NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 10, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 10, 2021

Game recaps, the latest on Zach Werenski, Bobby Ryan and William Nylander, the Avalanche reacquire Patrik Nemeth, the Leafs deal for Riley Nash, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied career goal 727 in a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Capitals defenseman Justin Schultz had a goal and two assists. Ovechkin is four goals shy of Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne for fifth on the NHL’s all-time goals list. The Capitals are tied with the New York Islanders with 56 points but hold first place in the MassMutual East Division on the basis of regulation wins (21).

The Islanders, meanwhile, dropped a 4-1 decision to the New York Rangers. Alexandar Georgiev made 31 saves for the win in his first start in 11 games while teammate Adam Fox’s point streak ended at 12 games. Blueshirts winger Artemi Panarin collected two assists.

PIttsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

Sidney Crosby scored and added two helpers to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the New Jersey Devils 6-4. Pittsburgh winger Bryan Rust scored two goals and chipped in an assist while Devils winger Miles Wood tallied twice. The Penguins have won seven of their last nine contests and sit two points behind the second-place Islanders.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Jonas Johansson made 28 saves for his first career NHL shutout in a 2-0 blanking of the Anaheim Ducks. Valeri Nichushkin and Mikko Rantanen were the goal scorers as Colorado won their sixth game in their last seven outings. They canceled their practice earlier in the day after Bo Byram was placed on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list. The Avs sit atop the Honda West Division with 58 points.

A four-goal first period powered the Vegas Golden Knights to a 7-4 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Reilly Smith scored two goals for the Golden Knights, who remain four points back of the Avalanche in second place. Phil Kessel collected three assists for Arizona and took over sole possession of fifth place on the NHL’s Ironman list by skating in his 885th consecutive game. The Coyotes are in fourth place with 43 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel is quite durable for someone who is sometimes mocked because his physical appearance isn’t that of a prototypical NHL player. As the old saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover.

St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly tallied a hat trick in a 9-1 thumping of the Minnesota Wild. Jaden Schwartz scored twice while Justin Faulk and Sammy Blais each had a goal and two assists. The Blues moved within one point of the Coyotes while the Wild remain in third place with 50 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues made winger Mike Hoffman a healthy scratch for the second straight game. He’s among the top names being bandied about the NHL rumor mill and could be on the move before Monday’s trade deadline.

Brent Burns collected three assists and Martin Jones made 32 saves as the San Jose Sharks downed the Los Angeles Kings 5-2. The surging Sharks sit three back of the Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The race for that final playoff berth in the West is getting interesting. The Coyotes are trying to hang on, the Blues are battling to overcome a recent season-threatening losing skid while the Sharks are trying to keep their postseason hopes alive.

HEADLINES

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski will undergo season-ending sports hernia surgery next week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A difficult season for the Blue Jackets just got a lot worse with their best puck-moving defenseman on the shelf. This could be the last nail in the coffin for their playoff hopes.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan appears to be done for the season after suffering an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ryan was expected to draw some interest in the trade market leading up to Monday’s deadline. Nagging injuries have plagued the 34-year-old winger throughout this season.

ESPN: The Nashville Predators placed winger Filip Forsberg on injured reserve and announced winger Eeli Tolvanen (lower body) and defenseman Dante Fabbro (upper body) are week-to-week. Right wing Mathieu Olivier will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators surged into playoff contention in recent weeks in the Discover Central Division. This latest rash of injuries could threaten their efforts to clinch a postseason berth.

TSN: Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning said many of his 21 players who tested positive for COVID-19 are feeling better. He expects his club will be able to complete its 56-game schedule, adding none of his players want to opt-out of the remainder of the season. Benning anticipates most of his players will be back on the ice once the team receives clearance to reopen its practice facility.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield is the 2021 winner of the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in US college hockey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Caufield celebrated by scoring two goals in his pro debut as the Laval Rocket downed the Toronto Marlies 5-3 in AHL action on Friday.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs acquired center Riley Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nash is sidelined for four-to-six weeks with a sprained knee. However, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas can place him and his $2.75 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve, giving them the flexibility to perhaps make another move before Monday’s trade deadline. A clever move by Dubas, who’s done this sort of thing in the past to provide himself some much-needed cap relief. Nash will also join the Leafs for the playoffs.

