NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2022

The Avalanche take a 2-1 series lead over the Blues but each club loses a key player to injuries, the Penguins sign Bryan Rust to a contract extension, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche regained the lead in their second-round series with the St. Louis Blues with a 5-2 victory in Game 3. Artturi Lehkonen scored twice, including what proved to be the game-winning goal in the second period. Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen each collected two points while Ryan O’Reilly had a goal and an assist for the Blues.

Each team lost a key player to injuries during this contest.

Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard is out for the playoffs after suffering a broken sternum early in the first period when he was checked into the boards behind his own net by Ivan Barbashev.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

Later in the period, Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington left the game with a suspected knee sprain following a collision with Kadri. Ville Husso replaced him and made 19 saves on 23 shots. During a post-game interview, Kadri accused Binnington of throwing a water bottle at him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kadri has earned suspensions for undisciplined play in recent postseasons. In this instance, however, there was no intent to injure or to run Binnington and no penalty call on the play. He was driving for the net and reaching for the puck when he inadvertently collided with Binnington and Blues defenseman Calle Rosen.

Losing Binnington could be a big blow for the Blues. He won four of his last five starts and played a key role in his club’s first-round elimination of the Minnesota Wild and their bounce-back win in Game 2 of this series.

The Avalanche will feel Girard’s absence. He had three points in seven games this postseason while playing on their second defense pairing.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Bryan Rust won’t be testing this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. On Saturday, the Pittsburgh Penguin announced they’d signed the 30-year-old winger to a six-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $5.125 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rust has flourished skating alongside Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel on the Penguins’ top line. He’s reached or exceeded 22 goals in the last three seasons and netted over 50 points in two of the last three.

Rust was earning $3.5 million annually on a four-year deal. His raise is a reasonable rate that reflects market value, though the six years is a little long for a 30-year-old forward with an injury history. Cap Friendly indicates this signing leaves the Penguins with $58.5 million invested in 15 players for 2022-23 with Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang as their notable remaining unrestricted free agents.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers need more from their best players, especially on the power play, if they hope to overcome their 2-0 series deficit to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The rivalry between the Panthers and Lightning hasn’t generated much passion or heat between the fan bases of both clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I chalk that up in part to what’s been a disappointing series thus far in terms of excitement compared to when these two clubs tangled in the opening round of last year’s playoffs. The Lightning has successfully shut down the Panthers’ vaunted offense with a grinding defensive style that has also sucked much of the life out of this series.

THE ATHLETIC’s Joe Smith reports Lightning coach Jon Cooper said center Brayden Point (lower body) will remain sidelined for Game 3 today against the Panthers. He’s uncertain if Point will return for this series. He suffered the injury in Game 7 of their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

CALGARY SUN: Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom promises to improve his performance as his club’s second-round series against the Oilers shifted to Edmonton for Game 3 on Sunday. The Vezina Trophy finalist allowed 11 goals in the first two games, compared to allowing that many during the entire seven-game opening-round series against the Dallas Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not just Markstrom who must be better. The Flames’ usually solid defensive game vanished during those two games against the Oilers.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes’ third defense pairing of Brendan Smith and Ian Cole have made their presence felt in their club’s second-round series against the New York Rangers.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers hope to open up their offense more in Game 3 to avoid falling behind 3-0 in the series against the Hurricanes. They’ve been limited to just one goal thus far.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2022

Golden Knights fire head coach Pete DeBoer, Patrice Bergeron sheds light on his future, Mitch Marner was the victim of a carjacking, Islanders name Lane Lambert as their new coach & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights fired head coach Pete DeBoer on Monday after less than three seasons in the role. The decision comes after the club failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

Former Vegas Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Critics suggest DeBoer was made the fall guy for the club’s inability to clinch a postseason berth. He had a number of his core players sidelined by injuries this season as well as management’s inability to suitably address that problem because of limited salary-cap space. The club’s messy split with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury last summer was also a factor, as was the cost of acquiring Jack Eichel and his late addition to the lineup due to his recovery from neck surgery.

