NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 16, 2021

Capitals down Bruins for a series-opening win, Connor McDavid wins the scoring title, David Perron on COVID-19 protocol list, plus updates on Brayden Point, Zach Parise and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Nic Dowd gave the Washington Capitals a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. Washington goaltender Craig Anderson made 21 saves on 22 shots in relief of Vitek Vanecek, who left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury. Tom Wilson had a goal and an assist for the Capitals. Game 2 is Monday night in Washington.

Washington Capitals goaltender Craig Anderson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 39-year-old Anderson struggled a bit finding his rhythm but eventually settled in well spelling off Vanecek. No word on Vanecek’s status for Game 2.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected an assist in a 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. McDavid finishes the season with 105 points in 56 games to win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is only the third player in league history to win the Art Ross Trophy by age 24. Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky were the others.

With their regular season over, the Oilers will face the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues winger David Perron is on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, casting doubt on his availability for his club’s upcoming first-round series against the Colorado Avalanche. He joins teammates Jake Walman and Nathan Walker on that list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This doesn’t necessarily mean Perron had COVID-19. It could be a false positive. So far, there doesn’t appear to be a surge in cases among the Blues. An outbreak would have significant consequences for the NHL’s playoff schedule. Players remain at risk of contracting the coronavirus despite COVID cases dropping in the United States as more people are vaccinated.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning coach Jon Cooper downplayed Brayden Point’s departure from practice yesterday. “He got nicked up. He’s fine. No alarm bells,” said Cooper. Point was their leading scorer this season. The Lightning face off this evening against the Florida Panthers in Game 1 of their opening-round series.

THE ATHLETIC: Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise is slated to be a healthy scratch when his club opens their first-round series this afternoon against the Vegas Golden Knights. He was a healthy scratch in three straight games before the Wild’s final regular-season contest.

THE PROVINCE: Reports indicate the Vancouver Canucks could bring in former Canucks star Geoff Courtnall to serve in an undetermined front-office position. Courtnall is a friend of the Aquilini family, who owns the Canucks. It’s assumed it would be an advisory position.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And perhaps, as a potential successor to Jim Benning as general manager? Time will tell.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 19, 2021

Recaps of Thursday’s action, another Stars game postponed, the league’s COVID-19 numbers are dropping, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews scored twice and set up two others to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Ottawa Senators 7-3. Matthews leads the league with 16 goals while his points streak has stretched to 15 games. Mitch Marner has a goal and three assists while Joe Thornton a goal and two assists. Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle had a goal and an assist. Senators’ defenseman Thomas Chabot missed the game with an upper-body injury while Leafs forward Zach Hyman was listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is making an early case for the Hart Trophy this season.

Kyle Palmieri scored twice as the New Jersey Devils held on for a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. Pavel Zacha scored what proved to be the game-winner while Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 25 saves. Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak replied for the Bruins, who lost center David Krejci to a lower-body injury.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin’s shootout goal gave his club a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Kevin Hayes collected two assists for the Flyers, who were playing their first game since Feb. 7 due to COVID-19. They will also play their upcoming outdoor game against the Bruins with six regulars (Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Scott Laughton and Justin Braun) sidelined because of the NHL’s COVID protocols.

The Pittsburgh Penguins snapped the New York Islanders’ eight-game points streak with a 4-1 victory. Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry made 31 saves while Jason Zucker and Bryan Rust each had a goal and an assist while Evgeni Malkin collected two assists.

A 32-save shutout performance by Elvis Merzlikins gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators. Cam Atkinson, Max Domi and Eric Robinson were the goal scorers. The Predators have dropped five of their last six contests.

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom scored to extend his points streak to five games as his club downed the Buffalo Sabres 3-1, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen remains sidelined as he works on his conditioning after being sidelined for two weeks by COVID-19.

David Perron scored in overtime as the St. Louis Blues edged the San Jose Sharks 3-2. Brayden Schenn scored the tying goal for the Blues late in the third period, setting the stage for the winning goal by Perron, who had a three-point performance. Torey Krug and Marco Scandella returned to the Blues roster from injuries but Colton Parayko missed the game with a nagging undisclosed injury. Earlier in the day, the Sharks announced defenseman Erik Karlsson would miss at least the next two games with a groin injury.

The Los Angeles Kings nipped the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 on a shootout goal by Gabriel Vilardi. The Coyotes overcame a 2-0 deficit to force overtime and the shootout.

Kevin Fiala scored what proved to be the winning goal as the Minnesota Wild beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-1. It was the Wild’s first win since Jan. 31 when their schedule was paused because of COVID-19 protocols.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Dallas Stars’ Saturday game against the Tampa Bay Lightning was postponed due to power outages related to recent storms in Texas. It’s the fourth straight Stars game postponed this week and the eighth of the season. They face potentially playing 44 games in 78 days if the NHL mandates the Stars must play all their remaining games if the regular season ends on May 10 as scheduled.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will also depend on where the Stars are in the standings later in the season. The league could cancel some of their remaining games if they’re out of playoff contention within the final couple of weeks in the season. No point in having them play a pointless game against another non-contender.

