Top 10 NHL 2020-21 Calder Trophy Candidates
A roundup of notable news from the opening day of Phase 3 training camp, including the latest on Auston Matthews, David Pastrnak, Corey Crawford, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NOTES FROM DAY ONE OF TRAINING CAMP
NHL.COM: The league revealed a total of 30 positive COVID-19 tests from 4,934 tests administered to over 600 players taking part in the Phase 2 voluntary training period (June 8 to July 12). They’re also aware of an additional 13 players who tested positive outside the Phase 2 training. All players who tested positive were/have been self-isolated and followed CDC and Health Canada protocols.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league will continue testing players in Phase 3 and will release weekly updates. Bear in mind this doesn’t mean all the players with positive tests remain sidelined. A number of them may have already recovered.
TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews confirmed he tested positive for COVID-19 last month. He said he was asymptomatic during his two weeks of self-quarantine at his Arizona home and is now fully healthy. Matthews indicated he couldn’t really pinpoint how and when he contracted the virus.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews remains the only player to be publicly identified as testing positive for the Coronavirus.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were missing from the opening day of Bruins’ training camp. Their absence was due to their quarantine period since returning from the Czech Republic. They’re expected to join their teammates within the next couple of days.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford missed practice yesterday and was declared “unfit to play” by head coach Jeremy Colliton. Under the NHL’s return-to-play protocols, the Blackhawks cannot disclose the reason behind Crawford’s absence or how long he’ll be away. Center Zack Smith (back injury) was also absent.
TSN: Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw opted out of participating in the return-to-play plan to recover from ongoing concussion symptoms. He hopes to return to action for the 2020-21 season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deadline for opting out was 5:30 pm ET yesterday.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko and forward Robert Bortuzzo were absent from practice yesterday. General manager Doug Armstrong said he expects the duo will return soon.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Patric Hornqvist is among 11 players absent from Penguins practice yesterday The others include forwards Anthony Angello, Adam Johnson, Sam Miletic, Sam Poulin, Phil Varone, defensemen Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Juuso Riikola, goaltenders Casey DeSmith, Alex D’Orio, and Emil Larmi.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nine of the players were reportedly sidelined because of exposure with a person who has been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, though the teams didn’t identify them as per league protocols. They won’t be participating in practices until they’ve passed additional screenings.
THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi and forward Colton Sissons weren’t with the main group at practice but skated earlier in the day.
THE ATHLETIC: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland was listed as unfit to play yesterday. It’s believed linked to post-concussion symptoms related to a head injury suffered nine months ago.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Martin Necas was the notable absence from the Carolina Hurricanes practice yesterday.
THE ATHLETIC’s Arpon Basu updated his story on three Montreal Canadiens reportedly testing positive for COVID-19, indicating two of those players tested were false positives.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: reported Brett Kulak, Xavier Ouellet, and Josh Brook missed practice yesterday. Max Domi is taking 7-10 days to decide if he’ll rejoin his teammates because he’s a type-1 diabetic with celiac disease.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Caleb Jones was listed unfit to play with the main group yesterday, but would skate with a smaller group working with extra goaltenders.
CALGARY SUN: Flames forwards Dillon Dube and Buddy Robinson were absent from yesterday’s practice.
TSN: Florida Panthers assistant coach Mike Kitchen opted out of the return-to-play plan.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We better get used to this lack of information regarding the absence of players throughout the return-to-play plan. Don’t be surprised if this trend continues beyond the return-to-play period. It could make one yearn for the days when a player was absent because of an “upper-body” or “lower-body” injury.
CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gotisbehere underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during the league’s hiatus. He was at training camp yesterday but admitted he’s not fully 100 percent.
TSN: Speaking of the Flyers, Nolan Patrick remains sidelined with a migraine disorder. He’s not expected to participate in the return-to-play plan.
IN OTHER NEWS…
MONTREAL GAZETTE/NEW YORK POST/TWINCITIES.COM: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov, New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin, and Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov signed their entry-level contracts (ELC) yesterday. They’re allowed to practice with their new clubs but cannot participate in the upcoming playoff tournament in Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan. They will also burn off the first year of their ELCs.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild removed the interim label from head coach Dean Evason’s title, signing him to a two-year contract extension.
SPORTSNET: Mikhail Grigorenko is returning to the NHL in 2020-21, signing a one-year, $1.2-million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He spent the past three seasons in the KHL.
TORONTO SUN: Canadian broadcasters are unhappy over NBC Sports serving as the world feed for all NHL games played in the hub city of Toronto. Sportsnet will provide the world feed for the hub city of Edmonton. The Stanley Cup Final, to be held in Edmonton, will have Canadian and American feeds for the individual rights-holders.
1/2 The NHL will release player awards finalists on these days.
July 14: Ted Lindsay Award
July 15: Jack Adams Award, Calder Trophy
July 16: Lady Byng Trophy, Masterton Trophy
July 17: Willie O’Ree Award, Vezina Trophy
July 20: Norris Trophy, Selke Trophy
July 21: Hart Trophy
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) July 10, 2020
Teams begin to announce their training-camp rosters, at least three Montreal Canadiens test positive for COVID-19, plus updates on Max Domi, Auston Matthews, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Multiple clubs revealed their training-camp rosters for Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan. They include the Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Vegas Golden Knights, Washington Capitals, and Winnipeg Jets.
The Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, and St. Louis Blues have yet to announce their training-camp rosters.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can find the full rosters by following the link above. The other clubs will likely reveal their rosters later today.
TSN: Cites a report from The Athletic’s Arpon Basu stating at least three Montreal Canadiens players have tested positive for COVID-19. The team and the NHL declined to comment, citing the league’s COVID-19 disclosure policy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those three positives occurred during the league’s Phase 2 voluntary workout phase. We have no idea which players were involved and when those positive tests took place. We’ll likely get a better idea about the identity of those players when the Habs take to the ice today for mandatory training camp.
With over 700 players on 24 teams spread out in their respective home cities starting today for Phase 3, we could see an increase in positive tests over the next two weeks. How high that number rises could determine the fate of the playoff tournament under Phase 4.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Max Domi will wait seven-to-10 days before deciding if he’ll join his teammates for training camp. As a type-1 diabetic with celiac disease, Domi is a greater risk for COVID-19.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t blame Domi for his caution, especially in the light of the news of three teammates testing positive. It’ll be understandable if he opts-out of participating in the return-to-play plan.
TVA SPORTS: Speaking of the Canadiens, young defenseman Alexander Romanov is expected to sign an entry-level contract with the club. He could practice and travel with the Habs, but cannot participate in the Phase 4 playoff tournament. It will also burn off the first year of his entry-level deal.
STARTRIBUNE.COM/NEW YORK POST: The Minnesota Wild are expected to sign winger Kirill Kaprisov and the New York Islanders to sign goaltender Ilya Sorokin to entry-level contracts. Like Romanov, they’ll be allowed to train and travel with their respective NHL clubs but cannot take part in the playoff tournament. They’ll also burn off the first year of their ELCs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The teams want those Russian players locked up to NHL contracts as soon as possible, even if it means they’re ineligible to skate in the upcoming playoffs and burns off the first year of their contracts. It avoids the risk of those three opting to stay in the KHL for next season and allows them the opportunity to ease into their new NHL rosters.
THE SCORE: Good news for the Toronto Maple Leafs, as center Auston Matthews is fit to play and will join his teammates in training camp today. Matthews reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 in May and self-isolated at his off-season home in Arizona.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is the only player to be named in the media as testing positive, though the league and the Leafs declined to comment. It’ll be interesting to see if Matthews addresses the report with the press. I doubt he will give the league’s policy on players’ medical information.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins reserve defenseman Zach Trotman isn’t expected to participate in the return-to-play plan.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Because Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mike Green is opting out of participating in the return-to-play plan, the Detroit Red Wings will receive the Oilers’ fourth-round pick. It’s part of the deal that saw the Wings trade Green to the Oilers at the trade deadline in February.
NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes hired former NHL player Peter Harrold as a skills coach.
As was indicated in the NHL/NHLPA media avail yesterday, teams are being directed to use specific terminology in describing players absence. Beginning tomorrow, the NHL wants clubs to use the terms “not fit to play” or “unable to practice” to explain any player’s absence.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 12, 2020
The latest on the league’s plans for the schedule and the draft, the Capitals place Brendan Leipsic on waivers, the Canadiens sign Alexander Romanov, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
LATEST ON NHL’S PLANS TO RESUME ITS SEASON
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports half of the NHL’s 31 markets would have been permitted to open team facilities as of Friday. That includes those in the province of Ontario. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said things are moving in the right direction. However, he adds it’s still not an acceptable mass for the league to move into Phase 2 of its Return To Play protocol to allow smalls groups of players to resume practicing in their respective team facilities.
That number could rise to 22 clubs as restrictions are eased by May 15 in Arizona, California, Minnesota, and Nevada. The league hasn’t yet determined what an “acceptable mass” would be and it likely won’t be a set number.
Daly also said the league is considering alternative plans for teams in markets unable to reopen. Seravalli reports the league still hasn’t outline specifics that would ensure safety for entering Phase 2.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is unfolding daily and the NHL still has details to work out before moving to its second phase. The league set mid-to-late May as its Phase 2 timetable. While it appears to be getting closer, ensuring the safety of everyone involved in reopening team practice facilities remains the main sticking point. Until that’s sorted out, the fact players can return to their facilities doesn’t necessarily mean they will
Ryan Rishaug reports the Edmonton Oilers are still working on their proposal to the province of Alberta to become a hub city when the NHL resumes its schedule.
CALGARY SUN: Whenever the Flames return to the Saddledome, they’ll find a facility that has been scrubbed and disinfected to within an inch of its life.
LATEST ON THE 2020 NHL DRAFT
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports it’s still unclear when the NHL will decide on their plans for this year’s draft. “One of the many matters that are being analyzed and worked on. There is no urgency to reaching a decision on this, at least currently,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It seemed a certainty the NHL would announce an early draft before resuming the season entering this week. That they’re not saying there’s no current urgent to make a decision suggests considerable pushback from the board of governors and the general managers, or maybe dealing with the conditional picks in this year’s draft proved too complicated to sort out, or perhaps the NHL brain trust is realizing holding the draft early won’t be the rating bonanza they thought it might be. We’ll hopefully know more in a week.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals placed forward Brendan Leipsic on unconditional waivers to terminate his contract for his offensive comments made on social media.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leipsic was the author of his demise and every NHL club probably would’ve handled his situation the same way. His big-league career is probably over. However, I doubt the punishment for his misogynistic comments would’ve been as harsh if Leipsic was an NHL star. In that scenario, he’d make a big public apology followed by several weeks of counseling and rehab. He’d return to action and the entire incident would be treated as a minor speedbump in an otherwise stellar career.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens yesterday signed KHL defenseman Alexander Romanov to a three-year entry-level contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Romanov is a promising young puck-moving defenseman who’s been compared to former Hab Mikhail Sergachev and Los Angeles Kings star Drew Doughty. He’s achieved almost mythical status among some Canadiens fans before he’s even donned their sweater. Despite the favorable comparisons to Sergachev and Doughty, Romanov’s yet to make his NHL debut. It will probably take him some time to adjust to the pace. Habs fans should temper their expectations until they see what this kid can do.
SPORTSNET: The NHL and NHLPA announced the postponement of their 2020 international games. The Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators were to stage their 2020-21 season openers in Prague, Czech Republic. The Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blues Jackets were also to stage a pair of games in Helsinki, Finland.
OTTAWA SUN: The American Hockey League’s board of governors held a conference call Friday to discuss canceling the remainder of its season. An official announcement could be made on Monday.
TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs assistant coach Paul McFarland will leave the club at the end of this season to take over the head-coaching role with the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs.