Attainable milestones for the upcoming season plus the latest on Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, Rangers center Mika Zibanejad and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: has a complete roundup of Sunday’s preseason action.
THE SCORE: Several NHL players are in line to reach league milestones this season.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is within one goal of becoming the first player in league history to tally 300 career power-play goals. He’s also just 15 points away from reaching 1,500 career points.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby needs 88 points to tie Phil Esposito for 10th on the all-time points list. Esposito has 1,590 points.
Phil Kessel, the league’s reigning Ironman record holder, is just eight points away from reaching 1,000 career points. That’s assuming the 35-year-old unrestricted free agent finds a new contract with an NHL club. Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares is 25 points away from 1,000.
Twenty players, including Nashville’s Ryan O’Reilly, Minnesota’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman, Vegas’ Alex Pietrangelo, Boston’s Brad Marchand and Pittsburgh’s Erik Karlsson, could reach 1,000 career games.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has yet to suit up for training camp as he deals with an undisclosed injury. Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said Vasilevskiy is “wrestling with some things right now physically” and is considered day-to-day.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers center Mika Zibanejad is listed as day-to-day after leaving scrimmage on Sunday with an upper-body injury.
CAP FRIENDLY: The Seattle Kraken have officially removed winger Andre Burakovsky off injured reserved. He’d been on IR since Feb. 9.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken managed to adjust to Burakovsky’s absence as they reached the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Nevertheless, he helped set the stage for that success with 39 points in 49 games before suffering a torn groin.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk will be evaluated today after leaving Sunday’s preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres. He was struck in the right arm by a shot in the third period, left the game and didn’t return.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Alex Nedeljkovic is hoping a fresh start with the Pittsburgh Penguins will help reset his career after two unsatisfying seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. He was a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2020-21 with the Carolina Hurricanes but struggled to replicate that success after getting traded to the Red Wings.
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin talks about teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov, Flyers forward Joel Farabee is looking forward to a better season, the Oilers sign Brandon Sutter to a PTO contract, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: recently cited an interview given by Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin to a Russian news outlet addressing the trade rumors swirling around teammate and friend Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).
“How would I react to a trade? This is the business of hockey,” said Ovechkin. “Today you’re here, tomorrow there, the day after tomorrow on another team. I hope it doesn’t happen.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin acknowledged that the decision isn’t up to him. However, he could get his wish. Kuznetsov’s inconsistent play in recent years and his $7.8 million annual salary cap hit through 2024-25 have hurt his value in this summer’s trade market.
NHL.COM: Joel Farabee hopes a full offseason will lead to a better performance this season. The Philadelphia Flyers forward spent part of last summer recovering from artificial disk replacement surgery in his neck.
Farabee, 23, enjoyed a career-best 39-point effort in 2022-23. He believes he’ll be able to contribute more in 2023-24 following a full offseason of training.
CAP FRIENDLY: indicates the Edmonton Oilers have signed free-agent forward Brandon Sutter to a professional tryout offer. The 34-year-old center’s last NHL season was 2020-21 with the Vancouver Canucks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sutter is hoping to stage an NHL comeback after being sidelined for two seasons by long-COVID.
DAILY FACEOFF: recently published an updated list of the top remaining unrestricted free agents. Patrick Kane, Max Comtois and Tomas Tatar hold the top-three spots, followed by Jonathan Toews, Noah Gregor, Jaroslav Halak, Paul Stastny and Phil Kessel.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane isn’t expected to sign with a team until December when he’s fully recovered from an offseason hip surfacing procedure. Tatar has been linked to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Toews is believed to be mulling retirement. Kessel said he intended to continue his long NHL career after winning his third Stanley Cup with the Vegas Golden Knights.
