NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 1, 2021

Canucks closing in on new contracts for Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson, the Leafs sign Sheldon Keefe to a contract extension, plus the latest on Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Vrana, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Darren Dreger reported yesterday evening the Vancouver Canucks appear to be closing in on new contracts for restricted free agents Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson. It’s believed Hughes could receive a six-year contract while Pettersson would get a three-year deal.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Satiar Shah reports Hughes’ could earn an annual average value of $7.75 million. The Athletic’s Rick Dhaliwal hears Pettersson could get a $7.7 million AAV. That would be a combined $15.45 million annually against the Canucks cap.

Cap Friendly indicates the Canuck have $13.7 million in projected cap space but they would be allowed to exceed the $81.5 million cap by $3.5 million by placing sidelined winger Micheal Ferland on long-term injury reserve. They could also get $3 million in cap relief if defenseman Travis Hamonic opts out of playing this season by today’s deadline.

No surprise if Hughes and Pettersson get those annual average values on their new contracts. Hughes is their top defenseman while Pettersson is their first-line center. They’re going to be paid as such. They’re also young players who’ve yet to reach their full potential. If you think their new contracts are expensive, wait until you see how much they get once those contracts expire.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs yesterday confirmed they’ve signed head coach Sheldon Keefe to a two-year contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs management still has confidence in Keefe to guide this club to a Stanley Cup despite not having won a playoff round during his short tenure behind their bench. This extension should quell speculation that Keefe could lose his job if the Leafs fall short again. Of course, that could depend on whether there’s a front-office purge next spring if this club makes another early postseason exit.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Leafs, winger Wayne Simmonds spoke out yesterday against racism in the game after HK Kremenchuk’s Andrei Deniskin received a mild suspension by the Ukrainian Hockey League for the racial taunting of HC Donbass defenseman Jalen Smereck during a recent UHL game. Smereck, an African-American, has taken leave from Donbass, which has called for stiffer punishment for Deniskin.

Simmonds has also encountered racial taunts throughout his playing career. “I’ve faced a lot of these things myself, and I don’t even know if I’d want my kids playing hockey to be quite honest.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hockey, at every level, is supposed to be for everyone. There should be no place for racism in the sport regardless of where it’s played.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana is expected to miss the next four months following shoulder surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a blow to the Wings’ offense. Acquired at last season’s trade deadline, Vrana had an immediate positive effect. He was expected to play a major role for the rebuilding Wings this season as they attempt to take the next step toward playoff contention.

THE ATHLETIC: Zac Rinaldo’s anti-vaccination stance likely means his tenure with the Columbus Blue Jackets is over before it began. Sources say he will not play a game for the Jackets or their AHL affiliate this season. The club placed him on waivers yesterday.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Bell Centre in Montreal is expected to return to full capacity when the 2021-22 season opens next month as the Quebec government lifts some of its COVID-19 restrictions.

ESPN.COM: The Arizona Coyotes are the only NHL club to relax its game-day dress code for players this season. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators have plans to allow their players to wear team-issued tracksuits to games this season.

Several clubs have done away with the tie requirement though suits must still be worn. The Seattle Kraken has adopted a business casual policy.

The NHLPA has been pushing behind the scenes for a league-wide change. The PA believes it will help players build their individual brands and grow the game.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2021

The Wild sign Kirill Kaprizov, the Blues Jackets re-up Elvis Merzlikins and the Blues ink Robert Thomas. Check out the details of these signings plus the latest PTO contracts and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed winger Kirill Kaprizov to a five-year, $45 million contract on Tuesday night. The annual average value of the deal is $9 million. This comes on the eve of the Wild opening training camp today.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report adds Kaprizov is in North America, will travel to Minnesota today and will be in training camp tomorrow. The 24-year-old winger’s one NHL season has raised questions over whether he’s worth that type of contract.

The Wild, however, had no choice. Kaprizov may have a short body of work but he won the Calder Memorial Trophy last season, becoming the most exciting offensive star they’ve had since Marian Gaborik was in his heyday 15 years ago. Cap Friendly indicates they’re also facing a short-term cap crunch over the next three seasons. They needed certainty over how much he’ll cost them per season, especially when the salary cap begins rising again.

