The Bruins’ plan to fill their top-two center roles this season, front office changes for the Sabres and Capitals, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery is very confident that Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle can fill the club’s top-two center positions. Those roles became areas of concern following the recent retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.
Boston Bruins center Pavel Zacha. (NHL Images)
Montgomery believes Zacha is ready to handle the first-line center role, saying the 26-year-old still has a high ceiling after his career-best performance (21 goals, 57 points) last season.
The Bruins were rumored to be interested in Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm and Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele earlier in the offseason. One NHL source claimed they would circle back on Lindholm if he became available before the start of this season.
They were also said to be prepared to move Linus Ullmark. However, it appears the asking price for the desired center was too high and the return too low for Ullmark.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins probably have no choice but to go with Zacha and Coyle to start this season. It’s believed they lack sufficient trade capital to outbid other clubs that could have an interest in Lindholm. That probably holds true as well for Scheifele.
BUFFALO HOCKEY NOW: Terry Pegula has taken over as the Sabres team president. Pegula Sports & Entertainment, which also owns the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, is being dissolved and separating resources, with each club focusing on their respective efforts.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Washington Capitals also made some front-office changes, naming general manager Brian MacLellan as president of hockey operations. They also promoted Chris Patrick to assistant general manager.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers suggest this move lays the groundwork for Patrick to eventually take over as general manager, allowing MacLellan to focus solely on his role as hockey ops president.
NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers formally announced they’ve signed forwards Sam Gagner and Brandon Sutter to professional tryout agreements.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. It was previously reported in the Edmonton media that Gagner and Sutter would get professional tryout offers.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of PTOs, the Avalanche signed former Dallas Stars forward Joel Kiviranta.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs added some size to their blueline yesterday, signing former Simon Benoit to a one-year, $775K contract. The 6’3”, 203-pound defenseman spent the past three seasons with the Anaheim Ducks.
The Lightning reveal their list of injured players, the 2022 draft order is complete, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET: Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point suffered a significant tear to a quadriceps muscle during the Stanley Cup playoffs and will require several weeks of recovery.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point (NHL Images)
General manager Julien BriseBois revealed Point wasn’t the only player hampered by injuries during the Lightning’s run to the Stanley Cup Final.
Forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare entered the playoffs with an MCL injury in one of his knees. Forwards Anthony Cirelli, Nick Paul and Corey Perry suffered shoulder/AC joint sprains during the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers. Cirelli also dislocated his other shoulder while Paul suffered an MCL sprain in the Stanley Cup Final.
Forward Brandon Hagel fractured a foot during the second-round series with the Florida Panthers. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh suffered a mangled finger blocking a shot in the Rangers series.
Nikita Kucherov suffered a sprained MCL in the Stanley Cup Final. BriseBois also said nearly every player on the roster sustained multiple contusions over the course of the playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper wasn’t kidding earlier this week when he said they would’ve had to ice half of their minor-league roster if this had been the regular season. Such is the price paid in pursuit of hockey’s greatest price.
NHL.COM: The end of the Stanley Cup Final means the final positions in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft have been set. The Montreal Canadiens hold the first-overall selection having won the draft lottery in May. The Edmonton Oilers hold the No. 29 position and the Winnipeg Jets No. 30 having acquired that pick from the New York Rangers. The Lightning will select 31st overall and the Stanley Cup champion Avalanche will pick 32nd overall.
The draft will be held at the Bell Centre in Montreal with the first round on Thursday, July 7 and rounds two through seven on Friday, July 8.
TSN: Slovakian winger Juraj Slafkovsky edged out Canadian center Shane Wright in Bob McKenzie’s final ranking of the top 100 prospects in this year’s draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wright was considered the top prospect throughout this season and remained so on most final rankings, including NHL Central Scouting’s list.
Bear in mind that whoever is ranked No. 1 doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be chosen by the Canadiens. Quality depth at center has been a longstanding issue for the Habs. While they could select Slafkovsky, I expect they’ll choose Wright or Logan Cooley of the US National Team Development Program.
DAILY FACEOFF: Matt Larkin looks back at the 2012 NHL Draft and what went wrong with top-four picks Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray, Alex Galchenyuk and Griffin Reinhart.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting review of how the scouts and the teams got it wrong with those players. Because of those flops, there’s a belief the 2012 draft was one of the worst in NHL history. However, Larkin reminds us that Vezina Trophy winners Andrei Vasilevskiy and Connor Hellebuyck, Lady Byng Trophy winner Jaccob Slavin, puck-moving blueliner Morgan Reilly and scoring winger Filip Forsberg were among the notable stars to emerge from that draft.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Golden Knights have added John Stevens, Sean Burke and Mike Rosati to their coaching staff.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruins center Marc Savard has become in demand to return to the NHL assistant coaching ranks. However, he’s not interested in leaving his job as the bench boss of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires unless he gets an offer to become an NHL head coach.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres co-owner Kim Pegula is progressing well and recovering from an undisclosed health issue. The family requests their need for privacy continue to be respected during this time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Pegula for a full recovery.
DAILY FACEOFF: Scotiabank and Canadian Tire are pausing their sponsorship of Hockey Canada over a settled lawsuit that stated several OHL players sexually assaulted a woman at a Hockey Canada event in the summer of 2018. Hockey Canada has come under fire for its handling of the investigation and the lawsuit, including the federal government passing a motion calling for an independent investigation of the organization.
THE ATHLETIC: Sportsnet has confirmed it is canceling its Hometown Hockey series after eight seasons. Host Ron MacLean will be returning full-time to “Hockey Night in Canada”. It is not immediately clear what the cancellation means for co-host Tara Stone.
Training camps slated to open on July 10, CBA updates, and the latest on Patrick Kane, David Pastrnak, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL TRAINING CAMP TO OPEN JULY 10
NHL.COM: The NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced yesterday Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan will see training camps open on July 10. Both parties agree this will take place provided medical and safety conditions allow, and the two sides reach an agreement on resuming play (Phase 4).
NHL training camps could begin on July 1 (Photo via NHL.com).
Earlier this week, the league and PA implemented Phase 2, allowing small-group workouts at team facilities voluntarily.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks listed the outstanding issues that must be addressed before Phase 4 (24-team playoff tournament) begins. They include travel and quarantine restrictions when crossing the Canada-United States border, determining the location of two hub cities to stage the tournament, various health and safety issues, as well as escrow and salary cap issues.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun cautions the start date for Phase 3 could change if negotiations drag between the league and the PA. They’re also hoping for the Phase 4 start date to be around August 1.
Darren Dreger reports Las Vegas is considered a front-runner as one of the two hub cities. Toronto could have the inside track among the three Canadian cities because of its experience hosting the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Vancouver and Edmonton also made pitches to be a host city.
SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports those three Canadian cities could learn by today if the Canadian government’s quarantine restrictions will be loosened for NHL teams.
If those restrictions aren’t lifted entirely, they could consider extending the quarantine area to include the team employee’s home and arena, thus allowing them to practice while serving out their 14-day quarantine period.
If a Canadian city is chosen as a hub, teams from the United States participating in the tournament could quarantine inside an “NHL bubble” created between the team hotel, practice arena, and the NHL arena.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks star Patrick Kane wants the league to take a cautious approach toward resuming play.
“The NHL is putting out these dates and whatnot, and as players, we’re taking a step back and saying, ‘Why are these dates being put out when we haven’t really agreed to anything yet?’ ” Kane said. “We just want to be cautious.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The PA also agreed to those dates, but as the joint statement yesterday indicated, it’s based on whether medical and safety conditions are met and both sides have reached an agreement on resuming play.
This can still be derailed at any time by the pandemic. The players could also vote against it if they feel their health and safety cannot be assured.
Yesterday’s announcement of training camps opening on July 10 is a positive step, but significant hurdles remain between now and then.
NHL CBA UPDATES
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the two sides are believed discussing a four- or five-year CBA extension. A four-year one would push the CBA to the end of the 2025-26 season. Whatever news rules are agreed upon would be implemented right away.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports escrow and the salary cap are the key issues before a CBA extension can be reached before the playoff tournament begins in August.
NHL players could potentially face escrow deductions of 40 percent or more next season. The league and the PA are attempting to negotiate an escrow cap that would allow the players to make their payments over a longer period.
The two sides are also discussing keeping next season’s salary cap at a flat rate ($81.5 million). Without it, Brooks speculates the cap could drop by $10 million. That would produce chaos and instability around the league as teams shed salary, flooding the free-agent market and depressing salaries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A CBA extension would ensure labor peace for the next six years. It would be the silver lining to the dark cloud of COVID-19 hanging over the league right now.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE SCORE: Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak won the Golden Hockey Stick as the Czech Player of the Year for the fourth straight season, tying the record set by future Hall-of-Famer Jaromir Jagr.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Peter Laviolette could be the front-runner for the role of New Jersey Devils head coach. Laviolette is among four candidates, including Devils interim bench boss Alain Nasreddine.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports sources claim NBC Sports broadcaster Ed Olczyk was among those interviewed for the Devils GM position. When asked, Olczyk said he speaks to a lot of people in the NHL. Interim GM Tom Fitzgerald remains a candidate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils are leaving Nasreddine and Fitzgerald twisting in the wind. Those two should be commended for how well they’re handling this situation.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan is expected to be fully recovered from shoulder surgery to participate in the playoff tournament in August.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights re-signed goaltender Oscar Dansk to a one-year, two-way contract extension worth $700K at the NHL level.
TSN: Kim Pegula will be staying on as president of the Buffalo Sabres.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Former San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels announced his retirement. Wingels spent 337 of his 448 career NHL games with the Sharks from 2010-11 to 2016-17, as well as stops with the Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, and Boston Bruins from 2016-17 to 2017-18. He had 62 goals and 143 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Wingels in his future endeavors.