NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 14, 2020

Contract talks have broken off between the Canadiens and Brendan Gallagher, some “mutual interest” between the Leafs and Joe Thornton, three key Bruins underwent surgery last month, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Contract talks between Brendan Gallagher and the Montreal Canadiens have broken off, Gallagher’s agent Gerry Johansson told Pierre LeBrun on Tuesday. The 28-year-old winger is eligible next summer to become an unrestricted free agent.

Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll have more about this later this morning in the Rumors section. There’s still plenty of time for the two sides to work out a new contract. Gallagher is considered among the Canadiens’ core players but this report casts early doubt over his long-term future in Montreal.

THE SCORE: cites The Athletic’s James Mirtle reporting of “some mutual interest” between the Toronto Maple Leafs and UFA center Joe Thornton in reaching an agreement on a contract. The discussions are at an early stage. The 41-year-old center is coming off a disappointing 31-point performance in 70 games last season, his worst output over a full season since his NHL debut in 1997-98.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The idea is Thornton would become the Leafs’ third-line center, allowing Alexander Kerfoot to play on the wing. The former Shark is among the greatest playmakers in NHL history and a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. However, the decline in his performance last season should be a concern. The Leafs might be better off looking elsewhere for a short-term third-line center.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins forwards Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak and defenseman Charlie McAvoy underwent surgeries in September. Marchand underwent sports hernia surgery on Sept. 14 and is sidelined for four months. Pastrnak had a right hip arthroscopy and labral repair on Sept. 16 with a five-month recovery period. McAvoy, meanwhile, had a right knee arthroscopy on Sept. 8 and is expected to be ready for training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins will be without Pastrnak and Marchand if the 2020-21 NHL season opens in January.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks signed Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto to one-year contracts. Cap Friendly indicates Marleau and Nieto will each earn $700K.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed goaltender Aaron Dell to a one-year, $800K contract.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Predators signed UFA forward Brad Richardson to a one-year, $1-million contract.

NHLPA: The dates for salary arbitration have been announced:

October 20

Andrew Mangiapane
Anthony DeAngelo
Matthew Grzelcyk

October 21

Ilya Mikheyev

October 22

Connor Brown

October 25

Tyler Bertuzzi

October 26

Linus Ullmark

October 27

Sam Reinhart

October 28

Jake Virtanen

October 30

Joshua Ho-Sang

October 31

Devon Toews
Alexandar Georgiev

November 1

Nicholas Paul

November 2

Gustav Forsling

November 4

Victor Olofsson
Warren Foegele

November 5

Ryan Strome

November 6

Brendan Lemieux
Ryan Pulock

November 7

Christian Jaros

November 8

Chris Tierney
MacKenzie Weegar
Haydn Fleury

OTTAWA SUN: Senators prospect Tim Stuetzle will undergo surgery to repair a broken hand suffered during training camp with the Mannheim Eagles. The recovery time is six-to-eight weeks. Stuetzle was the Senators’ first-round pick (third overall) in the 2020 NHL Draft.

TSN: Speaking of the Senators, Eugene Melnyk has filed a defamation lawsuit against Ottawa Sun columnist Rick Gibbons regarding reports claiming the Sens owner was attempting to divert money from a club charity to his own charity and gouging the Ottawa Senators Foundation by charging exorbitant rent. The Sun subsequently published an apology and a correction of errors in Gibbon’s stories.

THE ATHLETIC: Multiple Dallas Stars employees will be furloughed for the second time this year. Team owner Tom Gagliardi is facing mounting financial difficulties as his core businesses (hotels and restaurants) continue to be affected by COVID-19.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 17, 2020

The Buffalo Sabres shake up their management and scouting departments, the Canadian government is open to a hub city, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SABRES SHAKE UP THEIR FRONT OFFICE

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres yesterday fired general manager Jason Botterill and replaced him with Senior VP of Business Administration Kevyn Adams. The move came three weeks after Botterill received a vote of confidence from team owners Terry and Kim Pegula.

Kevyn Adams is the new general manager of the Buffalo Sabres (Photo via NHL.com)

The club relieved assistant GMs Randy Sexton and Steve Greeley of their duties and fired the entire coaching staff of AHL affiliate Rochester Americans.

