NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 14, 2021

Alex Ovechkin moves up the all-time goals leader board, new contracts for the Islanders’ Ryan Pulock and Predators’ Mattias Ekholm, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin moved into sole possession of fifth place among the NHL’s all-time goalscoring leaders as his Washington Capitals thumped the New York Rangers 5-1. Ovechkin scored twice to surpass Hall-of-Famer Marcel Dionne with 732 goals. The Capitals captain collected four points on the night, linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov had three assists and rookie Hendrix Lapierre tallied his first NHL goal.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is nine goals behind Brett Hull (741), who sits fourth overall on the all-time leader list. He could pass The Golden Brett by the end of this month.

The Edmonton Oilers edged the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 on a shootout goal by Kyle Turris. Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected two assists and Mike Smith made 36 saves. The Canucks forced the extra frame by overcoming a two-goal deficit in the third period on goals by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Quinn Hughes.

Darcy Kuemper made 32 saves as the Colorado Avalanche doubled up the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2. Gabriel Landeskog, Nazem Kadri and Bowen Byram each had a goal and an assist for the Avs. It was a rough outing for Blackhawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury as the reigning Vezina Trophy winner gave up three goals in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seth Jones’ debut with the Blackhawks was not one he’ll remember with any fondness. The Avalanche dominated play when the 26-year-old Jones was on the ice in five-on-five situations.

The Toronto Maple Leafs nipped the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 on William Nylander’s game-winner early in the third period. Jack Campbell picked up the win with a 31-save performance. Jonathan Drouin scored his first goal for the Canadiens since taking time away in the second half of last season to deal with anxiety and insomnia issues.

Anaheim Ducks rookie Mason McTavish tallied his first NHL goal as his club upset the Winnipeg Jets 4-1. The 18-year-old McTavish became the youngest goalscorer in Ducks history. Rickard Rakell, Adam Henrique and Kevin Shattenkirk also scored for the Ducks while John Gibson kicked out 33 shots for the win.

HEADLINES

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the New York Islanders have agreed to an eight-year contract extension with defenseman Ryan Pulock. It’s believed to be just under $50 million with a full no-trade clause in the first five years and a limited no-trade in the final three.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per JFreshHockey, the 27-year-old Pulock is “a high-end, top-pairing two-way defenseman who’s the primary puck-mover on one of the league’s best pairings.”

Pulock’s annual average value could come in at around $6.25 million, slightly higher than the $5.75 million defense partner Adam Pelech is earning on his new contract. General manager Lou Lamoriello wasted little time ensuring this underrated defense pairing is locked up to reasonable long-term contracts.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators inked defenseman Mattias Ekholm to a four-year, $25 million contract extension. The annual average value is $6.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm gets a big raise over the $3.75 million of his current contract while the Predators get a sensible term for the 31-year-old blueliner, who wasn’t shy about publicly expressing his desire to remain in Nashville.

Some observers believe the raise is too high for a defenseman at this stage of his career but Ekholm was significantly underpaid as one of their most reliable top-four blueliners. While his performance could decline they obviously feel his experience and leadership are worth retaining while the club undergoes its’ “competitive rebuild.”

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed Colton Sceviour to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings named Danny DeKeyser and Marc Staal as their alternate captains this season.

NHL.COM: Seattle Kraken forward Marcus Johansson is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.

THE ATHLETIC: San Jose Sharks defenseman Nikolai Knyzhov is also out with a lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers claimed Charlottetown native Zack MacEwen off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks.

