NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 15, 2020

Ted Lindsay Award nominees announced, exhibition and Stanley Cup qualifying round schedules revealed, plus the latest on Johnny Gaudreau, Shea Weber, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHLPA.COM: Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, and New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin are the 2020 finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award, presented annually to the NHL’s most outstanding player as voted by the NHL Players Association membership.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon is among the finalists for the 2019-20 Ted Lindsay Award (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All are worthy finalists. They could also be in the running for the Hart Memorial Trophy. The finalists for that award will be announced on July 21.

NHL.COM: The league released its schedule of exhibition games and the Stanley Cup qualifiers schedule for Phase 4 of its return-to-play plan. All Western Conference games will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton and all Eastern Conference games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

SPORTSNET: Johnny Gaudreau’s separation from his linemates and the main group during the opening two days of the Calgary Flames’ training camp is raising eyebrows. Flames coach Geoff Ward claimed the move was due to “circumstances that became apparent last week.” He declined to elaborate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The first-line winger continues to participate in the Flames’ practices with a smaller group, and Ward suggested he could be reunited with his linemates at some point. The NHL’s tight controls over the players’ medical status could cause imaginations to run wild over Gaudreau’s situation. If he were suffering COVID-19 symptoms, he wouldn’t be at practice. Perhaps he’s nursing a recent injury.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber was “unable to practice” yesterday but took to the ice afterward with assistant coach Luke Richardson for some individual work. Canadiens coach Claude Julien anticipates Weber will return to practice on Wednesday.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois missed practice yesterday with what is believed to be a minor issue. Because of the league’s return-to-play rules, the team didn’t provide details.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko returned to the ice yesterday with his teammates after missing the first day of training camp. Teammate Robert Bortuzzo remained absent. Both are believed to have recently tested positive for COVID-19. Blues coach Craig Berube expects Bortuzzo will return soon.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals forwards Lars Eller and Carl Hagelin intend to leave the protective bubble during the playoffs to be with their expectant wives. Eller’s wife is due to give birth on Aug. 8 while Hagelin’s spouse is due in September. Both players must isolate and test negative for four consecutive days before returning to the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Players are allowed to leave and return to the host cities for family reasons.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan missed practice yesterday for a family emergency. Teammate Corey Crawford remains “unfit to play” for the second straight day.

WGR550.COM: Buffalo Sabres winger Michael Frolik has reportedly received a contract offer from KHL team Avangard Omsk. The 32-year-old is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks re-signed winger Troy Terry to a three-year, $4.35-million contract extension. Terry, 22, is completing his entry-level contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Terry is among several promising youngsters the Ducks hope to rebuild around over the next several years. He’s tallied eight goals and 28 points in 81 games over the past three seasons.

NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks signed prospect defenseman Jack Rathbone to an entry-level contract.

SPORTSLOGO.NET: cites The Athletic reporting the Ottawa Senators will be switching to a slightly modified version of the 2d Senator Head logo they wore from 1997 to 2007.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 14, 2020

A roundup of notable news from the opening day of Phase 3 training camp, including the latest on Auston Matthews, David Pastrnak, Corey Crawford, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NOTES FROM DAY ONE OF TRAINING CAMP

NHL.COM: The league revealed a total of 30 positive COVID-19 tests from 4,934 tests administered to over 600 players taking part in the Phase 2 voluntary training period (June 8 to July 12). They’re also aware of an additional 13 players who tested positive outside the Phase 2 training. All players who tested positive were/have been self-isolated and followed CDC and Health Canada protocols.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league will continue testing players in Phase 3 and will release weekly updates. Bear in mind this doesn’t mean all the players with positive tests remain sidelined. A number of them may have already recovered. 

