NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2023

The 2023-24 season began with Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard making his big-league debut, the Golden Knights raising their Stanley Cup banner, plus the latest notable news in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard collected an assist in his first-ever NHL game as his club overcame a 2-0 deficit to double up the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2. Corey Perry, Nick Foligno and Jason Dickinson each collected two points for the Blackhawks while Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust scored for the Penguins.

Chicago Blackhawks center Connor Bedard (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The first-overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, Bedard picked up that secondary assist on Ryan Donato’s goal that opened the scoring for the Blackhawks. The 18-year-old center acquitted himself well in his first NHL contest, seeing over 21 minutes of ice time and generating five shots on net. He’ll have to work on his faceoff skills as he won only 15 percent of his draws.

The Vegas Golden Knights raised their 2022-23 Stanley Cup banner in a pregame ceremony before winning their home opener by downing the Seattle Kraken 4-1. Adin Hill made 32 saves while Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson each had two points for the Golden Knights. Jared McCann replied for the Kraken.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights forward Brett Howden received a five-minute major and a match penalty for an illegal hit to the head of Kraken forward Brandon Tanev, who didn’t return to the game. An update on Tanev’s condition is expected on Wednesday.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov opened the scoring for the 2023-24 season in a 5-3 victory over the Nashville Predators. Kucherov and teammate Nick Paul each tallied twice while Brayden Point collected three assists for the Lightning. Ryan O’Reilly and Filip Forsberg each had two points for the Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning winger Tyler Motte left the game with an injured hand. An update on his status is expected on Wednesday.


THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture will miss his club’s season opener on Thursday against the Golden Knights. He remains sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov will miss his club’s season opener as he continues to rehab from reconstructive surgery on his right ACL back in March. Head coach Rob Brind’Amour claims Svechnikov is close to returning to action but the club doesn’t want to rush him.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers placed defenseman Aaron Ekblad on long-term injury reserve on Tuesday. Ekblad continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery. He and sidelined blueliner Brandon Montour hope to return to action in December though one could return sooner than the other.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers still have Montour on injured reserve, suggesting he could return before Ekblad.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild named winger Kirill Kaprizov as an alternate captain. He joined captain Jared Spurgeon and fellow alternate Marcus Foligno among the Wild’s leadership group.


THE DENVER POST/CAROLINA HOCKEY NOW: The Caroline Hurricanes traded defenseman Caleb Jones to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for minor-league forward Callahan Burke.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The move shores up the Avalanche’s blueline depth. Jones became the odd man out on the Hurricanes as they opted to go with seven defensemen this season.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER/NYI HOCKEY NOW: The Anaheim Ducks claimed forward Ross Johnston off waivers from the New York Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston wasn’t seeing much playing time with the Islanders. He’ll get that with the rebuilding Ducks as they look to add more muscle to their roster.

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Noah Gregor to a one-year contract worth $775K. He’d been with the Leafs during training camp and preseason on a professional tryout offer.

CBS SPORTS: Speaking of PTOs, Max Comtois was released from his by the Golden Knights.

DAILY FACEOFF: Los Angeles Kings goaltender David Rittich, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Barre-Boulet and Toronto Maple Leafs winger Bobby McMann were placed on waivers yesterday.

NHL.COM: Former NHL player and coach Barry Melrose is retiring as an ESPN analyst after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Melrose and his family.

DAILY FACEOFF: Scotiabank Arena will undergo major renovations totaling $350 million following the upcoming Maple Leafs and Raptors seasons. Formerly known as the Air Canada Centre, it opened in February 1999.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 10, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 10, 2023

The Jets’ Connor Hellebucyk and Mark Scheifele and the Sabres’ Rasmus Dahlin sign contract extensions plus an update on Jake Guentzel and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets yesterday announced the signings of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and center Mark Scheifele to identical seven-year contract extensions with an average annual value of $8.5 million. The deals go into effect next season.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was surprising news from the Jets. Given their eligibility for unrestricted free-agent status next summer, Hellebuyck and Scheifele frequently appeared in trade speculation during the offseason. It was assumed one or both would be shopped before the March 8 trade deadline if the Jets were out of playoff contention by then.

Re-signing Hellebuyck and Scheifele is a big win for Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. He faced considerable criticism over the direction of the club in recent years, sparking calls for a roster rebuild from fans and pundits.

Cheveldayoff locked up this club’s two best players on long-term extensions with a reasonable average annual value, signaling that this club has no intention of rebuilding the roster. These moves also put a dent in the belief around the league that the small-market club can’t retain their best players.

Hellebucyk and Scheifele are both in their playing prime and would’ve earned considerably more from next summer’s free-agent market. By accepting less money to stick with the Jets, they’ve provided a big vote of confidence in Cheveldayoff’s plans.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).

