NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 1, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 1, 2017

Washington Capitals re-signed defenseman Dmitry Orlov on Friday to a long-term contract.

The NHL’s free-agent period begins at noon ET today. Check out the latest signings & more in your morning coffee headlines. 

CSN MID-ATLANTIC: The Washington Capitals re-signed defenseman Dmitry Orlov on Friday to a six-year, $30.6 million contract. The annual cap hit is $5.1 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Over the last two seasons, Orlov established himself as a reliable, all-around top-four blueliner. This signing is also a clear indicator that long-time Capitals rearguard and pending free agent Karl Alzner won’t be back. 

CALGARY SUN: The Flames re-signed defenseman Michael Stone to a three-year deal worth $3.5 million per season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Calgary’s defense corps now consists of Stone, Mark Giordano, Travis Hamonic, Dougie Hamilton and T.J. Brodie. That deep blueline should give them an edge as they attempt to move up among the top teams in the Western Conference. 

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets are reportedly on the verge of signing former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Steve Mason to a two-year deal worth around $4 million annually. 

THE ORANGE COUNTRY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly closing in on a new contract for defenseman Cam Fowler, who is a year away from unrestricted free agency. They’re also believed to have an interest in signing UFA goaltender Ryan Miller. 

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES:  The Blackhawks will reportedly bring back winger Patrick Sharp to what’s expected to be a low-cost, bonus-laden contract. 

BSN DENVER: Sources say the Colorado Avalanche will sign a free-agent contract with former Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonathan Bernier. 

SUNSENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers have reportedly signed Russian forward Evgeni Dadanov to a three-year deal worth $4 million per season. They also placed veteran forward Jussi Jokinen on waivers yesterday for the purpose of buying him out, and agreed to a one-year, $1.8 million contract with defenseman Alex Petrovic. 

Jokinen joins New Jersey’s Mike Cammalleri and Devante Smith-Pelly,  Calgary’s Lance Bouma and Ryan Murphy, Boston’s Jimmy Hayes and Winnipeg’s Mark Stuart among those who were placed on waivers for buyout purposed.  

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reminds us that none of these reported signings can be considered official until noon ET today. “So it’s all well and good to say VAN will give Sam Gagner three years or Michael Del Zotto two years and sign G Anders Nilsson, too…”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A few words on some of these apparent signings. Mason appears to be an interim measure for the Jets until promising Connor Hellebuyck fully establishes himself as a reliable NHL starter. No surprise the Ducks will re-sign Fowler and it’ll likely be a long-term extension worth up to $6 million annually. Miller’s wife is a Hollywood actress so he could take a significant pay cut to go to Anaheim.

A few days ago, there were reports the Blackhawks weren’t keen on a reunion with Sharp. Evidently, he’s willing to accept a very affordable deal to make it happen. Bernier could address the Avs need for a backup to replace Calvin Pickard, who was lost to Vegas in the expansion draft. 

TSN: Andrei Markov’s long tenure with the Montreal Canadiens could end today. The 38-year-old defenseman is still reportedly seeking a two-year, $12 million contract. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: Four teams have reportedly expressed interest in former Arizona Coyotes right wing Shane Doan. Meanwhile, Dallas Eakins and Sheldon Keefe are under consideration (along with Todd Nelson) for the Coyotes vacant head coach position. 

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators are still awaiting word from team captain and UFA center Mike Fisher regarding his future plans. Predators general manager David Poile is prepared to give Fisher all the time he needs to reach a decision. Meanwhile, defenseman Ryan Ellis recently underwent knee surgery and is expected to be ready for training camp in September.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2017

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel scores one of his two goals against the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

Penguins take 2-0 lead in Stanley Cup Final plus updates on the Capitals, Leafs, Canucks & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: A three-goal outburst in just over three minutes early in the third period powered the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators, taking a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final.

Jake Guentzel scored twice, including the game winner just 10 seconds into the third. It was his fifth game-winning goal in this year’s playoffs, setting a new rookie record. Scott Wilson and Evgeni Malkin also scored for the Penguins, while goaltender Matt Murray kicked out 37 shots. 

