NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 7, 2021

The Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov expected to miss the start of the season, Wild owner discusses his club’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Sharks prepare to start the season without Evander Kane, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports an undisclosed injury could sideline New York Islanders starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov for the upcoming start of the season. It’s uncertain if Varlamov’s condition is tied to a nagging knee injury that hampered him during the 2021 playoffs. His absence would mean Ilya Sorokin becomes the Isles’ start with Cory Schneider as his backup. 

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Varlamov wouldn’t be the only noteworthy starter expected to miss the start of this season. Montreal’s Carey Price will also reportedly remain sidelined when the schedule begins next week. Speaking of the Canadiens…

TSN: Habs defenseman Joel Edmundson will be sidelined two-to-three weeks with an undisclosed injury. He’s been day-to-day since training camp opened.

NHL.COM: Bad news for Los Angeles Kings’ Quinton Byfield as the 19-year-old center was diagnosed with a fractured left ankle suffered during Tuesday’s preseason loss to the Arizona Coyotes. He’s been placed on injured reserve and sidelined indefinitely.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An unfortunate setback for Byfield. Selected second overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, he was hoping to garner a full-time roster spot with the Kings this season.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto will miss tonight’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. He could have a concussion after suffering the injury during Monday’s game against the Calgary Flames.

THE SCORE: New York Rangers enforcer Ryan Reaves is day-to-day with an injured left leg after his skate was clipped by New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban as they went into the corner chasing a loose puck. Reaves had to be helped off the ice.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

THE ATHLETIC: Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold told Michael Russo he supported general manager Bill Guerin’s decision to buy out winger Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter this summer. However, he expressed no regrets about signing the duo to their 13-year contracts back in 2012.

It totally changed our franchise,” said Leipold. “We went from not selling any tickets and having a future that looked bleak to overnight being a sellout team for the next five, six years.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The additions of Parise and Suter didn’t translate into a Stanley Cup for the Wild but Leipold’s right about how much they improved the franchise. Before they joined the Wild, the club reached the playoffs just four times in 11 seasons. With Parise and Suter in the lineup, they qualified for the postseason eight times in nine seasons.

THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner said his club is preparing to start the season without Evander Kane in the lineup. The 30-year-old winger has been out of the lineup while under investigation by the league regarding allegations of spousal abuse and using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 20, 2021

The Coyotes could need a new home after this season, Auston Matthews to grace the cover of EA Sports NHL 22, an update on Zdeno Chara and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Katie Strang reported yesterday the city of Glendale informed the Arizona Coyotes it is opting out of its joint lease agreement for Gila River Arena, making the 2021-22 season the club’s last at the facility.

Gila River Arena (NHL.com).

Strang indicates this notice comes following months of stalled negotiations between the two sides regarding terms for a lease extension, arena renovations, and multiple notices of outstanding and delinquent balances owed by the club as part of the current lease agreement.

We’ve reached the point of no return,” said city manager Kevin Phelps, who oversees day-to-day operations and is also responsible for the arena management contract. “There’s no wavering”.

Coyotes president Xavier Gutierrez released a statement expressing the club’s disappointment with the decision. He is hoping the city will reconsider its position and restart negotiations for an extension.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports skeptics such as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman view the city’s position as merely a negotiating ploy. Phelps was adamant that’s not the case.

I’ve made my recommendation and told the (city) council what I was going to do, and I’ve got the full support of our city council,” he said. Phelps maintained the decision is in the best interest of the entertainment district and of the city.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The long, tempestuous history between the Coyotes and the city of Glendale could be in its final chapter. The club has signaled its intent to build a new arena in or near downtown Phoenix. Morgan wondered how long Glendale would remain patient with the Coyotes’ year-to-year approach. Barring a last-minute change of heart, their tolerance is at an end.

This news sparked conjecture over whether the NHL will finally relocate the troubled franchise to a market such as Quebec City or Houston. Rest assured Bettman and the league will explore every option to keep the club in Arizona. Those efforts, however, will depend on where and when a new arena will be constructed. They certainly won’t have one built in time for the 2022-23 season.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will grace the cover of EA Sports’ NHL 22. He was also on the cover of NHL 20. Matthews was the winner of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as last season’s leading goal scorer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The news sparked some criticism on social media from non-Leafs fans. It’s a sign we’ve truly reached the dog days of summer. I doubt his visage on the cover will prevent gamers from buying it.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: A source claims it’s highly unlikely we’ll see a reunion between the Boston Bruins and former captain Zdeno Chara. The 44-year-old free-agent defenseman prefers playing in the Eastern Conference as his family still lives in Boston. Two other sources didn’t rule out Chara returning to the Bruins in a coaching or player management position if he decides to retire.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings bought out the contract of veteran forward Frans Nielsen. It will cost them $4.25 million against their cap this season but drops to $500K next season. The Wings also named Pat Verbeek as the general manager of their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Red Wings can afford to absorb Nielsen’s still-hefty buyout cap hit for this season. Cap Friendly shows them with over $19 million in cap space for 2021-22 following the buyout.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Ryan Reaves has put his home in Summerlin on the market for $1.2 million. He was traded to the New York Rangers in July.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres 2021 first-round pick Owen Power is returning to the University of Michigan for another season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That sparked speculation by some fans on social media suggesting Power didn’t want to play for the troubled Sabres. In reality, the young defenseman indicated he was considering returning to college this season well before the NHL draft.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski takes a deep dive into the NHL’s decision to allow ads on player jerseys. Among the many interesting tidbits:

Ads for alcohol, tobacco and marijuana products won’t be allowed. Ditto anything sexualized.

There will be limitations for sportsbook gaming ads. Fans will be able to buy team jerseys without the ads.

The league is also limiting sales to one sponsor on the jersey. It is also adamant the jerseys won’t look like those in European leagues that feature multiple ads.

THE PROVINCE: The Canucks were among the first NHL teams to briefly have sponsors on their practice jerseys in the late-1980s and early-1990s. Those didn’t last long as the league brain at the time frowned upon it.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 31, 2021

Jack Eichel’s agents issue a statement critical of Sabres management, David Krejci will finish his playing career in the Czech Republic, and surgeries for Alex Tuch and Paul Byron top today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: The agents for Jack Eichel released a statement yesterday expressing their displeasure over the Buffalo Sabres’ handling of their client’s medical treatment for a herniated disc in his neck. Eichel prefers surgery but his representatives accused the Sabres medical staff of preventing him from undergoing the procedure. “This process is stopping Jack from playing in the NHL and is not working,” they conclude.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This statement was released in response to a recent press conference by Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams where he said he’s not feeling pressure to trade Eichel. It’s apparent they intend to turn up the heat on Adams to speed up the “process”. Time will tell if it has the desired effect but it’s apparent the pending divorce between Eichel and the Sabres is growing acrimonious.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Krejci brought his 15-season NHL career to a close yesterday. The long-time Bruins center issued a statement indicating he was finishing his playing career back home in the Czech Republic.

Krejci, 35, spent his entire NHL career with the Bruins, playing in 962 career games and scoring 215 goals, 515 assists and 730 points. He helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reach the Cup Final in 2013 and 2019.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krejci was sometimes overshadowed by teammates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand but was an invaluable part of their success during most of his tenure in Boston. He ranks among their all-time leaders in games played, assists and points.

His departure leaves a big hole in their second-line center position that could prove difficult to fill in the short term. Best wishes to Krejci over the remainder of his playing career and beyond.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch will be sidelined for six months after undergoing shoulder surgery last week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The earliest he could return to the lineup is late January. This could explain their acquisition of Evgeni Dadonov from the Ottawa Senators this week.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron underwent hip surgery this week and is expected to be out for five months. He could be out until January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could explain their signing of Mathieu Perreault this week to a one-year, $950K contract.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues re-signed forward Ivan Barbashev to a two-year, $4.5 million contract.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed forward Tyson Jost to a two-year, $4 million contract.

NHL NETWORK‘s Kevin Weekes reports the New York Rangers signed recently acquired winger Ryan Reaves to a one-year, $1.75 million contract extension.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed winger Ondrej Kase to a one-year, $1.25 million contract.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings acquired forward Mitchell Stephens from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2022.

TSN: The Montreal Canadiens hired Eric Raymond as their new goalie coach.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2021

Alex Ovechkin looks forward to chasing Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, the Blue Jackets sign Zach Werenski to a long-term contract extension, and the Blues sign Brandon Saad. Get the details plus other notable trades and signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Alex Ovechkin said the opportunity to pursue Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record factored into his recent signing of a five-year contract with the Capitals. Ovechkin, 35, has 730 career goals and needs 165 more to break Gretzky’s record. To do it, he needs to average 33 goals per season.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The all-time goal-scoring record is the most reachable of Gretzky’s significant offensive achievements. Nevertheless, it’ll a daunting challenge for Ovechkin, who turns 36 in September.

