NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 13, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 13, 2022

Recaps of Saturday’s action, updates on Nathan MacKinnon, Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl, the Canadiens acquire Andrew Hammond, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The red-hot Calgary Flames picked up their sixth straight victory by downing the New York Islanders 5-2. Adam Ruzicka had a goal and an assist while Johnny Gaudreau collected two assists. Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin made 24 saves replacing Semyon Varlamov after the latter was placed in COVID protocol following pre-game warmups. With 58 points, the Flames sit one behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division.

Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler (NHL Images)

Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler scored twice and added three assists as he rallied his club from a 2-0 deficit to a 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators. Mark Scheifele scored and collected two assists for the Jets (48 points) as they sit seven points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth. The Predators (60 points) slid one point behind the Minnesota Wild into third place in the Central Division. Predators defenseman Mark Borowiecki was ejected in the first period for elbowing Jets forward Evgeny Svechnikov in the face, who was forced to leave the game with an injury.

A 51- save performance by Thatcher Demko carried the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller each had a goal and an assist for the Canucks while the Leafs Auston Matthews tallied his 32nd of the season. Defenseman Travis Hamonic returned to action for the first time since Dec. 8 for the Canucks (50 points), who sit five points out of the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference. The Leafs, meanwhile, remain in third place in the Atlantic Division with 63 points.

The Minnesota Wild held off the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 to extend their home points streak to 12 games. Kevin Fiala tallied a goal and an assist for the Wild while Andrei Svechnikov netted both Hurricanes goals. Wild blueliner Matt Dumba returned from an upper-body injury suffered on Jan. 30. With 61 points, the Wild sit second in the Central Division while the Hurricanes (67 points) hold a one-point lead for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

St. Louis Blues forward Brayden Schenn collected two assists and Oskar Sundqvist had a goal and an assist in a 5-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, who were held to just 16 shots in this contest. The Blues hold the first Western Conference wild-card spot with 59 points.

Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman picked up his first win since Jan. 2 with a 30-save shutout to blank the Ottawa Senators 2-0. The Bruins got first-period goals by Trent Frederic and Curtis Lazar. Matt Murray made 35 saves for the Senators. With 57 points, the Bruins are four behind the Washington Capitals for the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. Senators forward Austin Watson faces a hearing today for interference on Bruins defenseman Jack Ahcan when he appeared to catch Ahcan in the head with a high hit.

Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin had three assists in a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Wings goalie Thomas Greiss made 32 saves in his first game since Jan. 9 as his club sits seven points behind the Bruins, who hold the final Eastern wild-card berth.

Patrik Laine’s power-play goal in the dying seconds of regulation gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A heartbreaking loss for the Canadiens, whose performance has noticeably improved under new head coach Martin St. Louis. Cole Caufield has definitely benefited from playing for St. Louis, scoring two goals in as many games after managing just one in 30 previous contests this season.

HEADLINES

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon will return to action today against the Dallas Stars after being sidelined since Jan.26 by a broken nose and concussion.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Tomas Hertl’s agent has been in contract extension talks with the Sharks, but the 28-year-old center has yet to decide if he’s staying. Hertl is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and could cost at least $7 million annually to re-sign.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve noted in the rumor mill, much could depend on how much cap space the Sharks have for next season following the outcome of Evander Kane’s grievance over his contract termination. A date for that hearing has yet to be determined.

The Sharks did get some good news as sidelined defenseman Erik Karlsson could return from surgery on his left forearm earlier than anticipated. He was expected to be re-evaluated by mid-March. However, defenseman Jaycob Megna underwent surgery to repair a displaced fracture and is likely out for four-to-six weeks.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Montreal Canadiens traded minor-league forward Brandon Baddock to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for goaltender Andrew Hammond.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move allows the Canadiens to send struggling young goalie Cayden Primeau back to their AHL affiliate in Laval.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins assistant coach Todd Reirden will undergo knee surgery on Monday after suffering a fall shoveling out his driveway during the All-Star weekend. He’s expected to be sidelined for some time.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 24, 2020

The Bruins and Golden Knights are victorious in the opening games of their respective second-round series, the Capitals fire head coach Todd Reirden, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each had a goal and an assist as the Boston Bruins held off the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Jaroslav Halak made 35 saves for the win. Victor Hedman scored twice for the Lightning, who also lost defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the third period to an undisclosed injury.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The score flattered the Lightning. They were dominated through the first two periods by the Bruins, who took a 3-0 lead before Hedman’s goals made it interesting. There could be an update on McDonagh later today.

