NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 11, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, T.J. Oshie, Owen Power and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: During a recent interview with a Boston TV station, Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel was asked if he could ever see himself playing in Boston.

“Yeah, I mean, I think every kid grows up dreaming of playing for their hometown teams,” Eichel said. “Whether that happens now, later in my career … whenever, who knows, if it ever happens. It would be pretty cool, but who knows what’s gonna happen here in the next little bit.”

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s hometown is Chelmsford, Massachusetts, so it’s not surprising he would say he’d welcome an opportunity to play for the Bruins one day. His remarks, however, will only provide more fodder to the trade speculation swirling around him this summer.

The Bruins have the cap space to absorb Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit, but their focus is on finding a top-four, left-side defenseman and re-signing pending free agents like Taylor Hall and Brandon Carlo. They could also bring back long-time Bruins Tuukka Rask and David Krejci on short-term deals.

Eichel might one day suit up for the Bruins, but it seems unlikely he’ll do so this year.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: T.J. Oshie hasn’t spoken with Capitals management about the possibility of being exposed in the upcoming Seattle Kraken expansion draft. Oshie was born in Washington State and Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol coached him at the University of North Dakota. However, the 34-year-old winger wants to finish his career with the Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: During an interview last month, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said he was unlikely to expose Oshie in the draft. We’ll find out for certain when the expansion draft protection lists are made public by the NHL on July 18.

RDS: Speaking of the expansion draft, the league will be holding a virtual conference with the general managers on Monday to review the rules and procedures. Teams must submit their protections lists by 5 pm ET on July 17.

NHL.COM: Top prospect Owen Power would have no problem being selected by the Buffalo Sabres, who hold the first-overall selection in this year’s upcoming NHL Draft. The University of Michigan defenseman said it would be “nice and close” to his home in Mississauga, Ontario. He also praised the Sabres’ rich history. “I would love to be a part of it,” he said. The first round of the draft is Friday, July 23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whoever selects Power might have to wait at least a year before he joins their lineup. The 18-year-old blueliner has indicated he’s leaning toward returning to college for another season.

THE SCORE: The lawyer for former Chicago Blackhawks player who alleged former video coach Brad Alrich sexually assaulted him said her client won’t participate in the team’s investigation into the incident.

Lawyer Susan Loggans said they have no faith in any investigation paid for by the Blackhawks, pointing out they’ve denied any sexual misconduct ever took place. She also said there’s no assurance from the team or anyone else that the results of the team’s investigation would be made public.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 24, 2021

The Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues face serious offseason decisions following their first-round exits Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE CAPITALS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan believes re-signing Alex Ovechkin is the offseason priority for the Washington Capitals. Their 35-year-old captain and franchise player is eligible for unrestricted free agent status on July 28.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

Kaplan wonders how much it would cost the Capitals and for how long to keep Ovechkin in the fold. Sources said he initially sought $12.5 million per season before the pandemic struck. With the salary cap flattened at $81.5 million for the foreseeable future, the Capitals might have budgeted for less. Nevertheless, Kaplan believes Ovechkin will be staying in Washington.

After a coaching change last year failed to improve their playoff fortunes, management could shake up the roster. There’s speculation the club could be growing impatient with center Evgeny Kuznetsov. He carries a $7.8 million annual salary-cap hit through 2024-25 as well as a 15-team no-trade list.

Kaplan noted the Capitals are among the NHL’s oldest teams. They could start retooling on the fly by bringing in some younger talent like top prospect Connor McMichael.

THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir also weighed in on the Capitals’ offseason needs, including Ovechkin’s contract and Kuznetsov’s status.

El-Bashir feels whatever general manager Brian MacLellan does with Ovechkin’s new deal will affect the rest of this summer’s decision. Moving Kuznetsov’s big contract won’t be easy but there could be a team with interest in the 29-year-old center. He wonders how this year’s disappointing finish will affect the Capitals’ expansion draft protection list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be shocked if Ovechkin and the Capitals part ways this summer. Kaplan pointed out Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has indicated his intent to ensure his captain stays put.

Because of the flattened cap, Ovechkin might have to accept something between $9 million and $10 million on perhaps a three-year deal. Despite his age, he’s shown little sign of slowing down, with 24 goals and 42 points in 45 games.

A roster shakeup was likely to happen for cap purposes even if the Capitals hadn’t bowed out in the first round. Cap Friendly shows them with just over $72 million invested in 18 players for 2021-22, with Ovechkin as the only core player due for a new contract.