Ovechkin’s still among the league’s elite scorers, tallying 24 goals in 45 games last season and 48 in 68 games in 2019-20. If not for the pandemic (and a half-season lost to a lockout in 2012-13), he’d be much closer to Gretzky’s record by now. However, he’s also at an age when his production will begin to decline.

The Capitals captain is currently sixth on the all-time list. A 37-goal performance this season would vault him over Marcel Dionne (731), Brett Hull (741) and Jaromir Jagr (766) into third overall, 34 behind Gordie Howe (801).

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed defenseman Zach Werenski to a six-year, $57.5 million contract extension. The annual average value is $9.583 million and takes effect in 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets consider Werenski among the NHL’s top defensemen over the past five seasons and are paying him accordingly. He’s tallied 189 points in 335 career games. Starting in 2022-23, he’ll be the third highest-paid defenseman in the league with a higher annual cap hit than Colorado Avalanche blueliner Cale Makar’s $9 million and just ahead of former defense partner Seth Jones’ $9.5 million AAV with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Werenski’s a skilled puck-moving defenseman but I don’t consider him worth more than Makar, a Calder Trophy winner in 2019-20 who was a Norris Trophy finalist last season. But after enduring a steady parade of talent departing Columbus via trades and free agency in recent years, the Jackets had to pay the price to keep Werenski in the fold.

His new contract lacks no-trade protection in 2022-23 and a full no-movement clause in 2023-24 through 2026-27, dropping to a modified no-trade in the final season.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues signed winger Brandon Saad to a five-year, $22.5 million contract. The annual average value is $4.5 million. The deal also comes with a full no-trade clause in the first four years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saad took a pay cut from the $6 million AAV he earned over six seasons on his previous contract. He joins a club undergoing a retooling of its roster since winning the Stanley Cup two years ago. He fills the vacant left wing spot on the Blues’ first line following the departure of free agent Jaden Schwartz to Seattle on Wednesday.

NEW YORK POST/LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights trade winger Ryan Reaves to the New York Rangers in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers acquired enforcer Reaves in yet another move to bolster their toughness. The Golden Knights, meanwhile, made this move to free up salary-cap space by shedding his $1.75 million cap hit.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed winger Corey Perry to a two-year, $2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry said he wanted to return to the Montreal Canadiens for another season. The opportunity to play two seasons with the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion, however, was too good to pass up.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Zach Werenski wasn’t the only defenseman the Blue Jackets signed yesterday, inking Jake Bean to a three-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $2.33 million. The Jackets acquire the 23-year-old blueliner from the Carolina Hurricanes last week.

MLIVE.COM: Long-time Detroit Red Wings forward Darren Helm signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Helm and Valtteri Filppula were the last remaining active members of the Wings last Stanley Cup championship in 2008 still with the team last season. Filppula is also an unrestricted free agent and isn’t expected to be brought back.

SPORTSNET: The Montreal Canadiens signed forward Mathiew Perreault to a one-year, $950K contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2021

The Canadiens upset the Maple Leafs in seven games, the Islanders tie their second-round series with the Bruins, Reaves suspended two games, Kadri suspension upheld, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens advanced to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs following a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of their first-round series. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 30 saves while Brendan Gallagher, Corey Perry and Tyler Toffoli were the goal scorers. William Nylander spoiled Price’s shutout bid late in the third. The Canadiens will face the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday for the opening game of that series.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens deserved the win. Down three games to one and seemingly on the ropes, they rebounded to upset the heavily favored Leafs. Price once again reminded everyone why teammates and opponents still consider him the best goaltender in the league. He was outstanding in this series. His teammates were buoyed by his play and his calm leadership and rode it to victory.

The Leafs choked. There’s no sugarcoating this one. They had the Canadiens on the ropes after Game 4 but couldn’t find the knockout punch. Richard Trophy winner Auston Matthews was held to one goal. Mitch Marner finished the regular season in fourth place among the league’s point leaders but couldn’t score a goal in this series. There’s plenty of blame to go around for this epic failure. However, Matthews and Marner are the Leafs’ biggest stars and were expected to lead their club to victory in this series. They didn’t, and they’ll carry that burden for a while.

