NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2020

What next for the Golden Knights following their playoff elimination? How are Alex Pietrangelo’s contract talks going? What’s the latest on the Sabres? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski believes the Vegas Golden Knights must sort out their goaltending drama. Marc-Andre Fleury was supplanted in the starting goaltender role by Robin Lehner. Wyshynski reported a source claimed Lehner and the Golden Knights have a handshake agreement on a five-year contract extension. He wondered if the Golden Knights are prepared to invest a lot of money in Fleury and Lehner, or if Fleury even wants to stay.

Wyshynski also believes they should reexamine the center position, pointing out Paul Stastny is no longer a reliable second-line center. Unless Chandler Stephenson or Cody Glass can develop into that role, Wyshynski feels they should consider addressing that issue, potentially by moving out Stastny and his $6.5-million cap hit.

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger speculates a new contract for Lehner could be a five-year, $25-million deal. With over $76.5 million invested in next year’s payroll, they’ll have to shed some salary to make room for Lehner and restricted free agents like Stephenson and Nick Cousins. He also suggests Fleury as a trade candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the 35-year-old Fleury is signed through 2021-22 with an annual average value of $7 million and a 10-team no-trade list. Even if he agrees to narrow that list, his cap hit and age could make him difficult to move given the current economic conditions and the flooded market for goaltenders.

I’m not saying Fleury can’t be traded. However, the Golden Knights might have to pick up part of that cap hit or perhaps bundle him with a quality draft pick or prospect to facilitate a deal.

Stastny has one year left on his contract. Like Fleury, he has a 10-team no-trade list. At 34, he’s no longer as effective as he once was. His age and cap hit could also be a sticking point but having just one year left on his contract might make him a little easier to move.

PIETRANGELO DISAPPOINTED IN PROGRESS OF CONTRACT TALKS

THE SCORE: Brandon Maron cited The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reporting Alex Pietrangelo has found it “a little disappointing” that he and the St. Louis Blues haven’t reached an agreement yet on a new contract. The 30-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

Pietrangelo indicated there hasn’t been much progress in contract discussions. While he wants to stay in St. Louis, he understands the difficulty the Blues face re-signing him with just $5 million in salary-cap space. “I think you have to be willing to accept the fact that there may be a change one day,” said Pietrangelo. “Whether it happens or not, it certainly changes your mindset and makes things a little easier if you ever get to that point.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo would prefer staying in St. Louis because his wife is from there and they’ve raised a family there. However, he also noted a number of players have moved on after spending most of their careers in one city. It sounds like he and his wife are preparing for that possibility. There’s still enough time for Pietrangelo and the Blues to hammer out a deal, but that’ll depend upon his asking price and how much cap space they can free up.

LeBrun listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers as possible destinations for Pietrangelo if he hits the open market. He acknowledged those three clubs have salary-cap issues but didn’t rule out one of them trying to find a way to sign the Blues captain.

LATEST ON THE SABRES

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): John Vogl noted a recent report by TSN indicating the Buffalo Sabres could have an internal salary cap in the $70-million range. He suggested selling low on defenseman Brandon Montour, find a taker for blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen, and perhaps re-sign some of their restricted free agents to cost-effective one-year deals with the promise of raises next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Sabres currently have over $48.2 million committed to 10 players. Vogl points out re-signing key RFAs like Montour, goalie Linus Ullmark, and forwards Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson and Dominik Kahun could cost a combined $24.5 million, pushing them over $70 million and leaving little room for additions.

Moving Montour for a draft pick and perhaps a prospect will help. Vogl noted they couldn’t find an acceptable for Ristolainen and his $5.4-million cap hit plus head coach Ralph Krueger likes the blueliner’s game.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 11, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 11, 2020

The Stars regain the lead in the Western Conference Final, Sean Couturier wins the Selke Trophy, and updates on Alex Killorn, Brayden Point and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Alexander Radulov scored 31 seconds into overtime as the Dallas Stars edged the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. The Stars hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Stars captain Jamie Benn had a goal and an assist while Anton Khudobin made 38 saves for the win. Mark Stone had two points for the Golden Knights, including the game-tying goal that forced overtime. Game 4 of the series is Saturday at 8 pm ET.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All of the scoring came in the third period, with the Golden Knights out-shooting the Stars 18-4 thanks to three power-play opportunities. Khudobin was outstanding for Dallas while Stars coach Rick Bowness’ decision to reunite Benn, Radulov and Tyler Seguin on the top line provided a much-needed boost to their offense.

Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier is this year’s winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Couturier for a long-overdue recognition of his place among the league’s best defensive forwards. He’s the first Flyer to win the Selke since Dave Poulin in 1986-87.

The NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Tampa Bay Lightning winger Alex Killorn for one game for boarding New York Islanders center Brock Nelson in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final.

The Lightning could also be without their leading scorer for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. Center Brayden Point left Game 2 with an undisclosed injury and might not dress for tonight’s contest with the Isles.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning coped without Killorn and Point for most of Game 2. It will be a bigger challenge offsetting their absences for the entirety of Game 3.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports 17 NHL teams have slashed expenditures and reduced payroll amid a COVID-19 crunch. That includes Original Six teams like the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks.

Of the seven Canadian teams, only the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t yet reduced the pay of staff members, including team presidents, coaches and general managers. The Ottawa Senators’ coaching staff received relief from the league after having their pay cut by 50 percent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Seravalli points out, the teams are doing this because there’s been no meaningful revenue coming in since mid-March and none on the immediate horizon. He also anticipates those cuts will affect free agency and salary-cap payrolls.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki will test the free-agent market.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues re-signed forward Jacob de la Rose to a one-year, one-way contract worth $700K.

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers signed forward Adam Cracknell to a one-year, two-way contract.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed a three-year agreement with the Chicago Wolves to be their new AHL affiliate.

NHL.COM: The Charlotte Checkers (the Hurricanes’ former AHL farm club) signed a multi-year affiliation deal with the Florida Panthers.

CBS SPORTS: Former Colorado Avalanche defenseman Mark Barberio signed a three-year contract with Lausanne HC of Switzerland’s National League.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2020

The Stars and Golden Knights will meet in the Western Conference Final. Check out the game recaps plus the recent notable news in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars advanced to the Western Conference Final by edging the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 in Game 7 of their second-round series. Stars winger Joel Kiviranta completed his first-ever NHL hat trick with the game-winner at 7:24 of overtime. Alexander Radulov scored twice for the Stars while defensemen Miro Heiskanen and Joel Klingberg each collected two assists and Anton Khudobin made 40 saves. Vladislav Namestnikov tallied twice for the Avalanche while Nathan MacKinnon was shut out for the first time in this series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a very entertaining game that see-sawed back and forth between the two clubs. The story of the game, of course, was Kiviranta, a rookie with just one goal in 11 regular-season contests before his heroics as a replacement for the sidelined Andrew Cogliano in Game 7. Sometimes, the playoffs give us the unlikeliest of heroes.

The Stars will meet the Vegas Golden Knights in the Conference Final as the latter blanked the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 in Game 7 of their second-round series. The Golden Knights netted three unanswered third-period goals by Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch, and Paul Stastny, the latter two into an empty net as the Canucks went with an extra attacker in the dying minutes. Robin Lehner made 14 saves for the shutout while Vancouver netminder Thatcher Demko kicked out 33.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Through the first two periods it appeared Demko was going to steal this game as he did the previous two. Despite his best efforts, however, his teammates couldn’t muster any offense against a deep, talented Golden Knights club. Demko was dejected following the game but he had nothing to hang his head over. If not for his play, the Canucks wouldn’t have overcome a 3-1 series deficit.

The Golden Knights and Stars won’t have to wait long to face each other. Game 1 of the Western Conference Final begins at 8 pm ET on Sunday, Sept. 6.

NOTABLE HEADLINES

NOTE: We experienced some publishing problems from Wed, Sept. 2 to Fri, Sept. 4 that prevented us from publishing each day’s noteworthy headlines. Here’s a collection of the most interesting news during that period.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger David Pastrnak was hampered by a lower-body injury. It seemed to be related to his conditioning level following a month-long quarantine odyssey that prevented him from participating in Phase 3 training with his teammates.

TSN: Bruins captain Zdeno Chara indicated he’s committed to returning to the club next season. It would be the 23rd campaign of the 43-year-old blueliner’s NHL career.

