NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 13, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 13, 2017

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby wins his eighty ESPY Award as the NHL’s top player.

Latest on Sidney Crosby, Jaccob Slavin, Mark Streit and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

TSN: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby won the ESPY Award as the top NHL player, beating out Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, Toronto’s Auston Matthews, Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine, Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky. It’s the eighth time Crosby’s won the award. 

NBC SPORTS: Speaking of Crosby, he said he wasn’t paying attention to those in the media questioning his health after he suffered a concussion during the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs. The Penguins captain said he was focusing on helping his team win the Cup. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Crosby wasn’t following the media during the playoffs. But given how he was constantly questioned by reporters about his health after his return to action, he wasn’t oblivious to it. His concussion history ensures his physical well-being will remain a topic of interest among fans and pundits. 

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: And speaking of the Penguins, they re-signed Derrick Pouliot to a one-year, one-way contract worth $800K and Josh Archibald to a one-year, one-way deal worth $675K.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes announced they re-signed defenseman Jaccob Slavin to a seven-year, $37.1 million contract extension. The annual average value is $5.3 million and begins in 2018-19. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I love this signing by the Hurricanes. In just two seasons, the 23-year-old Slavin became an elite NHL defenseman and an invaluable core player for the Canes. They now have him under contract throughout his playing prime at a reasonable price. At his current rate of development, this new contract could turn into a bargain for Carolina. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens have offered unrestricted free agent defenseman Mark Streit a one-year, $1.5 million contract. The 39-year-old began his NHL career in Montreal, playing three season with the Habs. He split last season between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like Habs GM Marc Bergevin’s getting a little desperate in his search for an experienced defenseman. This could also cast further doubt upon the possibility of Andrei Markov returning to Montreal. 

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed versatile forward Andrew Copp to a two-year deal worth $1 million per season.  

OTTAWA SUN: Former Senators forward Viktor Stalberg signed a two-year deal with EV Zug in Switzerland. 

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello said his club are using the offseason long-term injured reserve. That will give them sufficient salary-cap space to re-sign Connor Brown. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes named Steve Patterson as their new president, CEO and alternate governor. General manager John Chayka was also named their president of hockey operations. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Former Sabres coach Ted Nolan was named coach of Poland’s national team. 

TORONTO SUN: Former Maple Leaf Tod Sloan passed away at age 89. He played 13 seasons in the NHL, 10 of those with the Leafs. He was a member of two Stanley Cup champions, one in Toronto in 1951 and the other with Chicago a decade later. He had 482 points in 765 games, including two 30-goal seasons in 1951 and 1956. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Sloan’s family, friends and former teammates. 


Notable NHL Free Agent Signings – July 1, 2017

Notable NHL Free Agent Signings – July 1, 2017

New York Rangers sign Kevin Shattenkirk to a four-year contract.

The NHL free-agent period opened at noon ET today. Here’s a look at the day’s notable signings thus far. Analysis of the most noteworthy signings will follow later today in my Soapbox section.

Pittsburgh Penguins re-sign defenseman Justin Schultz to a three-year contract worth $5.5 million per season. 

San Jose Sharks have reportedly re-signed center Joe Thornton to a one-year, $6.5 million contract. 

Tampa Bay Lightning sign winger Chris Kunitz to a one-year, $2 million contract. 

Anaheim Ducks signed goaltender Ryan Miller to a two-year deal worth $2 million annually. 

Los Angeles Kings sign winger Mike Cammalleri to a one-year, bonus-laden contract with a $1 million base salary. 

Anaheim Ducks re-sign defenseman Cam Fowler to an eight-year, $52-million contract extension. The deal kicks in on July 1, 2018. 

San Jose Sharks re-signed defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to an eight-year, $56 million contract extension and re-up goaltender Martin Jones to a six-year, $34.5 million extension.  Both deals commence on July 1, 2018. 

Pittsburgh Penguins sign goaltender Antti Niemi to a one-year, $750K contract. 

Buffalo Sabres sign goaltender Chad Johnson to a one-year, $2.5 million contract. 

Carolina Hurricanes sign winger Justin Williams to a two-year, $9 million contract.  

Pittsburgh Penguins sign defenseman Matt Hunwick to a three-year, $6.75 million contract. 

Winnipeg Jets sign goaltender Steve Mason to a two-year deal worth $4.1 million per season. 

