NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 1, 2021

Evander Kane to be investigated that he bet on games, why Jack Eichel wants a disc replacement, plus a roundup of Saturday’s notable free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The NHL intends to launch an investigation into an allegation claiming San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane gambled on NHL games. The Sharks also released a statement indicating its support for a full and transparent investigation.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

The allegation was raised on an unverified Instagram account attributed to Kane’s wife, Anna, claiming the winger abandoned her and their two children to go on a European vacation while their home was being repossessed. She then accused Kane of betting on his own games.

Kane, 29, was sued by a Las Vegas casino in 2019 over $500K in unpaid gambling debts but the suit was dropped the following year. In January, he filed for bankruptcy claiming nearly $27 million in debts, including $1.5 million in gambling losses. He’s also facing six active lawsuits from lenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s bankruptcy and previous gambling issues are well-documented but his wife’s allegations raise that issue to an entirely different level. Sharks management stood by him during his bankruptcy. He recently claimed in an interview that fatherhood had changed and matured him. His wife’s comments, however, paint a very different picture.

Kane’s personal issues didn’t affect his on-ice performance as he led the Sharks in scoring this season with 49 points in 56 games. However, reports emerged indicating significant friction between the winger and his teammates this season, with several expressing frustration to management in their season-ending exit interviews.

Kane has four years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7 million. The outcome of this investigation, however, could determine whether he’ll get the opportunity to complete that contract.

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman interviewed Colorado neurosurgeon Dr. Chad Prusmack, who provided Jack Eichel with a recommendation to correct a herniated disc in his neck with artificial disc replacement surgery. Prusmack explained the procedure, the risk and recovery and why it would be more beneficial than neck fusion surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel and Sabres’ management are in disagreement over whether he can undergo this procedure. Under the CBA, the Sabres have the final say but that’s become an area of contention between the two sides, prompting considerable speculation over his future.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed winger Warren Foegele to a three-year contract worth $2.75 million per season. Foegele was acquired last week from the Carolina Hurricanes

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings re-signed winger Tyler Bertuzzi to a two-year contract worth $9.5 million. Bertuzzi has resumed off-ice training following back surgery in April and is expected to be ready for training camp next month.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed Nick Ritchie to a two-year contract worth $2.5 million per season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed winger Artturi Lehkonen to a one-year, $2.3 million contract.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars signed forward Joel Kiviranta to a two-year, $2.1 million contract.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed Derek Stepan to a one-year, $1.35 million contract.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed forward Riley Nash to a one-year deal worth $750K.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2021

The Panthers re-sign Sam Bennett and trade Anton Stralman to the Coyotes, the Jets re-sign Paul Stastny and acquire Brenden Dillion from the Capitals, the Golden Knights close to re-signing Alec Martinez and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Florida Panthers were busy on Monday. They signed forward Sam Bennett to a four-year deal worth an annual average value of $4.4 million. The club also traded defensemen Anton Stralman and Vladislav Kolyachonok plus a second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft in exchange for a seventh-round pick in 2023.

The Florida Panthers re-sign forward Sam Bennett to a four-year deal (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not surprising the Panthers re-signed Bennett. Slated to become a restricted free agent on July 28, the 25-year-old netted 15 points in his first 10 regular-season games after being acquired at the trade deadline from Calgary. He also had five points in as many playoff games. Bennett should be a key part of their top-two forward lines.

The Stralman trade was a straightforward salary dump by the Panthers. He had a year remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $5.5 million. The 35-year-old blueliner reportedly had to be convinced to waive his modified no-trade to go to Arizona. He’ll likely become a bargaining chip at next season’s trade deadline if the rebuilding Coyotes are out of playoff contention by then.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets also had a busy day, re-signing center Paul Stastny to a one-year, $3.75 million contract and acquiring defenseman Brenden Dillon from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a second-round pick in 2022 and a second-rounder in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stastny isn’t the offensive talent he once was. Nevertheless, the 35-year-old should be an affordable short-term answer to their need for a second-line center while management seeks a long-term solution. Dillon will help address a glaring need for reliable stay-at-home depth on their blueline, though the cost of two second-rounders seems a little high.

The Capitals, meanwhile, freed up $3.9 million in annual cap space for the next three seasons. They now have over $12 million in cap room if they call up Martin Fehervary as expected for next season. That gives them some additional wiggle room to re-sign Alex Ovechkin and goaltender Ilya Samsonov.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights are reportedly close to signing Alec Martinez to a three-year contract extension. The 35-year-old defenseman would receive an annual cap hit close to $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez proved his worth to the Golden Knights this season, especially in the playoffs where he was their best all-around blueliner. The contract is a bit long for a shot-blocking rearguard of his age but that seems the price the Golden Knights are willing to pay to remain in Stanley Cup contention.