Robin Lehner turned in a 26-save shutout while Mark Stone, Reilly Smith, and Alex Tuch each had a goal and an assist as the Vegas Golden Knights blanked the Vancouver Canucks 5-0 in the opening game of their second-round series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights blew this open with three goals in the second period. They outshot, out-skated, out-hit, and out-chanced the Canucks. Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves got under the skin of Canucks winger Antoine Roussel, goading him into taking a misconduct penalty in the third period and taunting him for the rest of the game.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights had to deal with an off-ice issue before Game 1. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury attempted to distance himself from his agent’s provocative social media post criticizing coach Peter DeBoer over his client’s lack of playing time.

Referring to his agent, Allan Walsh, Fleury felt he was “just trying to protect me a bit.” He indicated he’s spoken with DeBoer and Lehner and doesn’t want to be a distraction. “I just want to be behind it and move on,” he said, adding he’s focused on winning and what’s best for the team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walsh’s post and Fleury’s response is sparking speculation over his future with the Golden Knights. I’ll have more later today in the Rumors section.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals yesterday relieved Todd Reirden of his duties as head coach. The move comes shortly following the club’s elimination from the opening round of the 2020 playoffs.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun reports the Capitals seek an experienced replacement to keep their championship window open.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. Reirden was outcoached by Isles bench boss (and former Caps coach) Barry Trotz in that series. His firing has generated a lot of conjecture over his possible replacement. Experienced options include Mike Babcock, Gerard Gallant, and Peter Laviolette.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer (leg injury) won’t be playing in Game 2 against the Dallas Stars tonight. Defenseman Erik Johnson (undisclosed) is doubtful while Matt Calvert is listed as unfit to play and day-to-day.

WEEI.COM: The Bruins re-signed backup goalie Dan Vladar to a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $750K. It’s a two-way deal in the first two years and becomes a one-way deal in the final season.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 21, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 21, 2020

What next for the Flames, Capitals and Blue Jackets now that their postseason is over? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLAMES

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski wondered about the future of Johnny Gaudreau following yet another disappointing early playoff exit by the Calgary Flames. The 27-year-old winger’s been the subject of trade speculation throughout this season as he put up his lowest offensive output since his rookie season.

Could the Calgary Flames shop Johnny Gaudreau in the offseason? (NHL Images)

It’s been speculated Gaudreau, a New Jersey native, could be peddled to an East Coast team. There’s also a theory the Flames could trade away “Johnny Hockey” to make room for Arizona Coyotes winger (and Calgary native) Taylor Hall.

With notable coaches such as Bruce Boudreau, Peter Laviolette, and Mike Babcock available, Wyshynski pondered the future of Flames interim bench boss Geoff Ward. He also wondered which of their notable UFAs (goalie Cam Talbot, blueliners T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic) will be back.

CALGARY SUN: Kristen Anderson and Wes Gilbertson wondered if changes could be coming to the Flames’ core forwards like Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, and Sam Bennett. Gilbertson also mused over whether it’s time for general manager Brad Treliving to test Gaudreau’s trade value or make a change at center by trading Sean Monahan or dropping him to the second line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think a shakeup is coming and it could be Gaudreau on the move. A year ago, I considered that unthinkable. Not now. He seemed off-kilter until midseason and wasn’t much of a force in this postseason. As Gilbertson pointed out, he didn’t have an even-strength goal during the series with the Stars.

Despite Gaudreau’s struggles this season, he’s the Flames’ best trade chip. They aren’t moving Monahan because first-line centers are difficult to find. Spark plug Matthew Tkachuk isn’t going anywhere. I expect they’ll hang onto Bennett. He’s a versatile checking-line forward who elevates his play in the postseason. Backlund could be shopped but won’t fetch as strong a return as Gaudreau.

Dump Gaudreau to sign Hall? Stranger things have happened but Hall did little to raise his UFA stock this season. Maybe he’d regain his 2018 Hart Trophy form in Calgary but he would be an expensive gamble.

CAPITALS

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan examined some possible off-season moves by the Washington Capitals. It appears long-time starting goaltender and pending UFA Braden Holtby has played his final game for the Caps. Their blueline could use some help but they have limited salary-cap space. Kaplan also wondered about the fate of head coach Todd Reirden.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Barry Svrluga wondered if the Capitals’ early playoff departure suggests a team in decline or perhaps the interruption of the season by COVID-19 skewed the results. He points out most of their core players are now in their thirties, took note of Holtby’s expected departure and wondered about Reirden’s fate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Replacing the coach is easier than replacing the roster, and there’s some justification for a change behind the Capitals bench after Reirden got schooled in the Isles series by former Washington coach Barry Trotz. The Caps remain a talented team but most of their stars don’t have many good years left. 

