NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 17, 2020

NHL releases “Reverse Retro” jerseys plus the latest on Henrik Lundqvist, Bobby Ryan and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The NHL and adidas released their “Reverse Retro” alternate jerseys for all 31 clubs. The jerseys will be available for purchase on Dec. 1 and will be worn by the teams during multiple games in 2020-21.

Henrik Lundqvist could return to the New York Rangers once his playing career is over (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The big reveal of these jerseys stirred up considerable buzz on social media among NHL fans but time will tell if this translates into significant sales. As I noted yesterday, I’m not a fan of alternate jerseys. However, I don’t fault the league for its current cash grab given how COVID-19 is affecting the start of the 2020-21 season and NHL revenue. They’re facing a shortened season with limited attendance and needs all the money it can get.

FOREVER BLUESHIRTS: Former New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist could be returning to the Blueshirts following his playing career. The 38-year-old goaltender told Sweden’s Goteborgs-Posten he expects to return to the club in some capacity.

I’ll be part of the Rangers for the rest of my life, in one way or another,” he said.”Both I and the Rangers have been clear about that. That’s how it will be.”

Lundqvist signed with the Washington Capitals after the Rangers bought out the final season of his contract. He’s not sure what his role with the Blueshirts will be but feels he’ll be connected to the club “forever.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post subsequently picked up the story, confirming the blog’s translation of the Swedish interview.

TSN: Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Bobby Ryan is really motivated to have a great year with the club. The 33-year-old winger signed with the Wings after the Ottawa Senators bought out his contract. Blashill feels his experience and right-hand shot will be beneficial to the Wings’ power play. Ryan won the Masterton Trophy after publicly sharing his battle with alcohol issues.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed prospect winger Jack Quinn to a three-year entry-level contract. They selected the 18-year-old Quinn with the eighth overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers are facing a lawsuit from a Dallas hotel over two unpaid hotel bills. The first was last December worth $28,000.00 and the second was $27,000.00 for a stay in March. The club claims the error is due to an accounting glitch compounded by a timeline miscommunication and intends to pay the bill in full in a matter of days.

ESPN.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning announced the elimination of 30 positions. The club didn’t make any money during its 2020 Stanley Cup championship run because the playoffs took place in quarantine bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton. Due to COVID-19, the Lightning lost money last season and expects to do so again in 2020-21.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’re not the only NHL club to lose money, cut positions and lay off employees because of the pandemic. That’s why the majority of clubs are keen to return to play this season in their own arenas.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 14, 2020

The latest on the Bruins and Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: In his latest mailbag, Joe Haggerty was asked if the Bruins will sign a free agent. Right now, he doesn’t think so but that could change once the dates for next season are sorted out.

Will the Boston Bruins re-sign or trade Jake DeBrusk? (NHL Images)

It also hinges on their remaining moves, such as whether they’ll re-sign winger Jake DeBrusk or trade him. If they do the latter in exchange for a young defenseman, it could free up space to pursue a scorer like Mike Hoffman on a one-year deal. Either way, they could also be in a position to sign winger Anthony Duclair on a short-term contract.

Haggerty also mentioned the possibility of swapping DeBrusk for a defenseman when asked if the Bruins would trade for a rearguard to fill the gap left by Torey Krug’s departure. He also noted they were willing to part with Urho Vaakanainen and other assets (including a high draft pick) for Oliver Ekman-Larsson. However, he thinks the Bruins would have to convince the other club to absorb part of a defenseman’s salary or take back someone like John Moore in return.

Ultimately, Haggerty thinks the Bruins could go into next season with their current blueline corps. He has his doubts Zdeno Chara will be back, though Chara’s agent said his client is waiting on a season format before re-upping with the Bruins.

Speaking of Chara, Haggerty’s colleague Jimmy Murphy reports there’s speculation linking the big blueliner to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins re-sign DeBrusk, which I expect they will, they’ll have to go into the bargain bin for a free-agent left-side defenseman or stick with their current blueline and see how things unfold during the season.

The Bruins have over $6.6 million in cap space, which should be enough to get DeBrusk signed to an affordable two-year bridge deal and leave some wiggle room for other additions. Depending on when the season begins, they could get some early cap relief by placing sidelined wingers Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak on long-term injury reserve and use it to add a player or two. However, they would have to shed salary to become cap compliant when those two return.

As for Chara, I don’t see how the Lightning, Leafs or Islanders could fit him in even if he accepted a bargain basement deal.

The Lightning must shed salary to sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. The Isles must re-sign RFA center Mathew Barzal. Once that’s done, they are expected to officially announce the signings of Cory Schneider, Matt Martin and Andy Greene, which will use up whatever cap space they’ve got left. The Leafs, meanwhile, are over the cap by $1 million but are expected to bury salary in the minors.

Unless those clubs make a cost-cutting trade or acquire a player on permanent LTIR to allow them to exceed the cap, they don’t have room for Chara or anyone else.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello looked ahead at possible moves by the New York Rangers at next year’s trade deadline. He expects they’ll be sellers again, suggesting center Ryan Strome as a prime trade chip, especially if he has another big year skating alongside Artemi Panarin.

Carpiniello speculates the Rangers could attempt to package defenseman Tony DeAngelo for either a second-line center or a first-pair right-side blueliner. Rearguards Brendan Smith and Jack Johnson could also be shopped. Winger Pavel Buchnevich could also hit the trade block if youngsters Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko earn top-six minutes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s far too early to determine which Rangers will be trade candidates by the deadline. Much will depend upon where they are in the standings by then. I doubt they’ll shake things up too much if they’re holding onto a playoff spot. The play of Strome, DeAngelo, Buchnevich, Smith and Johnson will determine how much value they might have in the trade market by the deadline.

If we’re going to play the guessing game, Buchnevich could be the most likely to move. The Rangers have a surplus of wingers and he could slip down the depth chart, especially if Lafreniere is moved to right wing and plays well at that position. However, that’s not a certainty as we don’t know how well the youngster will adjust to the NHL level, let alone getting used to skating on his wrong wing.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 7, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 7, 2020

An update on Jake DeBrusk plus the latest on the Rangers and Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT WILL DEBRUSK’S NEW CONTRACT LOOK LIKE?

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty speculates Jake DeBrusk’s next contract with the Bruins could be between what Ryan Strome signed with the New York Rangers and what Jake Virtanen and Denis Gurianov signed with their respective clubs.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

Strome, 27, signed a two-year, $9 million contract this week, with an annual average value of $4.5 million. Virtanen agreed to a two-year, $5 million deal ($2.55 million AAV) with the Vancouver Canucks. Gurianov inked a deal similar to Virtanen’s with the Dallas Stars.

Haggerty suggested DeBrusk could get a two-year bridge deal worth between $3.5 million and $4 million annually. That will put him in line to seek a more lucrative deal in two years’ time when he’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk was the subject of some trade speculation in recent weeks. However, I doubt the Bruins part ways with him. While his production can be streaky, he still provides meaningful secondary scoring to the Bruins. They also hold the hammer in contract negotiations and will ink him to an affordable bridge deal.

LATEST ON THE RANGERS

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers completed their offseason business after signing Brendan Lemieux on Friday to a two-year contract. While they made no significant acquisitions via trades or free agency, they shed some salary by trading Marc Staal to Detroit and buying out the final season of Henrik Lundqvist’s contract. The Blueshirts also avoided arbitration with Lemieux, Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo and Alexandar Georgiev.

Brooks believes any roster restructuring will have to wait. He noted there was a limited trade market, if any, for DeAngelo, Strome, and Pavel Buchnevich. They have sufficient cap space to promote from within.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the trade market for DeAngelo, Strome or Buchnevich improves over the course of 2020-21. That depends on how they perform and the Rangers’ roster needs. I feel Strome is more valuable to the Rangers right now given his terrific chemistry with Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin. That could leave DeAngelo or Buchnevich as the more likely trade candidates.

RED WINGS NOT DONE MAKING MOVES?

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan reports Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has sufficient cap space ($9.5 million) to add talent if he chooses. Yzerman acknowledged this during a recent interview, pointing out a number of players remain available in the free-agent market. He said he would consider adding talent as the start of the regular season draws nearer.

Yzerman also indicated he’d be open to adding via trade. However, he said the market is quiet right now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Defensive depth was a big weakness last season for the Wings. Yzerman’s already made moves to address that problem by acquiring Marc Staal, Troy Stecher and Jon Merrill. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t surprise me if he brought in one more experienced blueliner on a one-year deal. He could also look at adding an experienced checking-line winger.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 7, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 7, 2020

NHL still looking at a Jan. 1 start to the 2020-21 season, Brendan Lemieux and MacKenzie Weegar avoid arbitration, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said opening the 2020-21 season on Jan. 1 remains the objective. Pierre LeBrun reports the joint NHL-NHLPA return-to-play committee has yet to meet, though the top leaders of the league and the PA have been in daily contact over the season.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly (NHL.com).

TVA SPORTS’ Renaud Lavoie reports the NHL hopes to make its return-to-play announcement as soon as possible. “It could take another 7 to 10 days,” tweeted Lavoie. “Lots of works (sic) to be done until then.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL brain trust will likely keep an eye on the NBA’s plans to return to action in December. Both leagues share many of the same arenas. While caution remains the watchword for the NHL, they’ll maintain a close watch on the NBA’s return-to-play for any meaningful information it can apply to its own plans.

I’m skeptical about Lavoie’s timeline for an official start date if the return-to-play committee hasn’t even met yet. It could more than several days to work out an agreement.

NEW YORK POST: Brendan Lemieux avoided salary arbitration with the Rangers, agreeing to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $1.55 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a slight bump over the $925K Lemieux earned last season. It puts the 24-year-old checking-line winger in a position for another go at arbitration in two year’s time, where he could push for a more substantial pay raise.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers avoided arbitration with MacKenzie Weegar as the 26-year-old defenseman signed a three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weegar was the subject of some trade speculation but the Panthers obviously value his physical presence on their blue line. Cap Friendly indicates the annual average value is $3.25 million, more than doubling the AAV of his previous contract. He’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agent status at the end of this deal.

The signings of Lemieux and Weegar completes this year’s NHL arbitration schedule. Of the 26 players filing for arbitration, only one (Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi) required a hearing.

THE SCORE: cited Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland telling The Edmonton Journal he expects defenseman Oscar Klefbom to be sidelined by a nagging shoulder injury for the entire 2020-21 campaign.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been widely assumed Klefbom could miss most or all of the coming season. The Oilers can place him on long-term injury reserve if necessary to get some salary-cap wiggle room for a potential replacement.

NHL.COM: Former NHL defenseman Jim Neilson has passed away at age 79. Neilson spent 12 of his 16 NHL seasons (1962-63 to 1977-78) with the New York Rangers, followed by two seasons with the California Golden Seals and two with the Cleveland Barons. A solid stay-at-home defender, Neilson played 1, 024 games, amassing 368 points. He also spent one season in the WHA with the Edmonton Oilers before retiring in 1979.

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










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 6, 2020

Alex Ovechkin discusses his future, the Rangers avoid arbitration with Ryan Strome, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Alexander Ovechkin told Russian Television International he’d like to finish his playing career with KHL club Dynamo Moscow. However, he still intends to finish his NHL career with the Washington Capitals. “It is clear, in two, three, four years, maybe five, I will end my career in Washington,” he said.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He is still motivated to win another Stanley Cup, but he’s also chasing Wayne Gretzky’s goal-scoring record. Ovechkin sits 188 goals behind Gretzky’s 894. He’s also one season shy of tying Gretzky and Mike Bossy for the most 50-goal seasons (10).

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers avoided arbitration with Ryan Strome, signing the 27-year-old center to a two-year, $9 million contract. The annual average value is $4.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a nice pay raise for Strome over the $3.1 million AAV of his previous contract. Larry Brooks noted the move also provides stability at center for the Rangers, though they could leave Strome unprotected in next year’s expansion draft. Cap Friendly indicates the Blueshirts have over $6.3 million in projected cap space with Brendan Lemieux left to sign. He’s slated for arbitration today. 

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov to a three-year, $8.4 million contract. The annual average value is $2.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gavrikov, 24, had a solid NHL debut with 18 points in 69 games while averaging almost 19 minutes per game. His contract leaves the Blue Jackets with $9.225 million in cap space with Pierre-Luc Dubois to sign.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks signed prospect winger Jacob Perreault to a three-year, entry-level contract. Perreault was selected 27th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed winger Marko Dano to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700K at the NHL level.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 5, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 5, 2020

The Islanders avoid arbitration with Ryan Pulock, Blue Jackets winger Gustav Nyquist has shoulder surgery, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: The New York Islanders avoided arbitration with Ryan Pulock as the 26-year-old defenseman agreed to a two-year, $10 million contract. The annual average value is $5 million, but Pulock will earn $3.34 million in actual salary this season and $6.66 million in 2021-22.

New York Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pulock will be an unrestricted free agent in two years’ time. He’ll be in line for a significant raise on his next contract.

Cap Friendly indicates this signing leaves the Islanders with $3.9 million in cap space with Mathew Barzal still to sign. That’s raising speculation over what general manager Lou Lamoriello will do to free up cap space for Barzal. I’ll have more about that later this morning in the Rumors section.

SPORTSNET: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Gustav Nyquist underwent surgery on his left shoulder. His anticipated recovery period is five-to-six months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nyquist’s absence is a big hit for the Blue Jackets’ anemic offense. He finished second among Jackets’ scorers last season in assists (27) and points (42) and fourth in goals with 15.

That’s sparked conjecture over how they’ll offset Nyquist’s absence. You can read about that later this morning in the Rumors section.

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reported the New York Rangers have asked an arbitrator for a two-year contract in Brendan Lemieux’s case at $950K and $1.075 million. Lemieux seeks $2 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: His hearing is slated for Nov. 6.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed goaltender Dustin Tokarski to a two-year, two-way contract with an annual average value of $725K.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed defenseman William Lagesson to a two-year contract worth $725K annually. It’s a two-way deal during the first season.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins promoted director of amateur scouting Patrik Allvin to assistant general manager.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild extended their ECHL affiliation with the Allen Americans for 2020-21.