Kaprizov now faces the pressure of justifying that hefty raise and building on his promising NHL debut. If he does, the Wild should remain a legitimate playoff contender despite their upcoming salary-cap issues. If not, things could get ugly very quickly for him and for general manager Bill Guerin.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed goaltender Elvis Merzlikins to a five-year, $27 million contract extension. The annual average value is $5.4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This signing cements Merzlikins as the Blue Jackets’ starting goaltender. It also means Joonas Korpisalo could depart next summer as an unrestricted free agent unless he’s moved before the March trade deadline if the Jackets are out of playoff contention.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues inked center Robert Thomas to a two-year, $5.6 million contract with an annual average value of $2.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s the same deal teammate Jordan Kyrou recently signed but there was speculation Thomas would get less than that because of his struggles last season. The signing pushes the Blues above the cap by around $1.3 million but it’s expected they’ll offset that by placing sidelined forward Oskar Sundqvist (knee injury) and his $2.75 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve to start the season.

The Blues must become cap compliant when Sundqvist returns to action. That could come about via demoting or trading a lower-salaried player or perhaps they’ll find a trade partner for Vladimir Tarasenko by then.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings signed Bobby Ryan to a professional tryout offer. The 34-year-old winger played for the Wings last season.

TSN: Alexander Galchenyuk signed a PTO with the Arizona Coyotes. The 27-year-old forward last played for the Coyotes in 2018-19.

NHL.COM’s Brian Compton tweets the New York Islanders signed defenseman Erik Gustafsson to a PTO, inked goaltender Cory Schneider to a two-way contract and signed Kieffer Bellows and Michael Dal Colle.

Freelancer Ken Campbell reports Edmonton Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith is still quarantining after receiving his second COVID-19 vaccination. He’s expected to miss the first week of training camp.

TSN: The Philadelphia Flyers announced center Kevin Hayes underwent abdominal surgery and will be sidelined four to six weeks and defenseman Samuel Morin will be out six to eight weeks recovering from knee surgery. Forward Wade Allison is out indefinitely with a right ankle sprain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ll feel Hayes’ absence for the opening weeks of this season. His spot as second-line center could be filled by Morgan Frost.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have barred forward Zac Rinaldo from attending training camp due to his unvaccinated status. He’s on a one-year, two-way contract and has been vocal in his stance against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. He’ll instead attend the training camp of their AHL affiliate in Cleveland later this month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rinaldo can forget about getting called up by the Jackets. The club is taking a firm stance on ensuring all its players are fully vaccinated, operating under the NHL’s COVID protocols for this season.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Motte remains sidelined by an undisclosed injury suffered on April 29 in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’ll miss the start of training camp and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

SPORTSNET: After 42 years in broadcasting, Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Jim Hughson has retired. He called his first game on radio in 1979 and become the main play-by-play for the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and national broadcasts on HniC.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hughson and his family for a happy retirement.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2021

Patrick Kane says he didn’t know anything about sexual assault allegations against the Blackhawks former video coach, the Canadiens will host the 2022 Draft, James Neal is among the latest PTO signings & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks star Patrick Kane said he has participated in the investigation into allegations the club’s former video coach sexually assaulted two players in 2010. The 32-year-old winger denied having any knowledge about the incidents at the time.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s remarks run counter to those of former teammate Nick Boynton, who claimed everyone knew about the incidents during an interview with the lawyers hired by the Blackhawks to investigate the allegations. “I said talk to Torch (former assistant coach John Torchetti). I called out Brian Campbell, and said talk to Patrick Sharp and talk to Kaner (Patrick Kane),” he told TSN on July 29.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The NHL announced Friday the 2022 Draft will be held in Montreal at the Bell Centre on Thursday, July 7 and Friday, July 8. The 2020 Draft was originally scheduled to be held there but was instead conducted virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. The first round will be on Thursday evening and rounds two through seven the following day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Returning to a live venue should significantly reduce the amount of time it takes for teams to make their selections. The recent virtual drafts saw teams take an inordinate amount of time selecting prospects, with each round taking much longer to complete.

NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues announced the signing of wingers James Neal and Michael Frolik to professional tryout contracts.

TORONTO SUN: Nikita Gusev was invited to Maple Leafs training camp on a professional tryout offer.

TSN: The New Jersey Devils inked center Fredrik Gauthier to a PTO.

SPORTSNET: Zack Smith is hanging up his skates after 12 NHL seasons, all but one with the Ottawa Senators from 2008-09 to 2018-19. He spent last season with the Chicago Blackhawks. Smith, 33, tallied 98 goals and 204 points in 662 career regular-season games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Smith and his family in his future endeavors.

PHILLY.COM: Former NHL forward Lou Angotti passed away Thursday at age 83. He spent 10 seasons in the league from 1964-65 to 1973-74 with the New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues. Angotti was the Flyers’ first-ever captain. He had 103 goals and 289 points in 653 career NHL contests. He also went on to coach the Blues for two seasons (1973-74 to 1974-75) and the Penguins in 1983-84.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Angotti’s family, friends and former teammates.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headllines – August 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headllines – August 14, 2021

Auston Matthews undergoes wrist surgery, Joe Thornton signs with the Panthers, start times for the 2021-22 season revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews could miss the early part of training camp next month after undergoing wrist surgery on Friday. The procedure was deemed necessary after Matthews experienced discomfort from increasing his on-ice training schedule this week. The club didn’t reveal which wrist was operated on. Leafs training camp opens on Sep. 22.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews was plagued by wrist and hand ailments throughout last season.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Joe Thornton signed a one-year, $750K contract with the Florida Panthers. He had 20 points in 44 games last season with the Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After 1,680 games, the 42-year-old Thornton is still chasing his first Stanley Cup. This could be his last opportunity. The Panthers are a very good team that has a legitimate shot at Cup contention this season. Thornton will bring a wealth of experience and leadership to their roster but it will be interesting to see where he fits into their regular lineup.

NHL.COM: The league has announced the start times for the 2021-22 season. It begins on Oct 12 with the Tampa Bay Lightning raising their Stanley Cup banner at Amelie Arena before facing off against the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7:30 pm ET. At 10 PM ET, the Seattle Kraken will play their first-ever NHL contest when they visit the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman tweeted the NHL sent a memo updating its vaccination requirements to its 32 teams. “Any person whose job, role, position, or access entails them to have personal interactions (within 12 feet) with Club Hockey Operations personnel (including Players) are required to be Fully Vaccinated.” He also indicated the NHL/NHLPA protocols for the players are not yet completed.

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed Zac Rinaldo to a one-year, two-way contract.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken signed defenseman Cale Fleury and winger Carsen Twarynski to a pair of one-year, two-way contracts each worth $750K at the NHL level.

NHL.COM: The Anaheim Ducks signed Mason McTavish to an entry-level contract. The 18-year-old center was the third-overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

MLIVE.COM: The New York Rangers have hired former Detroit Red Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin as their assistant general manager and GM of their AHL affiliate in Hartford.

WINNIPEG SUN: On the 40th anniversary of the day they first signed Dale Hawerchuk, the Jets announced they will honor the late hockey legend with a statue. A section of a downtown street and an annual pond-hockey tournament will be named after Hawerchuk.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 30, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 30, 2019

Blackhawks win exhibition game in Germany, Hurricanes names Jordan Staal as their new captain, plus the latest on Sidney Crosby, Evander Kane, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Drake Caggiula and Alex Nylander scored as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated Eisbaren Berlin 3-1 in exhibition play on Sunday.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is considered day-to-day after injuring his left leg during a preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres. Coach Mike Sullivan labeled Crosby’s status as encouraging after he skated briefly before practice yesterday. Bryan Rust (left arm) is still being evaluated while Alex Galchenyuk (undisclosed) is listed as day-to-day.

The Carolina Hurricanes name Jordan Staal as their new captain (Photo via NHL Images)

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes named center Jordan Staal as their new captain. Defenseman Jaccob Slavin and forward Jordan Martinook are the new alternate captains. Meanwhile, blueliner Jake Gardiner (undisclosed injury) is questionable for the Hurricanes’ season-opener on Thursday.

SPORTSNET: Winnipeg Jets center Bryan Little left yesterday’s pre-season game against the Minnesota Wild following a high hit from forward Luke Kunin.

CBS SPORTS: Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson left Saturday’s pre-season contest against Florida with an undisclosed injury.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane was ejected from yesterday’s pre-season game against the Vegas Golden Knights for abuse of officials when he made contact with one of the referees after slashing Deryk Engelland and subsequently shoved the official.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane could be subject to supplementary discipline over this incident. The league takes a dim view of that sort of thing. 

