NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 15, 2020

The Canadiens sign Brendan Gallagher and Jake Allen to contract extensions, Golden Knights owner believes 2020-21 season will begin on Feb. 1, an update on Joe Thornton and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed winger Brendan Gallagher and goaltender Jake Allen to contract extensions. Gallagher inked a six-year, $39-million deal while Allen’s is two years with an annual average value of $2.875 million.

Montreal Canadiens sign Brendan Gallagher to a six-year contract extension (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallagher’s new contract came a day following a report claiming contract talks had broken down. The two sides wasted little time circling back and working things out. Cap Friendly indicates it’s an annual cap hit of $6.5 million, making the 28-year-old winger the Canadiens’ highest-paid forward. It also comes with a modified no-trade clause and a no-movement clause, ensuring he won’t be exposed to next year’s expansion draft.

It’s not surprising the Canadiens locked up Gallagher given his offensive consistency and his status as their heart-and-soul player. It should prove worthwhile through the first half of the deal but could become a salary-cap headache in the latter half as his performance declines.

The Allen deal was a bit of a surprise as it was expected he would only be with the Habs for a year and depart next year via free agency. His new contract is affordable but lacks no-movement protection, meaning he’ll be available in next year’s NHL expansion draft. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin could attempt to cut a deal with Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis to ensure Allen remains a Hab.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley told a Las Vegas radio station he sees the 2020-21 NHL season beginning on Feb. 1, a full month after the league’s official target date of Jan. 1. He also believes the schedule could be between 48 to 56 games. Foley feels the fate of next season relies on fans returning to the arenas, citing the NHL’s status as a gate-driven league.

Foley dismissed the possibility of the teams playing in quarantine cities as they did during the 2020 playoffs, calling it unfeasible over the course of a season. He instead mentioned the possibility of some sort of short-term divisional realignment, hinting at an all-Canadian division if the Canada-USA border remains closed by COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Foley isn’t saying anything that hasn’t already been speculated by fans and pundits. However, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman could frown on Foley’s remarks. He usually doesn’t stand for owners talking that freely about the league’s plans. Officially, the NHL and NHL Players Association are aiming for a full 82-game regular-season beginning Jan. 1.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson said he’s been in frequent contact with Joe Thornton but declined to say if the long-time Sharks center would return with the club next season. Wilson’s comments, however, make it sound as though he’d welcome Thornton’s return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent rumors have tied Thornton with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but there’s an ongoing belief he could return for another season with the Sharks.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins team president Cam Neely denied the club has imposed an internal salary cap lower than the league’s $81.5 million cap. Recent conjecture suggested financial losses suffered by team owner Jeremy Jacobs’ hospitality empire during the pandemic was behind the club’s limited activity in the free-agent and trade markets.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators avoided arbitration with forward Nick Paul by signing him to a two-year, one-way contract worth an annual average value of $1.35 million.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames recently signed free-agent goaltender Louis Domingue to a one-year, $700K contract.