NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 21, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 21, 2023

The Bruins name their new captain, Steve Stamkos hasn’t had any contract extension talks yet with the Lightning, plus updates on William Nylander, Mattias Ekholm, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins named Brad Marchand as the new captain, replacing Patrice Bergeron who retired in July. Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs praised Marchand’s development over his 15 seasons with the club, noting that he had the opportunity to learn from former Bruins captains such as Bergeron and Zdeno Chara.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marchand’s pesky style of play and his lengthy list of fines and suspensions from earlier in this career had some fans questioning this decision by the Bruins. However, the evolution of his game into an elite scoring winger combined with his lead-by-example performances made him an obvious choice as Bergeron’s successor.

For those who believed defenseman Charlie McAvoy would’ve been a better choice as Bruins captain, his day will come within the next several years. The 35-year-old Marchand will likely retire within the next five years. Marchand is also slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2025 if he and Bruins management fail to reach an agreement on a contract extension before then.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos told reporters yesterday that he was disappointed in the lack of contract extension talks with management. “It was something that I expressed at the end of last year that I wanted to get something done before training camp started,” said Stamkos. “There haven’t been any discussions.

Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said having Stamkos finish his playing career with the Lightning was in everyone’s best interest. However, his captain will have to wait until the end of this season before negotiations begin. “Steven and I share the common goal of bringing the (Stanley) Cup back to Tampa,” said BriseBois. “That’s our objective. In order for us to do that in future years, we’re going to need to spend our cap dollars as wisely as possible.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Re-signing Stamkos won’t be easy for the Lightning. They’ve been pressed for cap space in recent years due to the high cost of retaining their best players, resulting in a steady erosion of their overall roster depth.

With the cap projected to rise by $4 million next season, the Lightning have just over $12 million in cap space with 16 players under contract. I’ll have more on Stamkos in today’s Rumors update.

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs intend to try William Nylander at center for the coming season. The club also announced that goaltender Matt Murray will soon undergo a “significant surgery” while defenseman Jake Muzzin will remain on long-term injury reserve with a cervical spine injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs experimenting with moving Nylander from the wing is to see if they can add more scoring to their third line while moving David Kampf down to the fourth-line center role. The move also comes with Nylander in a contract year as he’s slated to become a UFA next summer.

Murray will be joining Muzzin on long-term injury reserve with a combined $10.3 million.

DAILY FACEOFF: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm will miss the start of training camp with his hip flexor injury. There’s no timeline for his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subsequent reports suggest Ekholm won’t be sidelined for long. He regularly skated with Evan Bouchard last season on the Oilers’ second defense pairing.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators general manager Pierre Dorion claimed he and Shane Pinto’s camp are inching toward a new contract for the 22-year-old center. The two sides have reportedly closed the gap in their negotiations but work remains to get a deal done.

Meanwhile, center Josh Norris will be skating with a non-contact yellow jersey as the Senators hit the ice for training camp. Norris tweaked his shoulder during a recent captain’s skate in Ottawa but it isn’t considered a serious injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators aren’t taking any chances with Norris. An injured shoulder requiring season-ending surgery limited him to just eight games in 2022-23.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens center Christian Dvorak will miss the opening month of the regular season as he continues to rehab from his March 15 knee surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That explains in part why the Canadiens brought back Sean Monahan for another series.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of the Canadiens, Paul Byron announced his retirement as a player and has joined the franchise as a player development consultant. In 521 games over 12 seasons, the 34-year-old two-way winger had 98 goals and 110 assists for 208 points with the Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames. He also had 11 points in 36 playoff games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hip injuries force Byron’s retirement after missing the entirety of last season. His energetic play and leadership made him popular with his teammates and a fan favorite in Montreal, especially during the Canadiens run to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: And speaking of players moving on to front-office roles, Patric Hornqvist joined the Panthers’ hockey operations department as a development coach and scout. Hornqvist, 36, announced his retirement in July due to season-ending concussions suffered in December.

NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: A DUI criminal charge against Predators head coach Andrew Brunette has been dropped. Brunette was accused of driving his golf cart under the influence in Florida earlier this year.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks confirmed defenseman Tucker Poolman will not play this season due to ongoing migraine symptoms plaguing him since 2021-22.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Saku Maenalanen has been released by the Avalanche from his professional tryout offer after failing his training camp medical.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed forward Jan Jenik to a one-year, two-way contract.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 20, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 20, 2023

As training camps open, check out the latest on William Nylander, Connor Hellebuyck, Mark Scheifele, Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale, Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund, Brett Pesce and Shane Pinto in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TSN: Chris Johnston said he doesn’t think there’s been a whole lot of progress between the Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander over a contract extension. There is some hope that discussions might pick up now that the 27-year-old winger is back in North America after spending the offseason in Sweden.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes Nylander will play this season with the Leafs whether he’s signed or not.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not much different from what was reported throughout the offseason. This has the potential to become a long-running story for the Leafs and Nylander through 2023-24.


TSN: Darren Dreger reported there’ve been contract discussions between the Winnipeg Jets and pending unrestricted free agents Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele. However, those talks are now on the back burner as training camp begins.

Dreger said Scheifele hasn’t asked for a trade nor has he said he wouldn’t sign an extension. For now, however, the 30-year-old center intends to park things and focus on the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s the first real piece of news regarding Scheifele, who kept silent about his intentions throughout the offseason. He evidently learned his lesson after innocuous comments he made following the 2021-22 season about needing to look out for himself and his future blew up in the media.

Like Nylander with the Leafs, questions about the future of Hellebuyck and Scheifele in Winnipeg will hang over the Jets season.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun indicated there’s a “tangible gap” in contract talks between the Anaheim Ducks and agent Pat Brisson, who represents Trevor Zegras. The 22-year-old restricted free agent is the face of the Ducks and their offensive star. It’s believed the two sides are willing to agree to a three-year deal but they’re far apart on the average annual value.

Meanwhile, LeBrun said there’s no sign of progress in contract talks between the Ducks and Jamie Drysdale. The defenseman’s agent, Dave Gagner, is in Anaheim conducting negotiations with Ducks management.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes Zegras and Drysdale could end up with bridge contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Having those negotiations dragging on into training camp and preseason could see those two key players miss a portion of their preparation before the start of the season under new head coach Greg Cronin. That could lead to a slow start for the rebuilding Ducks.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman noted that many of the Calgary Flames players who departed frustrated following last season’s disappointing performance have returned with more positive mindsets. It doesn’t mean contract negotiations will be easy but everyone seems to be feeling better.

Friedman thinks Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund will be the first pending UFAs that the Flames attempt to re-sign. He noted that the Colorado Avalanche looked into acquiring Backlund before adding Ross Colton and Ryan Johansen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big reason why those players are feeling better is the departure of head coach Darryl Sutter. Hiring Craig Conroy to replace Brad Treliving after the latter stepped down as general manager was another factor. The affable Conroy has been working tirelessly throughout the offseason to keep as many of his pending UFAs in the fold.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said the Carolina Hurricanes gave some permission to teams to speak to UFA-to-be Brett Pesce. However, that’s now ended as the club is all in to win the Stanley Cup this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pesce could be shopped later in the season if the Hurricanes stumble or there’s a need to address a significant roster weakness. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays out this season in Carolina and tests the UFA market in July.


TSN: LeBrun also talks about the ongoing contract talks between the Ottawa Senators and RFA center Shane Pinto. The Senators are pressed for salary-cap space but talks remain very positive. He believes a deal could be done at any time if the Senators can come up with the money for Pinto.