Speculation has already started over DeBoer’s potential replacement. Former NHL coaches such as Barry Trotz, Paul Maurice and Joel Quenneville have been mentioned, though the latter would require the approval of league commissioner Gary Bettman due to his role in the Kyle Beach scandal.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron shot down rumors he could sign with the Montreal Canadiens as a free agent in July. He indicated he’ll either re-sign with the Bruins or retire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That rumor was fueled in part by NBC Sports Boston analyst Tony Amonte claiming Bergeron grew up as a Canadiens fan, as well as pointing out his former agent was now the Habs general manager. In fact, Bergeron grew up as a Nordiques fan plus the Canadiens’ limited cap space would’ve made it almost impossible to sign him even if they wanted to.

I believe the Bruins will bring back Bergeron for at least another season. The 36-year-old remains among the NHL’s elite two-way centers and his departure would leave the Bruins quite thin at that position.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner was the victim of a carjacking at gunpoint in Etobicoke on Monday evening. Three suspects armed with two handguns and a knife robbed Marner of his black Range Rover at the Cineplex Theatre on The Queensway.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner and his friend were shaken up but unhurt in the incident and didn’t have guns pointed at them. The suspects apparently didn’t know who he was and were only interested in the vehicle.

TSN: The New York Islanders announced Lane Lambert has been named their new head coach. He served as an associate coach under former bench boss Barry Trotz for the past four seasons.

NHL.COM: New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara, Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes and Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price for this season’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

THE ATHLETIC: Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point is “highly doubtful” for Game 1 of the second-round series with the Florida Panthers. Point appeared to injure his right leg during Game 7 of their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, he could potentially return later in the second round.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers forward Barclay Goodrow might return at some point during their upcoming second-round series with the Carolina Hurricanes. Goodrow is believed to have fractured his foot or ankle in Game 1 of their first-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPORTSNET: Golden Knights captain Mark Stone will likely undergo back surgery on Wednesday. He’s expected to be available for the start of training camp in September.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba confirmed the upper-body injury that sidelined him for 12 games in April was a punctured lung and a dislocated rib. He returned for their first-round series against the St. Louis Blues but admitted being less than 100 percent in that series. The Wild were eliminated by the Blues in six games.

THE ATHLETIC: Los Angeles Kings winger Viktor Arvidsson will undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair a herniated disc. The injury kept him out of the Kings’ series with the Edmonton Oilers. They were eliminated by the Oilers in seven games.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk will undergo surgery for an injured right shoulder that nagged him most of this season.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Brian Boyle underwent surgery on his left knee on Monday.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Tim Stuetzle suffered an injured left leg playing for Germany against France during a World Championships game on Monday. He left the game and there’s no word yet as to the severity of the injury.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 2, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 2, 2022

Recaps of Tuesday’s action, stars and rookie of the month for February, Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson’s plans, the latest on Filip Forsberg and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The league-leading Colorado Avalanche became the first club to reach 40 wins this season by downing the New York Islanders 5-3. Devon Toews had a goal and two assists as the Avalanche hold a five-point lead over the second-place Carolina Hurricanes in the overall standings with 84 points. Avs defenseman Jack Johnson also reached a notable milestone by playing his 1,000th NHL game.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Detroit Red Wings on an overtime goal by Lucas Raymond. Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic made 27 saves for the win over his former team. The Hurricanes (79 points) hold a three-point lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference standings.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point (NHL Images)

The Lightning, meanwhile, overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Ottawa Senators 5-2. Brayden Point had a goal and three assists while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves for the win. The Lightning (76 points) hold a one-point lead over the Florida Panthers for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom kicked out 32 shots to backstop his club to 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli, Andrew Mangiapane and Mikael Backlund each had two-point performances. The Flames have won 12 of their last 13 games and hold a five-point lead over the second-place Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division with 70 points. The Wild remain in third place in the Central Division with 65 points.

The Vegas Golden Knights got two goals by Reilly Smith to beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1. Robin Lehner made 16 saves in his first game since being sidelined for a month with an upper-body injury. It was Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer’s 500th career NHL victory. Sharks goaltender James Reimer left the game with a lower-body injury. With 64 points, the Golden Knights are third in the Pacific Division. The Sharks, however, are nine points out of the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference with 54 points.

Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen picked up his first shutout since 2019 with a 39-save performance in a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl scored his 37th goal of the season to tie Toronto’s Auston Matthews for the league lead. With 63 points, the Oilers hold a two-point lead over the Dallas Stars for the final Western wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith returned to action after suffering a concussion on Feb.9. However, the club also revealed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered last week.

Trevor Zegras scored with 22 seconds remaining in the third period to lift the Anaheim Ducks over the Boston Bruins 4-3, snapping the latter’s five-game win streak. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf had three assists as the Ducks (61 points) remain two points behind the Oilers. The Bruins still hold a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

The Winnipeg Jets kept their playoff hopes alive with an 8-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens, ending the latter’s five-game win streak. Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois each had three points for the Jets. Canadiens winger Josh Anderson tallied a hat trick. With 57 points, the Jets are six behind the Oilers.

Patrik Laine had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Blue Jackets nipped the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Elvis Merzlikins made 30 saves for the win. Devils center Jack Hughes scored to extend his points streak to eight games.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner, Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom, and Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine were the NHL’s three stars for February 2022. Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman was named the rookie of the month for February 2022.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: New Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson said he’s looking more at a rebuild than a retool of his roster. “There are some things that we really need to fix that are going to take time,” he said, adding he’s not going to put a timeline on how long it’ll take to complete the rebuild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s going to provide fodder for speculation over his trade deadline plans and where certain veterans such as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews fit into the club’s long-term plans. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.

NHL.COM: Nashville Predators GM David Poile maintains his intent is to re-sign Filip Forsberg before the March 21 trade deadline. He added he’s not trying to trade the pending free-agent winger. Poile also indicated a deal isn’t done yet but they’re working on it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg became fodder for trade speculation following a report last week claiming Poile was shopping the winger. He quickly denied it but there’s conjecture he’s conducting “due diligence” in case he decides a contract extension won’t be reached by the trade deadline.

TSN: CCM Hockey announced it will stop using Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin and other Russian NHL stars in any of its global marketing. The move comes in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2021

The NHL returns to action from its COVID-extended holiday break while Brad Marchand and Vladimir Tarasenko express their unhappiness over the league’s withdrawal from the 2022 Winter Olympics. Details & more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The San Jose Sharks defeated the Arizona Coyotes 8-7 in the highest-scoring game of 2021-22. Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl scored in the shootout to give the Sharks the win. Couture, Timo Meier and Alexander Barbanov each had a goal and an assist for the Sharks while teammate Brent Burns was held scoreless in his 1,200th career NHL game. Phil Kessel and Lawson Crouse each had four points for the Coyotes.

Jonathan Marchessault scored twice and added an assist as the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Los Angeles Kings 6-3. Both clubs combined for four goals in 76 seconds in the first period with the Golden Knights jumping to a 3-1 lead. Adrian Kempe had a goal and an assist for the Kings.

The Tampa Bay Lightning overcame a 4-3 deficit to nip the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 on an overtime goal by Ondrej Palat. Corey Perry scored with 20 seconds remaining in regulation to force the extra frame. Lightning forward Braydon Point finished with two goals and an assist in his first game since being sidelined for 14 games by an upper-body injury. Canadiens defenseman Kale Clague and forward Rafael Harvey-Pinard each tallied their first career NHL goals.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger Brad Marchand took to Twitter to once again condemn the NHL’s decision to withdraw from the 2022 Winter Olympics. He noted the recent mutually-agreed change to the collective bargaining agreement allowing NHL teams to use taxi squads to maintain their rosters and not miss any games or lose money due to postponements.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images).

Marchand wondered why taxi squads couldn’t be used to allow players to participate in the Olympics. “please tell me that’s not bullshit,” he tweeted, calling for the league to allow the players to make the choice.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko also expressed his unhappiness over the league’s decision. “I think every Russian has a dream to play for the national team,” he said. “It’s very bad they took it away from us, I think it’s unfair. They give each player a choice, but we don’t have a choice at the end. So I think it’s very bad from them.”

Tarasenko indicated he read Marchand’s interview on Monday and agreed with the Bruins winger. “So with all the restrictions, all the rules, I don’t really understand the point when people are deciding for you.” He added he would’ve participated in the Beijing Games if given the choice. “I think you’d be surprised how many people would choose to go,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand the frustration felt by Marchand and Tarasenko and sympathize with having this opportunity to participate in the Winter Olympics taken away from them. Given their ages, this was likely the only opportunity for both players to represent their countries on the Olympic stage.