SPORTSNET: The Sabres also fired director of amateur scouting Ryan Jankowski and reportedly 12 of their 21 scouts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This front-office bloodletting is seen as cost-cutting by a club that will be sitting idle until perhaps January. Kim Pegula claimed the change of heart with Botterill was due to the 2020 NHL Draft being pushed to this fall, giving Adams time to familiarize himself with his new role. Putting Adams, who has no management experience, into that role is also being seen as the Pegulas injecting themselves directly into management decisions affecting the on-ice product.

Botterill leaves with more misses than hits during his tenure. He got very little back from trading Ryan O’Reilly to St. Louis and Evander Kane to San Jose. While he didn’t give up much to acquire Jeff Skinner from Carolina, he was criticized for re-signing the winger to an eight-year extension worth $9 million annually. On the plus side, he drafted Rasmus Dahlin and acquired blueliner Brandon Montour.

Yesterday’s moves left many observers pondering the fate of head coach Ralph Krueger. So far, it appears his job is safe, but the same was said of Botterill three weeks ago.

Considering the Sabres’ lousy record since the Pegulas took over in 2011 – a nine-year playoff drought, three management changes, and six different head coaches – their fans can be forgiven any skepticism over yesterday’s moves.

The patience of team captain and franchise players Jack Eichel will be tested if the Sabres fail to improve. Yesterday could become the beginning of the end of Eichel’s tenure in Buffalo.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

TSN: Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said his government is comfortable with the NHL having a host city for its playoff tournament in Canada, provided the league follows local health protocols. Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver are among the 10 teams in the running.

“Obviously the decision has to be made by the NHL and the cities and the provinces in the jurisdiction, but Canada is open to it as long as it is okayed by the local health authorities”, said Trudeau.”

Bob McKenzie reports there was some talk of Toronto as a front-runner but all three Canadian cities are very much in the mix. He feels Trudeau’s announcement opens the door for one of them to become a hub for the playoff tournament.

Pierre LeBrun believes we’ll get more clarity on the two hub cities next week. Las Vegas remains a lock. If the three Canadian cities don’t work out there are some people who favor Chicago.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports Toronto Maple Leafs player rep Zach Hyman said he doesn’t have much clarity yet about how restrictive the NHL’s return-to-play protocol will be. He believes there could be some leniencies in place allowing players some access to their families during the tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league and the NHLPA are in ongoing negotiations regarding those return-to-play restrictions. It’s expected more will be revealed when the league moves to Phase 3 as training camps open on July 10.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes center Brad Richardson said he was in contact with the team staff member who tested positive for COVID-19. Richardson said he subsequently tested negative for the virus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will difficult for teams to protect their players from the coronavirus as they prepare for training camp, especially in areas like Arizona where reported cases are on the rise. The Phase 3 training-camp period will determine if Phase 4 – the playoff tournament – goes off. 

NBC SPORTS: Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy isn’t ruling out resting some of his regulars during the round-robin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You’re probably thinking, “They’ve had months to rest and recover from any nagging injuries so why rest them in a three-game round-robin before the playoffs?” I doubt Cassidy’s going to do that for all of his stars. They’re going to need those games to get into game shape. This could be done on a game-by-game basis depending on the player’s needs.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog has resumed skating with several teammates at Pepsi Center in Denver.

IN OTHER NEWS…

BLOOMBERG NEWS: The Nassau Coliseum will be shuttered indefinitely as its owner seeks new investors to take over operations and the remaining debt on the building. The New York Islanders were supposed to return to the Coliseum next season to play all of their home games there before moving into their new Belmont Park arena for 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post’s Larry Brooks wonders if Rangers owner James Dolan might swoop in and keep the Coliseum open next season to enable the Islanders to play there. If that doesn’t happen, the Isles might have to play one more season at Barclays Center before moving to their new arena.