ESPN.COM: The NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list continues to shrink, dropping to 13 players yesterday. The drop coincides with enhanced health and safety measures implemented by the NHL within the past two weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The outbreaks earlier this month may have also served as a wake-up call for players and staff, making them more vigilant and adhering more closely to the league’s protocols.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets claimed well-traveled goaltender Eric Comrie off waivers from the New Jersey Devils. It’s the second straight season the Jets have lost Comrie off waivers only to claim him back again later in the year.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez hopes to have an opportunity to play a game in Mexico City in an effort to expand the NHL’s brand. He’s also hopeful the Coyotes will one day take part in an outdoor game with one of their rivals.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 5, 2020

Questions about Vladimir Tarasenko’s future with the St. Louis Blues and possible moves by the New Jersey Devils in today’s NHL rumor mill.

STLTODAY.COM: In his weekly live chat with Blues fans, Jim Thomas was asked if the St. Louis Blues might expose high-salaried veterans like Vladimir Tarasenko and David Perron in next year’s expansion draft or risk losing younger, cheaper players. Thomas doesn’t see that happening. He pointed out Perron is playing better in terms of production than he ever has, plus they’d hate to make the wrong decision with Tarasenko and see him regain his form with the Kraken.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

 THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Jeremy Rutherford was asked if the Blues might try to trade the injury-prone Tarasenko. Given the winger’s three shoulder surgeries, Rutherford doubted the Blues would get a good return. He felt there’s a better chance of Tarasenko helping the club upon his return from his latest surgery than a team offering a player or players who can contribute.

Rutherford was also asked if the Blues might make any more moves. While general manager Doug Armstrong hasn’t ruled out another signing, Rutherford would be surprised if it happened.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko’s recent shoulder injuries seem to have some Blues fans concerned about his performance over the remaining three years of his contract. Cap Friendly indicates signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $7.5 million, which could prove costly for the Blues if he cannot regain his 30-goal form.

Trading Taranseko won’t be easy if the Blues decide one day to part with him. In addition to his injury history and annual cap hit, the 28-year-old winger also has a full no-trade clause. That wouldn’t prevent him from being exposed in next year’s expansion draft but I’ll be shocked if Armstrong left him unprotected.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked if the New Jersey Devils might attempt to acquire players from cap-strapped clubs, or pursue free agent Mike Hoffman on a one-year contract, or if they’d go the offer-sheet route.

Masisak noted the Devils have over $17 million in salary-cap space, though new contracts for restricted free agents Mackenzie Blackwood and Jesper Bratt could whittle that down to around $10 million. He feels Tampa Bay Lightning winger Alex Killorn could be a good fit but isn’t sure if Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald will want to tie up too much future cap space given the current economic uncertainty.

Signing a UFA like Hoffman, Mikael Granlund or Anthony Duclair to a short-term deal is possible. However, those players could be reluctant to join a team that isn’t a clear contender and risk getting moved at the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fitzgerald could make a move to further boost his roster before the season begins (next month?). I don’t expect a blockbuster move but perhaps he can get into the bidding for one of those UFA forwards on a cost-effective deal. Those players could be reluctant to join a non-contender on a short-term deal. With so few teams carrying sufficient cap space, however, they might not have much choice if Fitzgerald shows interest in one of them.










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 Free Agents & Trade Candidates – St. Louis Blues

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – St. Louis Blues

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 17, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 17, 2019

Game recaps, stars of the week, the Kings place Ilya Kovalchuk on unconditional waivers, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jonathan Huberdeau collected four assists and Noel Acciari tallied a hat trick as the Florida Panthers crushed the Ottawa Senators 6-1. The Panthers blew the game open with four unanswered second-period goals.

Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau collected four assists in a 6-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images).

David Perron’s hat trick led the St. Louis Blues over the Colorado Avalanche 5-2, snapping the latter’s nine-game points streak. Blues forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Oskar Sundqvist each collected two assists.

The Edmonton Oilers picked up their first win in five games by edging the Dallas Stars 2-1. Mikko Koskinen kicked out 34 shots while teammates Zack Kassian and Leon Draisaitl scored for the Oilers. 

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros made 39 saves backstopping his club over the New York Rangers 5-2. Predators captain Roman Josi collected three points. Rangers winger Artemi Panarin scored to extend his points streak to five games.

The Columbus Blue Jackets blanked the Washington Capitals 3-0. Joonas Korpisalo turned aside 30 shots for the shutout while Oliver Bjorkstrand tallied twice for the Jackets.

HEADLINES

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty, Ottawa Senators winger Anthony Duclair, and Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending December 15.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings yesterday placed winger Ilya Kovalchuk on unconditional waivers to terminate his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The contract termination won’t provide the Kings any salary-cap relief because it’s a 35-plus contract. It just means they’re no longer paying Kovalchuk’s actual salary.

Kovalchuk will become an unrestricted free agent. He could sign with another NHL club or return to the KHL.

The 36-year-old winger is no longer an offensive force. If he wants to stay in the NHL, he won’t get a lucrative offer like the three-year, $6.25-million per season contract he had with the Kings.

I’ll have more on Kovalchuk in the Rumors section.

CBS SPORTS: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers winger Joel Farabee received a three-game suspension for interference on Winnipeg Jets center Mathieu Perreault.

TORONTO SUN: Sidelined Maple Leafs Tyson Barrie and Trevor Moore could return to action tonight against the Buffalo Sabres.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild sent goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen to their AHL affiliate in Iowa and placed forward Joel Eriksson Ek (upper body) on injured reserve.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks assistant coach Marc Crawford issues an apology for his unacceptable language and actions toward several former players earlier in this coaching career. He will resume his normal coaching duties with the club on Jan. 2.