Moving Kuznetsov would help to address that issue. There could be a market for his services but the recent decline in his play, his three-game suspension for “inappropriate conduct” in the fall of 2019, getting placed on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list twice this season and his recent benching for missing a team function all but scream, “buyer beware.”

The expansion draft will help alleviate some of that salary-cap issue as they’re going to lose a player to the Seattle Kraken. It could be a high-salaried veteran such as T.J. Oshie ($5.75 million annual average value) or perhaps someone like Justin Schultz ($4 million), Lars Eller ($3.5 million) or Brenden Dillon ($3.9 million).

WHAT NEXT FOR THE BLUES?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski speculates the St. Louis Blues roster could have a different look next season following a second straight first-round elimination. Pending UFAs include Jaden Schwartz, Mike Hoffman, Tyler Bozak and Carl Gunnarsson, though management has expressed interest in signing Schwartz. They could also bring in an experienced backup for starter Jordan Binnington.

Wyshynski also wondered if the Blues would dare leave oft-injured sniper Vladimir Tarasenko unprotected in the expansion draft. Others who could be exposed include Schwartz, Sammy Blais, Ivan Barbashev, Marco Scandella and Vince Dunn. It’s expected Dunn, a restricted free agent, could be playing elsewhere next season.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford believes Schwartz’s status could be the Blues’ biggest question heading into the offseason. He struggled down the stretch and in the playoffs but their left-wing depth is thin.

Rutherford suggests Dunn and perhaps Robert Thomas could be trade candidates. He also feels they need to address their backup goaltending, add size to their blueline, and bring back the versatile Bozak on a one-year, plus-35 contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have $66.8 million invested in 20 players next season. A new contract for Schwartz will take a big bite out of their remaining cap space but they could have little choice if they don’t feel they can find a suitable replacement via trade or free agency.

Dunn was a fixture in this season’s rumor mill. He could be shopped this summer for a return that addresses one of the Blues’ roster needs.

Rutherford isn’t advocating for Thomas to be traded but wondered where he fits on the top six if Brayden Schenn is their second-line center. As he suggests, it might not hurt to examine his value in the trade market.

Exposing Tarasenko in the expansion draft would be a bold move. However, I don’t think it’s one they’ll consider.










NHL Playoffs: Boston Bruins vs Washington Capitals Game 2

NHL Playoffs: Boston Bruins vs Washington Capitals Game 2

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 6, 2021

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.

HEADLINES

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.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 22, 2021

Recaps of Sunday’s action featuring a hat trick for Bruins winger David Pastrnak plus injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: David Pastrnak tallied a hat trick to lead the Boston Bruins to a 7-3 romp over the Philadelphia Flyers in the Honda NHL Outdoors Sunday at Lake Tahoe. It was Pastrnak’s second hat trick of the season and the 10th of his career. James van Riemsdyk had a goal and two assists for the Flyers, who pulled goaltender Carter Hart after the second period. Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon left the game early in the first period with an undisclosed injury.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Any lingering concerns over the effects of offseason hip surgery on Pastrnak’s performance must be alleviated by now. He’s picking up where he left off last season and climbing up the NHL stat board. Hart, meanwhile, appeared to have trouble tracking the puck in the outdoor environment.

Winnipeg Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois scored twice, including the winner in overtime, in a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Dubois also added an assist in his first game since being sidelined by a muscle injury 10 days ago. Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele also each collected three points. Elias Pettersson scored twice for the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets moved Dubois to left wing on the top line alongside Wheeler and Scheifele while moving Kyle Connor down to the second line. It’ll be interesting to see if that becomes a permanent change.

The Washington Capitals got two power-play goals from T.J. Oshie and another from Alex Ovechkin to hold off the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Kyle Palmieri and Andreas Johnsson each had two points for the Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin now has 712 career NHL goals, putting him five back of Phil Esposito for sixth on the all-time goalscoring list.

Brady Tkachuk’s overtime goal lifted the Ottawa Senators over the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Senators’ goalie Matt Murray made 30 saves for the win while Habs netminder Jake Allen made 36 stops. Montreal winger Jonathan Drouin left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens were lucky to escape with a point as they were outplayed by the lowly Senators. The Habs bolted from the gate this season with a 7-1-2 record, leading the league in scoring and jockeying with the Toronto Maple Leafs for first place in the overall standings. They have since dropped five of their last seven games, managing just 13 goals during that stretch and slipping to fourth in the North Division.

HEADLINES

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner could become a healthy scratch in their upcoming game against the New York Islanders. He’s hasn’t scored a goal in 14 games this season.

