NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2020

The 2020 NHL Draft completes its second and final day, Taylor Hall is heading to free agency, the Blue Jackets re-sign Max Domi, and much more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The 2020 NHL Draft is now history following a marathon second day in which it took over seven hours to complete rounds two through seven.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see the results for each round by clicking the above link to the NHL draft tracker. As for how long it took to go through yesterday’s rounds, the general managers and their staffs were drafting from home instead of at an arena in a host city as is usually done. That gave them a lot more time to evaluate which prospects they intended to select and to move up or down the draft order by swapping picks with other clubs.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong said Taylor Hall is heading to tomorrow’s unrestricted free agent market.

Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall is heading to free agency on Friday (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes gave up three prospects and two draft picks (including a first in this year’s draft) to acquire Hall in a trade with New Jersey last December. Hall played well for the Coyotes, with 10 goals and 27 points in 35 games, but his addition did little to significantly improve his new club. Their limited cap space made it almost impossible to re-sign him. His departure could ease the pressure from Armstrong to move captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson in a cost-cutting trade before the defenseman’s Friday deadline.

THE SCORE: One day after being acquired by the Columbus Blue Jackets from the Montreal Canadiens, Max Domi signed a two-year, $10.6 million contract with his new club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a sensible signing by the Jackets. Domi gets a raise over two-year, $6.3-million of his previous deal. The Jackets get a reasonable period of time to evaluate their new center’s performance to determine if he’ll be worth a longer-term deal.

Cap Friendly indicates this signing leaves the Jackets with just $1.725 million in cap space with first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois to re-sign. However, Dubois’ coming off his entry-level contract and could get an affordable bridge contract. The Jackets could also place Brandon Dubinsky ($5.85 million) on long-term injury reserve as a chronic wrist ailment has likely ended his playing days, providing more cap space for DuBois’ next contract.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators placed center Kyle Turris on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract. He had four years and $24 million remaining on his deal. The buyout will count as $2 million annually against the Predators’ salary cap through 2027-28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Turris’ contract turned into a costly mistake for Predators GM David Poile. Desperate to free up cap space, he had little choice but to buy out that deal following unsuccessful attempts to trade the 31-year-old center.

THE SCORE: The Vegas Golden Knights re-signed forward Chandler Stephenson to a four-year, $11 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephenson fit in well with the Golden Knights after he was acquired from the Washington Capitals last December. However, his new contract pushes Vegas’ cap payroll over the $81.5 million cap by $2.8 million. They are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason, but that will complicate any plans to be active in the upcoming free-agent market. A cost-cutting trade or two will be necessary before the start of next season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have decided to let winger Anthony Duclair become an unrestricted free agent after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. Duclair was a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and wasn’t given a qualifying offer by yesterday’s 5 pm deadline. GM Pierre Dorion declined to go into details but said Duclair chose to represent himself in contract talks. He added the club offered the winger a substantial raise over his previous salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A puzzling development. Duclair made $1.65 million on a one-year deal last season. Dorion didn’t shut the door on the winger possibly returning to Ottawa. Maybe the Senators were concerned Duclair would get more via arbitration.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed defenseman Dylan DeMelo to a four-year, $12 million contract. DeMelo was slated to become a UFA on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable signing by the Jets. DeMelo joined the Jets before the February trade deadline and quickly adapted to his new team.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers’ long contract standoff with Jesse Puljujarvi is over, re-signing the 22-year-old winger to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $1.175 million. Puljujarvi spent all of last season playing in Finland hoping to force a trade by the Oilers.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers traded center Lias Andersson to the Los Angeles Kings for the 60th pick in the 2020 NHL draft. Andersson was the seventh-overall pick in the 2017 draft but struggled to crack the Rangers lineup and spent the second half of last season playing in Sweden.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The stock of both young forwards really dropped over the past two years. There was even speculation at one point last season suggesting the two could be swapped for each other in a trade. Both players need a reset if they hope to salvage their NHL careers.

CBC: Montreal Canadiens Hall-of-Famer Guy Lafleur has undergone a second surgery to address a recurrence of lung cancer just two months following quadruple bypass surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Lafleur for a speedy and complete recovery.

 

 










Predators Trade Bonino to the Wild for Kunin

Predators Trade Bonino to the Wild for Kunin

The Nashville Predators traded Nick Bonino and the 37th and 70th picks in the 2020 NHL Draft to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Luke Kunin and the 101st pick in this year’s draft.

The Nashville Predators trade Nick Bonino to the Minnesota Wild (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild general manager Bill Guerin acquires another center in Bonino, who plays a two-way game and netted 18 goals and 35 points in 67 games last season. He joins Marcus Johansson and Nick Bjugstad among Guerin’s recent acquisitions though none of them can be considered a first-line center. The Wild GM seems to be going for quantity over quality, though we can’t rule out the possibility he’ll swing a trade for a first-line pivot at some point.

The Predators, meanwhile, shed the 32-year-old Bonino’s $4.1 million salary-cap hit for Kunin, a restricted free agent completing his entry-level contract. The 22-year-old Kunin is younger, can play center or wing whose offensive stats (15 goals, 31 points in 65 games) were comparable to Bonino. He’ll likely be an affordable re-signing for the Preds on a two-year bridge deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2020

A look at TSN’s updated trade-bait board in today’s NHL rumor.

TSN: Frank Seravalli updated and expanded his trade-bait board. Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray and Vegas Golden Knights’ netminder Marc-Andre Fleury now sit in the top five.

Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli’s colleague Darren Dreger reports Ekman-Larsson is willing to waive his no-movement clause for the Bruins and Vancouver Canucks and Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong is talking with both clubs hoping to work out a deal. Dreger believes the Coyotes will either have to retain some of Ekman-Larsson’s $8.25-million annual average value or they’ll have to take back some contracts in return.

The Coyotes lack a first-round pick for this year and next year, but the Bruins and Canucks don’t have first-round picks in this year’s draft. The Province’s Patrick Johnston suggested Canucks GM Jim Benning offer up Loui Eriksson, who has two years left on his contract at $6 million AAV, as part of the return. Eriksson’s only being paid $5 million in actual salary over those two years. However, the Coyotes could be on his 15-team no-trade list.

Acquiring Ekman-Larsson would allow the Bruins to replace Torey Krug, who’s expected to depart via free agency next Friday. If the Coyotes aren’t willing to pick up part of his cap hit, the Bruins will have to give up something worthwhile while freeing up some additional cap space to absorb Ekman-Larsson’s contract.

Turning to Murray, Seravalli noted the Edmonton Oilers were linked to him. With free agency looming, he said many observers are wondering if they might set their sights on Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom.

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson, Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk, the Ottawa Senators’ second-round picks, Canucks winger Jake Virtanen and Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask round out the top ten.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli said there were rumors the Oilers had an interest in DeBrusk but their cap constraints likely make him too expensive. He’s a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract. Maybe he becomes part of the Bruins’ package offer for Ekman-Larsson?

As for Rask, Seravalli cites multiple sources claiming Bruins GM Don Sweeney has been gauging the goalie’s value in the trade market. He’s got a year left on his contract ($7 million AAV) with a 15-team trade list. If he trades Rask, however, he’ll have to find a suitable replacement via trade or free agency. While both markets are flooded with goaltenders, that doesn’t mean Sweeney is guaranteed to land an upgrade over Rask.

Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle, Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn and Wild forward Ryan Donato come in at 11 to 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning must shed salary to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. Gourde and Johnson have full no-trade clauses while Killorn has a 16-team no-trade list.