Dreger said teams like the Philadelphia Flyers have inquired about Pinto. However, they’ve been told by the Senators that they’re not trading him.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported the Flyers offered to take on an additional contract from the Senators in a potential trade for Pinto. However, he’s not convinced they want to jettison the young center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators hold the hammer in negotiations with the Pinto camp. It sounds like they’re trying to find a way to free up the cap space needed to sign him. However, they could be getting squeezed by clubs seeking a sweetener in the deal.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 19, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 19, 2023

What’s the latest on Ducks goalie John Gibson? Do Jake DeBrusk and Matt Grzelcyk have long-term futures with the Bruins? Are the Senators any closer to re-signing Shane Pinto? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Levine recently noted that John Gibson’s future with the Anaheim Ducks was a hot topic during the offseason. There were conflicting reports about his desire to remain with the rebuilding club.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (NHL Images).

Levine noted that Gibson doesn’t really fit the timeline for the Ducks so it would make sense to cut ties at some point. So far, however, there’s no indication that’s going to happen anytime soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson’s contract remains a significant obstacle in the path to a trade. He carries an average annual cap hit of $6.4 million through 2026-27 plus a 10-team no-trade clause.

In a season where a flattened salary cap means most teams lack the room to take on his contract, a Gibson trade might have to wait until next summer. The salary cap is expected to rise by at least $4 million for 2024-25, making it potentially easier to swing a deal with a contender.


THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa noted that Jake DeBrusk is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He believes the 26-year-old winger’s performance this season as a top-six forward will determine if his future remains with the Boston Bruins.

Like DeBrusk, defenseman Matt Grzelcyk is also eligible next summer for UFA status. Shinzawa noted he’s a good defender who uses his feet, stick and hockey sense. He’s also a sheltered five-on-five blueliner who doesn’t kill penalties and is unlikely to see much power-play time. He wondered if Grzelcyk would be re-signed or traded.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think DeBrusk is more likely to be re-signed than Grzelcyk. Both have frequently been mentioned as trade candidates in recent years. However, the chatter around DeBrusk died down during his solid performance last season.

What say you, Bruins fans? Do you prefer one or the other? Should both be re-signed or traded? Let us know in the comments below.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the clock is ticking for the Senators and restricted free agent Shane Pinto to reach an agreement on a new contract. Training camp opens with team medicals on Wednesday but there’s no sign the two sides have bridged the gap in negotiations.

Garrioch noted that there’s been talk the Senators might trade Pinto. However, he claims that’s not at the forefront of any discussions right now as the two sides continue to try and reach common ground. It’s believed the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers have inquired about the 22-year-old center’s availability.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As previously noted, Pinto cannot receive an offer sheet from a rival club because he didn’t accrue a sufficient number of games to become a Group 2 RFA. He already lacks arbitration rights so he has little leverage except to withhold his services until he gets a new contract. Garrioch believes his camp is seeking a two-year deal worth over $2.1 million per season.


THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont recently reported that there’s been buzz around the league that the Columbus Blue Jackets could sign Jaroslav Halak to a professional tryout offer. The 38-year-old goaltender needs just five wins to reach the 300-win milestone for his NHL career.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2023

Are the Flames facing a no-win scenario with Elias Lindholm? What’s the latest on Shane Pinto’s contract talks with the Senators? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Julian McKenzie believes the Calgary Flames could be facing a no-win situation with Elias Lindholm. While the 28-year-old center has said he’s open to a contract extension, he could have the Flames over a barrel.

If the Flames try to trade Lindholm now, only five clubs (Detroit, Nashville, Buffalo, Chicago and Anaheim) have the cap space to take on his $4.85 million cap hit for this season. Clubs like Colorado, Pittsburgh and St. Louis have already added centers this summer, further shrinking the number of possible trade partners.

Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm (NHL Images).

Clubs in need of a center like Lindholm, such as the Boston Bruins, could be content to wait until next summer. If he becomes an unrestricted free agent, they’ll have the cap room to sign him.

