.
Robin Lehner picked up his second shutout in three games by kicking out 31 shots to blank the Vancouver Canucks 3-0. Alex Tuch and Zach Whitecloud scored in the first period and Mark Stone tallied in the third. The Golden Knights lead the series 2-1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The game was pretty much over in the first period when Vancouver failed to cash in on a 5-on-3 opportunity. Defensive mistakes by the Canucks led to all three Vegas goals, the most egregious being Alex Tuch blazing through the defense to open the scoring.
Easy to point the finger at Benn on Tuch’s goal, but Beagle should’ve recognized that Benn had stepped up and stayed with Tuch. Not that Beagle would’ve had much luck keeping pace with Tuch… pic.twitter.com/vAbDBZ5hnN
THE DENVER POST: The recent two-day protest pause in the schedule could help the Colorado Avalanche, allowing banged-up players like Nikita Zadorov, Joonas Donskoi, and Matt Calvert a chance to heal and return to the lineup.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports former Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli could be the one to watch as the Florida Panthers narrow their list of contenders for their general manager position.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports NBC Sports hockey analyst Ed Olczyk has interviewed for the GM position.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers assistant GM Chris Drury has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Panthers job.
SPORTSNET: Kevin Weekes, Mike Futa and Bill Armstrong are also being considered by the Panthers, as well as the Arizona Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out for the Panthers and Coyotes. Both clubs desperately need quality management.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks re-signed center Joel Kellman to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $750K. The first season is a two-way deal.