NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2021

Elias Pettersson wants to play for a winner, Sam Reinhart re-signs with the Panthers and the Jets avoid arbitration with Neal Pionk. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE PROVINCE: In an interview with a Swedish hockey publication, Elias Pettersson said he wants to stay in Vancouver but also wants to play for a winning team that has a chance to go deep in the playoffs every year.

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

I feel like we’ve got a chance to do that next year,” said Pettersson. “If we have that chance when my next deal expires…I don’t know. I just want a chance to play where there’s a chance of winning.”

A restricted free agent, Pettersson’s contract negotiations with the Canucks are ongoing. The two sides are reportedly still not close to a deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pettersson’s remarks raised concerns on social media among Canucks fans concerned over the club’s direction under general manager Jim Benning. It’s even sparked some fear he’ll get an offer sheet from a rival club. That appears unlikely given the Canucks have sufficient cap space to match any offer plus the high rate of compensation they would receive if they opted not to match.

It’s believed Pettersson and the Canucks are currently discussing a long-term deal. Nevertheless, it’s fair to speculate whether the Canucks would have difficulty convincing Pettersson to re-sign before his next deal expires if the club is still spinning its wheels.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers reached an agreement on a new contract with forward Sam Reinhart. It’s a three-year deal worth an annual average value of $6.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A decent raise for Reinhart, who was recently acquired in a trade from the Buffalo Sabres. He earned $5.2 million last season on a one-year deal. Playing in a no-tax state like Florida likely contributed to his acceptance of that annual cap hit.

Reinhart, 25, is expected to skate at right wing on the Panthers’ top line alongside center Aleksander Barkov. He could provide a significant boost to their offensive depth as they look to take the next step toward Stanley Cup contention this season.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets avoided salary arbitration with Neal Pionk, reaching an agreement with the 26-year-old defenseman on a four-year contract worth an annual salary-cap hit of $5.875 million. He earned $3.15 million annually on his previous deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pionk has become an invaluable top-four blueliner for the Jets since being acquired from the New York Rangers two years ago. He’ll either play alongside Josh Morrisey on the first pairing or with recently acquired Brenden Dillon on the second pairing.

The Jets still have an upcoming arbitration hearing with forward Andrew Copp. He earned $2.28 million annually on his previous contract. Cap Friendly indicates the club is already over $2.1 million above the salary cap, though they’ll get some relief by placing Bryan Little ($5.29 million) on long-term injury reserve this season.

NEW YORK POST: Henrik Lundqvist could attempt an NHL comeback once he receives full medical clearance. The 39-year-old unrestricted free agent goaltender missed all of last season recovering from heart surgery.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Former NHL star Jaromir Jagr appears poised for another season with his hometown club of Kladno in the Czech Republic. The 49-year-old helped his hometown team become champion of the second division in 2020-21 and return to the Extraliga for this season.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 9, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 9, 2021

What can the Leafs do to address their short- and long-term salary-cap issues? What’s the latest on the Panthers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons took note of young defensemen such as Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse, Colorado’s Cale Makar, Chicago’s Seth Jones and Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen landing long-term deals worth over $8 million. He believes the going rate for a 27-year-old blueliner like the Leafs’ Morgan Rielly is around $8 million per season, which is a big raise over his current $5 million annual cap hit.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (NHL Images).

He believes the Leafs face a challenging decision with Rielly. Do they re-sign him? Do they let him depart via free agency next summer? If they re-sign him, how will they clear sufficient cap space for his new contract?

Complicating things further is goaltender Jack Campbell will also become eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer. Simmons speculates it could the Leafs $6 million they don’t have to keep them both.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why some observers believed the Leafs could trade Rielly this summer rather than risk losing him next summer for nothing. However, management is sticking with its core (which includes Rielly, their best puck-moving defenseman) for the coming season.

Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with $67.78 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23. Assuming the cap rises that season by $1 million, that’ll leave the Leafs with $14.7 million in projected cap space. If they re-sign Rielly for $8 million annually, they’ll have only $6.7 million left to re-sign Campbell and promising blueliner Rasmus Sandin, leaving nothing to fill out the rest of the roster.

They could let Rielly walk or shop him before the trade deadline. However, that will leave a big hole on their blueline that could prove difficult to fill.

Simmons also observed the Maple Leafs are above the salary cap but don’t have to be cap compliant until the start of the regular season. He wonders which players will be waived in training camp or whether Alex Kerfoot will be moved in a cost-cutting trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are 1.394 million over the $81.5 million cap. They also have 15 forwards under contract. Rather than trade Kerfoot, they’ll likely attempt to demote two or three of those extra forwards or see one or two of them claimed by other clubs via waivers.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, George Richards was asked about how things stand with new contracts for Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart. He anticipates new deals for both could be announced later this summer.

