NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 19, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 19, 2018

Latest on Alex Ovechkin, Erik Gudbranson, Jamie Oleksiak, Kris Versteeg and more in your NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya welcomed their first child – a boy – into the world yesterday. The child was named Sergei in honor of Ovechkin’s late brother.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is the father of a baby boy. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Ovechkins on the birth of their son. 

SPORTSNET’s Rick Dhaliwal recently reported Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson suffered no setback in his recovery from the shoulder surgery he underwent in March. He expects to be ready for the start of the season.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak recently spent four days in Ecuador helping to build homes as part of a charitable mission through ME to WE.

THE ATHLETIC: The Montreal Canadiens’ recent past and future came together on Friday as former Habs captain Saku Koivu and Jasperi Kotkaniemi (the third overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft) met in Finland. They were taking part in an all-star game involving the greatest Finnish players past and present. Kotkaniemi hopes to emulate Koivu, who gave the youngster advice about what to expect playing and living in Montreal.

SPORT-EXPRESS’ Igor Eronko recently reported former NHL forward Kris Versteeg is expected to sign a contract with Avangard of the KHL.

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders general manager remains upbeat over the possibility his club’s new arena at Belmont Park could be completed earlier than expected. Construction is expected to being next spring. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Former Toronto Maple Leafs enforcer Kurt Walker passed away Friday night following a brief illness. He was 64. Walker played for three seasons with the Leafs from 1975-76 to 1977-78. He spent the past decade helping players in need through his website “Dignity After Hockey.” 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Walker’s family, friends and former teammates. In January 2016, I did a profile of Walker and his organization’s efforts to assist former NHL players who’d fallen on hard time. Follow this link to check it out. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 13, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 13, 2018

Blackhawks ship Marian Hossa’s contract to the Coyotes in a multi-player deal, Jets re-sign Connor Hellebuyck, this summer’s salary-arbitration schedule and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

ARIZONA SPORTS:  The Arizona Coyotes yesterday acquired the contract of right wing Marian Hossa from the Chicago Blackhawks. They also received center Vinnie Hinostroza, defenseman Jordan Oesterle and a 2019 third-round pick from the Blackhawks in exchange for  center Marcus Kruger, Mackenzie Entwistle (Arizona’s 69th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft), prospects Jordan Maletta and Andrew Campbell, and a 2019 fifth-round pick to Chicago.

Chicago Blackhawks ship Marian Hossa’s contract to Arizona Coyotes in a multi-player trade (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, the Coyotes use their cap space to take on another team’s bad contract while also picking up some young assets in the deal. Hossa is as good as retired due to a skin condition. While his cap hit is $5.275-million per season through 2020-21, his actual salary is $1 million annually over the remainder of the deal. The Coyotes intend to place him on LTIR, meaning insurance will pick up $800K of his actual salary.

While the Blackhawks are getting back some assets in this deal, it remains a salary dump on their part. Cap Friendly indicates this move gives them $9.3 million in projected salary-cap space for 2018-19, providing room to perhaps make other moves in the coming weeks. I’ll have more on that later this morning in today’s Rumors section.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets yesterday avoided salary arbitration with goaltender Connor Hellebuyck by re-signing him to a six-year, $37-million contract. The annual average value is over $6.16 million, making the 25-year-old the sixth-highest paid goaltender in the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hellebucyk had a breakout performance last season. He was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, carrying the Jets to the Western Conference Final for the first time in franchise history. It’ll be money well spent by the Jets if he maintains or exceeds his 2017-18 effort over the course of his new contract.

NHLPA.COM: The 2018 NHL salary-arbitration schedule was released yesterday. Among the notables are Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba (July 20), Minnesota’s Matt Dumba (July 23) and Jason Zucker (July 28), Anaheim’s Brandon Montour (July 24), Ottawa’s Mark Stone (Aug. 3) and Vegas’ William Karlsson (Aug. 4). 

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins avoided salary arbitration with defenseman Jamie Oleksiak as he inked a three-year deal worth just over $2.137 million per season. 

EDMONTON SUN: Given the Oilers’ limited cap space ($4.98 million), defenseman Darnell Nurse could get a two-year bridge deal. 