This will be an interesting summer for the Leafs as they evaluate this disappointing finish to what had been a dazzling regular season. I’ll have more later this morning in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

An overtime goal by Casey Cizikas gave the New York Islanders a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins to tie their second-round series at a game apiece. Semyon Varlamov got the start for the Isles and made 39 saves for the win while Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a goal and an assist. Brad Marchand had a goal and an assist for the Bruins. Game 3 goes Thursday night on Long Island.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining back-and-forth contest. Boston quickly opened the scoring, the Islanders rebounded to take a 3-1 lead but the Bruins rallied to force overtime. A turnover at the Islanders blueline by Jeremy Lauzon sprung Cizikas for his breakaway winner.

The NHL released its full schedule for the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves received a two-game suspension for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct against Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves in Game 1 of their second-round series on Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reported Reaves admitted he yanked out some of Graves’ hair while the Golden Knights admitted the incident was retaliatory due to Graves’ earlier hit on Mattias Janmark. And for that, he gets two games, probably because Graves returned to the game after leaving the ice for repairs.

SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri’s eight-game suspension after hearing Kadri’s appeal last week. He was suspended for a hit to the head of St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in Game 2 of their first-round series.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes could shuffle their lineup with winger Nino Niederreiter expected to be sidelined for the entirety of their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2021

The Avalanche and Lightning win the opening games of their respective second-round series, an update on Jake Muzzin, the Islanders consider a goalie change, commemorating a notable anniversary in Jets history, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each had two goals and an assist while Cale Makar collected four points as the Colorado Avalanche thumped the Vegas Golden Knights 7-1 in the opening game of their second-round series. Game 2 goes Wednesday in Denver.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

Tempers flared after Vegas forward Mattias Janmark left the game in the second period with an apparent head injury following a hit by Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves. Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves received a match penalty in the third period for punching Graves in the back of the head, throwing him to the ice and attacking him while he was down. The Avs defenseman was down for several minutes before skating to the dressing room.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche took control of this game in the opening minutes and never let up. Vegas goaltender Robin Lehner looked a little rusty in his first appearance of this postseason. I daresay we’ll see Marc-Andre Fleury return to the Vegas net for Game 2. Lehner wasn’t solely to blame for this lopsided loss. His teammates were outclassed in this contest.

Reaves’ match penalty means he could receive a suspension by the NHL department of player discipline. Graves received a minor penalty for interference on the Janmark hit. No word on whether he’ll face supplemental discipline.

The Tampa Bay Lightning downed the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Barclay Goodrow snapped a 1-1 tie in the third period while Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 37 saves for the win. Brayden Point was the other Lightning scorer while Jake Bean replied for the Hurricanes. Game 2 goes Tuesday night in Carolina.

Carolina winger Nino Niederreiter missed the game with an undisclosed injury suffered during practice on Saturday. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Niederreiter is “very, very doubtful” to play in this series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series will be closely contested between two talented clubs if Game 1 was any indication. Vasilevskiy made the difference in this contest. Hurricanes goalie Alex Nedeljkovic played well for most of this contest but looked off-balance on the Goodrow goal.

HEADLINES

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs aren’t ruling out defenseman Jake Muzzin from Game 7 tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. He left Game 6 with a lower-body injury and was receiving further tests yesterday. If Muzzin can’t play, Rasmus Sandin is expected to replace him.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders coach Barry Trotz is mulling whether to replace rookie Ilya Sorokin with veteran Semyon Varlamov for Game 2 against the Boston Bruins tonight. Sorokin gave up four goals on 39 shots in a 5-2 loss to the Bruins.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Craig Smith status for Game 2 is uncertain following a lower-body injury suffered in the first game.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers’ front-office purge continues as director of European scout Nick Bobrov was dismissed by new general manager Chris Drury.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: On this date in 2011, the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg and become the second edition of the Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After struggling in Atlanta, moving to the NHL’s smallest market improved the franchise’s fortunes. They’ve become a perennial playoff contender and are well-supported by Winnipeg fans. The Jets upset the Edmonton Oilers last week to advance to the second round of the 2021 playoffs. They currently await the winner of the Toronto-Montreal series.