Buffalo Sabres signed winger Benoit Pouliot to a one-year, $1.15 million contract. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed defenseman Dan Girardi to a two-year deal worth $3 million per season. 

The Detroit Red Wings signed defenseman Trevor Daley to a three-year, $9.5 million contract. 

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports defenseman Dmitry Kulikov is heading to the Winnipeg Jets. Three years, $4.33 million AAV.

Center Brian Boyle is reportedly heading to the New Jersey Devils on a two-year deal. (Update: It’s two years, $5.5 million)

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Toronto Maple Leafs are signing defenseman Ron Hainsey to a two-year deal. (Update: $3 million per season. )

TSN’S Darren Dreger reports center Nick Bonino is joining the Nashville Predators. Four years, $4.1 million AAV.

NBC SPORTS cites a report from NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes saying the New York Rangers signed defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to a four-year deal worth $6.9 million per season.  TSN’s Frank Seravalli, however, reports Shattenkirk’s agent calls this premature, claiming his client is still considering his options. 

TSN contributor Aaron Ward reports hearing  the Montreal Canadiens have agreed to a five-year contract with defenseman Karl Alzner worth roughly $4.5 million annually. (Update: It’s a five-year, $23-million contract. $4.6 million AAV).

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports it looks like the Vancouver Canucks will sign forward Sam Gagner (three years, $3.15 million per). Defenseman Michael Del Zotto (two years, $3 million) goaltender Anders Nilsson (two years, $2.5 million AAV) and forward Alex Burmistrov are also expected to join the Canucks. 

 Winger Patrick Sharp is rejoining the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s reportedly a one-year, $1 million contract. ($800K base salary, $200K in bonuses).

Center Martin Hanzal is expected to join the Dallas Stars. (Update: Three years, $4.75 million annually). 

Goaltender Jonathan Bernier is joining the Colorado Avalanche. (Update: Two years, $2.75 million per season)

Goalie Ondrej Pavelec is heading to the New York Rangers. (Update: One year, $1.3 million). 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2017

Will the Florida Panthers bring back Jaromir Jagr?

Latest trade, free agent & buyout updates and former Oiler Dave Semenko passes away. Details in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon seems reluctant to bring back free-agent right winger Jaromir Jagr, who took to Twitter yesterday claiming no team has contacted him to discuss a contract. Tallon said he’s had cordial talks with Jagr’s agent on a regular basis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed the Panthers prefer bringing  the 45-year-old Jagr back on a one-year deal worth less than the $5.5 million bonus-laden deal he had for 2016-17. If other clubs aren’t calling the future Hall of Famer, it’s likely because of his age and possible asking price. He could be waiting a few days until teams that lose out on this summer’s top free agents come calling. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes traded goaltender Eddie Lack, defenseman Ryan Murphy and a seventh-round pick in 2019 to the Calgary Flames in exchange for defense prospect Keegan Kanzig and a sixth-round pick in 2019. The Hurricanes will also retain half of Lack’s $2.75 million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes clear their logjam in goal and now have Scott Darling and Cam Ward as their goalie tandem for 2017-18, while the Flames pick up a seasoned backup for recently-acquired starter Mike Smith. The Hurricanes were expected to move a defenseman when they acquired Trevor van Riemsdyk last week from the Vegas Golden Knights. Murphy was frequently mentioned as a trade candidate last season. 

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH/EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Columbus Blue Jackets are buying out left wing Scott Hartnell. The Edmonton Oilers placed winger Benoit Pouliot on waivers for the purpose of a contract buyout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets now have over $62 million invested in 21 players for 2017-18. That’s plenty of room to re-sign restricted free agents Josh Anderson and Alexander Wennberg and still leave enough room for a significant UFA signing or perhaps a trade acquisition (Ilya Kolvachuk, maybe?).

The Oilers, meanwhile, now have over $56 million committed to 21 players. Looks like they’re clearing space for restricted free agent Leon Draisaitl’s new deal and for a whopping new contract for Connor McDavid that will kick in next July. 

CALGARY HERALD: The Flames re-signed winger Kris Versteeg to a one-year, $1.75 million contract.

PHILLY.COM: The Flyers re-signed winger Jordan Weal to a two-year deal worth $1.75 million per season.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils re-upped backup goaltender Keith Kinkaid to a two-year, $2.5 million contract.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues re-signed forward Magnus Paajarvi to a one-year, one-way contract worth $800K.