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE:  The Penguins ability to match the Predators’ physical play was a factor in Game 2. 

THE TENNESSEAN: As the series shifts to Nashville for Games 3 and 4, the Predators must avoid the mistakes that led to their defeat in Games 1 and 2. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Preds weren’t as dominant in this game as they were in Game 1, they were still the better team for most of Game 2. However, the same factors that were their undoing in the first game rose to the fore again in the second one. A combination of the Penguins cashing in on their brief moments of control, shaky goaltending from Pekka Rinne and the solid play of Murray doomed the Predators.

That said, the Predators can get back into this series on home ice by sticking with their game plan, eliminating those brief breakdowns that end with the puck in the back of their own net and getting a better effort from Rinne. 

CSN MID-ATLANTIC: Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan is open to re-signing defenseman Dmitry Orlov and forward Evgeny Kuznetsov to long-term extensions. MacLellan also said the club has engaged in substantive talks with the agent for winger Brett Connolly. The trio are restricted free agents with arbitration rights this summer. 

VANCOUVER SUN: The Columbus Blue Jackets will give up their second-round selection (55 overall) in this year’s draft to the Vancouver Canucks as compensation for hiring former Canucks coach John Tortorella in 2015. 

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello suggested that his club could be without a captain again next season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, they could delay the inevitable coronation of Auston Matthews as team captain until the summer of 2018. 

SPORTSNET: Former NHL forward Marc Savard believes the league should consider mandatory suspensions for headshots, even for those that are accidental. Savard had his career cut short by concussion symptoms as a result of hits to his head. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2017

The 2017 Stanley Cup Final opens on May 29.

Notable Stanley Cup Final storylines, Dmitry Orlov talking to KHL team & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.com: The Pittsburgh Penguins’ push to repeat as Stanley Cup champions and the Nashville Predators’ first-ever push for a championship tops Dan Rosen’s list of his top-10 story lines for the upcoming Stanley Cup Final.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: “For the first time, two American coaches — the Penguins’ Mike Sullivan and Nashville’s Peter Laviolette — will coach against each other for hockey’s ultimate prize.”

THE TENNESSEAN: The city of Nashville awaits its first national championship. 

CSN MID-ATLANTIC:  Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov is reportedly in talks with KHL team CSKA Moscow, but J.J. Regan is doubtful the restricted free agent will return to Russia. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Regan’s take that Orlov is using this as a bargaining chip in his contract negotiations with the Capitals. Given the KHL’s financial woes, the Capitals can offer him far more financial security. 

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Colorado Avalanche’s window of opportunity to sign Toronto Maple Leafs assistant general manager Kyle Dubas appears to be closed now. 

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres “relieved Dan Lambert of his duties as head coach of the Rochester Americans (AHL).”


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 24, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 24, 2017

San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau celebrates one of his four goals against the Colorado Avalanche.

Game recaps, stars of the week, Senators re-sign Smith & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Patrick Marleau’s four-goal third period carried the San Jose Sharks to a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Center Matt Duchene was a late scratch for the Avs due to illness, though the move sparked some speculation over his trade status. 

The Washington Capitals extended their points streak to 14 games with a 6-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Dmitry Orlov scored twice and Andre Burakovsky collected three assists. 

Frederik Andersen turned in a 26-save shutout performance and Nazem Kadri scored twice (including his 100th career NHL goal) to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4-0 win over the Calgary Flames. 

Rickard Rakell scored his 20th goal of the season and Jonathan Bernier made 31 saves as the Anaheim Ducks held on for a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. The Ducks played without defenseman Sami Vatanen, who was a healthy scratch

Henrik Lundqvist made 36 saves as the New York Rangers edged the Los Angeles Kings 3-2, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Earlier in the day, the Rangers announced forward Kevin Hayes (lower-body injury) will be sidelined two-three weeks. 

Tobias Rieder’s overtime goal lifted the Arizona Coyotes to a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers. 

TSN: Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Conor Sheary, New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss and Washington Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending January 22, 2017.

The Ottawa Senators yesterday announced the re-signing of forward Zack Smith to a four-year, $13 million contract extension. The annual cap hit is $3.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith’s raise nearly doubles his current cap hit ($1.8 million). The 28-year-old is a versatile, physical forward for the Senators. He can skate at center or the wing and plays a good two-way game. With 22 points in 43 games this season, he’s on track for his first 40-point performance. The Sens obviously consider Smith a valuable part of their core. The raise is the going rate for players of his caliber. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk re-aggravated the knee injury that recently sidelined him for 18 games. He’s listed as day-to-day. 

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Thomas Vanek (lower body injury) and Dylan Larkin (upper body) will miss the Red Wings game against the Boston Bruins tonight. Forward Drew Miller, who was recently sent down to the Wings AHL affiliate, has been recalled

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars forward Radek Faksa will miss at least two games with a lower-body injury. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights have been in touch with former Florida Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2016

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2016

Nathan MacKinnon scores in overtime to give Team North America a 4-3 win over Team Sweden at the World Cup of Hockey .

Nathan MacKinnon scores in overtime to give Team North America a 4-3 win over Team Sweden at the World Cup of Hockey .

 World Cup of Hockey scores plus the latest on Phil Kessel, Roberto Luongo & more in your NHL morning headlines.

NHL.COM:  Nathan MacKinnon scored in overtime to give Team North America a thrilling 4-3 victory over Team Sweden in World Cup of Hockey preliminary round play. The Swedes had rallied back from a 3-1 deficit with Nicklas Backstrom’s third-period goal forcing the extra frame. Sweden has already clinched a berth in the semifinal. The North Americans can secure a berth if Team Finland defeats Team Russia today. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If this game was Team North America’s final one in this tournament, it was an exciting way to go out. For me, this was the best game of the tournament thus far. Lots of back-and-forth action, plenty of good scoring opportunities and two highlight-reel breakaway goals from MacKinnon and Johnny Gaudreau. 

Jonathan Toews scored twice and set up another and Logan Couture had a goal and an asset to lead Team Canada to a 4-1 win over Team Europe. The Canadians clinched top spot in Group A with a 3-0-0 record and await either Team North America or Team Russia in the semifinal. Team Europe is also in the semis, where they’ll face Team Sweden this weekend. 

ESPN.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel denied that his sarcastic tweet following Team USA’s elimination from the World Cup of Hockey on Tuesday was aimed at the players. “Just sitting around the house tonight w my dog. Felt like I should be doing something important, but couldn’t put my finger on it,” tweeted Kessel at the time. Team USA players David Backes, Zach Parise and Derek Stepan said they hoped Kessel’s comments weren’t aimed at the Team USA players. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s obvious Kessel wasn’t addressing the players, but Team USA’s management for twice snubbing him. Kessel’s offseason wrist surgery prevented him from participating anyway, but the selections were made before he suffered the injury. I thought it was a subtle, worthwhile dig. 

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: A source claims Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo received medical clearance to play without limitations. The 37-year-old netminder was recovering from offseason hip surgery. He’s now expected to be ready to play in the Panthers’ season-opener and could even get in a couple of preseason games. 

THE WASHINGTON POST: The Capitals yesterday signed defenseman Dmitry Orlov to a one-year, $2.57 million contract. A disagreement over role and playing time, rather than contract terms, was reportedly behind the delay in getting Orlov re-signed. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals also have limited salary-cap space for the upcoming season, which also explains the terms of his current deal. If Orlov plays well this season in an expanded role, he’ll get a more lucrative, long-term contract from the Caps next summer. 

TSN:  Toronto Maple Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul reportedly failed his team medical last week and could start the upcoming season on long-term injured reserve. He underwent sports-hernia surgery in February. Lupul is expected to address the media today. 

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets winger David Clarkson failed his pre-training camp medical because of chronic lower-back pain. It’s unclear when, or if, Clarkson will play again. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  He’ll also likely start the season on LTIR. 

CALGARY SUN: The Flames have signed unrestricted free agent forward Lauri Korpikoski to a professional tryout offer. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Former Sabres defenseman Richie Dunn died yesterday at age 59. He spent nine of his 12 NHL seasons with the Sabres (1977-78 to 1988-89). He also spent two seasons with the Hartford Whalers and one with the Calgary Flames. In 483 NHL games, he tallied 176 points, along with 18 points in 36 playoff games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Dunn’s family and friends. 