SUN-SENTINEL: The Florida Panthers formally introduced Bill Zito as their new general manager.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins name former Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden as a new assistant coach. It’s his second stint as a Pens assistant coach.

NHL.COM: St. Louis Blues assistant coach Marc Savard is stepping down and returning to Ontario to be with his family.

THE ATHLETIC: The Columbus Blue Jackets won’t be renewing the expired contract of assistant coach Paul MacLean.

THE SCORE: The NHL is launching a series of initiatives to combat racism and foster inclusion and diversity training within the league.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 1, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 1, 2020

The Lightning eliminate the Bruins, the Avalanche stay alive against the Stars, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: For the fourth time in six years, the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to the Eastern Conference Final. Victor Hedman scored in double overtime as the Lightning edged the Boston Bruins 3-2 to win their second-round series four games to one.

Tampa Bay LIghtning defenseman Victor Hedman (NHL Images)

Hedman had a goal and an assist while teammates Brayden Point and Kevin Shattenkirk each had two assists. Ondrej Palat and Anthony Cirelli scored in regulation for the Bolts, who played without winger Nikita Kucherov as he left the game before the third period after being high-sticked by Zdeno Chara in the first period. David Pastrnak and David Krejci scored for the Bruins.

 

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning did a good job keeping Boston’s top line under wraps as this series went on. The Bruins’ lack of secondary scoring and the absence of starting goalie Tuukka Rask were contributing factors to their early demise.

After reaching the Stanley Cup Final last season and winning the Presidents’ Trophy this season, questions are being asked if the Bruins’ championship window is closing. Asked about his future plans, the 43-year-old Chara said he hadn’t reached a decision, intending to be open-minded.

No word yet as to how long Kucherov might be sidelined. Bolts blueliner Ryan McDonagh returned to the lineup since being sidelined in the first game of this series.

The Colorado Avalanche avoided elimination by riding a five-goal first period to a 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars in Game 5 of their second-round series. Avs third-string goalie Michael Hutchinson made 31 saves in his first-ever playoff start while the Stars’ Ben Bishop was pulled after giving up four goals on 19 shots. Nathan MacKinnon scored a goal and collected an assist, giving him a playoff-leading 23 points. Andre Burakovsky scored twice and added an assist. The Stars still lead the series 3 games to 2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop was shaky in his first start since Aug. 13 but he had little help from his teammates. The Stars were flat-footed and unprepared in the first period, outshot 23-5 in the first period.

SPORTSNET: The New York Rangers hired Jacques Martin as their new assistant coach.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Jeremy Rutherford cites sources claiming St. Louis Blues assistant general manager Bill Armstrong is believed to be a finalist for the vacant Florida Panthers GM position.

TSN: Thirteen NHL clubs will carry salary cap overages into next season. The Stars lead the list with over $2.9 million, followed by the Bruins ($1.928 million), Vancouver Canucks ($1.7 million), Carolina Hurricanes ($1.367 million), and Buffalo Sabres ($1.275 million). Because of the unusual circumstances emerging from this season, those teams have the option of dividing that amount equally over the next two seasons.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Edmonton Oilers re-signed forward Patrick Russell to a one-year, $700K contract extension.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson said the club intends to honor defenseman Andrei Markov, who spent his entire 16-season NHL career with the Habs.    

 

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2020

The Lightning take a 3-1 series lead over the Bruins, the Islanders and Golden Knights go up 2-1 in their respective series, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Ondrej Palat scored twice and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves as the Tampa Bay Lightning downed the Boston Bruins 3-1 to take a 3-1 lead in their second-round series. Nikita Kucherov collected two assists for the Bolts.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat has four goals in his last three games against the Boston Bruins (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can read my take of this game by following this link. If both teams keep playing the way they have over the past three games, this series could be over on Monday evening.

Three unanswered goals by Matt Martin, Leo Komarov, and Anders Lee gave the New York Islanders a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers and a 2-1 lead in their second-round series. Semyon Varlamov returned to the net after giving up three goals on 10 shots in Game 2, stopping 26 shots for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A strong first period by the Flyers was snuffed out by the Isles’ solid defense and opportunistic scoring over the next two periods. In what’s become a running theme in this postseason, the Flyers’ leading scorers weren’t much of a factor. Their playoff bubble will burst if this trend continues.

Robin Lehner picked up his second shutout in three games by kicking out 31 shots to blank the Vancouver Canucks 3-0. Alex Tuch and Zach Whitecloud scored in the first period and Mark Stone tallied in the third. The Golden Knights lead the series 2-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The game was pretty much over in the first period when Vancouver failed to cash in on a 5-on-3 opportunity. Defensive mistakes by the Canucks led to all three Vegas goals, the most egregious being Alex Tuch blazing through the defense to open the scoring.

 

 

THE DENVER POST: The recent two-day protest pause in the schedule could help the Colorado Avalanche, allowing banged-up players like Nikita Zadorov, Joonas Donskoi, and Matt Calvert a chance to heal and return to the lineup.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports former Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli could be the one to watch as the Florida Panthers narrow their list of contenders for their general manager position.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports NBC Sports hockey analyst Ed Olczyk has interviewed for the GM position.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers assistant GM Chris Drury has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Panthers job.

SPORTSNET: Kevin Weekes, Mike Futa and Bill Armstrong are also being considered by the Panthers, as well as the Arizona Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out for the Panthers and Coyotes. Both clubs desperately need quality management.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks re-signed center Joel Kellman to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $750K. The first season is a two-way deal.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 29, 2020

The playoff schedule resumes today, former Panthers GM under investigation for uttering a racial slur, plus updates on Andrei Svechnikov, John Tortorella, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league has released its revised schedule for the resumption of the second round of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. Game 4 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins begins at noon ET, Game 3 between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders starts at 7 pm ET, and Game 3 between the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks begins at 9:45 ET. The Lightning holds a 2-1 series lead over the Bruins, while the Flyers and Islanders and the Golden Knights and Canucks are tied at a game apiece.

 SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin wonders what steps the NHL will take in the wake of the recent player protest against racial injustice to ensure the fight for equality isn’t forgotten. He cites TSN’s Rick Westhead reporting the Hockey Diversity Alliance has requested the league to invest $100 million over 10 years to fund anti-racism, education, and grass-roots initiatives. That works out to just over $312K per team or less than half the minimum salary of one player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a reasonable request by the HDA. It’ll also be interesting to see if the NHL Players Association will be working alongside the league in this matter or if they’ll be taking their own steps.

SPORTSDAY: Dallas Stars president and CEO Brad Alberts said his club lost season-ticket holders over its support of Black Lives Matter and protests over racial inequality. He claimed it was a mix of individual and company accounts. “But I/we stand by our organization’s commitment and support our players 100% to express their views,” said Alberts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the first report I’ve seen by a team regarding the loss of season-ticket holders over the players’ recent protests. Alberts didn’t specify how many season-ticket holders the Stars lost. It could’ve been a large number or a handful. He also said none of the club’s advertisers have pulled funding.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW(subscription required): George Richards reports the NHL is investigating whether former Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon used a racial slur while representing the team. Tallon has been accused of using racially-charge language at some point during the Panthers time in the Toronto playoff bubble.

Tallon denied the charge. “I am not a racist by any means,” he said. “I have never said anything of the sort. I am all for peace, am all for this alliance and what everyone is trying to do right now.”

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Aaron Portzline reports the $25,000 fine levied by the league on Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella is the 15th time he’s been punished by the league. Portzline estimates Tortorella has lost “well over $200,000” because of “his mouth and his temper.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think Tortorella is losing any sleep over those fines. While he’s mellowed a bit over the years, he remains outspoken and irritable. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov said he’d be ready to go if his club were still in the postseason. He was sidelined two weeks ago by a high-ankle sprain suffered in his club’s first-round series with the Boston Bruins. Svechnikov said he’s now feeling at almost 100 percent.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to a one-year contract extension worth $750K.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings loaned defenseman Filip Hronek to Mountfield HK of the Czech League. He’s the fifth player the Wings have loaned to European clubs. All are scheduled to return to the Wings once NHL training camps later this fall.

THE PROVINCE: The death of popular Vancouver sportswriter Jason Botchford was revealed to be caused by an accidental overdose of cocaine and fentanyl. Botchford died suddenly last April at age 48. He covered the Canucks for The Province from 2005 to 2018.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s still a tragic, heartbreaking loss for Botchford’s family, friends, and the hockey community regardless of the cause of death.