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed forward Cody McLeod to a one-year, $750K contract. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed forward Lucas Wallmark to a two-year, two-way contract. 

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed forward Sean Malone to a one-year, two-way deal. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens have invited former NHL defenseman Simon Despres to training camp on a professional tryout basis. He spent 193 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks. Despres spent last season in the Kontinental Hockey League with Bratislava Slovan.


Latest on the Sharks and Penguins – December 19, 2017

Latest on the Sharks and Penguins – December 19, 2017

With the holiday trade freeze beginning at midnight tonight, here’s a look at the latest speculation on the Sharks and Penguins in your NHL rumor mill.


NBC SPORTS BAY AREA:  Marcus White recently examined potential options for the San Jose Sharks to replace leading scorer Logan Couture (concussion) if he’s sidelined for a lengthy period. One of them is trading for a center, though White considers this the least likely move because of the potentially expensive asking prices. He also suggests trading for a winger, allowing them to move Tomas Hertl to center. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with White that a trade seems unlikely. He feels the most likely option is giving second-year center Danny O’Regan more playing time. I expect general manager Doug Wilson will remain patient and hope Couture can soon return to action. If he’s out longer than expected and the Sharks start sliding down the standings in his absence, Wilson could be prompted to go shopping early in the New Year.  


PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey wonders if changes could be coming for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’ve dropped five of their last seven games, including a 4-2 loss last night to the Colorado Avalanche. He suggests it could prompt the roster shakeup GM Jim Rutherford alluded to last week before the club embarked on its recent road trip. Their offense has sputtered of late, with just 10 goals in those five losses. Mackey suggests they could make a trade or call up promising forward Daniel Sprong. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Pens have been lacking a skilled two-way third-line center since Nick Bonino departed for Nashville via free agency last summer. Late last month it was reported defenseman Ian Cole was being shopped, with the Vegas Golden Knights, Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche thought to be interested. However, a deal involving Cole has yet to materialize. Rutherford could swing a trade before the holiday trade freeze goes into effect at midnight but I expect he’ll instead call up Sprong.


Rutherford was busy in the hours leading up to the holiday freeze. As per NBC Sports, he acquired defenseman Jamie Oleksiak from the Dallas Stars in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2019. He also acquired goaltender Michael Leighton and a fourth-round pick in 2019 from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for forward Josh Archibald, minor-league goalie Sean McGuire and a 2019 sixth-round selection. 

The move gives the Penguins a little more depth in goal and on the blueline. However, it still doesn’t address their most pressing need: a skilled two-way third-line center. For that, Rutherford might have to wait until sometime in the New Year for find a suitable option. 


NHL Rumor Mill – September 8, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – September 8, 2017

Former Buffalo Sabres captain Brian Gionta continues to weigh his options.

Latest on Brian Gionta plus updates on the Golden Knights and Stars in your NHL rumor mill.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: With NHL training camps opening next week, former Sabres captain Brian Gionta is weighing his options. The 38-year-old right wing is an unrestricted free agent.

Gionta’s agent, Steve Bartlett, said a number of teams have expressed interest in his client. The winger had hoped to re-sign with the Sabres but their offseason acquisition of Jason Pominville seems to have filled his right-wing spot. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gionta’s agent didn’t indicate which clubs had interest in his client. At least he’s had some offers but it remains to be seen if he’ll accept any of them. His preference could be clubs in the Eastern Conference, where he’s spent his entire career. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen recently noted five questions facing the expansion Golden Knights entering training camp, with their logjam on defense topping his list. They have 13 defensemen on the roster, with 11 on one-way NHL contracts. Schoen expects general manager George McPhee will attempt to move one or two blueliners before the start of the season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of those d-men could be demoted to the minors. If McPhee shops one or two of them, Clayton Stoner, Luca Sbisa or Jon Merrill could become trade candidates. Don’t expect the younger guys with upside, such as Shea Theodore, Colin Miller or Nate Schmidt, to be dealt. 