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl reports there’s concern Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe may have suffered a season-ending knee injury on Saturday. The results of his examination are expected today and a source said they’re bracing for ligament damage.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins suffered an upper-body injury during Saturday’s game against the Nashville Predators. He’s listed as week-to-week.

THE ATHLETIC: Multiple sources tell Jeremy Rutherford St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko has a back injury. It’s not known if he’ll require surgery. The club intends to rest him for now and see how he responds.

OILERS NATION: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Slater Koekkoek suffered a broken collarbone during the club’s 7-1 win on Saturday over the Calgary Flames.

NHL.COM: The Department of Player Safety fined Los Angeles Kings defenseman Austin Strand over $3,100.00 for cross-checking Arizona Coyotes forward Conor Garland on Saturday.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Anaheim Ducks have recalled top prospect Trevor Zegras from their AHL affiliate in San Diego. The young prospect had nine points in eight games in the AHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zegras was the MVP of the 2021 World Junior Championship as he led Team USA to a gold medal in the tournament. The Ducks hope the youngster will provide a boost to an anemic offense with a league-worst 1.83 goals per game average.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 10, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 10, 2020

How much would it cost to acquire Sabres captain Jack Eichel? How will a flat salary cap affect the Capitals? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE SABRES

WGR550: Joe DiBiase weighs in on the cost for interested clubs to acquire Jack Eichel. He was inspired by the recent musings from some fans and pundits over what it would take to acquire the Buffalo Sabres captain.

What would it cost to acquire Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel? (Photo via NHL Images)

DiBiase dismisses the recent talk of Eichel supposedly being frustrated with the Sabres as speculation. He believes there’s “no way in hell” the 23-year-old superstar is getting traded now. Nevertheless, he decides to show why it will be difficult for rival clubs to pry away Eichel from the Sabres.

DiBiase believes the asking price to be a young No. 1 center and something of significance. He quickly dismissed 19 of the 31 NHL clubs as lacking the necessary components to make that trade.

For the rest, here is what DiBiases believes are fair asking prices:

Calgary Flames: Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, and a first-round pick.

Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Jost.

Carolina Hurricanes: Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov.

Dallas Stars: Tyler Seguin and Miro Heiskanen.

Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid.

Florida Panthers: Aleksander Barkov, Spencer Knight, and a first-round pick.

New Jersey Devils: Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, and two first-round picks.

New York Rangers: Mika Zibanejad, Kaapo Kakko, and two first-round picks.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews, Rasmus Sandin.

Vancouver Canucks: Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser.

Winnipeg Jets: Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Far-fetched? Outrageous? Completely unlikely to happen? You bet, but those returns make more sense than most of the Eichel trade scenarios floating around in cyberspace. Google “Eichel Trade Rumor” to see what I mean. Some folks seem to think they can get the Sabres’ captain for a package of draft picks, prospects, and cast-offs.

Eichel is a great player on a bad team. He’d be even greater on a good one. And no, your favorite club won’t be able to take advantage of the Sabres’ dysfunctional front office to steal away their captain. Unless Eichel forces the issue, and there’s no indication he’s going to anytime soon, they have no intention of trading their franchise player.

CAPITALS FACE A CAP CRUNCH

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: JJ Regan examines what a flat cap of $81.5 million means for the Washington Capitals over the next two seasons. They have 11 forwards, four defensemen, and one goalie under contract for 2020-21, with a little less than $10.4 million in cap space remaining.

Their unrestricted free agents include goaltender Braden Holtby, defensemen Brenden Dillon and Radko Gudas, while winger Ilya Kovalchuk. Jonas Siegenthaler and Travis Boyd are their restricted free agents.

Does this ensure the end of Holtby’s time in Washington? Does the team wait on a long-term extension for Ovechkin to get a better idea of where the salary cap may be in a few years? Can the team afford to keep any of its UFAs? Does the team leave (TJ) Oshie exposed to Seattle in the expansion draft?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby was expected to depart via free agency even when the salary cap was projected to rise to between $84-$88 million. Gudas and Kovalchuk aren’t expected back. Re-signing Dillon could eat up between $4-$5 million annually. That won’t leave much to fill out the rest of the roster.

They could wait on an extension for Ovechkin until they see how things look beyond next season. Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got over $57 million invested in 13 players, with Jakub Vrana and Ilya Samsonov also to re-sign. They could be forced to leave Oshie or another comparable salary exposed in next year’s expansion draft to free up sufficient space for Ovechkin, Vrana, and Samsonov.