GWINNETT PREP SPORTS: The Columbus Blue Jackets suspended defenseman Mikko Lehtonen for his failure to report to their AHL affiliate in Cleveland and placed him on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 13, 2021

The Golden Knights defeat the Kraken while the Penguins upset the Lightning as the puck drops on the 2021-22 season. Details and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: A tie-breaking goal by Chandler Stephenson lifted the Vegas Golden Knights to a 4-3 win over the Seattle Kraken in the latter’s first-ever NHL regular-season game. Max Pacioretty scored twice and Robin Lehner made 28 saves for Vegas, who blew a 3-0 lead as the Kraken rallied on goals by Ryan Donato (the first in franchise history), Jared McCann and Morgan Geekie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken were expected to have a strong defense but they look shaky while their offense acquitted themselves well in this contest. McCann, Joonas Donskoi, Marcus Johanssen and Jamie Oleksiak had entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol on Monday but were cleared to play in this game.

Kris Letang collected two assists and Tristan Jarry made 26 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2. Danton Heinen and Brian Boyle scored in their debuts with the Penguins. Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli replied for the Lightning, who raised their 2020-21 Stanley Cup banner in a pre-game ceremony.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning were flat throughout this game, outshot 35-28 by a Penguins team skating without scoring stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel. The Bolts certainly missed former third-liners Yanni Gourde, Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow, who departed this summer via expansion draft, free agency and trade.

It was nice seeing Boyle score in his first NHL game since 2019-20. He missed all of last season as an unsigned free agent and earned a spot on the Penguins following a professional tryout offer.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed center Nick Suzuki to an eight-year, $63 million contract extension. The annual average value is $7.875 million, making him the highest-paid forward on the roster.

Montreal Canadiens center Nick Suzuki (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers questioned the Canadiens signing Suzuki to such a hefty raise after just two consecutive 41-point performances. Anyone who watched his performance in the 2021 playoffs will understand the rationale behind this contract. The 22-year-old Suzuki blossomed into a reliable first-line center, playing a solid game at both ends of the rink.

Suzuki was scoring at a higher rate last season than in his rookie campaign. His 41 points in 56 games last season prorates to 60 points in an 82-game season. Should he reach or exceed that point total this season he would’ve been in a better position next summer to seek a more lucrative deal. The Canadiens now have Suzuki locked in through what should be his prime playing years at what could prove to be a cost-effective long-term contract.

Cap Friendly shows the Canadiens sitting at $84.88 million in projected cap space for 13 players in 2022-23, well above the projected $82 million for next season. They could get over $7.8 million in relief if Shea Weber ends up on permanent long-term injury reserve. Even then, however, they won’t have much cap space to fill out the rest of their roster.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss their season-opener tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s reportedly asymptomatic and feeling good. His earliest possible return is Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL announced just four players remain unvaccinated. Nevertheless, MacKinnon’s case shows why the league has implemented strict protocols for this season for even its fully vaccinated players.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (hip injury) was placed on long-term injury. Though he skated yesterday for the first time as he rehabs his injury, he will miss at least the first 10 games of the season. Meanwhile, team captain Alex Ovechkin remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury but took to the ice for the club’s optional skate on Tuesday.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Speaking of Ovechkin and Backstrom, they starred in a new commercial for MassMutual.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a funny commercial with Backstrom in a brief but memorable scene-stealing role.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner left practice yesterday as a precautionary measure following a collision with Wayne Simmonds. He’ll be re-evaluated today.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defensemen Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen have missed several recent practices for “maintenance days.” That’s raising some concern over whether they’ll be in the lineup for their season opener on Friday against the Vancouver Canucks.

SPORTSNET 590’s Nick Kypreos took to Twitter reporting the NHL could be leaning toward suspending San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane under supplementary discipline as per Section 18-18a of the CBA. After serving a set number of games he could be cleared to resume his career. Meanwhile, Cap Friendly reports Kane’s $7 million cap hit currently doesn’t count against the Sharks cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane is currently under two league investigations regarding allegations of spousal abuse and using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets named Boone Jenner as their new captain.

WGR 550: Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons will split the captaincy of the Buffalo Sabres this season.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Vitali Kravtsov refused assignment to their AHL affiliate in Hartford and could face suspension. His agent has also been given permission to speak to other teams to facilitate a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kravtsov was projected as a potential third-line winger this season for the Rangers. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks signed Alex Chiasson to a one-year, $750K contract. He earned a roster spot following a professional tryout offer.