TORONTO STAR: Speaking of the Leafs, winger William Nylander will be sidelined for a week on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche reacquired defenseman Patrik Nemeth from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a 2022 fourth-round pick. Nemeth spent two seasons with the Avalanche (2017 to 2019). The Wings are also retaining half of his $3 million salary-cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche also have $5.4 million in cap wiggle room with Erik Johnson and Pavel Francouz on LTIR. GM Joe Sakic might not be done dealing as concern remains over the Avs’ goaltending depth.

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils placed winger Nikita Gusev on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent if he clears at noon ET today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gusev had a promising NHL debut with 44 points in 66 games last season but struggled under head coach Lindy Ruff this season and has just five points in 20 games. The 27-year-old winger might regain his scoring touch with another club.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres claimed forward Drake Caggiula off waivers from the Arizona Coyotes.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 21, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 21, 2020

The NHL and NHLPA formally approve a 56-game season, the Blues will reportedly name Ryan O’Reilly as team captain, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines

TSN: The NHL and NHL Players Association formally agreed yesterday to play a 56-game season commencing on Jan. 13, 2021.

The league’s aim is to return to a normal hockey calendar for the 2021-22 season.

Both sides intend to be flexible and adaptable to ensure compliance with local and national health and safety directives for their players and game-related personnel.

The new NHL divisions for 2020-21 (TSN.ca).

The league will be split into four divisions (see chart at left) for this season with no conferences. Training camp open for last season’s seven non-playoff teams on Dec. 31. The rest of the league begins camp on Jan. 3. There won’t be any exhibition games.

The playoffs will feature 16 teams in a best-of-seven, four-round format that will conclude no later than July 15. The top-four teams in each division will qualify, featuring intradivisional matchups in the first two rounds (1 vs 4, 2 vs 3). The two semifinal winners will face off in the Stanley Cup Final.

Frank Seravalli reports multiple provincial health authorities in Canada have not yet signed off on the league’s plan and protocol amid concerns over rising COVID-19 rates in several provinces. Discussions between the league and the provinces are expected to continue this week. If no agreement is reached, the seven Canadian teams could begin the season in a hub city such as Edmonton or in US cities.

Several US teams, such as the Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, are expected to begin the season with a limited number of fans in their arenas.

The San Jose Sharks announced they will train and open the season in Arizona due to the ban on mass gatherings in Santa Clara County, California.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL is making this change to the divisions and playoff format for this season only. Nevertheless, it’ll be interesting to see how fans respond to these changes. If the reaction is positive, perhaps the league would consider adopting them going forward.

The critical dates are as follows:

Dec: 31: Training camp opens for last season’s seven non-playoff teams,

Jan.3: Training camps open for the remaining 24 teams,

April 12: NHL trade deadline,

May 8: End of the regular season,

May 11: Stanley Cup playoffs begin,

July 15: Last possible day to award the Stanley Cup,

July 21: Seattle Kraken expansion draft,

July 23-24: NHL Draft (location to be determined),

July 28: Free agency begins,

October: 2021-22 regular season begins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of those regular-season and playoff dates could change depending on the course of the pandemic. The league intends to leave some wiggle room in the schedule for games postponed by the pandemic. The NHL Draft could be staged in Montreal as that’s where this year’s draft was supposed to be held.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Canadian teams will face off against each other 10 times in the upcoming season.

Health authorities in British Columbia have raised the most concerns over the NHL’s plan, while Ontario and Quebec have yet to formally commit. Alberta and Manitoba are believed most comfortable with the plan while Quebec Premier Francois Legault expressed his happiness – “Bonne nouvelle! (Good news!) – following yesterday’s announcement by the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Vancouver Canucks seem most likely to be starting this season playing in another city. Ontario is going into a month-long province-wide lockdown on Christmas eve, which could force the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs into a hub city in Edmonton. It remains to be seen what Quebec will do. The teams in those provinces could be allowed to return to their arenas if restrictions ease over the course of the season. We’ll probably learn more before the end of this week.

Johnston’s colleague Elliotte Friedman reports training camp will consist of 36 players and an unlimited number of goaltenders. He also indicates no-movement clauses are extended through July. That will allow players who have one to use it if they wish during the expansion draft. The entry-level slide for rookies drops this season from 10 games to seven.

PUCKPEDIA: examines some interesting aspects of the transition rules for the coming season and the effects upon the salary cap for 2020-21.

THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson confirmed some of the team’s players skating in Europe in recent months tested positive for COVID-19. However, none who trained in San Jose tested positive. They’re not aware of any player currently prevented by the coronavirus from traveling to North America.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford cites sources claiming Ryan O’Reilly will be named the new captain of the St. Louis Blues. He will replace Alex Pietrangelo, who signed with the Vegas Golden Knights in October.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Reilly is a perfect choice for team captain. As Rutherford points out, he’s become a leader and a core player since joining the Blues in 2018. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Blues won the 2019 Stanley Cup and the Selke Trophy in 2019.

 










Why Hasn’t An NHL Club Gone The Offer Sheet Route Yet?

Why Hasn’t An NHL Club Gone The Offer Sheet Route Yet?

 










2020 NHL Awards: Hart, Norris, and Selke Finalists

2020 NHL Awards: Hart, Norris, and Selke Finalists

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 21, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 21, 2020

The Norris Trophy & Selke Trophy finalists are revealed, the latest COVID-19 testing results, plus the latest on Max Domi, Charlie McAvoy, Ilya Samsonov, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: John Carlson of the Washington Capitals, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators are this year’s finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top defenseman as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson is a finalist for the Norris Trophy (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hedman is a former Norris winner (2018) and was a finalist last season. This is the first time as finalists for Carlson and Josi. Carlson led all defensemen in scoring, with Josi second and Hedman third.

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier, and St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly are the finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s top defensive forward as voted by the PHWA.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron could win the Selke for a record-setting fifth time. O’Reilly won the award last season while Couturier was a finalist in 2017-18.

LATEST NHL COVID-19 TESTING RESULTS

The NHL yesterday released the results of their COVID-19 testing from last week, indicating two players tested positive for the coronavirus. Both players are self-isolating and following CDC and Health Canada guidelines. The league administered 2,618 tests to over 800 players from July 13-17.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a notable improvement over the previous numbers released by the league. At that rate, the league’s chances of staging its playoff tournament in Edmonton and Toronto look very good.

This week, however, will be the crucial period, as the players have been around each other more since Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan began on July 13.

PHASE 3 TRAINING CAMP NOTES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Max Domi rejoined his teammates yesterday after taking a week to evaluate the risks to his health associated with COVID-19. He’s a type-1 diabetic and also suffers from celiac disease.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Domi will need some time to get up to speed with his teammates. Nevertheless, his return to the lineup should provide a boost to their forward lines entering their best-of-five qualifying-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Charlie McAvoy and Chris Wagner were missing from Bruins practice yesterday, joining wingers David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase on the sidelines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy couldn’t elaborate as to why McAvoy and Wagner weren’t at practice due to league protocols. However, he seemed to hint at the reason behind their absence, noting that COVID-19 tests results are sometimes delayed or inconclusive. Pastrnak is out for precautionary reasons linked to possible secondary exposure to a person with the coronavirus. As per league rules, the Bruins say Kase remains unfit to participate. 

CBS SPORTS: Washington Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov is the sole member of the roster not to participate in Phase 3 training.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Because of league protocols, we don’t know if Samsonov has tested positive for COVID-19 or is nursing an injury.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Patric Hornqvist was among nine players returning to the ice yesterday after being held out of practice as a precaution for potential secondary exposure to COVID-19. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby missed practice again yesterday after leaving the ice on Saturday.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Brendan Lemieux received a two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Colorado Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi on March 11. He will serve that suspension during the opening two games of his club’s qualifying-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

IN OTHER NEWS…

SPORTSNET: released its broadcast schedule for the qualifying round and round-robin series commencing Aug. 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Former Sportsnet analyst John Shannon reported hearing the NHL plans to put its World feed on a five-second delay to monitor the players’ language. Expect to hear plenty of bleeps given how salty their on-ice language tends to be and how clearly it will be heard without fan noise to drown it out.

Former NHL winger Alex Kovalev was named head coach of KHL team Kunlun Red Star.

Former NHL defenseman Jack McIlhargey passed away from cancer on Sunday at age 68. McIlhargey spent nine seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks, and Hartford Whalers from 1974-75 to 1981-82, tallying 47 points and collecting 1,102 PIMs in 393 games. Following his playing career, he served within the Canucks system from 1984 until 2007 as a minor-league head coach and as a scout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to McIlhargey’s family, friends, and former teammates and associates.










2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists

2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists