NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 2, 2024
The four All-Star Game rosters are set, the three stars and rookie of the month for January are revealed, the latest on Sam Reinhart’s contract situation and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The four teams are set for the 2024 NHL All-Star Game following the player draft by team captains Auston Matthews and singer Justin Bieber, Nathan MacKinnon and singer Tate McRae, Jack and Quinn Hughes with singer Michael Buble, and Connor McDavid with actor Will Arnett.
Among the notable picks:
The hometown Toronto Maple Leafs all-stars will be playing on Team Matthews as he and assistant captain Morgan Rielly used their first two picks to select William Nylander and Mitch Marner.
Team Hughes used the first overall pick to select Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov, who leads the league in scoring with 85 points.
Team MacKinnon chose Pittsburgh Penguins captain (and MacKinnon’s fellow Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia native) Sidney Crosby with their first pick.
Team McDavid selected Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebucyk and Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Seattle Kraken winger Oliver Bjorkstrand was the last pick of the draft as he joined Team MacKinnon. Well, he wasn’t chosen by that team. Each of the final four players – Anaheim Ducks winger Frank Vatrano (Team Hughes), New York Rangers center Vincent Trocheck (Team Matthews), San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl (Team McDavid) and Bjorkstrand – were assigned to their respective teams.
NHL.COM: Speaking of MacKinnon, he’s the league’s first star for January 2024. Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner is the second star with Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson the third star.
Minnesota Wild defenseman Brock Faber was named the Rookie of the Month for January 2024.
NHL.COM: Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart said his contract talks with the club are going well and he has no problem with the process taking more time. “I’ve got no issues with them being ongoing. They certainly don’t either,” said Reinhart, going on to say the main focus of both sides right now is winning the Stanley Cup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Both sides have expressed a willingness to get a deal done stretching back to last fall.
Reinhart has already set a career high this season with 37 goals and with 62 points is on pace to exceed his career-best of 80 points. He’s due for a big raise on his next contract. The 28-year-old is earning an average annual value of $6.5 million and could earn between $9 million and $10 million annually on his next deal.
With over $28 million in projected cap space for 2024-25, the Panthers can afford to re-sign Reinhart. It will put a big dent into their remaining cap space and could complicate efforts to re-sign pending UFA defensemen Brandon Montour and Gustav Forsling as well as restricted free agent Anton Lundell.
THE TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs great Dave Keon believes current Leafs stars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander will probably reach the top of the list among the club’s all-time scoring leaders. “And unless they win a Cup, that will be their legacy,” he said.
“What is the object of this exercise? At the start of the year when you gather in training camp, the object of the exercise is to win the Stanley Cup,” said Keon. “If you have all of these players putting up great numbers and you’ve won one playoff series in eight or nine years, and you haven’t even played for the Stanley Cup, then you have to take a look in the mirror.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keon is speaking some harsh truth here. One of the greatest two-way forwards in NHL history, he won four Stanley Cups in six seasons with the Leafs between 1961-62 and 1966-67 and won the 1967 Conn Smythe Trophy.
Yes, the league and the game have changed since Keon’s heyday 60 years ago. Matthews, Marner and Nylander aren’t to blame for their club’s inability to build up a solid supporting cast around them. Nevertheless, they’re the foundation on which the club’s success depends. So far, they’ve struggled to meet those postseason expectations.
CALGARY SUN: Elias Lindholm posted a heartfelt message on his Instagram account to Flames fans following his trade to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday. “Thank you Calgary and thank you C of Red for these five and a half years,” he wrote.
“It’s been truly amazing to represent this organization and play in front of you all. You guys have been nothing but incredible to me and my family. We’re so grateful for our time in Calgary and it will always have a special place in our hearts. All the best, it’s been an honor.”
TSN: The sexual assault case involving five players from Canada’s 2018 World Junior team will be before a court in London, Ontario starting on Monday.
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart, Calgary Flames winger Dillon Dube, New Jersey Devils forward Michael McLeod and defenseman Cal Foote and unsigned Ottawa Senators winger Alex Formenton (who played in Switzerland this season) are each charged with one count of sexual assault. The five are on indefinite leaves of absence from their teams.
McLeod also faces an additional charge of sexual assault for “being a party to the offence.” The alleged incident occurred in London on June 19, 2018, following a Hockey Canada event.