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews confirmed he tested positive for COVID-19 last month. He said he was asymptomatic during his two weeks of self-quarantine at his Arizona home and is now fully healthy. Matthews indicated he couldn’t really pinpoint how and when he contracted the virus.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews remains the only player to be publicly identified as testing positive for the Coronavirus.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were missing from the opening day of Bruins’ training camp. Their absence was due to their quarantine period since returning from the Czech Republic. They’re expected to join their teammates within the next couple of days.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford missed practice yesterday and was declared “unfit to play” by head coach Jeremy Colliton. Under the NHL’s return-to-play protocols, the Blackhawks cannot disclose the reason behind Crawford’s absence or how long he’ll be away. Center Zack Smith (back injury) was also absent. 

TSN: Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw opted out of participating in the return-to-play plan to recover from ongoing concussion symptoms. He hopes to return to action for the 2020-21 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deadline for opting out was 5:30 pm ET yesterday.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko and forward Robert Bortuzzo were absent from practice yesterday. General manager Doug Armstrong said he expects the duo will return soon.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Patric Hornqvist is among 11 players absent from Penguins practice yesterday The others include forwards Anthony Angello, Adam Johnson, Sam Miletic, Sam Poulin, Phil Varone, defensemen Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Juuso Riikola, goaltenders Casey DeSmith, Alex D’Orio, and Emil Larmi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nine of the players were reportedly sidelined because of exposure with a person who has been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, though the teams didn’t identify them as per league protocols. They won’t be participating in practices until they’ve passed additional screenings. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi and forward Colton Sissons weren’t with the main group at practice but skated earlier in the day.

THE ATHLETIC: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland was listed as unfit to play yesterday. It’s believed linked to post-concussion symptoms related to a head injury suffered nine months ago.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Martin Necas was the notable absence from the Carolina Hurricanes practice yesterday.

THE ATHLETIC’s Arpon Basu updated his story on three Montreal Canadiens reportedly testing positive for COVID-19, indicating two of those players tested were false positives.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: reported Brett Kulak, Xavier Ouellet, and Josh Brook missed practice yesterday. Max Domi is taking 7-10 days to decide if he’ll rejoin his teammates because he’s a type-1 diabetic with celiac disease.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Caleb Jones was listed unfit to play with the main group yesterday, but would skate with a smaller group working with extra goaltenders.

CALGARY SUN: Flames forwards Dillon Dube and Buddy Robinson were absent from yesterday’s practice.

TSN: Florida Panthers assistant coach Mike Kitchen opted out of the return-to-play plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We better get used to this lack of information regarding the absence of players throughout the return-to-play plan. Don’t be surprised if this trend continues beyond the return-to-play period. It could make one yearn for the days when a player was absent because of an “upper-body” or “lower-body” injury.

CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gotisbehere underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during the league’s hiatus. He was at training camp yesterday but admitted he’s not fully 100 percent.

TSN: Speaking of the Flyers, Nolan Patrick remains sidelined with a migraine disorder. He’s not expected to participate in the return-to-play plan.

IN OTHER NEWS…

MONTREAL GAZETTE/NEW YORK POST/TWINCITIES.COM: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov, New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin, and Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov signed their entry-level contracts (ELC) yesterday. They’re allowed to practice with their new clubs but cannot participate in the upcoming playoff tournament in Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan. They will also burn off the first year of their ELCs.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild removed the interim label from head coach Dean Evason’s title, signing him to a two-year contract extension.

SPORTSNET: Mikhail Grigorenko is returning to the NHL in 2020-21, signing a one-year, $1.2-million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He spent the past three seasons in the KHL.

TORONTO SUN: Canadian broadcasters are unhappy over NBC Sports serving as the world feed for all NHL games played in the hub city of Toronto. Sportsnet will provide the world feed for the hub city of Edmonton. The Stanley Cup Final, to be held in Edmonton, will have Canadian and American feeds for the individual rights-holders.

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 12, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 12, 2020

Three teams and five pending UFAs hurt the most by a flat cap in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, and St. Louis Blues as the three teams hurt the most by the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million for 2020-21.

The Leafs have over $76.9 million invested in next season’s cap payroll, the Lightning $76.1 million, and the Blues $79.425 million.

Notable Leafs due for new contracts include Jason Spezza, Kyle Clifford, Travis Dermott, and Ilya Mikheyev. Defensemen Tyson Barrie and Codi Ceci are all but certain to depart via unrestricted free agency. The limited cap room could also be a problem next year when goaltender Frederik Anderson becomes eligible for UFA status.

Could a flat salary cap force the Toronto Maple Leafs to trade William Nylander? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s widely assumed Leafs general manager Kyle Duba will make a cost-cutting move or two. The Toronto Sun’s Michael Traikos believes a forward like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or even William Nylander and his $6.9 million cap hit could be traded in the off-season.

Dubas supposedly promised Nylander he wouldn’t be traded as long as he was the GM, but an unexpected flat cap could provide the perfect excuse. There would be considerable interest in Nylander, but perhaps not that much in his cap hit. 

The Lightning has two good young players in defenseman Mikhail Sergachev and center Anthony Cirelli as restricted free agents in the off-season. A new contract for Cirelli alone could take up all of their cap room. Boylen points out winger Alex Killorn’s full no-trade clause becomes a 16-team no-trade at the end of this season, suggesting the Lightning might have to explore those 14 trade options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Killorn seems the most likely Lightning trade candidate when this season ends. Some have also suggested Tyler Johnson or Yanni Gourde but they’ve got full no-trade clauses and could be unwilling to waive them.

The Blues will have to make a couple of salary-dumping deals if they hope to re-sign defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn. Boylen wonders if Colton Parayko, Tyler Bozak, David Perron, or Jake Allen hit the trade block.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen seems a likely trade candidate now that Jordan Binnington’s secured his place as the Blues’ No.1 goaltender. Bozak and Perron have modified no-trade clauses. Of the two, the 32-year-old Perron would have more value than the 34-year-old Bozak, but Perron also has two years (at $4 million annually) left on his contract while Bozak has just one year at $5 million.

Lots of clubs would line up to land Parayko but I don’t think Blues GM Doug Armstrong wants to move him. In a recent mailbag segment, Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch proposed winger Jaden Schwartz as a possible trade option if the Blues re-sign Pietrangelo.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Speaking of Pietrangelo, Ryan Kennedy recently lists the Blues’ captain among five free agents who could get hurt by the flattened salary cap. The others include Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall, Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom, Vegas Golden Knights netminder Robin Lehner, and Carolina Hurricanes blueliner Sami Vatanen.

Kennedy speculates those five won’t enjoy the big-money free-agent bonanza they would otherwise get in a normal off-season. Some, like Pietrangelo or Markstrom, might have to accept a hometown discount on short-term deals if they wish to stay with their current clubs. The others might also end up having to accept a shorter term or less money.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They won’t be the only unrestricted free agents likely to be disappointed by what they’ll likely get in the open market. A few, like Pietrangelo, could still get top dollar but could find those offers coming from rebuilding clubs with plenty of salary-cap space. Those players could be unwilling to join those clubs and instead accept shorter contracts for less money from contenders. 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2020

Blackhawks center Dylan Strome reportedly available, plus recent speculation on the Devils in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BLACKHAWKS SHOPPING STROME?

WGR 550 (via SECOND CITY HOCKEY): Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman told “The Instigators” show he believes Chicago Blackhawks center Dylan Strome is available in the trade market. He doesn’t think the asking price is prohibitive, though he didn’t elaborate as to what that might be. Strome, 23, is slated to become a restricted free agent at season’s end and lacks arbitration rights.

Chicago Blackhawks center Dylan Strome is reportedly available in the trade market (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome has struggled with his offensive consistency. He netted 51 points in 58 games with the Blackhawks in 2018-19 following a trade from the Arizona Coyotes but managed only 38 points in the same number of games this season. Injuries have hampered his performance in this campaign.