TSN: The reopening of Seattle’s KeyArena has been pushed back by two months. However, it’s not expected to affect the city’s NHL expansion team from starting their inaugural season in 2021-22.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 27, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 27, 2020

Recent speculation on the Leafs and Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE LEAFS’ GOALTENDING AND DEFENSIVE NEEDS

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently examined the long-term needs of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Goaltender Frederik Andersen will be due for a new contract after 2020-21 and defenseman Morgan Rielly following 2021-22. The Leafs’ defense needs improvement but limited salary-cap space means they’ll need to get the most out of entry-level blueliners like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren. Cap constraints could force them to part with players they like but don’t need, like winger Kyle Clifford.

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs consider replacing Frederik Andersen after this season? (Photo via NHL Images)

 THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): James Mirtle and Jonas Siegel recently debated whether the Leafs should find an upgrade on Andersen between the pipes. Mirtle feels they should at least explore that option, especially if Andersen seeks a raise on his next contract. He pointed out Robin Lehner could be available in this summer’s UFA market. Siegel still thinks the Leafs can win the Stanley Cup with Andersen, but suggested trading for Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray as an option.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersen’s future in Toronto will be determined by his performance this season (assuming it resumes this summer) and next, as well as the Leafs’ cap payroll. According to Cap Friendly, they have over $68 million tied up in just 12 players for 2021-22. That won’t leave much wiggle room to sign Andersen to a larger deal. And if the Leafs fail to advance beyond the first round this year and next, they could consider other goaltending options.

As for adding Lehner or Murray this off-season, the Leafs have nearly $77 million invested in 16 players for next season. With the salary cap expected to remain around $81.5 million, they can’t afford to add another netminder unless they intend to trade Andersen. I think they’ll hang onto him for another season and focus instead on improving the blueline.

LATEST ON THE COYOTES

THE ATHLETIC: Craig Morgan speculates Taylor Hall, Michael Grabner, and Brad Richardson stand a good chance of leaving the Arizona Coyotes in the off-season. Hall and Richardson are unrestricted free agents following this season. Hall and his agent want to sign with a playoff contender, and the Coyotes’ second-half swoon could hurt their chances of retaining him. They also have to shed some salary to re-sign him.

Grabner has a year left on his contract worth an annual average value of $3.35 million. However, he was a frequent healthy scratch late in this season,  making him a potential cost-cutting candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes GM John Chayka remains hopeful of having productive discussions with the Hall camp. Nevertheless, the Coyotes’ limited cap space will make it difficult to come up with suitable cap space to keep the former Hart Trophy winner in Arizona.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 18, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 18, 2019

Avalanche push Flames to the brink of elimination, Bruins and Stars tie their respective series, Selke Trophy finalists revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche pushed the Calgary Flames to the brink of elimination with a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 4 of their opening-round series. Mikko Rantanen scored the tying and winning goals for the Avalanche, who hold a commanding 3-1 series lead. Game 5 goes Friday in Calgary. 

Mikko Rantanen’s two goals lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-2 overtime victory over the Calgary Flames in Game 4 of their opening-round series (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames took a 2-0 lead into their third but sloppy defensive play killed them. You can’t pin this loss on goaltender Mike Smith, who faced over 50 shots (52) for the second straight game. Smith faced the onslaught well but his teammates let him down.

The Flames leading scorers – Johnny Gaudreau (one point), Sean Monahan (two points) and Matthew Tkachuk (three points) – have been disappointing thus far. If they don’t start finding the back of the net soon, the Flames will be golfing after Friday. 

David Pastrnak scored twice and Brad Marchand had a three-point night as the Boston Bruins held off the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-4 to square their opening-round series at two games apiece. Auston Matthews scored twice for the Leafs, who made it interesting in the third period with two goals to narrow the score to 5-4 before Joakim Nordstrom’s empty netter in the dying seconds. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy shook up his forward lines a bit in this one, shifting Pastrnak down to the second line for a while with David Krejci and moving Danton Heinen to the top line. The Bruins also put on a master class of how to play smart defensive hockey when an opponent pulls their goalie for an extra attacker late in the game. They didn’t panic by icing the puck or make “Hail Mary” attempts to score an empty netter, but smartly chipped the puck along the boards and into the neutral zone or skated it past center whenever they could and dumped it into the Leafs zone. 

A four-goal first period powered the Dallas Stars to a 5-1 victory over the Nashville Predators to tie their series at two games apiece. Stars goalie Ben Bishop kicked out 34 shots, Roope Hintz tallied his first two playoff goals of his career and John Klingberg collected three assists. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a strong bounce-back effort by Bishop, who struggled a bit in Game 3 by giving up a couple of soft goals. He was outstanding in this contest. Credit also the Stars’ offensive pressure as they chased Predators starter Pekka Rinne after he gave up four goals on eight shots.

Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly, and Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone are the finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which honors the NHL’s top defensive forward. 

 SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t say I disagree with those choices. I’m happy to see Stone finally getting recognition for his two-way play. 

O’Reilly is also among the 31 nominees for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player “who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.” Other nominees include Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel, Edmonton Oilers winger Leon Draisaitl, Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi and New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

SPORTSNET: The Florida Panthers declined captain Aleksander Barkov’s invitation to play for Finland at the upcoming IIHF World Championships citing a need for Barkov to recover from the effects of a long NHL season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Odd to see a team decline a player’s invitation to participate in the Worlds. Barkov played for Finland in previous tournaments. It’s understandable if he needs to recuperate from injuries that he played through this season but usually it’s the player who declines the invite. 

NBC SPORTS: The Washington Capitals will shake up their forward lines for Game 4 of their series tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. “T.J. Oshie moves up to the top line to play with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom while Tom Wilson drops to the second line to play with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jakub Vrana.”

The San Jose Sharks are sticking with struggling starting goalie Martin Jones in Game 5 tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Sharks coach Pete DeBoer has no confidence in backup Aaron Dell. 

NEW YORK POST: Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello isn’t troubled by the league’s decision that his club will play the remainder of their playoff games at Barclays Center. He dismissed the notion that the change of venue from Nassau Coliseum will adversely affect his club’s performance. The Islanders are awaiting the winner of the Capitals-Hurricanes series. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes forward Brad Richardson is the inaugural winner of the Shane Doan Good Guy Award, voted on and present by the Arizona chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. 

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild hired Chris O’Hearn as their new director of hockey operations. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 1, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 1, 2019

Game recaps, Senators fire head coach Guy Boucher, plus injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: The Ottawa Senators fired head coach Guy Boucher, naming Marc Crawford as interim coach for the remainder of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Having purged their roster of their top pending unrestricted free agents, the Senators are getting an early start on shaking up the coaching staff. This move marks the sixth coaching change since 2009.

Given the Senators’ decline since the start of last season, it’s unsurprising Boucher got the boot. While a lot of their issues weren’t of his making, his coaching style seems to have a short shelf life. The players buy in for the first season or two and then they start tuning him out. 

NHL.COM: The New York Islanders welcomed John Tavares back with a 6-1 beatdown of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Islanders fans jeered and booed Tavares (who signed with the Leafs last summer) at every opportunity, including during the Isles’ video tribute to their former captain.

Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares was jeered mercilessly by New York Islanders fans as their team rolled to a 6-1 victory on Thursday (Photo via NHL Images)

Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk avoided serious injury after being cut under his chin by the skate blade of Leafs winger Mitch Marner. Earlier in the day, the Leafs announced defenseman Travis Dermott will be sidelined four weeks with a shoulder injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most fans will jeer and boo their departed stars when they play their first home game against their former team, but usually put that aside to applaud during the video tribute. Not so for Tavares, as Isles fans feel he betrayed them by signing with Toronto.

This could also be the result of over three decades of pent-up anger and frustration among a fan base whose team put them through a lot of embarrassment and humiliation prior to this season. Tavares’ departure was just one more kick in the teeth for Islanders’ supporters, making his return an easy outlet for their emotions. The fact the Isles are exceeding expectations and sit atop the Metropolitan Division made taunting their former franchise player more cathartic for their long-suffering fans.

Brad Richardson tallied four goals to lead the Arizona Coyotes (67 points) to a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks, moving to within one point of the final Western Conference wild-card berth. The Canucks now sit five points out of contention.

Seth Jones’ overtime goal gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. With the win, the Blue Jackets (75 points) rose to third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Three third-period goals scored within a minute and 28 seconds powered the Boston Bruins to a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins extended their points streak to 15 games while halting the Lightning’s win streak at 10 games.

The Dallas Stars moved into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference with a 4-3 overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings, handing the latter their 10th straight loss. Roope Hintz tallied the winner in the extra frame

Reilly Smith scored twice while Shea Theodore tallied the game-winner in a shootout as the Arizona Coyotes edged the Florida Panthers 6-5. Panthers winger Mike Hoffman also scored twice and teammate Jonathan Huberdeau had a four-point performance.

Goaltender Mikko Koskinen made 35 saves as the Edmonton Oilers doubled up the Ottawa Senators 4-2, handing the latter their sixth straight defeat.  Connor McDavid scored his 33rd goal of the season as the Oilers (61 points) sit seven points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Earlier in the day, the Oilers announced winger Jesse Puljujarvi will undergo season-ending hip surgery.

SPORTSNET:  New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall under arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this week but it’s unclear if he’ll return before the end of the season.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton is questionable for tonight’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins after “tweaking” a lower-body injury during practice yesterday. Forward Vladimir Sobotka (upper-body) and defenseman Marco Scandella (lower-body) are listed as day-to-day.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price recently spent several minutes with a young fan whose mother promised to do everything she could to help the young boy meet his hero but who passed away from cancer before it could happen. Price comforted the youngster with a long hug, signed his jersey and gave him two autographed sticks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carey Price: class act. 

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 10, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 10, 2018

Ducks to honor Paul Kariya and Scott Niedermayer, plus the latest on Auston Matthews, Scott Darling, Rasmus Dahlin and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks will retire the jersey numbers of former captains Paul Kariya (9) and Scott Niedermayer (27) in 2018-19. Kariya’s number will be hoisted to the rafters of the Honda Center on Oct. 21 and Niedermayer’s on Feb. 17, 2019.

The Anaheim Ducks will retire Paul Kariya’s No. 9 on Oct 21 (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fitting honor for Kariya, the Ducks’ first franchise player, and Niedermayer, who led them to their first Stanley Cup championship. Both players have also been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

TSN: Bobby Orr, whose agency represents Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, dismissed speculation his client was unhappy over the possibility that recently acquired center John Tavares could be selected as team captain over him. 

“That’s bull about [Matthews] being upset about the captaincy,” said Orr. “That’s so wrong. They’re a good team and they’re going to be a very good team, John puts them closer to their goal. That’s what Auston is concerned about.” Orr added that Matthews is thrilled about Tavares joining the Leafs. 

SPECTOR’S  NOTE: Welcome to Toronto, John Tavares, where the local media will take any hypothetical scenario and hype it up so much it’ll take on a life of its own. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: After a disappointing first season as the Carolina Hurricanes’ starting goaltender, Scott Darling is working hard to be better prepared for 2018-19. Darling’s poor conditioning hampered his performance through 2017-18. 

Speaking of the Hurricanes, assistant coach Steve Smith resigned yesterday

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Darling, who was acquired in May 2017 from the Chicago Blackhawks, never looked comfortable between the pipes last season for the Hurricanes. With better preparation, however, he should regain the solid form he displayed in Chicago. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres signed 2018 first-overall draft pick Rasmus Dahlin to a three-year entry-level contract. 

NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders signed former KHL center Jan Kovar to a one-year, $2-million contract and gritty left wing Ross Johnston to a four-year, $4-million deal. 

CBS SPORTS: Free-agent defenseman Patrick Wiercioch has signed with the KHL’s Dinamo Minsk. He spent six seasons with the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche. Signed last year by the Vancouver Canucks, he spent 2017-18 with their AHL farm team in Utica. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens have hired Luke Richardson as their assistant coach in charge of the defense corps. The former NHL defenseman spent the past several years working as an assistant coach with the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders and head coach of the Senators’ AHL franchise in Binghamton for four years. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens haven’t done much to bolster their roster for 2018-19 but they’ve made a number of organizational moves that should improve the franchise over time. Richardson replaces J.J. Daigneault, who was fired at the end of last season.