THE ATHLETIC: The NHL set the escrow rate on players’ contracts at 17.2 percent for 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is in line with the rates set in the CBA extension last year. The players owe the owners close to $1 billion as a result of the impact of the pandemic upon hockey-related revenue.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2021

The Rangers sign Mika Zibanejad to a lucrative contract extension, Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise officially sign with the Islanders, a large number of players hit the waiver wire, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers yesterday announced Mika Zibanejad signed an eight-year contract extension worth $68 million. The annual average value is $8.5 million. This deal will keep Zibanejad with the Rangers until he’s 36. By keeping his AAV under $9 million, it provided the Blueshirts with some cap flexibility to re-sign key players such as Adam Fox in the near future.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Post’s Larry Brooks indicated Zibanejad’s new deal is a little longer than Rangers’ management preferred. However, it was necessary to reach that $8.5 million cap hit as he likely would’ve received up to $10 million annually on the open market. As per Cap Friendly, they now have over $62 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23 with Fox, Ryan Strome, Kaapo Kakko and Alexandar Georgiev among the notables slated for new contracts next summer.

Zibanejad thrived since being traded to the Rangers in 2016, including a career-best 41 goals and 75 points in 57 games in 2019-20. He had a slow start last season following a bout of COVID-19 but finished strong with 50 points in 56 contests.

This signing should also take the Rangers out of the Jack Eichel sweepstakes. I’ll have more on that in today’s Rumor Mill. Brooks believes the only way it happens is if the Sabres retain 40-50 percent of Eichel’s $10 million AAV which isn’t going to happen.

DAILY FACEOFF: The New York Islanders officially announced the signings of Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise. They’re both on one-year, one-way contracts with an annual average value of $1.5 million. They’ll receive a base salary of $750K plus $750K in bonuses.

Frank Seravalli reported Erik Gustafsson has returned to the Chicago Blackhawks. The 29-year-old defenseman signed a one-year deal believed to be worth $800K.

Forty-three players hit the waiver wire yesterday. Vancouver Canucks defenseman Travis Hamonic and Edmonton Oilers forward Kyle Turris are the two notable names on that list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamonic was absent from the Canucks training camp and preseason for reasons related to the NHL’s vaccination protocols. Unvaccinated players face restrictions that could prevent them from participating in road games, which could also result in them being suspended without pay.

There was talk of the Canucks attempting to trade Hamonic. He’s on a two-year, $6 million contract with an eight-team no-trade clause.

THE PROVINCE: Speaking of the Canucks, they traded defenseman Olli Juolevi to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Noah Juulsen and forward Juho Lammiko.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a trade of young players who failed to pan out with their previous teams. Injuries also hampered the development of Juolevi and Juulsen. The latter is now on his third team in two seasons.

THE SCORE: Vegas Golden Knights president of hockey operations George McPhee accused player agent Allan Walsh of attempting to sabotage efforts to trade Marc-Andre Fleury by telling other clubs his client was considering retirement.

McPhee praised Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon’s handling of the situation. While acknowledging Fleury learned of his trade to the Chicago Blackhawks on social media, McPhee said they spoke with the goalie’s camp leading up to the deal. They stopped communicating with them when Walsh started telling other clubs Fleury planned to retire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to hear Walsh’s side of the story. The agent generated some controversy during the 2020 playoffs by posting an image on Twitter of Fleury with a photoshopped sword running through his back and head coach Pete DeBoer’s name on the blade. The suggestion was DeBoer stabbed his client in the back by giving Robin Lehner more playing time in the postseason. That image was removed at Fleury’s request.

SPORTSNET: New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood returned to practice yesterday after clearing all COVID-19 protocols. He’d received an inconclusive COVID test on Thursday. He said he “still has some things to do” before deciding one way or the other on getting vaccinated, “but I’m probably going to be getting the shot in the next couple of weeks.” He’s the only unvaccinated member of the Devils.