Holtby’s departure is a foregone conclusion. His performance declined over the last couple of years. Ilya Samsonov had a promising debut season and will be their starter for the foreseeable future.

Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have over $71.1 million invested in 16 players. There’s a chance they’ll re-sign Brenden Dillon but he could cost over $4 million annually. RFA Jonas Siegenthaler will get an affordable bridge deal coming off his entry-level deal. That won’t leave much to bolster their blueline depth.

BLUE JACKETS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Aaron Portzline reports of rumors Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen could be preparing for some big off-season moves to bolster his forward lines.

Portzline believes their priority should be adding a top-six center. He feels the Jackets’ GM could draw from his blue-line depth for trade bait, suggesting David Savard as a candidate. RFA winger Josh Anderson could be another. With Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins as bonafide starters, the Jackets could get calls from clubs seeking help in goal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen showed a willingness to make significant moves leading up to the 2019 trade deadline. With his club in dire need of scoring punch, I expect he’ll swing a trade or two to address that need. Several clubs with limited salary-cap space could be looking to shed a high-salaried talent for a more affordable option.

As per Cap Friendly, the Jackets have over $76 million invested in 23 players, with center Pierre-Luc Dubois due for a raise coming off his entry-level contract. He lacks arbitration rights so Kekalainen could ink him to an affordable short-term bridge deal with the promise of a more lucrative contract afterward.

If Kekalainen seeks impact forwards, he’ll have to move salaried players too. He could get $5.85-million in cap flexibility if sidelined forward Brandon Dubinsky starts the season on long-term injury reserve.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 7, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 7, 2020

More speculation on how the NHL might salvage the season, plus the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko, Todd Reirden, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly held a conference call with the league board of governors, but the fate of the season remains cloudy. The league and the NHL Players Association still hope to complete the remainder of the schedule and stage the 2020 playoffs to avoid the USD 1 billion revenue hit by canceling the season.

Could the NHL stage the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a neutral, quarantined site?

The league is studying various options, such as splitting playoff teams into four groups and staging separate tournaments at neutral sites (such as Grand Forks, ND, Manchester, NH or Saskatoon, SK) so nobody has a competitive edge. Free-agent players would extend their contracts beyond July 1 if required to play beyond then.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the following via Twitter: “(The) NHLPA is expected to release escrow money from 2018/2019 back to the players and the NHL later this week or early next. The owners share is around $230 million and the players share is $80 million.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch also reports the PA’s executive committee and the player reps are expected to hold a conference call today to discuss whether they’ll accept their final paycheques of the season. That payment is due Apr. 15 and worth $125 million. Some players want the owners to withhold that payment to reduce the escrow hit.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples predicts we’ll see the NHL playoffs staged this June in isolated locations under quarantine conditions without fans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A bold prediction, but it’s a scenario the league seems to have under consideration. We’ll find out in two months whether this forecast comes to pass.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox wonders if some struggling NHL franchises, such as those in Ottawa, Arizona, Florida, and Carolina, could be forced out of business by this pandemic. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman fights tooth and nail to ensure those struggling franchises stay alive. As Cox points out, he couldn’t prevent the Atlanta Thrashers from going under and moving to Winnipeg. It’ll be interesting to see what lingering effect this pandemic has on the overall health of the NHL’s 31 teams.

THE ATHLETIC: Seattle’s NHL expansion franchise has delayed revealing its nickname because of the pandemic, but general manager Ron Francis indicates the club is working with the league on the trademark and legal process. Construction is ongoing on the Seattle arena and the league anticipates it’ll be ready for the club’s inaugural season in 2021-22.

NBC SPORTS: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko has fully recovered from the shoulder surgery that sidelined him since late October.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals head coach Todd Reirden revealed his son’s health is a concern. Travis Reirden was born with common variable immunodeficiency, leaving his body unable to defend against bacteria and viruses. They are taking extra steps to ensure he remains healthy.

BOSTON GLOBE: Bruins legend Bobby Orr write a heartfelt letter of encouragement and appreciation to the staff at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Orr often received treatment there for injuries suffered during his playing career.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators Foundation distributed $700K to various local nonprofits.