However, the NHL didn’t arbitrarily decide to screw over the players. The CBA allows the league to withdraw from the Winter Olympics before Jan. 10 if participation would jeopardize the completion of the 2021-22 schedule in a timely manner. This was mutually agreed upon by the league and the PA as per the CBA. The players should know this. If they don’t, that’s the fault of their PA leadership, not the league.

It’s well known NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the league board of governors (team owners) don’t like Olympic participation because there’s no money in it for them. Given their choice, they’d never take part in the Winter Games ever again. Nevertheless, they agreed to send players to the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics as part of their concessions to get the players to sign off on the CBA extension last year.

Up until roughly two weeks ago, the NHL was going to leave Olympic participation up to the players. The only reason they took their current action (in conjunction with the PA) was the latest COVID-19 outbreak led to multiple game postponements that threatened to derail the season.

Yes, the league is concerned about hockey-related revenue. So should the players. Another shortened season means the salary cap remains flattened beyond 2024, meaning less money to go around for players in line for new contracts in two years’ time. That also means it will take longer for the players to pay back the debt they owe to the owners because their share of HRR in 2020 exceeded that of the owners’ share.

Speaking of postponed games, the total number yesterday reached 80 with 10 more games put on hold. Nine of them were upcoming games in Canada due to limits on large gatherings in Canadian NHL cities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was media speculation yesterday suggesting the league could soon announce some Canadian teams could end up playing home games scheduled for January on the road until those restrictions are eased or lifted. That’s because playing those games with limited attendance or no fans in the stands will adversely affect HRR for this season.

SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras, Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin and New York Islanders center Brock Nelson were the latest notable NHL players placed on the COVID protocol list yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild were hoping to avoid an outbreak with their Jan. 1 Winter Classic game against the St. Louis Blues at Target Field fast approaching. Brodin is the only member of the wild (thus far) to test positive.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have recalled goaltender Matt Murray from a month-long stint with their AHL affiliate in Belleville.

CBS SPORTS: The Vegas Golden Knights placed defenseman Alec Martinez (facial injury) on long-term injury reserve. He’s been sidelined since Nov. 11.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 22, 2021

The Flames collect their league-leading seventh shutout of the season, Marc-Andre Fleury blanks the Canucks with a 40-save effort, Leafs rookie Joseph Woll gets his first shutout, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Calgary Flames picked up their league-leading seventh shutout of the season by blanking the Boston Bruins 4-0. Dan Vladar made 27 saves for his second shutout, Johnny Gaudreau tallied the game-winner and Andrew Mangiapane scored his 15th goal of the season. With 27 points, the Flames (11-3-5) move a point ahead of the Edmonton Oilers into first place in the Western Conference.

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 40 stops to backstop his club to a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Brandon Hagel scored the only goal as the Blackhawks (6-10-2) have won five of their last six games. The free-falling Canucks (6-11-2) have won just three of their last 10 contests.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Joseph Woll kicked out 20 shots for his first career NHL shutout to beat the New York Islanders 3-0. Mitch Marner scored twice for the Leafs. The COVID-ravaged Islanders got Anthony Beauvillier back following a false positive on Saturday but Kieffer Bellows sat out following a positive test. Center Brock Nelson left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury.

Steven Stamkos’ shootout goal gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild. The Lightning blew a 4-2 lead as the Wild rallied back late in the third period on goals by Kevin Fiala and Joel Eriksson Ek. Anthony Cirelli netted two goals for the Lightning. Earlier in the day, the Lightning revealed center Brayden Point will be sidelined indefinitely by an upper-body injury.

The New York Rangers nipped the Buffalo Sabres 5-4 on Ryan Lindgren’s goal with 0.7 seconds remaining in regulation. Artemi Panarin collected three assists for the Rangers (11-4-3), who’ve won five of their last six contests.

Seattle Kraken netminder Philipp Grubauer turned aside 37 shots as his club snapped a six-game losing skid by downing the Washington Capitals 5-2. Jaden Schwartz scored a goal and collected three assists for the Kraken while Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin potted his 745th career goal.

The Arizona Coyotes picked up their fourth win of the season and their second in a row by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1. Kyle Capobianco scored in overtime while Karel Vejmelka made 37 saves for his first NHL victory. The Kings have lost four straight.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens have sent goaltender Cayden Primeau back to their AHL affiliate in Laval.










Reviewing Some Recent Notable NHL Trades & Free-Agent Signings

Reviewing Some Recent Notable NHL Trades & Free-Agent Signings

July 25 to 31 was a busy week in the NHL following the entry-draft weekend with the annual free-agent market opening on July 28.

I noted the top UFA signings of the opening day of free agency for Bleacher Report. Here’s a quick look at several other notable free-agent signings, plus some interesting trades that caught my eye over the past week.

July 26: Florida Panthers re-sign Sam Bennett to a four-year, $17.7 million contract.

Bennett quickly meshed well with the Panthers following his acquisition from the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline. He’ll provide them with solid second-line depth in their quest to become a Cup contender.

July 27: Chicago Blackhawks acquire Marc-Andre Fleury from Vegas Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights had to shed salary to improve their roster depth. With a younger Robin Lehner under contract for four more years at $5 million per season, the 37-year-old Fleury and the remaining year of his contract ($7 million) had to go. Unfortunately, he found out about it on Twitter before the club could inform him. His omission of team owner Bill Foley and general manager Kelly McCrimmon in his farewell statement to the team and the fans spoke volumes.

Blackhawks acquire Tyler Johnson from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning shed Johnson’s contract for the next three seasons. In return, they get the contract of permanently sidelined defenseman Brent Seabrook to put on LTIR. In other words, Lightning GM Julien BriseBois immediately shed $5 million from his books and garnered another $6.875 million in cap wiggle room if necessary.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Points (NHL Images).

July 28: Lightning re-sign Brayden Point to an eight-year, $76 million contract.

It’s a big investment by the Lightning but that’s the price to be paid for keeping a core player who is becoming one of the best centers in the NHL. He’s deadly during the regular season and seems to find another gear when the playoffs roll around.

Starting in 2022-23, the Lightning has almost $45 million invested in just five players. Those five, however, are Point, former league MVP and scoring champion Nikita Kucherov, former Norris and Conn Smythe winner Victor Hedman, current Smythe winner and former Vezina winner Andrei Vasilevskiy, and team captain and former Richard winner Steven Stamkos. They’re the core that helped win back-to-back Stanley Cups. You can argue they’re paying too much to keep that group intact but at least they’ve got true value for those salary-cap dollars.

Colorado Avalanche acquires goaltender Darcy Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes.

Avalanche GM Joe Sakic turned immediately to the Coyotes and Kuemper after starter Philipp Grubauer signed with the Seattle Kraken. The 31-year-old netminder has a year left on his contract with an affordable $4.5 million cap hit. He’s a terrific performer but has been plagued by injuries in recent years. Kuemper must stay healthy throughout this season if the Avs hope to win the Stanley Cup next June.

Calgary Flames sign Blake Coleman to a six-year, $29.4 million contract.

Coleman was an effective and versatile checking-line forward for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their back-to-back championship runs. His style of play should fit well with head coach Darryl Sutter’s system of grinding defensive hockey. Still, investing that much for six years on a middle-six forward who turns 30 this season could prove costly in the final half of the deal when his skills start to decline.

Boston Bruins sign Linus Ullmark to a four-year, $20 million contract.

Ullmark put up decent stats during his four years with the sad-sack Buffalo Sabres. Whether he’ll become a reliable starter on a better club in Boston remains to be seen. It’s an expensive gamble that could go sour. This signing also raises questions about the future of long-time starter Tuukka Rask once he returns from offseason hip surgery in February.

July 29: Columbus Blue Jackets re-sign Zach Werenski to a six-year, $57.5 million contract extension.

After seeing so many core players depart in recent years, the Blue Jackets had to ensure they could keep Werenski in the fold. The 24-year-old is an excellent puck-moving defenseman but they overpaid to keep him in Columbus. His $9.583 million AAV is higher than that of Colorado Avalanche rearguard Cale Makar ($9 million), who was a Calder Trophy winner in 2019-20 and a Norris Trophy finalist last season.