TSN: Speaking of the Devils, they signed forward Jimmy Vesey to a one-year, $800K contract.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette indicated captain Alex Ovechkin is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. He doesn’t consider it serious, suggesting the 36-year-old winger could be in the lineup for their season opener on Wednesday against the New York Rangers.

THE DENVER POST: The Avalanche signed defenseman Jack Johnson to a one-year, $750K contract.

SPORTSNET: Ottawa Senators forward Austin Watson is expected to be sidelined roughly four weeks with an injured ankle.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Mark Friedman was fined $1,812.50 for spearing Columbus Blue Jackets forward Sean Kuraly during Saturday’s preseason game.

Former NHL forward Frans Nielsen signed with DEL club Eisbaren Berlin. The 37-year-old center tallied 473 points in 925 career NHL games with the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 9, 2021

The Panthers signed Aleksander Barkov to a lucrative extension, more nations name their first players to their respective Olympic teams, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Mackenzie Blackwood & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers yesterday signed Aleksander Barkov to an eight-year, $80 million contract extension. The 26-year-old center will earn an annual average value of $10 million.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the deal is heavy with signing bonuses, starting at $11 million annually in the first three seasons, dropping to $10.6 million, $9 million, $7 million and finally $6.2 million in the final two seasons. Barkov also gets a full no-movement clause in the first eight seasons, becoming a modified no-trade for the final two seasons.

Barkov earned this contract as the Panthers’ captain and franchise player. He’s one of the NHL’s elite two-way forwards, earning the Selke Trophy last season. He’s crucial to their hopes of becoming a Stanley Cup contender.

TSN: More countries yesterday named their first players to their respective 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics mens’ hockey teams.

Russia (also known as the “Russian Olympic Committee” since they’re barred from competing under their country’s name and flag due to a doping scandal that has “banned” their athletes from international competition) named Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov and Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, Seattle Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider joins Germany’s team.

Denmark named Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Oliver Bjorkstrand and Seattle Kraken center Alexander True.

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi, San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier, and New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier were named to Switzerland’s squad.

Slovakia named Dallas Stars defenseman Andrej Sekera, Tampa Bay Lightning blueliner Erik Cernak and Vancouver Canucks goalie Jaroslav Halak to their roster.

Latvia added San Jose Sharks winger Rudolfs Balcers, Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Kristians Rubins.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Speaking of Ovechkin, the Capitals captain will be re-evaluated for a lower-body injury suffered during Friday’s preseason contest with the Philadelphia Flyers.

THE ATHLETIC: Mackenzie Blackwood underwent two inconclusive COVID-19 tests on Thursday and Friday. The New Jersey Devils expected to know by Sunday whether their unvaccinated goaltender has contracted COVID for the second time.

If he tests positive on Sunday, he’ll be unavailable to the Devils for 14 days and ineligible to play or practice until Oct. 21. The Devils could also suspend him without pay during that period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackwood’s about to learn the consequences of being an unvaccinated player in the NHL. The league has implemented strict protocols to protect its players and staff and to avoid a repeat of the outbreaks last season that wreaked havoc on its schedule.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken forward Calle Jarnkrok has entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. It doesn’t necessarily mean he has the coronavirus but could instead be a close contact of someone who is infected. The Kraken recently announced all their players were fully vaccinated.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Max Domi could be returning to the Blue Jackets roster much sooner than expected. Told he’d require five months to recover from shoulder surgery in June, he could be in the lineup for their season-opener next week against the Arizona Coyotes.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Caleb Jones is expected to miss six weeks with a left wrist strain.

TSN: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian will be in concussion protocol for the next several days after striking his head on the ice during a fight with Vancouver Canucks forward Zack MacEwen on Thursday night.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins forward Curtis Lazar is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Auston Watson suffered an ankle injury during Thursday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. There’s no timetable for his return.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators assistant coach Todd Richards could be back behind the bench for the club’s season-opener against the Seattle Kraken on Oct. 14. Richards suffered a heart attack on Oct. 1 and has been resting at home.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s great news for Richards. Here’s hoping he continues making a full recovery.