That signing could push them over the $81.5 million salary cap. They could make a cost-cutting trade before the start of next season involving Marc-Andre Fleury or Robin Lehner.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes expected to sign forward Dmitrij Jaskin to a one-year, $3.2 million contract. The 29-year-old spent seven seasons with the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals before spending the past two seasons playing for the KHL’s Moscow Dynamo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes have been everyone’s favorite dumping ground for unwanted contracts this summer. General manager Bill Armstrong has been clearing up long-term cap space while restocking with draft picks and prospects.

Most of the contracts he’s taken on have only a year or two remaining, with most belonging to still-serviceable players who could become trade bait to playoff contenders later next season. He also did a great job shedding Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s hefty contract by shipping that off to Vancouver during the recent NHL draft.

THE SCORE: Several notable restricted free agents didn’t receive qualifying offers at yesterday’s deadline. Among them were Boston’s Nick Ritchie, Chicago’s Pius Suter, Edmonton’s Dominik Kahun and Anaheim’s Danton Heinen. They are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because they didn’t get qualifying offers doesn’t mean they can’t re-sign with their now-former teams. Sometimes teams don’t offer a QO because they want to sign those players to a more affordable contract. That’s what the Blackhawks did with Adam Gaudette, inking him to a one-year deal worth just over $997K.

TORONTO STAR: Defenseman Zach Bogosian won’t be back with the Maple Leafs. He’s likely headed to an American market via free agency on July 28.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are expected to sign Patrik Nemeth when free agency opens tomorrow. The Colorado Avalanche allowed the pending UFA defenseman to speak with other teams.

TSN: The New Jersey Devils traded forward Nick Merkley to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenseman Christian Jaros. The Devils signed Jaros to a one-year, two-way contract.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers re-signed defenseman Sam Morin to a one-year, $750K contract.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan is expected to be named head coach of the United States’ Men’s hockey team for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2021

The Avalanche trade Ryan Graves to the Devils, the Panthers buy out Keith Yandle, Ben Bishop agrees to waive NMC for the expansion draft, Leafs give Zach Hyman permission to speak to other clubs, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE DENVER POST/NORTHJERSEY.COM: The Colorado Avalanche last night traded defenseman Ryan Graves to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for forward Mikhail Maltsev and a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft.

The Colorado Avalanche trade Ryan Graves to the New Jersey Devils (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche risked losing Graves to the Seattle Kraken for nothing in next week’s expansion draft. They get a promising young forward in Maltsev and replace the second-round pick they shipped to the New York Islanders last fall for Devon Toews. The move also gives the Avs some much-needed salary-cap relief, replacing Graves’ $3.21 million annual average value with Maltsev’s $925K for 2021-22.

Graves, 26, established himself as a quality top-four defenseman during his tenure with the Avalanche. The 6’5”, 220-pounder brings a good mix of size, physical play and a solid defensive game to the Devils’ blueline.

NBC SPORTS: The Florida Panthers have bought out the remaining two years of Keith Yandle’s contract. The 34-year-old defenseman had an annual average value of $6.35 million. The first year of the buyout will count as $2.34 million against the Panthers’ cap for 2021-22, jumping to $5.3 million for 2022-23, and dropping to $1.24 million annually for the final two seasons.

They also re-signed winger Anthony Duclair to a three-year, $9 million contract and defenseman Gustav Forsling to a three-year, $7.98 million deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things were coming to a head between Yandle and the Panthers this season. He was nearly a healthy scratch to start the season, which would’ve threatened his Ironman consecutive games streak. He was scratched from three postseason games. This move freed up immediate cap room to address other needs.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars goaltender Ben Bishop agreed to waive his no-movement clause for the upcoming expansion draft. That will allow the Stars to protect goalie Anton Khudobin as promising Jake Oettinger is exempt from the draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop missed all of this season recovering from a knee injury. His lengthy injury history likely means the Kraken will pass on selecting him in next week’s draft.

THE SCORE: cited TSN’s Darren Dreger reporting the Toronto Maple Leafs are allowing Zach Hyman to speak with other teams. The 29-year-old left-winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s a chance the Leafs could match the best offer but that appears slim. I’ll have more on Hyman in today’s Rumor Mill.

TSN: Darren Dreger speculates Shea Weber’s situation could end in a dispute between the NHL and NHLPA if the league doesn’t allow the Canadiens to put the 35-year-old defenseman on long-term injury reserve. Weber’s career is in jeopardy from the effects of multiple injuries suffered over the past four seasons. He’s reportedly expected to miss the entire 2021-22 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everyone is waiting for clarity on this before deciding what to do next. Weber is reportedly getting a second medical opinion. Dreger indicated the timing of this situation is what’s clouding the issue with the expansion draft coming up.

THE SCORE: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins said Matiss Kivlenieks died a hero during the memorial service for his late teammate. Kivlenieks died at age 24 from chest trauma from a fireworks mortar blast. The tube tilted and started firing toward a hot tub. Merzlikins and his pregnant wife were nearby. He said the young goaltender sacrificed his life to protect others

SPECTOR’S NOTE: RIP Matiss, your last save was your biggest.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed winger Brett Ritchie to a one-year, $900K contract.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks re-signed center Dylan Gambrell to a one-year, $1.1 million contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2021

The Lightning eliminated the Hurricanes, the Golden Knights push the Avalanche to the brink of elimination, the Masterton Trophy finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 29-save shutout carried the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 to win their second-round series four games to one. Brayden Point and Ross Colton were the goal scorers. The Lightning awaits the winner of the Boston Bruins-New York Islanders series in the semifinals.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: By eliminating the Hurricanes and the Florida Panthers before them, the Lightning are serving notice that they still have the depth in talent to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. Vasilevskiy is also showing everyone why he’s a Vezina Trophy finalist for the fourth straight year. He was superb in this series.

The Hurricanes remain a rising force. They’re very close to breaking through as a Stanley Cup contender. Much will depend on how management handles the offseason, particularly the expansion draft and the contract negotiations with defenseman Dougie Hamilton and head coach Rod Brind’Amour.

The Vegas Golden Knights overcame a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 Game 5 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on an overtime goal by Mark Stone. Brandon Saad and Joonas Donskoi scored for the Avalanche but Alex Tuch and Jonathan Marchessault tallied in the third period to set the stage for Stone’s OT heroics. The Golden Knights hold a 3-2 series lead and can wrap things up Thursday night in Las Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs controlled the play through the first and second periods. Turnovers, however, proved costly as the Golden Knights capitalized for all three goals. The winner of this series faces the Montreal Canadiens in the semifinals.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom, and San Jose Sharks winger Patrick Marleau are this year’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

An independent arbitrator upheld the eight-game suspension of Avalanche center Nazem Kadri. He’s already served seven games of that suspension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Would the Avalanche be on the verge of elimination if Kadri hadn’t been suspended? Maybe, maybe not, but his reckless hit on St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in the previous series hasn’t helped matters.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was fined $25,000 by the league for his post-game criticism of the officiating in Game 5 of this club’s second-round series with the New York Islanders. Bruins winger Nick Ritchie was fined $5,000.00 for elbowing Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield during that contest.

Injuries have sidelined Bruins forward Curtis Lazar and defensemen Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller from Game 6 tonight.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Yannick Weber has signed a three-year contract with ZSC Lions in Switzerland. Weber spent the past 13 NHL seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators and the Penguins. He played only two games for the Pens this season, spending most of his time on their taxi squad.

THE SCORE: Toronto’s CN Tower was lit in red, white and blue to honor the Montreal Canadiens as the last Canadian team still standing in the 2021 NHL playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I bet that went down well in the heart of Leafs Nation.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 18, 2021

Game recaps plus the latest on Patrik Laine, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, J.T. Miller, Erik Johnson, Jason Spezza and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Jake Guentzel tallied the only goal in a shootout as the Pittsburgh Penguins picked up their first win over the season by edging the Washington Capitals 4-3. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his first of the season, moving to within one career goal of tying Mike Gartner (708) for seventh place on the all-time goal-scoring list.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images).

Three unanswered third-period goals by Eetu Luostarinen, Patric Hornqvist and Jonathan Huberdeau lifted the Florida Panthers to a 5-2 season-opening victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Huberdeau had a goal and two assists while teammate Keith Yandle tallied his 100th career goal in his 867th consecutive NHL game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trade rumors dogged Yandle last week amidst speculation he could become a healthy scratch, snapping his Ironman streak. It remains to be seen how things unfold for the veteran blueliner and the Panthers.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Patrik Laine left practice yesterday with an apparent injury above his left hip. Head coach Paul Maurice shed little light on Laine’s status, adding he’ll see how the winger is doing on Monday. Laine is slated to travel with the team to Toronto.