THE ATHLETIC: Former NHL defenseman Jamie Rivers has been named as the St. Louis Blues’ new TV color analyst on Bally Sports Midwest. He previously worked with Fox Sports Midwest and ESPN.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rivers acknowledged he’s got big shoes to fill. He replaces the popular Darren Pang, who has moved on to become the top color commentator for the Chicago Blackhawks and the No. 2 color commentator on TNT.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins have unveiled their centennial plans for the coming season. Among the highlights will be the Heritage Homecoming Week on Oct. 10-13 as the club welcomes over 50 alumni as honored guests.
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin on his chances of breaking Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, the Canucks sign Pius Suter, a new endorsement deal for Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin remains uncertain if he’ll eclipse Wayne Gretzky’s all-time NHL goals record of 894. The 37-year-old left winger has 822 goals and needs 73 to pass Gretzky.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).
In an interview with MatchTV, Ovechkin admitted he’d like to break Gretzky’s record. “I still doubt that this is possible, but I will make every effort to get to this number.” Ovechkin also said that his summer training for the coming season is going well.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin has three seasons remaining on his contract with the Capitals. He’ll break the goals record by averaging just over 24 per season. He tallied 42 goals in 2022-23 despite missing nine games to injuries.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks signed center Pius Suter to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $1.6 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A nice affordable signing by the cap-strapped Canucks to boost their checking-line depth at center. Suter should help them improve their penalty-killing. He’s also taken a significant pay cut, down from the $3.25 million AAV he earned with the Detroit Red Wings.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard signed an exclusive deal with Sherwood Hockey.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ian Kennedy reports sources saying Brian Burke will take a leadership role with the Professional Women’s Hockey League Players’ Association. Burke recently served as President of Hockey Operations with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
CHICAGO HOCKEY NOW: Anders Bjork signed a one-year contract with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. He netted eight points in 13 games with the Chicago Blackhawks last season following a trade with the Buffalo Sabres.
In a first-ever 16-game day, the Oilers’ Connor McDavid reaches a 150-point season, the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby hits 1,500 points, the Bruins tie the single-season wins record, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored twice and collected an assist to surpass 150 points on the season in a 6-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and two assists as the Oilers win their seventh straight game to sit second in the Pacific Division with 105 points. Tomas Hertl replied for the Sharks.
Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 152 points, McDavid is the first player to reach the 150-point plateau since Mario Lemieux in 1995-96. He’s also the sixth different player in NHL history to reach that milestone. With 64 goals, McDavid is one shy of matching Washington’s Alex Ovechkin for the most in a season by an active player.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby also had a two-goal, one-assist performance as he reached the 1,500-career point plateau to defeat the Detroit Red Wings 5-1. With a record of 40-30-10, the Penguins remain one point out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Pius Suter scored for the Red Wings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby is the 15th player in league history and the sixth fastest to achieve that milestone.
The Boston Bruins tied the NHL single-season wins record (62) with a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. Former Devil Pavel Zacha tallied twice against his former club for the league-leading Bruins (129 points) while Jesper Bratt scored for the Devils (108 points) as they remain one point behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Taylor Hall returned to the Bruins lineup after missing 20 games with a lower-body injury. They also placed Nick Foligno and Derek Forbert on long-term injury reserve to clear sufficient salary-cap room to activate Hall. The Devils, meanwhile, signed defenseman Luke Hughes (younger brother of star Jack Hughes) to a three-year entry-level contract.
Speaking of the Hurricanes, they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Buffalo Sabres as Tage Thompson broke a 3-3 tie in the third period with his 46th goal of the season. Rasmus Dahlin had a goal and two assists and Casey Mittelstadt tallied twice for the Sabres (39-32-7) to keep their playoff hopes alive with 85 points. Sebastian Aho netted his 35th goal of the season for the Hurricanes.
On the topic of wild-card playoff races, New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin kicked out 27 shots in a 4-0 shutout of the Philadelphia Flyers. Bo Horvat collected two assists and Brock Nelson netted his 34th goal of the season for the 41-30-0 Islanders as they hold the final Eastern wild-card berth with 91 points. Flyers goalie Carter Hart was pulled after giving up three goals on 18 shots.