New York Rangers center Ryan Strome, St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson, and Blue Jackets goalies Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo fill spots 16 to 20.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation the Blues could attempt to trade Pietrangelo’s rights if the two sides fail to hammer out a new contract before the UFA market opens next Friday. The Jackets could be open to moving one of their goalies, either to free up cap room or perhaps in a package deal for a scoring forward.

Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper, Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin, Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen and Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad fill spots 21 to 24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kuemper trade chatter has cooled in recent days as the Coyotes shift their focus on trade Ekman-Larsson. It’s now believed they prefer to retain him. Hanifin recently surfaced in the rumor mill when Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned his name came up during the Flames discussions with the New Jersey Devils last fall about Taylor Hall. Hanifin might not be available if the Flames let TJ Brodie and Travis Hamonic depart next week as free agents.

Nashville Predators forwards Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen and Nick Bonino, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei, Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere complete spots 25 to 30.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli said the lack of quality centers in this year’s free-agent market has the Predators believed to be seeking opportunities to move one of theirs. I’m guessing GM David Poile would like to bring in a scoring winger in return or to free up the cap room to pursue one via free agency. Poile would love to move Kyle Turris but the four years remaining on his contract at $6 million per season makes that almost impossible.

I’m not convinced the Hurricanes are keen to move Skjei after acquiring him at the February trade deadline. Domi and Gostisbehere have been fixtures in the rumor mill for some time. Speaking of the Canadiens, Pierre LeBrun said they’re willing to move their first-round pick (16th overall) in this year’s draft for the right return. He indicated they’re in the market for a top-six forward.

New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri, Canadiens center Phillip Danault, New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk, Canucks center Brandon Sutter and Blues winger Jaden Schwartz are in spots 31 to 35.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’re reaching the spot in the list where there are players who could be traded, but various factors likely work against it. For example, I don’t believe the Canadiens intend to trade Danault. While centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi could become the Habs top-two centers next season, they’ll need Danault’s skill and experience in case one or both of those youngsters struggle or become sidelined. Maybe that move takes place at next season’s trade deadline. Not now.

Blues center Tyler Bozak, the Golden Knights’ Jonathan Marchessault, Alec Martinez and Paul Stastny, and Coyotes winger Phil Kessel fill spots 36 to 40.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marchessault, Martinez or Stastny could become a cap casualty if the Golden Knights need to shed salary to re-sign Lehner or pursue a big-ticket free agent like Pietrangelo. That’s assuming they can’t find any takers for Fleury.

Edmonton’s Kris Russell, Carolina’s Vincent Trocheck, Columbus’ Alexander Wennberg, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour, the Rangers’ Tony DeAngelo, Edmonton Evan Bouchard, Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk, San Jose’s Martin Jones, Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton and Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky round out the bottom ten.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli wonders if Bobrovsky’s contract is the NHL’s most unmovable. Bill Zito, the Panthers new GM, should become the front-runner for GM of the Year if he can trade that contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 30, 2020

The New York Rangers will buy out Henrik Lundqvist, Sabres GM Kevyn Adams addresses Jack Eichel trade rumors, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are expected to announce the contract buyout of Henrik Lundqvist later today. The 38-year-old goaltender spent his entire 15 NHL seasons with the Rangers. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2011-12, backstopped the Blueshirts to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, three Eastern Conference Final appearances in four years, and set franchise records with 459 wins, 64 shutouts and 61 playoff victories.

The New York Rangers are expected to buy out Henrik Lundqvist (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The buyout will mark the end of an era for the Rangers. Lundqvist was the face of the Blueshirts through most of his tenure and the greatest goalie in franchise history. All that’s missing from his resume is a Stanley Cup, though it certainly wasn’t due to lack of effort on his part.

Lundqvist’s performance declined over the last couple of seasons, losing the starter’s job in 2019-20 as the Rangers gave more playing time to Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev. He has only a year left on his contract (with a hefty annual value of $8.5 million) but it’s clear the Rangers aren’t willing to carry three goalies next season.