McKenzie believes the summer window to trade Lindholm has closed. The next best opportunity could be the March 8 trade deadline if the Flames are out of contention by then. However, general manager Craig Conroy could face a dilemma if his club is in the playoff chase by that point.

Re-signing Lindholm will also be expensive. Despite turning 29 in December, he’ll be able to command a contract similar to Bo Horvat’s eight-year deal ($8.5 million average annual value) with the New York Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports over the summer suggest Conroy is keen is re-sign Lindholm. He might be hesitant about investing between $8.5 million and $9 million annually for eight seasons on a player who’ll turn 30 in the first season of that new contract. However, with the salary cap projected to leap to over $92 million by 2025-26, it’s a gamble that Conroy could take to keep Lindholm in the fold.

That’s assuming, of course, that Lindholm wants to stay. While he recently said what Conroy and Flames fans undoubtedly wanted to hear about a contract extension, he could be taking a wait-and-see approach for this season.

If the Flames rebound well from last season’s disappointing performance, Lindholm could be swayed into re-signing. But if they struggle again, he could feel that his chances of playing for a Stanley Cup contender and earning big money are better elsewhere. On the other hand, that scenario would make it easier for Conroy to justify moving Lindholm at the trade deadline.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators still have to get Shane Pinto under contract before training camp opens on Thursday. Last Thursday, general manager Pierre Dorion said the club is working hard at signing the 22-year-old restricted free-agent center.

Pinto doesn’t have much leverage plus he’s ineligible to receive an offer sheet from a rival club. Garrioch indicates that a couple of teams have reached out to the young center’s agent to find out what type of term and salary he’s seeking.

It’s believed those clubs were told to contact Dorion if they’re interested in making a deal. Garrioch claimed the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers have been “kicking tires” but it’s highly unlikely the Senators trade Pinto, who’s expected to fill a key role on their third line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators’ limited salary-cap space is why there’s talk of the Senators potentially trading Pinto. They have just $900K available but a raise for Pinto coming off his entry-level contract will cost more than that. Garrioch believes he’s seeking more than the two-year, $4.2 million contract signed this summer by Morgan Frost with the Flyers.

Dorion could free up some cap space by trading a lower-salaried player. He could also go the waiver/demotion route.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 15, 2023

Could the Avalanche and Canadiens make a goaltending trade? Are the Senators any closer to re-signing Shane Pinto? What’s the latest on Phil Kessel? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the Colorado Avalanche appear to be exploring their options in the trade market seeking a potential replacement for Pavel Francouz. The 33-year-old backup goaltender is expected to miss training camp and the start of the season as he recovers from offseason adductor surgery.

Seravalli’s colleague Mike Gould suggested Casey DeSmith as an obvious trade target. He was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins by the Montreal Canadiens in last month’s three-team trade that sent Erik Karlsson to the Penguins.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Casey DeSmith (NHL Images).

Salary cap space could be an issue for the Avalanche. Gould pointed out that they are projected to start the season with $525K in long-term injury reserve space, though they might be able to add more by placing Francouz and his $2 million cap hit on LTIR. DeSmith, 32, carries an average annual value of $1.8 million.

TVA SPORTS: Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes recently said he was okay with his club starting the season with Casey DeSmith, Samuel Montembeault and Jake Allen as his goaltenders. However, he has also said that he’s open to moving DeSmith before the start of the season if an opportunity presents itself.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeSmith has plenty of backup experience with the Pittsburgh Penguins. That could make him enticing to the Avalanche if Francouz appears to be sidelined long-term. Putting him on LTIR would cover DeSmith’s cap hit for this season.

Montreal Hockey Now’s Marc Dumont doesn’t expect DeSmith, Montembeault or Allen would fetch much of a return in the trade market. Still, Hughes might be able to get a decent draft pick or prospect from the Avs if he agreed to retain part of DeSmith’s salary.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators general manager Pierre Dorion acknowledged he still has to re-sign Shane Pinto. The 22-year-old restricted free agent has yet to reach an agreement with the club on a new contract.