AZCENTRAL: The Arizona Coyotes placed captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson on injured reserve. He’s slated to miss their next three games. Ekman-Larsson suffered a lower-body injury during Saturday’s 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks following a hit from Sharks’ winger Evander Kane.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller returns to the lineup after missing the club’s first three games in coronavirus quarantine as a high-risk contact of teammate Jordie Benn.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defensemen Erik Johnson and Bowen Byram will join their teammates after completing COVID-19 quarantine. Johnson missed all of training camp and the Avs’ first test games after testing positive for the coronavirus. Byram was in quarantine after traveling from Canada following the 2021 World Juniors in Edmonton.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs placed center Jason Spezza and goaltender Aaron Dell on waivers for the purpose of assigning them to their taxi squad. Spezza indicated he’ll retire immediately if claimed by another club. Dell, meanwhile, could be targeted by a club with goalie issues like the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll learn their fate by noon ET today.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins placed defenseman Mike Matheson on injured reserve retroactive to Friday with an undisclosed ailment. Head coach Mike Sullivan said Matheson was injured during Friday’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues placed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo on injured reserve following a hit to the head suffered during Friday’s loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Bortuzzo was struck by the shoulder of Avs winger Valeri Nichushkin.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Ondrej Kase is doubtful for Monday’s game against the New York Islanders. Kase suffered an upper-body injury during Saturday’s overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils.

CBS SPORTS: The Calgary Flames signed forward Brett Ritchie to a one-year, two-way contract. He’d attended Flames’ training camp on a professional tryout offer.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 10, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 10, 2021

Corey Crawford retires, Islanders sign Mathew Barzal, COVID-19 continues to affect training camps, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NJ.COM: Corey Crawford announced his retirement yesterday. The 36-year-old goaltender spent 10 full NHL seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and signed a two-year contract last fall with the New Jersey Devils.

Goaltender Corey Crawford retires after 10 NHL seasons (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford had been absent for several days last week from the Devils training camp. On Friday, it was announced he was taking an indefinite leave of absence for personal reasons.

Crawford enjoyed a stellar decade with the Blackhawks, backstopping them to two Stanley Cups (2013, 2015). He was also a two-time winner (2012-13, 2014-15) of the William M. Jennings Trophy. He played 488 regular-season games, with a record of 260 wins, 162 losses and 53 overtime losses, with a 2.45 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and 26 shutouts.

PuckPedia indicates Crawford is retiring rather than going on long-term injury reserve. Under the new memorandum of understanding to the collective bargaining agreement, his salary comes off the Devils’ books. Any multi-year plus-35 contracts where the compensation is the same or goes up with no signing bonuses after the first year no longer count against the salary cap upon retirement.

Best wishes to Crawford and his family in their future endeavors.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders yesterday signed Mathew Barzal to a three-year, $21 million contract. The annual average value is $7 million, though in actual salary he’ll earn $4 million this season, $7 million next season and $10 million in 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The actual salary for the final season is notable because that’s what the Islanders must offer Barzal in 2023 to qualify his rights when he’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He’s going to get a hefty raise on his next contract but that’s what it’ll take to keep their first-line center on Long Island.

**UPDATE** Under the terms of last year’s CBA extension (as per Cap Friendly), “The Qualifying Offer is limited to 120% of their previous contract’s annual average (AAV).” This applies to players on contracts signed after July 10, 2020.  In Barzal’s case, 120% of the AAV is $8.4 million, not $10 million. My thanks to “Howard” and “Caper” for pointing this out. 

This signing leaves the Isles over the $81.5 million salary cap by nearly $3.1 million, but they’ll get cap relief by placing defenseman Johnny Boychuk ($6 million AAV) on LTIR to start the season. Nevertheless, the Isles could still be attempting to make a cost-cutting trade. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers’ winger James Neal has finally hit the ice in training camp after missing the first five days of practice in quarantine. For their season-opener, he’s expected to either be on the 23-man roster listed as unfit to play and on injured reserve or part of their six-man taxi squad.

The Calgary Flames yesterday indicated Sam Bennett was “unfit to participate” in practice. They also signed Brett Ritchie to a professional tryout offer.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings claimed defenseman Christian Djoos off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: The Penguins canceled practice yesterday due to potential exposure to COVID-19 out of an abundance of caution. The club is expected to release a statement today regarding Sunday’s schedule. It’s unknown if any players, coaches or staff members tested positive.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings forward Gabriel Vilardi, defensemen Kurtis MacDermid and Sean Walker, and goaltenders Cal Petersen and Matthew Villalta were deemed “unfit to participate” in yesterday’s scrimmage.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning announced they will open their season without fans in attendance over concerns of rising COVID-19 cases in Hillsborough County and west-central Florida. The Lightning have permission to allow a limited number of fans inside Amelie Arena but have opted to wait until at least Feb. 5, when they’ll reassess the local situation.

The Western Hockey League (WHL) announced it will stage a 24-game regular season for 2020-21. The start date has yet to be determined. The WHL is among the feeder leagues for the National Hockey League.