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: During a recent live chat with Stars fans, Mike Heika was asked what he thought the trade value might be for blueliners Jamie Oleksiak or Patrik Nemeth. Heika said he wasn’t sure, though he believes both could benefit from a fresh start and could be in the top six on several clubs. However, he notes the Stars like both players and believe they could fit well into the club’s new system under new head coach Ken Hitchcock. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Stars will evaluate their performances this season to determine if they fit into the club’s long-term plans. If both continue to struggle to crack the roster on a full-time basis, one or both could hit the trade block later in the season.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 5, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 5, 2017

Former NY Islanders forward Ryan Strome looks forward to a fresh start with the Edmonton Oilers.

Updates on Ryan Strome, Jamie Oleksiak, Brandon Prust and Derek Dorsett in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

EDMONTON SUN:  Winger Ryan Strome is looking forward to a fresh start with the Oilers and playing alongside Connor McDavid.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a great opportunity for Strome,24, to get his once-promising NHL career back on track. The Oilers are a team on the rise and he could be a good addition. He had a 50-point performance in 2014-15 but struggled offensively over the next two seasons. His stats could skyrocket if he becomes a regular on McDavid’s line. 

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars re-signed defenseman Jamie Oleksiak to a one-year deal worth over $964K.

NBC SPORTS: Vancouver Canucks forward Derek Dorsett is ready for training camp after recovering from neck surgery last December.



Expansion Speculation on the Bruins, Sabres & Stars – March 21, 2017

Expansion Speculation on the Bruins, Sabres & Stars – March 21, 2017

Could the Boston Bruins leave defenseman Adam McQuaid exposed in the June expansion draft?

 A look at the players who could be protected or exposed in the June expansion draft by the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars.

BOSTON HERALD: Stephen Harris speculates the Boston Bruins could opt to protect seven forwards (“Patrice Bergeron (no-movement clause), David Krejci (NM), David Backes (NM), Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey”), three defenseman ( “Zdeno Chara (NM), Torey Krug and Colin Miller”) and a goaltender (Tuukka Rask) in the June expansion draft.

Harris suggests the Bruins could still expose Beleskey. Colin Miller’s improvement, meanwhile, could leave Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller exposed. Either guy could prove attractive to the Vegas Golden Knights. Harris also mused over the possibility of the Bruins asking Chara to waive his no-movement clause, but believes it “questionable at best” that he’ll agree to do so. The Bruins could also be unwilling to risk losing Chara. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl recently did up his list of players the Buffalo Sabres could protect in the expansion draft. His protected forwards include Kyle Okposo, Ryan O’Reilly, Evander Kane, Marcus Foligno, Johan Larsson, Ennis and William Carrier. That leaves Zemgus Girgensons, Matt Moulson, Nicholas Deslauriers and Justin Kea available in the draft.

On defense, he’d protect Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe and Zach Bogosian, leaving Josh Gorges, Justin Falk and Brady Austin. In goal, Vogl anticipated the Sabres will protect Robin Lehner and expose Linus Ullmark. He also speculated the Golden Knights could choose Girgensons or Ullmark. 

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika recently looked at the players the Dallas Stars could protect in the expansion draft. Forwards Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza have no-movement clauses, while Tyler Seguin and Radek Faksa are “locks’ to be protected. He anticipated the Stars will protect Valeri Nichushkin, who’s currently playing in Russia. He guessed they’ll also protect Brett Ritchie and Antoine Roussel and speculated they could trade Cody Eakin or leave him unprotected.

On defense, John Klingberg and Esa Lindell will be protected, as could either Stephen Johns or Jamie Oleksiak. Dan Hamhuis would be left unprotected. Given his age (34) and with only a year left on his contract, the Golden Knights could pass on him. As for goaltenders Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi, Heika doubts the Golden Knights have interest in either guy. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As more clubs drop out of playoff contention in the coming weeks, expect the speculation over which players they will expose in the expansion draft to increase in the coming weeks. If the Bruins leave McQuaid unprotected, I expect the Golden Knights will be very interested in him. Same goes for Girgensons if the Sabres make him available in the draft. Johns and Oleksiak are big, young blueliners and either one could be tempting targets for the Golden Knights.