However, it’s also a substantial investment by the Jets in two 30-year-old players who will be in decline by the second half of their seven-year deals. While the salary cap is projected to rise considerably over that period, having $16 million tied up in two aging stars still takes a big bite out of their payroll. It could become a salary-cap headache down the road.

TSN: Speaking of the Jets, defenseman Ville Heinola underwent surgery on his fractured left ankle and will be sidelined for a minimum of eight weeks.

CBS SPORTS: Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers has ruled himself good to go for his club’s season opener on Wednesday against the Calgary Flames. He’d missed preseason play with neck spasms.


THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres yesterday announced they reached an agreement with Rasmus Dahlin on an eight-year, $88 million contract starting in 2024-25. The average annual value is $11 million, making it the most lucrative contract in Sabres history.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a hefty new contract for Dahlin but one that should prove worthwhile for the Sabres. The 23-year-old defenseman is among the league’s elite puck-moving blueliners, reaching or exceeding 40 points in four of his five NHL seasons. Those include his 53-point performance in 2021-22 and last season’s career-best (to date) 73-point output.

Dahlin is the cornerstone of the Sabres’ blueline corps and one of their core players. He will play a key role in this club’s future as they attempt to transition into a perennial playoff contender. This deal ensures they’ll have Dahlin under contract throughout the prime of his career. $11 million annually makes him one of the league’s highest-paid defensemen but it could be worth it for the Sabres over the long term.


THE ATHLETIC: Jake Guentzel is hopeful of signing a new contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. “I’ve pretty much grown up in Pittsburgh,” he said. “I love this place so much. I really do. This is a great place, both for me and my family. I don’t want to be anywhere else.”

Guentzel is in the final season of his contract earning an AAV of $6 million. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Contract talks haven’t started yet but both sides seem confident that a deal will get done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins will have to pay Guentzel a raise if they hope to retain him. Perhaps they can convince him to accept between $8 million and $9 million for the security of a long-term contract.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs goaltender Matt Murray will be sidelined for six to eight months following bilateral hip surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray will likely spend the season on long-term injury reserve. He will become an unrestricted free agent next summer but his playing career is probably over.

The Leafs also announced Curtis McElhinney as their new director of Goaltending Development and Scouting, Jake Muzzin was named a pro scout and Chris Bourque was named a college free-agent scout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Muzzin is in the final season of his standard player contract with the Leafs but he is moving on to a post-playing career. He’s on what I call permanent LTIR due to a neck injury suffered during a game last October.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Sidelined forwards Roope Hintz, Wyatt Johnston and Radek Faksa remain questionable for the Stars’ season opener on Thursday against the St. Louis Blues.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Golden Knights defensemen Alec Martinez and Zach Whitecloud were placed on injured reserve yesterday.

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Flyers blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen was placed on IR with an undisclosed injury.

TSN: The Tampa Bay Lightning signed forward Austin Watson to a one-year, one-way contract worth just over $776K. He played four games with the Lightning during the recent preseason on a professional tryout offer.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: The Islanders placed forward Ross Johnston on waivers yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Johnston clears waivers he’ll likely be sent to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Ottawa Senators reclaimed defenseman Lassi Thomson off waivers yesterday from the Anaheim Ducks. Meanwhile, the Colorado Avalanche claimed goalie Ivan Prosvetov from the Arizona Coyotes, the Calgary Flames claimed forward A.J. Greer from the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins claimed defenseman John Ludvig from the Florida Panthers.

NEW YORK POST: The NHL has banned its teams from using Pride Tape during pregame warmups as it continues to move away from special initiatives that caused issues for a handful of players, including Pride Night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: “Hockey is for everyone.”

NHL Rumor Mill – July 22, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – July 22, 2023

Erik Karlsson confirms speaking to several teams, a look at Travis Konecny’s future with the Flyers, and an Islanders’ salary-cap solution in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TSN: Chris Johnston reports Erik Karlsson confirmed speaking with several teams as the San Jose Sharks attempt to trade the 33-year-old defenseman.

Among the clubs that Karlsson spoke with are the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Seattle Kraken and Carolina Hurricanes. “I just want the best chance to get to the best team,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins appear to be the front-runners based on numerous reports out of Pittsburgh and from other NHL insiders in recent days. They seem confident of their chances of landing the three-time Norris Trophy winner.

The holdup could be whether the Penguins use their second buyout window to shed a roster player once Drew O’Connor’s contract situation has been resolved. His arbitration hearing is on Aug. 4 but could be settled before then. We’ll find out in due course.

Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny (NHL Images).