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals winger Tom Wilson earned two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct and a 10-minute misconduct after taking exception to what he alleged were comments aimed toward him by a Hurricanes coach.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens placed forward Charles Hudon and goaltender Charlie Lindgren on waivers.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed Zac Rinaldo to a one-year, two-way contract and placed him on waivers to send him to their AHL affiliate in Stockton.

STLTODAY.COM: The pre-season game between the Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets was cancelled when mechanical issues grounded the Blues’ charter aircraft.

THE ATHLETIC: Former Florida Panthers defenseman Ed Jovanovski is joining the club’s broadcast team.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2019

An update on NHL CBA talks, the latest on Connor McDavid, the Kings re-sign Adrian Kempe, the latest PTOs, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: NHL Player Association executive director Donald Fehr said the players haven’t decided if they’ll exercise their early opt-out of the collective bargaining agreement by the Sept. 15 deadline. The PA executive board and other players met in Chicago yesterday for an update on current negotiations with the NHL. No decisions were reached regarding the CBA. Talks with the league continue on Friday.

Fehr said discussions remain pleasant and cordial. “It doesn’t mean there haven’t been disagreements and significant disagreements, but it’s so far at least free from rancor,” he said. “That’s a big improvement.” The PA and the league haven’t discussed a possible extension of the Sept. 15 deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fehr’s statement was essentially status quo. He’s not going to tip the PA’s hand while negotiations with the league are ongoing but also won’t say anything that could put those talks in jeopardy.

Escrow payments likely remain among the “significant disagreements” Fehr was alluding to. Indeed, it’s the biggest, perhaps the only, impediment toward a new agreement or an extension of the current one.

As for extending the PA’s opt-out deadline, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes that won’t fly with the league as both sides would have to agree. If so, Sept. 15 remains the next significant milestone.

No certainly Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid will be ready for the start of the season (Photo via NHL Images).

 THE SCORE: Player agent Jeff Jackson can’t say if client Connor McDavid will be fully recovered from a knee injury by the start of the Edmonton Oilers’ season on Oct. 2. The Oilers captain suffered the injury during the final game of the 2018-19 season. Jackson said McDavid hasn’t had any setbacks and is working toward getting ready for the start of training camp next week.

WINNIPEG SUN:Josh Morrissey confirmed contract-extension talks have begun with the Jets. The defenseman is slated to become a restricted free agent next summer. “I’d love to get something done. I’d love to play here throughout my career,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After the recent departure of Jacob Trouba, Morrissey’s remarks will be music to the ears of Jets fans. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings re-signed center Adrian Kempe to a three-year contract with an annual average value of $2 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise Kempe got a bridge deal. After a promising 37-point rookie campaign in 2017-18, Kempe managed just 28 points last season. Cap Friendly indicates the Kings now have over $74.7 million invested in 23 players for 2019-20.

VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks inked restricted free agent winger Nikolay Goldobin to a one-year, $900K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is probably Goldobin’s last chance to prove himself as a reliable NHL regular with the Canucks. Another inconsistent effort could turn him into a waiver or trade candidate.

TSN: The Calgary Flames signed forwards Devante Smith-Pelly, Tobias Rieder, Zac Rinaldo, and Alexandre Grenier to professional tryout offers. Meanwhile, the Florida Panthers have brought back forward Troy Brouwer on a PTO.

STAR-TRIBUNE.COM: Winger Drew Stafford will attend Minnesota Wild training camp on a professional tryout offer.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Sonny Milano and Colorado Avalanche forward A.J. Greer pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan court to an assault charge stemming from an incident in New York on July 7. Both will be permitted to skip their next court date next month because of their respective travel schedules.

THE SCORE: NBC Sports has removed Pierre McGuire from its No. 1 broadcast team, relegating him to the second game of their doubleheaders. McGuire will be replaced by Brian Boucher.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McGuire has attracted criticism for his coverage in recent years. The Score observed he was “essentially forced to apologize for a series of awkward on-air exchanges with fellow analyst Kendall Coyne Schofield in January.”

THE HOCKEY NEWS: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and former NHLers Tim Thomas and Brian Gionta are among this year’s inductees into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The taciturn Thomas was part of the conference call with reporters following the announcement, marking his first public statement since his retirement in 2014. He alluded to a “state of nervousness” since his retirement, adding he doesn’t like traveling and prefers to keep his personal life to himself.