We all knew the buyout was coming but it’s still a sad end to Lundqvist’s long career with the Rangers. There could be interest from other clubs but I daresay they’ll want him in a backup/mentor role.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams shot down recent trade speculation swirling around team captain Jack Eichel. Adams acknowledged receiving phone calls from other GMs but indicated they were just asking questions. “It’s something that I want to make very clear that we have no intention, and we’re not shopping Jack or talking to teams looking to do anything with Jack,” said Adams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams is new on the job so rival general managers are going to inquire about his plans, especially for his top players. It’s always possible a GM could call with an offer for Eichel too good to pass up, but I don’t think that offer exists for Adams. Unless Eichel asks to be traded (and his agent recently said that hasn’t happened), the Sabres aren’t trading him.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Tampa Bay Lightning arrived home yesterday and celebrated their Stanley Cup championship with family, some sponsors and select fans at Amelie Arena. The Lightning won the Cup on Monday night with a 2-0 win over the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.

NHL.COM: The order of selection for the 2020 NHL Draft has been released. The draft will be held on Oct. 6 and 7.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators GM David Poile said unrestricted free agents Craig Smith and Mikael Granlund won’t be coming back.

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello said the club will play its home games next season at Nassau Coliseum. They are expected to move into their new arena at Belmont Park for the 2021-22 season.

SPORTSNET: The 2020 Spengler Cup has been canceled because of COVID-19 concerns. The invitational tournament is held during the December holidays and is made up of mostly Europe-based players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Many of those players are former NHLers now playing for European teams. The Christmas holidays won’t be the same for me without the Spengler Cup.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 25, 2020

The Penguins trade Patric Hornqvist to the Panthers for Mike Matheson, the latest Stanley Cup Final news and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

TSN: After a day of uncertainty, the Pittsburgh Penguins finally traded winger Patric Hornqvist to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Mike Matheson. The Panthers also sent winger Colton Sceviour to the Penguins in the deal.

Pittsburgh Penguins trade Patric Hornqvist to the Florida Panthers (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: This trade was originally reported on Wednesday but was held up due to Hornqvist’s no-trade clause and insurance concerns regarding his contract. It took a day to get those issues sorted.

The Penguins get younger by taking on the 26-year-old Matheson and 31-year-old Sceviour while the Panthers hope to benefit in the short term by the 33-year-old Hornqvist’s playoff experience and gritty style of play. Matheson struggled over the last two years but the Pens have had success taking on blueliners (like Justin Schultz and Trevor Daley) who improved once they came to Pittsburgh.

Hornqvist has three years left on his contract, Matheson six years and Sceviour one year. The Penguins don’t free up much cap space for 2020-21, swapping Hornqvist’s $5.3 million annual average value for Matheson ($4.875 million) and Sceviour ($1.2 million).

The Penguins might not be done dealing. They have a surplus of eight defensemen under NHL contracts and still have to re-sign goaltender Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry. That’s generating speculation one of those blueliners could be shopped in a cost-cutting deal.

NBC SPORTS: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov’s consistency is among the driving factors in his club’s quest for the Stanley Cup. He’s the playoffs’ leading scorer with 30 points and has had eight multi-point games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov’s performance puts him among the leading candidates for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars face the Lightning tonight in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final and Game 5 on Saturday. That could put a considerable burden upon goaltender Anton Khudobin. With Ben Bishop still unfit to play, there are questions over what they’ll do between the pipes during the upcoming back-to-back stretch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin normally backs up Bishop, but he’s played in most of the Stars’ games in this postseason. Youngster Jake Oettinger appeared in just over 36 minutes in two games, replacing Khudobin for the third period during the Stars 5-2 loss in Game 3 on Wednesday.

SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is understandably proud of what the NHL accomplished with its return-to-play plan with two quarantine bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto. “It’s been nothing short of remarkable”, he said yesterday.