NHL Rumor Mill – September 12, 2016

NHL Rumor Mill – September 12, 2016

The Tampa Bay Lightning still face the prospect of clearing salary-cap room to re-sign Nikita Kucherov.

The Tampa Bay Lightning still face the prospect of clearing salary-cap room to re-sign Nikita Kucherov.

 Updates on free agents Nikita Kucherov, Dmitry Orlov and Dennis Seidenberg in your NHL rumor mill. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith reports Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman remains hopeful of getting restricted free agent winger Nikita Kucherov re-signed before the start of the upcoming season. Kucherov’s agent declined to comment on the status of his client’s negotiations.

Smith speculates the sticking point could be salary. Kucherov’s performance in recent years could warrant between $6 million to $7.5 million, comparable to recent contracts signed by wingers such as Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators and Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues. A report out of Russia claims KHL team CSKA Moscow made an offer to Kucherov, but there’s been no real contract discussions.

Smith notes the Lightning have around $6.2 million in salary-cap space for next season, but that could shrink to $5 million if RFA defenseman Nikita Nesterov is re-signed, or if James Wisniewski (who’s on a tryout contract) makes the team, and if a 14th forward is added. He speculates the Lightning would have to free up salary cap room for Kucherov’s new contract, “whether that’s goalie Ben Bishop ($5.95 million cap hit, partial no-move clause), forward Valtteri Filppula ($5 million cap hit, no-move clause) or defenseman Jason Garrison ($4.6 million, no-trade clause).” Smith points out, however, Yzerman recently said he envisions a scenario in which Bishop remains with the club for the upcoming season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov’s participation with Russia in the World Cup of Hockey is undoubtedly causing further delay in his contract talks. Even if the Lightning manage to get get Kucherov to accept a little less than $6 million per season, they’ll still be squeezed for cap space.

Smith points out Yzerman hoped to re-sign Kucherov and Nesterov before having to free up cap space, as the Lightning are allowed to go over the $73 million cap ceiling by 10 percent in the offseason, but they must be cap compliant when the season begins. Once Kucherov is re-signed, however, Yzerman could be forced to make a cost-cutting move before re-signing Nesterov. It’ll depend upon what Kucherov ultimately receives. I don’t see the Lightning parting ways with Kucherov via trade and I doubt he’ll get an offer sheet from another NHL club at this point. 

THE WASHINGTON POST: Isabelle Khurshudyan reports there’s uncertainty over the future of RFA defenseman Dmitry Orlov as his contract negotiations with the Washington Capitals drag on. In a recent interview, Orlov seemed uncertain where he’ll be playing this season. Currently skating for Team Russia in the World Cup of Hockey, he said he’s putting his focus on that for now.

CSKA Moscow owns Orlov’s KHL rights and GM Sergei Fedorov is interested in signing the blueliner, but said Orlov’s intent is to play in the NHL. Khurshudyan anticipates Orlov will get a one- or two-year contrac with the Capitals. Washington currently has around $3.45 million in cap space.. However, they cannot commit all of it to Orlov, as they’ll need around $875K for a 14th forward and some roster flexibility. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Lightning with Kucherov, the World Cup of Hockey tournament and limited salary-cap space is affecting the Capitals contract talks with Orlov. He earned $2 million per season on his last contract and is in line for a pay bump.

And like the Lightning, the Caps could face shedding some salary via trade or demotion to create more room. Unfortunately, there’s not many options here. If they trade or demote a forward such as Daniel Winnik ($2 million), Jay Beagle ($1.75 million), Andre Burakovsky, Brett Connolly or Stanislav Galiev (each earning under $900k), it will affect their depth at forward. Shipping out another defenseman or backup goalie Philipp Grubauer could also weaken the Caps at those positions.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa reports former Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg is hoping his participation in the World Cup of Hockey with Team Europe will help his efforts to land a new NHL contract. The Bruins bought out Seidenberg earlier this summer, making him an unrestricted free agent. At 35, age is starting to catch up to him. He struggled in Team Europe’s 7-4 loss to the younger, swifter Team North American on Sunday.