Third-period goals by Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Reinhart lifted the Florida Panthers to a 4-2 victory over the Washington Capitals. It was Tkachuk’s 40th goal of the season plus he collected two assists for the Panthers (42-31-7) as they sit above the Islanders with 91 points on the basis of wins. Tom Wilson had a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who played without captain Alex Ovechkin as he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.
The Winnipeg Jets got a big win by blanking the Nashville Predators 2-0. Connor Hellebuyck had a 28-save shutout while Mark Scheifele reached the 40-goal plateau for the first time in his career as the Jets improved to 44-32-3 to hold the final Western Conference wild-card spot with 91 points. Juuse Saros made 36 saves for the Predators (40-31-8) as they sit three points behind the Jets.
A shootout goal by Andrei Kuzmenko gave the Vancouver Canucks a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames, putting the latter’s playoff hopes in jeopardy. The Flames (37-27-16) overcame a 2-0 deficit on third-period goals by Elias Lindholm and Nazem Kadri but sit one point back of the Jets, who hold a game in hand. Elias Pettersson scored his 38th goal of the season for the Canucks.
Seattle Kraken forward Daniel Sprong had a goal and two assists and defenseman Jamie Oleksiak collected three assists to thump the Chicago Blackhawks 7-3. The Kraken (98 points) picked up their fourth straight win to widen their lead over the Jets for the first Western wild-card spot by seven points. Seth Jones scored twice for the Blackhawks
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kraken goalie Martin Jones left the game after two periods with an undisclosed injury. Meanwhile, Blackhawks forward Taylor Raddysh is done for the season with a groin injury.
Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner collected three points to reach a career-best 98 in a 7-1 drubbing of the Montreal Canadiens. Auston Matthews had a goal and three assists, John Tavares tallied twice and Ryan O’Reilly had three assists for the Leafs as they sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 105 points. Johnathan Kovacevic replied for the Canadiens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs forward Calle Jarnkrok missed this game with an injury and is listed as day-to-day. With the playoffs approaching and having already clinched home-ice advantage for the first round, the Leafs rested defensemen Morgan Rielly and TJ Brodie.
New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin had a 20-save shutout to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0. Mika Zibanejad collected two assists for the Rangers (106 points) as they sit two points back of the second-place Devils in the Metro Division.
The Dallas Stars nipped the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1 on a shootout goal by Roope Hintz but Vegas still clinched home-ice advantage for the upcoming playoffs. Brett Howden scored for the Golden Knights as they remain atop the Western Conference with 107 points. Joel Kiviranta replied for the Stars as they sit second in the Central Division with 102 points. Vegas center Jack Eichel missed this game with an undisclosed injury and is listed as day-to-day.
Colorado Avalanche forward Denis Malgin scored twice in a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Alexandar Georgiev stopped 38 shots for the Avalanche (102 points) as they remain in first place in the Central with a game in hand and four more wins (48 to 44) over the Sars. Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe each had three points for the Kings, who sit third in the Pacific Division with 100 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram missed this game with an illness. Meanwhile, sidelined Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog reportedly won’t be returning to the lineup for the remainder of their regular-season games. He’s been sidelined by a knee injury for the entire season but has recently resumed skating. Landeskog might return at some point in the playoffs depending on how far the Avalanche advance.
The Minnesota Wild tamed the St. Louis Blues 5-3. Sam Steel and Ryan Hartman each had a goal and an assist while trade-deadline acquisition Gustav Nyquist collected two assists in his debut with the Wild, who sit third in the Central with 100 points. Justin Faulk collected two assists for the Blues.