SPORTSNET: Several NHL agents are apparently squabbling among themselves over the NHLPA leadership’s handling of such issues as escrow, Olympic participation and World Cup of Hockey revenue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We take you live to NHL Headquarters for reaction. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former Oilers enforcer Dave Semenko passed away yesterday at age 59 following a brief battle with cancer. Semenko played 575 NHL games, most of those with the Oilers, and was part of two Stanley Cup championship teams in Edmonton. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Semenko’s family, friends and former teammates. By all accounts, Semenko was a fine team player and a good man. Many of his former Oilers teammates were clearly shaken by his untimely passing. 


Latest on the Blackhawks & Golden Knights – June 1, 2017

Latest on the Blackhawks & Golden Knights – June 1, 2017

The Chicago Blackhawks and Vegas Golden Knights are reportedly working on a deal that could involve Trevor van Riemsdyk (left) and Marcus Kruger.

A deal between the Chicago Blackhawks and Vegas Golden Knights could be close, plus a look at four expensive players the Golden Knights should consider selecting in the expansion draft.

TSN: Frank Seravalli yesterday reported the Vegas Golden Knights and Chicago Blackhawks could be working out a trade ahead of the  June 21 expansion draft. The deal would see the Golden Knights select defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk in the draft on the condition Vegas acquire center Marcus Kruger via trade. Seravalli claims the deal isn’t 100 percent done yet but appears likely. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas general manager George McPhee recently said his club’s first trade could come as early as next week. Perhaps this is the deal he’s referring to.

With three defensemen (Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson) and four forwards (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Artem Anisimov) carrying no-movement clauses, the Blackhawks are limited in how many players they can protect.

Depending on the return to the Blackhawks, this would be a straightforward salary dump on their part. They currently have over $77 million invested in 22 players for next season.  They would shed nearly $4 million in cap space by moving Kruger ($3.083 million annually) and van Riemsdyk ($825K). 

Seravalli’s colleague Pierre LeBrun replied that he’s also heard the Golden Knights could receive a first-round pick from a team if they take on a bad contract. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun didn’t say which club could be making that pitch, but there are several that could be keen to make that move. The Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues are among several teams with limited cap room for 2017-18 in need of shedding some salary, especially if the cap ceiling fails to significantly increase. Speaking of which….

SPORTSNET: Jonathan Willis lists the Buffalo Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian, Edmonton Oilers winger Benoit Pouliot, Calgary Flames center Matt Stajan and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov as four expensive players the Golden Knights should consider selecting in the expansion draft. He believes they would address Vegas’ need for versatile players capable of playing many minutes and in multiple situations who could be long-term fits or have trade potential in the next two seasons. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the four on this list, Bogosian would be the best bet. That being said, he last played over 70 games back in 2010-11 and hasn’t developed into the top-pairing blueliner he was projected to become. At over $5.1 million for the next three seasons, the Golden Knights are unlikely to get full value for their money. The Avs are believed intent on protecting Varlamov in the draft. Unless they’ve had a significant change of heart, we can probably rule him out.

Pouliot’s a versatile forward but his inconsistent play and $4 million annual cap hit isn’t likely to make him a worthwhile addition for Vegas. Stajan’s a decent depth center and has only one season remaining on his contract at an affordable $3.125 million, but he turns 34 in December and his best seasons are well behind him now. 


Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 28, 2017

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 28, 2017

Could the Colorado Avalanche consider trading Tyson Barrie.

Latest on the Avalanche, Ducks, Blue Jackets & more in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “30 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman notes the Colorado Avalanche could have decisions to make regarding their goaltending. They intend to protect Semyon Varlamov in the expansion draft but Friedman can’t see them losing backup Calvin Pickard for nothing, especially after his solid performance for Canada at the 2017 World Championships. Pickard has a year left on his contract at $1 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Avs committed to protecting Varlamov they’ll have to expose Pickard. GM Joe Sakic could try to swing a deal with the Vegas Golden Knights to ensure they select someone else in the expansion draft. Otherwise, Sakic could be forced to trade Pickard rather than risk losing him for nothing to Vegas.