THE ATHLETIC: Charlie O’Connor recently looked at where Travis Konecny fits into the rebuilding Philadelphia Flyers’ long-term plans. The 26-year-old winger enjoyed a bounce-back performance in 2022-23 by tying his career high of 61 points, becoming one of the few bright spots in a miserable season for the Flyers.

General manager Daniel Briere was willing to listen to offers for Konecny this summer but there was never a sense that he was peddling the winger in the trade market. He’s signed through 2024-25 at a reasonable average annual value of $5.5 million. Konecny played well for head coach John Tortorella. He and Briere both like what the winger brings to the team.

O’Connor suggests the Flyers have plenty of time to trade Konecny beyond this summer. If they can’t or won’t re-sign him he could fetch at least a first-round pick in return. Briere can afford to keep his asking price high.

They could also re-sign Konecny. However, that could prove a risky long-term investment for a player whose new contract would start at 28 and stretch well into his 30s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Konecny’s future will be decided by the progress of the Flyers’ rebuild and whether he has a place in it. I daresay he’ll continue to surface in the rumor mill if the Flyers remain near the bottom of the standings for the coming season.

Konecny’s trade value throughout 2023-24 will rise if he builds on last season’s performance. His future will also depend on whether he wants to stick with a rebuilding club. If he has no interest in signing a contract extension next summer, he could be shopped during the 2024 draft or before the 2025 trade deadline. His lack of a no-trade clause gives Briere plenty of potential suitors to choose from.


NYI HOCKEY NOW: Andrew Fantucchio observes the Islanders sit above this season’s $83.5 million salary cap by over $486K. They can remain there until the start of their 2023-24 schedule when they’ll have to become cap compliant.

Fantucchio suggests veteran enforcer Ross Johnston could become a salary-cap casualty. He carries an AAV of $1.1 million through 2025-26. He played just 16 games last season and was often passed over when vacancies opened in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fantucchio suggests the Isles could demote Johnston to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. They could also explore the trade market if they hope to shed his entire cap hit from their books.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 15, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 15, 2022

The Panthers and Wild romp to lopsided wins, the Avalanche tie a franchise record plus the latest suspensions, COVID updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Sam Bennett and Jonathan Huberdeau each had four-point performances as the Florida Panthers crushed the Dallas Stars 7-1. Bennett tallied a hat trick while Huberdeau collected three assists. Anthony Duclair scored and set up two others as the Panthers (55 points) reclaimed first place in the overall standings.

Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Score indicates the Stars have one of the worst road records (4-11-1) in the league, with just one regulation win away from Dallas. Head coach Rick Bowness wasn’t pleased with his club’s performance. “We have some guys who are very comfortable playing at home and very uncomfortable playing on the road,” he said.

The Minnesota Wild tallied four third-period goals (including two within four seconds early in the period) to down the Anaheim Ducks 7-3. Mats Zuccarello scored twice and picked up an assist while Kirill Kaprizov had two helpers. With 46 points, the Wild holds the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Ducks (45 points) remain in second place in the Pacific Division but have just three wins in their last 10 contests.

A shootout goal by Nazem Kadri lifted the Colorado Avalanche over the Arizona Coyotes 4-3. The Avs tied a franchise record by picking up their 13th straight home victory as they overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits. With 49 points, they’re one point back of the Western Conference-leading Nashville Predators. Coyotes goaltender Ivan Prosvetov made 44 saves.


NYI HOCKEY NOW: Islanders forward Ross Johnston received a three-game suspension from the NHL department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of New Jersey Devils forward A.J. Greer on Thursday.

TSN: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan was fined $2,500.00 for a dangerous trip (slew foot) on Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield on Thursday.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Connor Brown is listed as week-to-week with a suspected broken jaw.

SPORTSNET: St. Louis Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich and Toronto Maple Leafs Justin Holl, Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie were placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list.

TSN: Former Arizona Coyotes star Shane Doan is taking over as the general manager of Canada’s Men’s Olympic Hockey team and former NHL coach Claude Julien takes over as head coach.

NBC SPORTS: Aisha Visram is believed to be the first woman to work on the bench during an NHL game as she filled in for the Los Angeles Kings’ sidelined athletic trainer during their 6-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. Visram is the head trainer of the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Ontario, California.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 27, 2021

Stan Bowman steps aside as Blackhawks general manager as the Blackhawks make front office changes in the wake of an investigation into sexual assault allegations involving their former video coach. Details plus recaps of Tuesday’s game and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Chicago Blackhawks team president and general manager Stan Bowman stepped aside following the release of details of an independent investigation into sexual assault allegations made against former video coach Bradley Aldrich by a former player over a decade ago. Senior VP of hockey operations Al MacIsaac was also relieved of his duties. The news was announced in a virtual press briefing yesterday that included Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz, CEO Danny Wirtz and Jenner & Block lead investigator Reid Schar.

Former Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman (NHL.com).

In addition, the NHL has fined the Blackhawks $2 million for “the organization’s inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response” in its handling of this matter. Aldrich left the Blackhawks following the 2009-10 season.

The investigation found Bowman and MacIsaac met with then-president and CEO John McDonough, executive VP Jay Blunk, assistant GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, head coach Joel Quenneville and mental skills coach James Gary after the Blackhawks advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in May 2010 to discuss the allegations. However, nothing was done until three weeks later after the Blackhawks won the Cup.

TSN: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman intends to meet personally with Cheveldayoff and Quenneville in the near future. Cheveldayoff is now the GM of the Winnipeg Jets and Quenneville is the head coach of the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The full 107-page report, based on interviews with 139 people, has been released to the public (warning: contains graphic and disturbing details). It reveals the Blackhawks organization ultimately put winning a championship over pursuing prompt action against a sexual predator in their midst.

When they finally acted, they didn’t go to the police. Instead, Aldrich was given the choice of stepping down or being subjected to an internal investigation. He got severance pay, a playoff bonus, a day with the Cup and a complimentary reference letter from Quenneville. Nearly four years later, Aldrich was sentenced to nine months in jail and five years probation on criminal sexual conduct charges stemming from his alleged involvement with a high school player.

At every level, the Blackhawks failed to protect “John Doe”, who was also reportedly later ostracized and mocked by several teammates following his ordeal. They chose to cover it up for years, doing immeasurable harm to Aldrich’s victims and tarnishing a once-proud organization. The only positive to come out of this is “John Doe” finally received some measure of justice for his ordeal.

This story never would’ve seen the light of day without the determined reporting by TSN’s Rick Westhead and The Athletic’s Katie Strang. Their reports earlier this year led to the long-overdue investigation into the allegations.

The fallout from this story is ongoing and the aftermath will be felt by the Blackhawks, and the NHL, for a long time. We can only hope there will be lessons learned by the league to ensure victims of sexual assault at any level within its ranks never have to face what “John Doe” endured for the past decade.


NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken won its first home game in franchise history by downing the Montreal Canadiens 5-1. Brandon Tanev scored twice and Yanni Gourde collected a goal and an assist. The hapless Habs have lost five of their first six games this season. Earlier in the day, Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin said sidelined teammate Shea Weber is essentially retired though he hasn’t officially done so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drouin said out loud what everyone knows. Injuries have ended Weber’s career but he’s still under contract through 2025-26. He’ll remain on long-term injury reserve. If he officially retires, the Canadiens would only face a salary-cap recapture penalty of $200K per season until his contract expires. His former club, the Nashville Predators, would get hit with $6.1 million annually as they were the ones who matched his contract offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers.

Nikolaj Ehlers scored the tying and winning goals 19 seconds apart in the third period to give the Winnipeg Jets a 4-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Andrew Copp also had a goal and two assists for the Jets. Trevor Zegras and Sonny Milano had a goal and an assist for the Ducks.

The Calgary Flames picked up their fourth straight win by dropping the New Jersey Devils 5-3. Andrew Mangiapane scored two goals for the Flames. Pavel Zacha replied with two for the Devils.

A 28-save performance by Andrei Vasilevskiy gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was the Lightning’s first regulation win of the season. Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat and Ryan McDonagh each had a goal and an assist.

The Vegas Golden Knights picked up their second win of the season by beating the Colorado Avalanche 3-1. Robin Lehner made 26 saves while Chandler Stephenson had a goal and an assist. Both clubs have 2-4-0 records.

Cam Talbot made 22 saves as the Minnesota Wild held off the Vancouver Canucks 3-2. Matt Dumba scored the eventual game-winner as the Wild have won five straight games. The Canucks announced defenseman Travis Hamonic has traveled to Vancouver and will join their AHL affiliate in Abbotsford. He did not report to the club in September and was placed on leave while dealing with a personal matter.

Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi had two assists and goaltender Juuse Saros kicked out 28 shots in a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. Matt Duchene, Filip Forsberg and Mikael Granlund tallied for the Predators.


STLTODAY.COM: Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly was placed on the non-roster COVID-19 protocol list yesterday, joining winger Brandon Saad. They will be sidelined at least 10 days.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and center Henrik Borgstrom were placed on the club’s COVID protocol list.

ABC 6: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Dean Kukan will be sidelined eight weeks after fracturing his wrist in Monday’s game against the Dallas Stars.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Coyotes goaltender Carter Hutton is expected to miss two to four weeks with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Conor Timmins is out eight-to-12 weeks (lower body) while winger Ryan Dzingel has suffered an upper-body injury.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders signed forward Ross Johnston to a four-year contract extension. He’ll earn $1.1 million annually.