NHL.COM: The Devils signed center Frederik Gauthier to a one-year, two-way contract.

TSN: The Colorado Avalanche released forward Artem Anisimov from his professional tryout offer.

SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators have approval from the Ontario government to host full capacity in their respective arenas for their home games this season.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes played only four preseason games instead of the mandatory six as per the CBA. However, they were among several teams granted an exemption this year due to the pandemic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A supposedly juicy aspect of this is the Montreal Canadiens apparently brought the number of Hurricanes’ preseason games to the attention of league officials. It’s something else that some observers believe could stoke the recent rivalry between the two clubs.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2021

98 percent of NHL players expected to be vaccinated for the coming season, Sidney Crosby hopes Alex Ovechkin breaks Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, plus the latest on Evander Kane, Carey Price, P.K. Subban and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly estimates 98 percent of players will be vaccinated against COVID-19 when the 2021-22 season opens on Oct. 12. That will leave between 10 and 15 players unvaccinated among 700 players on 32 teams.

The NHL and NHL Players Association didn’t impose a vaccine mandate on players, but restrictions (including restrictions at the Canada – US border requiring lengthy quarantine) contributed to the high number of vaccinations. Teams can also suspend unvaccinated players without pay if they cannot participate in hockey activities as part of its protocols.

Fully vaccinated players will have any positive COVID-19 tests treated as hockey injuries and continue to be paid. Unvaccinated players will have their movements restricted during road trips. Regular COVID testing will remain in place for vaccinated players. Coaches and staff must be vaccinated as a condition of employment.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Daly confirmed that teams who suspend players without pay under the terms of the league’s COVID protocols will receive salary-cap relief from that player’s daily salary-cap hit.

Unvaccinated players can be ruled exempt from suspension if they have legitimate medical reasons for avoiding vaccination or if it conflicts with “sincerely held religious beliefs”.

Johnston also reported at least one Caucks remains unvaccinated but the team declined to comment citing medical privacy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL isn’t fooling around with its protocols this season after a number of game postponements due to COVID-19 outbreaks over the course of last season led to a series of scheduling changes. It took a physical toll on the players as they endured multiple games within a much more compressed period of time.

Unvaccinated players will have a more difficult time navigating through those strict protocols this season. Those restrictions could encourage the remainder who lack medical exemption to get vaccinated. The risk of suspension without pay for a positive test is too great over the course of the season.

SPORTSNET: Daly indicated the salary cap for the 2022-23 season is expected to increase by $1 million to $82.5 million.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

  NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has the support of a long-time rival in his quest to break Wayne Gretzky’s goal-scoring record. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said he told Ovechkin he hopes he does it. “It would be awesome. He’s in range, “ said Crosby. “He can score anywhere from insider the blue line.”

Crosby added one caveat. “I just hope that all his goals that he gets are against the other teams as he’s trying to add toward it.” Gretzky has 894 goals while Ovechkin sits at 730 to start the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin’s legacy is secure as this generation’s greatest goal scorer and one of the all-time greats. Most of Gretzky’s records are out of reach of today’s players, so the opportunity for the Capitals superstar to break the goal record would be a phenomenal achievement.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Evander Kane remains confident that the league will clear him of allegations by his estranged wife that he gambled on NHL games. In an interview with ESPN’s Linda Cohn, the San Jose Sharks winger called the allegations “incredibly false”, claiming he’s never bet on any NHL games or intentionally altered the way he plays.

The NHL opened an investigation into the allegations in July. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he anticipates it will wrap up soon and to have a full report by the start of training camp.

Kane admitted he has a gambling addiction which led to his filing for bankruptcy in July. He also downplayed reports claiming some of his Sharks teammates don’t want him back.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz believes it’s what’s Kane didn’t say during the interview that’s newsworthy. “This was a missed opportunity for him to signal to his teammates/organization that he’s ready to come back, change his ways, and be a solid teammate. Instead, nothing’s changed.”