Dorion remains hopeful of getting a deal in place before training camp opens next week. The two sides don’t want Pinto to miss any playing time because he’s expected to play a key role on the Senators this season.

Garrioch pointed out that the Senators are pressed for salary cap space. He believes they’ll have to shed a contract to accommodate a new deal for Pinto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pinto’s current contract situation has generated some trade speculation suggesting he could be moved if the two sides fail to hammer out an agreement. Dorion’s comments suggest that isn’t the case.


TSN’s Chris Johnston reports there’s some “percolating interest” from NHL teams on signing Phil Kessel to a contract this season. He indicates the 35-year-old forward isn’t in PTO (professional tryout offer) territory yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL’s ongoing Ironman record holder, Kessel recently said that he’s willing to accept a secondary role even if it brings his consecutive games streak to an end. That might account for the recent interest in his services.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 9, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 9, 2023

Patrick Kane in Detroit doesn’t make sense, the Senators and Canucks could be busy soon in the trade market, and the projected date of the 2024 trade deadline is revealed. Check out the latest in the NHL Rumor Mill.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sam Stockton dismissed a report claiming Patrick Kane could sign with the Detroit Red Wings to play alongside Alex DeBrincat, his former linemate with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Free agent winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Stockton duly noted the report by Chicago Daily Herald’s John Dietz, who cited a source close to Kane claiming the winger would sign with the Red Wings to be reunited with DeBrincat. He also noted Dietz added a qualifier that there would have to be mutual interest from the Red Wings for this to happen.

According to Stockton, any reunion of Kane and DeBrincat in Detroit would lean heavily on nostalgia. He pointed out that the New York Rangers bringing in Kane late last season failed to recreate the offensive chemistry the winger once had with Artemi Panarin during the latter’s tenure with the Blackhawks.

Kane’s health and age are also factors that would work against it. Stockton pointed out that TSN’s Chris Johnston indicated the future Hall-of-Famer wants to see which teams will be the best fit when he’s fully recovered from his June hip resurfacing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Prior to Dietz’s report, most in the media believed Kane’s preference would be signing with a club that would give him the best chance of winning the Stanley Cup this season. If that’s the case, the Red Wings won’t be on his radar unless they break out like the New Jersey Devils did last season.


SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman suggested the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks could be worth watching as the start of training camp on Sept. 21 draws near.

The Senators are pressed against the $83.5 million salary cap with restricted free agent center Shane Pinto to re-sign. Pinto, 22, is coming off his entry-level contract and carries little leverage. He’s also not eligible to receive an offer sheet as he’s on a 10.2 (c) contract, meaning he didn’t accrue a sufficient number of NHL games played to become eligible for Group 2 RFA status.

Meanwhile, the Canucks could be looking at clearing some cap room as winger Tanner Pearson is expected to be healthy for the coming season after missing most of 2022-23 with an injured hand. He carries an average annual value of $3.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how both clubs handle this. They could free up some space by placing some players on waivers or demoting them to their farm team. Dumping salary through trades is another option.

Senators forward Mathieu Joseph popped up in this summer’s rumor mill as a trade candidate. He has an AAV of $2.95 million and is under contract through 2025-26.

Moving Pearson and his cap hit could be difficult given he’s coming off a serious injury. Wingers Brock Boeser ($6.65 million AAV) and Conor Garland ($4.95 million) have been mentioned in the past as trade possibilities but I doubt the Canucks will try to move either guy in this situation.

Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers is another frequent subject of trade rumors but his $6 million cap hit for this season and his 10-team no-trade clause are big obstacles. There was speculation of a deal that would send him to the San Jose Sharks on Sept. 15 once his $5 million signing bonus was paid by the Canucks. We’ll find out soon enough if that’s the case.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline is projected to be Friday, March 8, 2024.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mark your calendars, folks. You can turn this into a nice long weekend if you can get the time off from work or school.