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.


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.


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.


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.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2018

Kings and Doughty agree to a new contract, Jets ship Mason and Armia to Montreal, Capitals re-sign Kempny and promote  Reirden to head coach, Devils hire Fletcher & and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings announced Friday evening they’ve reached agreement on terms for a new contract with defenseman Drew Doughty. It will be an eight-year extension reportedly worth an annual average value of $11 million. Doughty, 28, is a four-time Norris Trophy finalist as the NHL’s top blueliner, winning the award in 2016. He has a year remaining on his current contract.

Los Angeles Kings re-sign defenseman Drew Doughty to an eight-year contract extension (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Doughty can’t officially sign his new contract until July 1, but this is essentially a done deal. Kings insider John Hoven reports it looks like his new contract contains the same movement clause as Anze Kopitar, meaning he’ll get a full no-movement clause in the first four years and a modified no-trade over the final four seasons. 

The new contract will make him the NHL’s highest-paid defenseman, exceeding Nashville’s P.K. Subban’s cap hit by $2 million annually, which is what he said he wanted back in November. The Kings had little choice but to pay big bucks to retain Doughty, who’s among the league’s elite defensemen and an irreplaceable core player. The problem for the Kings, however, is they’ll soon have a lot of money tied up in over-30 players. 


Doughty’s new contract will obviously become the comparable for Ottawa Senators’ captain Erik Karlsson, a two-time Norris winner and four-time finalist who’s a year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent.. Whether he gets that much from the Senators or someone else remains to be seen. 


SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the Jets are clearing cap room to re-sign Paul Stastny. As for the Habs, Armia’s a decent depth addition but I wonder if the acquisition of Mason means he’s being flipped elsewhere or perhaps he’ll be Carey Price’s backup and recently re-signed Antti Niemi is being dealt or demoted. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: As expected, the Washington Capitals promoted assistant coach Todd Reirden.

WASHINGTON POST: The Capitals also re-signed defenseman Michal Kempny to a four-year, $10-million contract. The annual average value is $2.5 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a significant raise for Kempny, who’s coming off a one-year, $900K contract. Acquired in February from Chicago, Kempny became a big addition to the Capitals defense corps, eventually earning first-pairing minutes during their run to the Stanley Cup this spring. Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals now have over $69 million invested in 18 players. 

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils hired former Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher as a senior adviser to GM Ray Shero. 




NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 22, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 22, 2018

Islanders hire Trotz as head coach, NHL releases schedule and salary-cap limits for 2018-19. Details and more in your morning coffee headlines.

NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders yesterday named former Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz as their new bench boss.  Trotz recently stepped down as the Capitals head coach just over a week after guiding them to their first Stanley Cup title. 

New York Islanders name Barry Trotz as their new general manager (Photo via NHL.com)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Terrific hire by the Islanders, as new president of hockey operations/general manager Lou Lamoriello continues to overhaul the staff. Trotz’s hiring should significantly improve the Islanders, as well as serving as yet another incentive for pending free agent star John Tavares to re-sign.

WASHINGTON POST: Speaking of the Capitals, they’ll be interviewing associate coach Todd Reirden as Trotz’s replacement. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They could interview other potential candidates but Reirden appears the front-runner for this job. He’s been on the staff for four years and has a good relationship with the players. 

NHL.COM: Start marking your calendars, NHL fans. The league released its full schedule for 2018-19

The league also revealed next season’s salary-cap limits. The upper limit is set at $79.5 million, up $4.5 million from $75 million. The lower limit is $58.8 million. The league also announced the final escrow taken from players’ salaries is eight percent, down from 11.5 percent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHLPA likely voted to keep maintain the salary-cap inflator at the same rate (1.35 percent) as last season to ensure a lower rate of escrow claw backs next season. That would explain why the cap ceiling didn’t reach $80 million or more. Still, the new rate is the largest in four years and will provide cap-strapped teams with much-need wiggle room for signings or additions via trades. 

WGR 550: cites TSN’s Bob McKenzie reporting the Buffalo Sabres are not expected to tender a qualifying offer to restricted free agent goaltender Robin Lehner. The due date for qualifying offers is June 25, making Lehner an unrestricted free agent after that date. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a surprising development, indicating the Sabres will be in the market for someone to share the goaltending duties with promising Linus Ullmark. Lehner posted decent numbers in three seasons playing for lousy Sabres’ rosters, but he has an injury history and his performance tends to be streaky. There are several other NHL clubs in need of goaltending help (including the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders) who could pursue Lehner via free agency on July 1. 

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers yesterday placed defenseman Eric Gryba on waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract. He had a year remaining on his deal worth $900K.