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price took to the ice yesterday in full equipment with a member of the team’s training staff. It’s believed the first time he’s skated since undergoing knee surgery in July. He spent 10 minutes on the ice doing stretching and skating drills.

TORONTO STAR: New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban is an executive producer on an upcoming docuseries entitled, “Black Life: A Canadian History.”

THE ATHLETIC: Andrew Ladd is looking forward to the opportunity to play in the NHL again. He was traded this summer to the Arizona Coyotes by the New York Islanders. He played just 30 NHL games over the past three seasons with the Islanders.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres will face off in the 2022 Heritage Classic on March 13 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario.

THE SCORE: Two suspects were arrested in the robbery of a St. Louis Blues prospect and a woman on the grounds of the Gateway Arch. The name of the prospect has not been released.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2021

The fallout from the Carolina Hurricanes signing away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens, an update on Jake Gardiner, player milestones to watch this season and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell spoke to the media yesterday about his club successfully signing away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell (NHL Images).

Waddell said the Hurricanes weren’t surprised that the Canadiens opted not to match the one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet. He denied revenge for the Habs’ unsuccessful attempt to sign Sebastian Aho in 2019 was the motivation behind the Kotkaniemi offer. Waddell also dismissed the club’s PR staff trolling the Canadiens over the signing as merely a marketing ploy to keep their fans engaged.

The Hurricanes GM said he initially attempted to acquire Kotkaniemi via trade and decided several days later to tender an offer sheet. Waddell indicated he hasn’t had contract extension discussions with the 21-year-old forward and his agent. The earliest they can re-sign him is in January.

Asked where Kotkaniemi would play this season, Waddell indicated the 21-year-old will probably start at left wing. Although the Hurricanes now sit above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $1.5 million, they intend to place defenseman Jake Gardiner ($4.05 million cap hit) on long-term injury reserve. Waddell indicated Gardiner will undergo hip and back surgery and won’t be ready for the start of the season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Kotkaniemi also talked about his new contract with the Hurricanes. He considers it a great opportunity and felt confident his new club has trust in him. He noted the presence of fellow Finns Aho and Teuvo Teravainen and considers it an honor to play for a potential Stanley Cup contender.

Asked about his time with the Canadiens, Kotkaniemi acknowledged there were “ups and downs” but overall felt he had a good run in Montreal. However, he did say he thought his development with the Habs could’ve gone better.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The revenge angle keeps getting played up in the media but I think that’s just a small factor here. The Hurricanes were seeking a young forward who could play center or wing. They had an interest in Kotkaniemi, tried to trade for him and when that didn’t work not only went the offer-sheet route but gave the Habs a heads-up as to their intentions.

PuckPedia speculates the Hurricanes could maximize their long-term injury reserve space to the full $4.05 million of Gardiner’s cap hit by demoting two players to put them just under the cap ceiling before the start of the season. They’ll then put Gardiner on LTIR. No word yet on how long he’ll be sidelined but the 31-year-old blueliner could be sidelined for the season.

A contract extension for Kotkaniemi will be decided by his performance this season. It would cost them $6.1 million to qualify his rights but the two sides could agree to a long-term deal for a lower annual average value.

Kotkaniemi’s comments about his development in Montreal and his willingness to accept the Hurricanes offer had some observers suggesting the Canadiens must ensure that issue doesn’t recur with their other younger players. Whether the current management shares that view remains to be seen.

SI.COM: Jason Chen looks at several player milestones to watch in 2021-22. Joe Thornton has an opportunity to move into third place overall for games played, Ryan Getzlaf, Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Spezza could reach 1,000 points while Alex Ovechkin is 36 goals away from tying Jaromir Jagr for third place (766) on the all-time goal-scoring list.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Former Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski sold his Muirfield, Ohio home for $3.75 million.