Bettman praised NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer and his staff of 150 people for their planning and staging of the event, as well as the governments of Alberta and Ontario and the Canadian government, and the collaborative efforts between the league and the NHLPA.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman’s pride is justified. The league silenced its critics by staging a safe environment for 24 teams in two NHL cities to compete for the 2020 Stanley Cup. However, he indicated the league’s intent is not to stage next season in a bubble environment. They hope to have fans in the arenas when it is safe to do so.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed center Curtis Lazar to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $800K.

SPORTSNET: The Nashville Predators re-signed forward Yakov Trenin to a two-year, $1.45-million contract.

NHL.COM: The league revealed its offseason protocols for training at team facilities. The plan will be similar to Phase 2 of the NHL’s return-to-play plan.

The teams can open their training facilities if a minimum of five players request it commencing Oct. 15, though they can open them sooner at their discretion following the completion of the Stanley Cup Final. No more than 12 players will be allowed on the ice at one time, though more players may be present in the facility at the same time.

Local public health restrictions will be observed and mandatory testing for COVID-19 is required for players and training staff wishing to use the facility.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2020

The latest on the Penguins, Coyotes, and Predators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe believes Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is going to make significant moves in the coming weeks, though the pressure from team executives may have relented a bit since their qualifying-round elimination over a month ago.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (NHL Images).

It’s only a matter of time until goaltender Matt Murray is moved. They’d love to get a first-round pick in return but so far there are no takers. Given their cap issues, they could be fine with a return of draft picks and prospects for Murray. Yohe also expects another salaried player could be moved.

Yohe would be surprised if defenseman Kris Letang is traded. He doesn’t rule out recently re-signed Jared McCann getting traded but feels they’d like to keep him as a third-line center. He also said adding a right-hand defenseman is high on the Penguins’ wish list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yohe recently suggested Vancouver’s Chris Tanev, Tampa Bay’s Kevin Shattenkirk, Ottawa’s Ron Hainsey and Philadelphia’s Justin Braun as possible right-shot free-agent defense targets for the Penguins. Depending on how much cap space Rutherford frees up, Hainsey or Braun would be his most affordable options.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Mark Madden wouldn’t be surprised if McCann gets traded. He points out the center’s new two-year contract ($2.94 million AAV) could make him easier to move.

COYOTES

TSN: Travis Yost believes teams interested in acquiring Oliver Ekman-Larsson should be aware of the decline in his production since 2015-16. While he feels the Arizona Coyotes captain is still a good player who could be very good in the right situation, the 29-year-old defenseman is on the wrong side of the aging curve carrying a big contract ($8.25 million AAV) through 2026-27.

AZCOYOTESINSIDER.COM: Craig Morgan cites league sources say Arizona Coyotes blueliner Niklas Hjalmarsson will not waive his no-movement clause for the final year of his contract. He wants to spend the season in Arizona for family reasons that likely center around his two sons. Morgan doubts the Coyotes will buy him out because the savings would be nominal and he’s already received half of his $4 million in actual salary in signing bonus money.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ekman-Larsson trade chatter emerged weeks before their recent hiring of Bill Armstrong as their new general manager. He could prefer hanging onto Ekman-Larsson in hopes his performance improves as the roster does. If ownership insists on dumping salary, Armstrong could see what the trade market is like for his captain. The decline in his stats plus his hefty contract (with a full no-movement clause) could dampen his trade value.

PREDATORS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Adam Vingan recently listed Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo, New York Rangers winger Jesper Fast, Tampa Bay Lightning winger Pat Maroon and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk as bargain free-agent options for the Nashville Predators. He also suggested they could re-sign winger Craig Smith.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Predators have $73.3 million invested in 18 players for 2020-21. Unless GM David Poile sheds some salary, they won’t be major players in the UFA market. The best they’ll get is bargain signings like those suggested by Vingan. I wouldn’t be surprised if they bring back Smith.