The Ottawa Senators upset the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 7-4. Tim Stutzle and Jake Sanderson each had two assists and Alex DeBrincat had a goal and an assist for the Senators. Steven Stamkos collected three assists while Brayden Point tallied his 49th goal of the season for the Lightning, who’ve dropped three straight but still sit third in the Atlantic Division with 96 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Senators announced that Jakob Chychrun, Travis Hamonic and Austin Watson are sidelined for the remainder of the season. The Lightning played without sidelined forward Tanner Jeannot and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev.
An overtime goal by Barrett Hayton gave the Arizona Coyotes a 5-4 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler set an NHL record for the most ice time in a regular-season game with 38:55.
Alex Ovechkin passed Wayne Gretzky to claim a scoring record, the Hurricanes and Stars remain on top of their respective divisions, Jonathan Quick reaches a goaltending milestone and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin surpassed Wayne Gretzky for the most 40-goal seasons in a 7-6 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Ovechkin has now reached the 40-goal plateau a record 13 times in his NHL career but his Capitals dropped to 33-31-8 (74 points) and sit five points behind the Florida Panthers for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Jack Roslovic scored twice, including the game-winner, for the 22-41-7 Blue Jackets.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 10 games left in the Capitals’ schedule, Ovechkin has a shot at reaching 50 goals for a record 10th season.
A three-goal third period lifted the Carolina Hurricanes over the New York Rangers 3-2 with Teuvo Teravainen tallying the winning goal late in the third period. The Hurricanes (46-15-8) became the second team this season to reach 100 points and sit two ahead of the New Jersey Devils for first place in the Metropolitan Division. The 41-20-10 Rangers got a 36-save performance by Igor Shesterkin but remain in third place in the Metro with 92 points.
The Dallas Stars dropped a 5-4 decision to the Seattle Kraken as Adam Larsson scored the game-winner in overtime. Brandon Tanev tallied twice and collected an assist for the Kraken (39-24-7) as they hold the first Western Conference wild-card spot with 85 points. Stars captain Jamie Benn had a goal and two assists as his club rose to 38-19-14 to maintain their hold on first place in the Central Division with 90 points.
An overtime goal by Matt Boldy carried the Minnesota Wild over the New Jersey Devils 2-1. Filip Gustavsson kicked out a career-high 47 shots as the Wild (41-22-8) sit second in the Central with 90 points on the basis of regulation wins. Timo Meier netted his 35th goal of the season for the 45-18-8 Devils (98 points), who sit two points back of the first-place Hurricanes in the Metropolitan Division.
The league-leading Boston Bruins nipped the Ottawa Senators 2-1 with Linus Ullmark stopping 40 shots for the win. David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk scored for the 54-11-5 Bruins (113 points) while Dylan Gambrell scored for the 34-32-5 Senators (73 points) as they sit six points out of the final Eastern wild-card spot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Bruins announced defenseman Derek Forbort will be sidelined by a lower-body injury for the remainder of the regular season.
Speaking of the final Eastern wild-card spot, the Florida Panthers (36-28-7) failed to widen the gap between them and the teams chasing them after dropping a 6-3 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers. Travis Sanheim tallied two goals and Carter Hart made 41 saves for the 26-32-12 Flyers. Aleksander Barkov, Sam Reinhart and Brandon Montour each had two points for the Panthers (79 points), who remain one up on the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The New York Islanders improved to 37-27-8 by thumping the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-2 to widen their lead over the Panthers for the first Eastern wild-card berth with 82 points. Cal Clutterbuck scored twice and chipped in an assist for the Islanders. Mitch Marner tallied his 27th goal of the season for the Leafs (42-19-9) as they sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 93 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders center Brock Nelson left the game in the first period following a hit by Leafs forward Noel Acciari. There was no immediate update on his condition.
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Jonathan Quick (31 saves) took over second place for most wins among American-born goaltenders (375) by backstopping his club over the Vancouver Canucks 4-3. The Golden Knights (44-21-6) hold first place in the Pacific Division with 94 points. J.T. Miller scored twice and added an assist while Quinn Hughes set a franchise single-season assist record for defensemen (61) as they fell to 31-34-5 on the season.
Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 29 shots in a 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Nikolaj Ehlers and Adam Lowry scored for the Jets (40-29-3) as they hold the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 83 points. Barrett Hayton tallied for the 27-33-11 Coyotes.
The Calgary Flames kept pace with the Jets by dropping the Anaheim Ducks 5-1. Tyler Toffoli had three assists for the 32-25-11 Flames (79 points) as they remain four back of the Jets. Frank Vatrano scored for the 23-38-10 Ducks. Flames defenseman Chris Tanev missed this game with an upper-body injury.
Montreal Canadiens netminder Sam Montembeault stopped 31 shots as his club upset the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2. Nick Suzuki had two assists and Kirby Dach scored in his return to action for the 28-37-6 Canadiens after missing 16 games with a lower-body injury. Brayden Point netted his 44th goal of the season for the Lightning (42-24-6) as they remain three points back of the Leafs in the Atlantic Division with 90 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The good news for the depleted Canadiens is Dach and Brendan Gallagher returning to the lineup following lengthy injuries. The bad news is winger Josh Anderson left the game with an ankle injury and is expected to miss their next game while defenseman Kaiden Guhle is done for the season with a high-ankle sprain suffered last week against the Panthers.
The Nashville Predators snapped a three-game skid with a 7-3 drubbing of the Buffalo Sabres. Luke Evangelista scored twice and added two assists while Matt Duchene scored twice for the Predators (35-26-8) as they are five points behind the Jets with 78 points. Tage Thompson scored his 43rd of the season while Jeff Skinner netted his 30th for the 33-31-6 Sabres (72 points) as they remain seven points out of the final Eastern wild-card spot.
A shootout goal by Lucas Raymond gave the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues. Filip Zadina and Alex Chiasson scored for the 31-30-9 Wings, who sit eight points out of the final Eastern wild-card berth. Marco Scandella and Robert Bortuzzo replied for the 31-33-6 Blues.
IN OTHER NEWS…
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche signed head coach Jared Bednar to a three-year contract extension. He’s led the Avs to five straight playoff appearances, two consecutive division titles and the 2022 Stanley Cup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a well-deserved extension for Bednar, who took over this club during the lowest period in its history after Patrick Roy quit as head coach before the 2016-17 season. Their rise among the league’s elite over the past five seasons is in part due to his coaching.
TSN: The NHL announced Fanatics will take over as its’ on-ice jersey provider beginning in 2024-25, taking over from Adidas.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That move reportedly isn’t sitting well with hockey fans familiar with Fanatics products.
Another scoring milestone for the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, the date for the draft lottery is announced, an update on a potential increase in next season’s salary cap, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin reached another scoring milestone in a 5-4 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres. Ovechkin scored his 402nd career home goal to move into fourth place for the most home goals in NHL history. Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie scored in the shootout for the 33-29-7 Capitals (73 points) as they sit five points behind the New York Islanders for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The Sabres (33-28-6) sit one point behind the Capitals.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).
Speaking of the Islanders, Kyle Palmieri had a goal and three assists as they downed the Anaheim Ducks 6-3. Brock Nelson scored twice and Zach Parise had a goal and an assist for the 35-27-8 Islanders. Kevin Shattenkirk tallied twice for the 22-36-10 Ducks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders are tied in points (78) with the Pittsburgh Penguins but the latter holds the first-wild spot with three games in hand.
A shootout goal by Nathan MacKinnon lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mikko Rantanen scored in regulation for the Avalanche while Morgan Reilly tallied for the Leafs. The Avalanche (38-22-6) sit third in the Central Division with 82 points while the 40-18-9 Leafs are second in the Atlantic Division with 89 points.