With over $74 million invested in 18 players for next season and two goalie spots to fill, the Blackhawks will be pressed for cap room next season. If they won’t dump a salaried player, perhaps they’ll move an RFA like Strome.

WILL THE DEVILS PURSUE A DEFENSEMAN IN THE OFF-SEASON?

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Abbey Mastracco recently wondered if this is the year the New Jersey Devils throw a ton of money at a free-agent defenseman. “Maybe a new GM will see it necessary to bring in some more established NHL players instead of waiting on talent to develop,” she writes.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak explored how the Devils could use the trade market to address their need for experienced blueline depth. He suggested targeting clubs squeezed for salary cap space. He felt Mikhail Sergachev is an obvious choice, but the Tampa Bay Lightning could attempt to move other players to make room for him.

Maybe the St. Louis Blues shop Vince Dunn or Colton Parayko if they re-sign Alex Pietrangelo. Perhaps the Boston Bruins peddle Brandon Carlo if they re-sign Torey Krug. The Buffalo Sabres have extra defenseman, though Masisak doesn’t advocate acquiring Rasmus Ristolainen. The Anaheim Ducks also carry lots of good young blueliners.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Devils have over $55 million invested in 13 players. They’ll still have plenty of cap space once they re-sign RFAs like Mackenzie Blackwood, Jesper Bratt, and Mirco Mueller to make a big move via trade or free agency.

I agree that Sergachev likely won’t be available. The Blues could face a difficult choice between Dunn or Paraysko if they re-sign Pietrangelo, but they could also move someone like goalie Jake Allen to free up the cap room. If Krug accepts a hometown discount of around $6 million annually, the Bruins won’t need to move Carlo.

The Sabres ($47 million tied up in 10 players) won’t be squeezed for cap room, but they could part with a defenseman like Brandon Montour for a top-six forward in return. The same goes for the Ducks.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2020

The NHL community mourns the death of former NBA star Kobe Bryant, plus the latest on Jeff Skinner, Anthony Duclair and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: The NHL community took to social media yesterday mourning the death of former NBA star Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in a helicopter crash in California. Wayne Gretzky, Alex Ovechkin, Henrik Lundqvist, Martin Brodeur, P.K. Subban, and Mitch Marner were among those expressing their condolences to Bryant’s family on Twitter yesterday.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is among a number of people in the NHL community mourning the sudden death of former NBA star Kobe Bryant (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sympathies to Bryant’s family, friends, and former teammates.

Marner and Toronto Maple Leafs teammate Frederik Andersen voiced their support for the establishment of a viable professional women’s hockey league. “A lot of those players are great players, and to see them not in a league right now is disappointing,” Marner said. “I really hope they get a league back up and running.”

Ottawa Senators winger and All-Star representative Anthony Duclair hopes to stay in Ottawa and help the rebuilding club. “When the change is gonna happen, when Ottawa’s gonna become a contender, I want to be part of that,” Duclair added. “So I’m working as hard as I can.” Duclair is a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights, but there have been no contract talks thus far with Senators management.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair rejuvenated his sagging NHL career with the Senators. General manager Pierre Dorion’s focus is on his unrestricted free agents, like center Jean-Gabriel Pageau. I daresay contract talks with Duclair will commence at some point following the end of the regular season. Given how well he’s played since coming to Ottawa last season, I expect they’ll try to keep him.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner returned to practice yesterday for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on Dec. 27. He could be in the lineup when the Sabres face the Senators on Tuesday.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko will return to action tonight after missing seven games with an upper-body injury. Winger Sammy Blais (wrist injury) could also be back. The Blues also placed winger Troy Brouwer on waivers yesterday.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks recalled forward Troy Terry from his AHL conditioning stint.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers have loaned forward Lias Andersson to Swedish club HV71. Andersson had left the Rangers’ AHL affiliate last month and requested a trade, but there appears to be a thaw in the relationship between the 21-year-old forward and Rangers’ management.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 15, 2020

Sidney Crosby picks up four points in his return to action, Connor Hellebuyck sets a Jets record, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby scored and set up three others to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Minnesota Wild 7-3. It was Crosby’s first game since undergoing core muscle surgery two months ago. Evgeni Malkin tallied twice for the Penguins. Wild winger Zach Parise potted two goals as his club dropped its fourth straight game.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby had a four-point performance in his first game since Nov. 9 (Photo via NHL Images).

After being blown out 8-4 in their previous game, the Toronto Maple Leafs thumped the New Jersey Devils 7-4. Austin Matthews tallied a hat trick, John Tavares had three points, and call-up defenseman Rasmus Sandin had two assists. Blake Coleman netted a hat trick for the Devils.

Connor Hellebuyck set a franchise record for shutouts as the Winnipeg Jets beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-0. Hellebuyck made 41 saves for his 18th career shutout, setting the club record. Kyle Connor scored twice and picked up an assist.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made 34 saves for his second straight shutout in a 3-0 blanking of the Boston Bruins. The Jackets are tied with the Philadelphia Flyers (47 points) but the latter holds the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with a game in hand. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask left the game in the first period with a concussion after getting elbowed in the head by Columbus forward Emil Bemstrom. There was no penalty on the play.

The Dallas Stars overcame a 2-0 deficit to nip the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on an overtime goal by Esa Lindell. Nathan MacKinnon had two assists for the Avalanche, who’ve dropped nine of their last 12 contests.

A lacrosse-style goal by Filip Forsberg couldn’t prevent his Nashville Predators from dropping a 4-2 decision to the Edmonton Oilers. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisailt each had three points for the Oilers, as the duo remain atop the NHL scoring race.

Phil Kessel and Taylor Hall each scored twice to lead the Arizona Coyotes over the San Jose Sharks 6-3. Derek Stepan and Conor Garland each collected three points for the Coyotes.

The Tampa Bay Lightning overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to edge the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 on a shootout goal by Steven Stamkos. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 38 saves to pick up his ninth consecutive victory. Jeff Carter had two points for the Kings.

A four-goal first period carried the New York Islanders to an 8-2 drubbing of the Detroit Red Wings. Brock Nelson scored twice and Jordan Eberle netted his 500th career NHL point. The Isles snapped a three-game losing skid.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel scored the game-winner as his club doubled up the Vegas Golden Kights 4-2. Sabres winger Sam Reinhart also scored and picked up two assists. Vegas winger Jonathan Marchessault returned to action following a four-game absence with a lower-body injury. The Golden Knights have dropped four in a row.

Jonathan Toews’ overtime goal gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 3-2 win over the slumping Ottawa Senators. Dominik Kubalik tallied twice for the Blackhawks, who rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force the extra frame. The Senators are winless in their last eight games (0-4-4).

HEADLINES

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Devils center Nico Hischier will replace sidelined teammate Kyle Palmieri in the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis on Jan. 25.

THE ATHLETIC: A lower-body injury will prevent Arizona Coyotes netminder Darcy Kuemper from participating in the upcoming All-Star Game.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian vows to repay Matthew Tkachuk in kind after taking what he considered to be two blindside hits from the Calgary Flames winger in a recent game. Kassian is serving a two-game suspension from the league following an altercation with Tkachuk after the second hit. The league determined Tkachuk’s hit didn’t break the rules. Kassian’s first game following his suspension will be against the Flames on Jan. 29.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I have a feeling league officials will let both players know they’ll be closely watched in their upcoming games against each other.

CBS SPORTS: Buffalo Sabres forward Tage Thompson will be sidelined five-to-six months following shoulder surgery yesterday.

KSDK.COM: The St. Louis Blues placed defenseman Colton Parayko (upper-body) on injured reserve and activated blueliner Carl Gunnarsson.