Regarding rumors linking the Panthers to Zdeno Chara, Richards believes they want to add another veteran defenseman but he’s not sure if Chara is the right fit. He also acknowledged the trade rumors about winger Frank Vatrano before the expansion draft. While nothing came of them, he didn’t rule out the possibility of a training camp deal.

Richards also predicted Sergei Bobrovsky could be moved out in 2023 “one way or another” but it won’t be a contract buyout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky will have just three years remaining on his contract following 2022-23. However, he must waive his no-movement clause first. The Panthers will also have to pick up a healthy chunk of his $10 million annual average value to facilitate a trade. Even then, they won’t get much interest in Bobrovsky if his performance doesn’t improve by that point.










Notable Trades and Contract Signings – July 24, 2021

Notable Trades and Contract Signings – July 24, 2021

Here’s a listing of the notable trades and free-agent signings during the second day of the 2021 NHL Draft. This will be updated throughout the day.

The Sam Reinhart trade reported early this morning is official. The Buffalo Sabres trade Reinhart to the Florida Panthers for prospect goaltender Devon Levi and a 2022 first-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s one year away from UFA eligibility. That could explain why the Sabres got a prospect rather than a player as part of the return, though they did get a first-rounder as well.

The Philadelphia Flyers trade Jakub Voracek to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Cam Atkinson. The Flyers did not retain any of Voracek’s salary in this transaction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers and Blue Jackets are among the busiest teams this weekend in the trade market as they continue shaking up their respective rosters. Voracek and Atkinson were both reportedly seeking a change of scenery. They are still reliable top-six wingers though their best seasons are likely behind them.

Voracek is returning to the team where his NHL career began. He was traded by the Jackets to the Flyers prior to the 2011 NHL Draft as part of the deal that sent Jeff Carter to Columbus. Now 31, he has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million.

Atkinson, 32, spent his entire 10-season NHL career to his point with the Blue Jackets. He has four years remaining on his deal with an annual cap hit of $5.875 million. The Flyers are freeing up $2.75 million over the next three years.

The Colorado Avalanche sign defenseman Cale Makar to a six-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $9 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quite the pay raise for the 22-year-old blueliner coming out of his entry-level contract. He quickly became one of the league’s top rearguards, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2019-20 and was a finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy this season.

I’m only surprised that it wasn’t more. Some observers estimated he could receive over $10 million annually. Given his youth and talent, this contract will probably age very well for the Avalanche.

The Edmonton Oilers sign goaltender Mike Smith to a two-year, $4.4 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith played well for the Oilers over the last two seasons…when healthy. The 39-year-old has had injury issues in recent years. He missed 12 games at the start of this season with an undisclosed injury. The annual cap hit is affordable but a two-year deal for a goalie who turns 40 next March seems one year too long.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 24, 2021

The first round of the 2021 draft is completed, Carey Price undergoes knee surgery, Sam Reinhart reportedly traded to the Panthers, Taylor Hall re-signs with Bruins, Zach Hyman heading to the Oilers, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Buffalo Sabres selected University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power with the first-overall selection in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft. The Seattle Kraken selected Powers teammate, center Matthew Beniers, with the second-overall pick, and the Anaheim Ducks took center Mason McTavish of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes third overall.

The first round of the 2021 NHL Draft is complete (NHL.com).

Defenseman Luke Hughes of the USA U-18 National Team Development Program is joining his older brother Jack Hughes with the New Jersey Devils as the fourth overall pick. Center Kent Johnson, another University of Michigan player, was taken by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the fifth overall pick.

The remaining rounds (two through seven) will be held today starting at 11 am ET.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see the full list of first-round selections by following the link above. I offer my sincere congratulations to all the players taken in this round except for the Montreal Canadiens’ selection with the 31st overall pick.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens made a controversial selection with defenseman Logan Mailloux of the OHL’s London Knights. Mailloux had withdrawn from this year’s draft after being fined for invasion of privacy and defamation in Sweden. He took a photo of himself and an 18-year-old woman engaged in a consensual sex act and shared that photo with his teammates without the woman’s consent.

The Canadiens issued a statement acknowledging the severity of Mailloux’s actions but also felt his decision to renounce himself from the draft was an acknowledgment of his poor behavior. They expressed their willingness to help him become a better person and player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are trying to justify this by claiming he was the best available player at that stage in the draft from a hockey standpoint. They also reportedly took him that high because several teams intended on taking him in the second round before the Canadiens would select with the 63rd overall pick.

The young woman victimized by Mailloux hasn’t forgiven him because she doesn’t believe he’s genuinely remorseful for what he’s done. “I do not think Logan has understood the seriousness of his behavior,” she told The Athletic’s Katie Strang in an e-mail, adding all she wanted was a heartfelt apology. Multiple sources told The Athletic that Mailloux has portrayed her as vindicative during interviews with some NHL teams.

This is inexcusable by the Canadiens. An organization that prides itself on class and character has been stained by this decision. And shame on the teams that were still willing to select him later in the draft before the Canadiens did.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price underwent knee surgery on Friday in New York. His expected recovery period is 10-12 weeks and he’s expected to return in time for the start of the 2021-22 season. Price was also evaluated for a hip injury but it will not require surgery.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins signed winger Taylor Hall to a four-year contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall was a good fit with the Bruins following his acquisition from the Buffalo Sabres at the April trade deadline. He was seeking some stability after playing for four teams in the past two years. Cap Friendly indicates he gets a no-movement clause throughout the deal and a modified no-trade clause starting in 2022-23.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres have reportedly traded center Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers. It’s believed the Sabres will receive prospect goaltender Devon Levi and the Panthers’ first-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The trade is expected to be officially announced later today during the remaining rounds of the draft. Reinhart is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s one year away from UFA eligibility. That could explain why the Sabres got a prospect rather than a player as part of the return, though they did get a first-rounder as well.

Speaking of trades, several notable moves took place before the first round of the draft. They include the Columbus Blue Jackets trading Seth Jones to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes engaged in a multi-player swap involving Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the Sabres shipping defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers dealing Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues. You can read my take on those deals by following this link.

TORONTO SUN: Zach Hyman’s days with the Maple Leafs are done. The pending UFA winger has verbally agreed to sign with the Edmonton Oilers. If a trade can be worked out between the two clubs before noon ET on July 28, Hyman will sign an eight-year contract with the Oilers. If not, it’ll be a seven-year deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are seeking draft picks from the Oilers. If a trade cannot be worked out today those picks will have to be in future drafts. It’s expected Hyman’s new contract will be worth between $5 million and $5.5 million.

SPORTSNET: The Carolina Hurricanes traded defenseman Jake Bean to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a second-round pick in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: That’s the second young defenseman the Blue Jackets added yesterday. They also got promising Adam Boqvist as part of the return from Chicago in the Seth Jones trade.

TSN: The New York Rangers yesterday placed defenseman Tony DeAngelo on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2021

The 2021 NHL Draft begins tonight at 8 pm ET. Check out all the latest speculation leading up to the start of round one in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BLACKHAWKS STILL TRYING TO LAND SETH JONES

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Chicago Blackhawks are taking another run at acquiring defenseman Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets without parting with Alex DeBrincat or Kirby Dach in return. It’s believed the Blackhawks are one of the teams that could secure a long-term contract extension from Jones.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).

RECENT RANGERS SPECULATION

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli wonders if the New York Rangers are trying to put together an offer for Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. They’ve been calling teams that hold a pick in the top-10 in this year’s draft.

In other Rangers speculation, they’ve been trying to move Pavel Buchnevich for some time. Ryan Strome has been linked to the Seattle Kraken. Seravalli wondered if the Vegas Golden Knights might be interested given their need for centers.

The Rangers have sought suitors for backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev with a first-round pick as the asking price. He pondered the possibility of the Rangers attempting to acquire Jonathan Marchessault or Reilly Smith from the Vegas Golden Knights.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks also reported the Rangers are shopping Buchnevich, in part to ensure sufficient long-term cap space. He believes they must find suitable linemates for third-line forward Barclay Goodrow after signing him yesterday to a six-year contract.

TARASENKO COULD STAY IN ST. LOUIS

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports Blues GM Doug Armstrong said he can envision a scenario whereby Vladimir Tarasenko returns with the club next season. Armstrong is attempting to fulfill Tarasenko’s trade request but this could be his way of signaling to the Tarasenko camp and the rest of the league that he’s not giving the winger away.

SABRES SET ASKING PRICE FOR REINHART

WGR 550: Elliotte Friedman reports the Buffalo Sabres are receiving plenty of interest in center Sam Reinhart. Their asking price is said to be a first-round pick and a prospect. Reinhart, 25, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

TSN: Darren Dreger reports contract discussions are ongoing between the Edmonton Oilers and winger Zach Hyman but some believe the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t out of it yet. If the Oilers want that eighth year in Hyman’s contract it will have to be a sign-and-trade with the Leafs.

Dreger also reports they’re continuing to discuss a possible re-signing with defenseman Tyson Barrie. The Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks all have interest in Buffalo Sabres blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli wonders if the Oilers could be a dark horse candidate for Carolina Hurricanes free-agent defenseman Dougie Hamilton. They’re expected to clear cap space by buying out James Neal and there’s talk of moving winger Zack Kassian. He’s also not sold on Ethan Bear being in Edmonton for the long haul.

IN OTHER RUMORS…

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Tampa Bay Lightning are once again trying to trade winger Tyler Johnson. He has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $5 million and 22 teams on his partial no-trade list.

The Montreal Canadiens have spoken to the Sabres about Rasmus Ristolainen. They could also have some interest in the Lightning’s pending UFA defenseman David Savard if his asking price isn’t too costly. The Habs are looking to plug a hole in their blueline with Shea Weber expected to be sidelined for all of next season and possibly longer.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez is mulling a contract offer from the club. He’s slated to become a UFA on July 28.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports free agent Ryan Suter could decide as early as Monday over which team he’ll sign with. The former Minnesota Wild defenseman has drawn interest from the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers and New York Islanders.

It’s believed the Vancouver Canucks have given Braden Holtby’s representatives permission to speak with other teams about a possible trade.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports hearing San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier could be in play. He wondered if the New Jersey Devils might be interested in uniting Meier with countryman Nico Hischier.

THE PROVINCE: Canucks GM Jim Benning admitted he’s had teams calling to inquire about defenseman Nate Schmidt. He said he didn’t put Schmidt out there in the trade market nor has the blueliner requested to be dealt.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Carolina Hurricanes are working to find a new home for defenseman Jake Bean. There’s also interest in Hurricanes winger Warren Foegele.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quick and dirty rumor list today as I prepare for the opening round of the draft this evening. As always, feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on today’s speculation.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 26, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 26, 2021

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, we examine the latest speculation linking the Wild and Ducks to Jack Eichel and take an early look at the Islanders’ potential offseason plans.

THE LATEST JACK EICHEL SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports the Minnesota Wild had initial trade talks with the Buffalo Sabres regarding superstar center Jack Eichel. Despite this season’s improvement, the Wild’s depth at center drops sharply behind Joel Eriksson Ek.

Nick Bonino and Nick Bjugstad are unrestricted free agents. Victor Rask and Nico Sturm are a year away from UFA eligibility. Marco Rossi, their 2020 first-round pick (ninth overall) was sidelined this season battling COVID-19.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Eichel’s health remains a concern as he could face offseason surgery on a herniated disk in his neck. The Sabres are believed to be seeking futures in return. Russo feels a package from the Wild would have to include Rossi and Matthew Boldy plus other prospects or multiple first-round picks.

He doesn’t see general manager Bill Guerin blowing a hole in his prospect pool. The Sabres would have to take back a salaried player such as Matt Dumba or Kevin Fiala to make the dollars work for the Wild.

Meanwhile, Eric Stephens examined the pros and cons of the Anaheim Ducks potentially acquiring Eichel.

The Ducks could use a first-line, marketable star in his prime like Eichel. The downside, however, is he’s an expensive player with an ongoing injury concern and questions about his leadership ability.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are several NHL teams where Eichel could be a good fit. The best destinations appear to be teams that are carrying lots of cap space and tradeable assets (draft picks, prospects, young NHL-ready players) in need of a first-line center. However, Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit for the next five years, the ongoing worries about his neck injury and the Sabres’ expensive asking price is narrowing that field.

I felt the Blue Jackets would be a prime candidate but a recent report by The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline suggests otherwise. The Wild are coming off a promising season based largely on their young talent. They’ll want to keep that prospect pipeline flowing for a few more years. If they go shopping for a center, perhaps Eichel’s teammate Sam Reinhart would be a more affordable option.

The Ducks could have a potential star in Trevor Zegras. They could end up with another as they carry the third-overall pick in this year’s draft.

Pursuing Eichel would be worthwhile if the Ducks were on the cusp of playoff contention but that’s not where they are right now. Their best course in this rebuild is avoiding unnecessary shortcuts.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE ISLANDERS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan examined possible moves by the New York Islanders as they enter the offseason.

Defenseman Nick Leddy, gritty winger Matt Martin and 2016 first-round pick Kieffer Bellows could be exposed in next month’s expansion draft. Kaplan speculates Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello could try to entice the Seattle Kraken to take Andrew Ladd off their hands with a side deal.

Limited salary-cap space could make it difficult to retain unrestricted free agent forwards Kyle Palmieri and Casey Cizikas. They also have to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders are likely to tweak their roster this summer rather than make a big trade or UFA signing. Getting the Kraken to take Ladd and the remaining two years ($5.5 million annually) of his contract could require a substantial sweetener.

The Isles will also get some cap relief by placing permanently sidelined defenseman Johnny Boychuk ($6.5 million) on long-term injury reserve. However, the new contracts for Beauvillier, Pelech and Sorokin could also force Lamoriello to make a cost-cutting deal.