A five-goal second period powered the Minnesota Wild over the St. Louis Blues 8-5. Ryan Hartman led the way with two goals and an assist for the Wild (39-21-8) as they remain four points ahead of the Avalanche in second place in the Central Division with 86 points. Pavel Buchnevich had a hat trick and Jakub Vrana scored twice for the 29-33-5 Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues goalie Jordan Binnington gave up five goals and earned a match penalty for charging into the Wild’s celebration of their fifth goal to go after Hartman, sparking a melee that saw the linesmen restrain Binnington and Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from fighting each other.
NHL.COM: The 2023 draft lottery will be held on May 8 as the league revealed the remaining critical dates for the 2022-23 season following the completion yesterday of the general managers’ meetings in Florida.
Monday, April 17
Start of 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Monday, May 8
2023 NHL Draft Lottery (7 p.m. ET, ESPN, SN, TVAS)
Saturday, June 3
Tentative start of 2023 Stanley Cup Final (TNT, SN, TVAS)
Sunday, June 4 – Saturday, June 10
2023 NHL Scouting Combine presented by adidas (Buffalo)
Monday, June 26
2023 NHL Awards (Bridgestone Arena)
Wednesday, June 28
Round 1 of 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft (7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT, ESPN, SN, TVAS) (Bridgestone Arena)
Thursday, June 29
Rounds 2-7 of 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft (11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT, NHLN, SN, TVAS) (Bridgestone Arena)
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speculated the salary cap could rise higher than the projected $1 million to $83.5 million for 2023-24. He indicated it could go up by $4.5 million if hockey-related revenue for the remainder of this season exceeds expectations. That would allow the remaining escrow debt owed by the players to the team owners to be paid in full.
Failing that, Bettman hinted that he’d be willing to meet with the NHL Players Association to discuss artificially increasing the salary cap for next season. Doing so, however, would mean increasing the six percent escrow rates the players are required to pay under the final three seasons of the current collective bargaining agreement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: How much the players would be willing to increase that rate and for how long will determine whether the cap goes up higher than projected for next season. If they’re unwilling to entertain that option, the cap might only go up by $1 million for 2023-24 if HRR isn’t greater than expected. That means any significant cap increases would have to wait until 2024-25.
TSN: Bettman also said that he anticipates the sale of the Ottawa Senators could take place within a matter of weeks. Phase 2 of the sale process is underway as the number of interested parties is narrowed down.
THE ATHLETIC: Bettman said the league is looking at short- and long-term backup options for dealing with the bankruptcy of the parent company of Bally Sports, which holds regional broadcasting rights for 12 US-based NHL teams. Bally Sports’ coverage is expected to continue for the remainder of this season.
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Christian Dvorak is the latest member of the Canadiens to be sidelined for the season. The club announced the 27-year-old center underwent season-ending knee surgery on Wednesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As of March 10, the Canadiens led the league in man-games lost to injury with 540. Dvorak joins Carey Price, Paul Byron, Cole Caufield, Juraj Slafkovsky, Arber Xhekaj, and Jake Evans who are done for the season. Brendan Gallagher, Sean Monahan, and Kirby Dach remain sidelined indefinitely.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins placed defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (lower body) on long-term injury reserve. This will allow the cap-strapped club to recall a player from their AHL affiliate if necessary. Kulikov appeared in four games with the Penguins after being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline.
SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Matthew Knies, Montreal Canadiens prospect Lane Hutson, and Arizona Coyotes prospect Logan Cooley are among this year’s finalists for the Hobey Baker Award honoring the top college hockey player in the United States. 2023 prospect Adam Fantilli is also among the nominees.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fantilli is considered by most scouts as the second-best prospect in this year’s draft.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Carson Briere, son of Flyers interim general manager Daniel Briere, issued an apology for pushing a disabled student’s wheelchair down a flight of stairs at a bar on Saturday. His father also issued a statement saying he was shocked by Carson’s actions in the video, calling it “inexcusable” and that it ran “completely counter to our family’s values of treating people with respect.”
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet intends to implement an offseason conditioning schedule designed to improve his players’ fitness for next season.