One executive told Friedman that Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie is available “but it’s got to be a legitimate hockey trade.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pretty much the same terms apply to Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. Sakic will entertain offers but won’t move any one of those guys unless he’s getting a solid return. In other words, no deals built solely on draft picks, prospects or aging and expensive talent. Barrie could attract interest from the Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning or Toronto Maple Leafs. All are reportedly in the market for a mobile defenseman with a right-handed shot. However, there could be concerns over his defensive skills. 

Friedman notes the Anaheim Ducks are closing in on re-signing Cam Fowler and a source claim “a stop sign goes up” when inquiries are made into Hampus Lindholm. With Sami Vatanen sidelined perhaps longer than five months recovering from shoulder surgery, it could affect his trade value. Friedman wonders if teams are willing to acquire him if they’ll have to wait one, two or possibly three months into next season for him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Ducks don’t move Vatanen and he’s exposed in the expansion draft, I wonder if his shoulder injury could give Vegas second thoughts? 

If Ducks GM Bob Murray shops a defenseman, Friedman doubts he’ll move him to a Western Conference club, “unless he covets the third-overall pick from Dallas.” He’s heard the Ducks covet Calgary Flames center Sam Bennett, “but would they really want to do this deal with Calgary?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For that matter, do the Flames really want to deal Bennett? And if they do, would they want to ship him to a Pacific Division rival? 

Friedman doubts the Toronto Maple Leafs will trade winger Connor Brown. He also reports Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill seeks a defenseman “that makes a difference.” The Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild could address that need, as could the Winnipeg Jets if they’re willing to part with Jacob Trouba, though Friedman doubts they’ll do that.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill is definitely in the market for a skilled defenseman. While this year’s draft isn’t a deep one, that third-overall selection will still have value in the trade market. The Stars GM could package it with a promising prospect, especially to clubs with defensive depth in need of shedding salary. As for the Jets, they could listen to offers for Trouba, but the asking price was expensive last year and I doubt it’ll be lower this summer. 

Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is in the market for “a sniper in the key moments.” He’s hoping Pierre-Luc Dubois, last year’s third-overall pick, can help. Friedman believes Blue Jackets rearguard Ryan Murray’s name is in the rumor mill but Kekalainen would discuss him specifically.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  The Jackets have over $70 million tied up in 22 players for next season. If Murray is moved it’ll free up over $2.8 million in cap space, providing some much-needed wiggle room to re-sign RFAs such as Alexander Wennberg and Josh Anderson. 

Friedman knows there’s some interest in Arizona Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith, who was their best player last season. He doubts the Coyotes move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Smith wants out of Arizona, I also doubt the Coyotes trade him this summer. 

It sounds like there’s a significant gap in contract talks between the Ottawa Senators and backup goalie Mike Condon.

Luke Fox lists New York Rangers defensemen Dan Girardi and Marc Staal, Dallas Stars goaltender Antti Niemi or Kari Lehtonen, Anaheim Ducks blueliner Kevin Bieksa, Edmonton Oilers winger Benoit Pouliot, Colorado Avalanche rearguard Francois Beauchemin, Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Scott Hartnell, Washington Capitals d-man Brooks Orpik, Los Angeles Kings wingers Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik, Tampa Bay Lighning defenseman Jason Garrison and Buffalo Sabres forward Matt Moulson as this summer’s top buyout candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the Rangers blueliners, Girardi seems the most likely buyout candidate. He’s certainly been the most mentioned. I expect the Stars will buy out Niemi and keep Lehtonen as Ben Bishop’s backup. Bieksa suffered an MCL tear in the playoffs, which could make him ineligible for a buyout. Gaborik underwent knee surgery and could also be ineligible. 

The Oilers have over $53 million invested in 18 players next season so they don’t have to buy out Pouliot this summer. I can certainly see him being bought out next summer, when he has only a year left on his contract. The Blue Jackets could consider a buyout of Hartnell to clear cap space but they could look at a cost-cutting trade involving Hartnell or someone else. Brown still has five years left on his contract, meaning they’ll carry a buyout for 10 years. The Kings could consider other options. Because Beauchemin’s on a 35-plus contract, the Avs won’t get cap relief by buying him out.

The Caps could buy out the final two years of Orpik’s contract to free up cap space, as could the Lightning with Garrison. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if their respective clubs attempt to trade them by packaging them with a pick or prospect and perhaps offering to pick up part of their remaining cap hits. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks also wondered if Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen’s shoulder surgery might adversely affect his trade value. If so, could it force possible suitors, such as the Tampa Bay Lightning, to “move on to a Plan B that could feature Justin Faulk or Jacob Trouba?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t rule it out, though the asking price for Faulk or Trouba could be more expensive than what it would take to land Vatanen. 


Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 21, 2017

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 21, 2017

Re-signing Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid will be very expensive for the Edmonton Oilers.

The cost of re-signing Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, guessing who Mike Babcock is scouting & much more in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

EDMONTON SUN: The cost of re-signing Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl topped Jim Matheson’s list of burning offseason questions. McDavid has a year remaining on his entry-level contract but the Oilers can open contract extension talks this July. Draisaitl has completed his entry-level deal and is a restricted free agent this summer.

Matheson suggests an eight-year, $97-million deal ($12.125 million per season) would be “a nice idea” for McDavid but he wonders if the young superstar might accept a little less (around $11 million annually) to give the Oilers some cap space to build up the supporting cast. As for Draisaitl, Matheson wonders if he’ll accept $50 million over eight years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I realize this isn’t a trade or unrestricted free agent rumor but it does make for interesting speculation over the final weeks of the playoffs.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wondered if McDavid might agree to a five-year deal, as they could give him the opportunity for an even larger contract by age 25. “Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane and Steven Stamkos all took five years on their second contract before going big with the third one,” he said.

Friedman’s colleague Nick Kypreos doubts we’ll see a huge disparity between McDavid’s and Draisaitl’s contracts. “There’s a lot of talk about McDavid possibly getting $12, $13 million, or even the max. That’s not gonna happen, because you will not see Draisaitl signing a contract that pays him probably four or five million dollars less than McDavid.”  He believes there will be a difference of between half-a-million to a million annually, but not a scenario where one gets $14 million annually and the other gets $7 million.

McDavid accepting a five-year deal could be the best way that scenario works. He accepts, say, five years at $8 million per while Draisaitl gets $7 million annually for five-to-seven years. Of course, that depends on McDavid’s willingness to accept that type of deal, rather than going for the max in dollars and term. Both will be re-signed this summer and it’ll be interesting to see what their new deals look like. 

Matheson also pondered right wing Jordan Eberle’s future with the Oilers, if they’ll pursue a faceoff man this summer, if they can convince the Vegas Golden Knights to take Benoit Pouliot and his $4 million cap hit off their hands in the expansion draft, if forward Mark Letestu will be exposed in that draft, if they’ll listen to trade offers for center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and how much it could cost to re-sign UFA defenseman Kris Russell.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of this was previously analyzed, discussed or debate by other pundits in recent weeks.  Because McDavid and Draisaitl will be getting significant pay raises, it’s expected the Oilers could move a high-salaried player such as Eberle ($6 million annually), Nugent-Hopkins (also $6 million) or Pouliot this summer to free up some cap space. 

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently took note of Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock taking in Game 3 of the Anaheim Ducks-Nashville Predators Western Conference Final. Noting the Leafs need a right-shot defenseman and the Ducks’ blueline depth makes them a perfect trade partner, Fox suggests Anaheim’s Sami Vatanen as a perfect fit for Babcock’s defense corps. Brandon Montour and Josh Manson would be cheaper, less-experienced options.

Fox also wondered if perhaps Babcock was scouting Predators center Mike Fisher as a possible free-agent replacement if Brian Boyle departs via the UFA market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay Babcock was scouting the Ducks and the Predators for possible defense options. Both clubs have considerable blueline depth. Of the two, the Ducks could be more likely to deal as they risk losing a good young blueliner for nothing in the expansion draft.

Babcock might think highly of Mike Fisher, but he’s too entrenched in Nashville to leave. Indeed, I can see the Preds inking their captain, who turns 37 on June 5, to a one-year, bonus-laden contract. And if he retires, he’ll likely get a front-office job with the club. 

Elliotte Friedman reports Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill is willing to consider moving his first-round pick (third-overall) in the 2017 NHL draft. To no one’s surprise, the asking price is an established defenseman who could make a difference on their blueline, suggesting clubs such as Anaheim and Minnesota “could probably do it.” 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I realize this year’s draft isn’t a deep one, but a third-overall pick is still an enticing trade chip. A club in danger of losing a good blueliner in the expansion draft, such as Anaheim or Minnesota, could be tempted, especially if the Stars are willing to toss in a good prospect or a decent young player.