NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 4, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 4, 2019

Niklas Kronwall retires, Coyotes officially introduce Phil Kessel, the latest NHL CBA speculation, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE DETROIT NEWS: After 15 NHL seasons, all of them with the Red Wings, defenseman Niklas Kronwall announced his retirement yesterday. He’ll stay with the team as a special advisor to general manager Steve Yzerman, who praised Kronwall as one of the best two-way blueliners of his era.

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall retired after 15 NHL seasons (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kronwall joined the Wings during their years as a league powerhouse, helping them reach two Stanley Cup Finals and winning the Cup in 2008. Known for his physical style of play, any player on the receiving end of his big hits were said to be “Kronwalled.” Yzerman already prepared for the possibility of Kronwall’s retirement, signing Patrik Nemeth this summer.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes yesterday formally introduced winger Phil Kessel to the Arizona media. Acquired earlier this summer in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kessel hopes to improve the Coyotes and grow their fan base.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell believes escrow is the key to securing an extension to the current NHL collective bargaining agreement. It could be attained if the league figures out a way to reduce escrow payments by the players by four-to-six percent.

One way would be freezing or limiting the rise of the salary cap. If revenue keeps rising (especially under a new U.S. TV deal and player tracking technology that would increase revenue from legalized gambling), that would reduce the escrow claw-backs from players’ salaries.

Campbell points out that would mean less spendable money in the system. It would affect players seeking new contracts and lead to more contract buyouts, cost-cutting trades, and demotions to the minors.

Campbell also cites a league source claiming the NHLPA’s five-percent escalator could be abolished. “And now it’s a matter of needing your revenues to grow at a greater rate than the growth in the upper limit. So you either freeze the upper limit, which would bring a more dramatic reduction in escrow, or you fix the upper limit for a number of years.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the league and the PA address the escrow issue. The PA executive and other players will be meeting today in Chicago to review their current negotiations with the league and plan their next move. They have until Sept. 15 to exercise their early opt-out clause. However, there’s speculation that date could be extended up to Jan. 1 to allow more time to work out a three-year CBA extension to 2024-25.

YARDBARKER: The Los Angeles Kings are reportedly making progress with restricted free agent center Adrian Kempe. It’s expected he’ll sign a short-term bridge deal.

CBS SPORTS: Winger Stefan Noesen signed a professional tryout agreement with the Dallas Stars. Meanwhile, former 2013 first-round pick Kerby Rychel signed a one-year contract with KHL club Neftekhimik.

FOXSPORTS OHIO: Former Columbus Blue Jacket Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre has joined the club’s broadcast team as an in-studio analyst.

THE SCORE: Barrie Colts head coach and Hockey Hall-of-Famer Dale Hawerchuk is stepping aside for health reasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The club didn’t reveal any further details regarding Hawerchuk’s condition. Here’s hoping he gets well soon.

TSN: Rick Olcyzk joined the NHL’s Seattle expansion franchise. A former Toronto Maple Leafs scout, he also spent four seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes as an assistant general manager alongside Seattle GM Ron Francis.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 21, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 21, 2018

Canadiens and Flames swap former first-round picks, Oilers sign Jakub Jerabek, Rangers sign Dustin Tokarski. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

CALGARY SUN: The Calgary Flames shipped center Hunter Shinkaruk to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for forward Kerby Rychel. Both teams re-signed their new players to one-year, one-way contract worth $650K. The duo are also former first-round picks in the 2013 NHL Draft. Rychel was selected 19th overall while Shinkaruk went 24th overall.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames will be Rychel’s fourth NHL team, having bounced from Columbus to Toronto to Montreal while the Canadiens are Shinkaruk’s third, having been previously acquired by the Flames from the Vancouver Canucks. Both have spent the bulk of their respective pro careers in the minors. 

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed goaltender Dustin Tokarski to a one-year, two-way deal worth $650K at the NHL level. Tokarski, 28, spent last season with the Philadelphia Flyers AHL affiliate.

EDMONTON SUN: The Oilers signed defenseman Jakub Jerabek to a one-year contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri has started a foundation to help the U.S. military community. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jerabek,27, made his NHL debut last season, splitting 36 games between the Canadiens and Washington Capitals. He’s seen as an affordable stopgap measure for now to offset the absence of Andrej Sekera, who recently suffered a career-threatening torn Achilles tendon.

Jerabek won’t replace Sekera’s skill and experience. Still, he will be a short-term depth solution until better options present themselves once Sekera ($5.5 million) is placed on LTIR at the start of the upcoming season. 

NHL.COM: New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri has launched a foundation in his name to assist serving and former U.S. service members and their families. The goal is to provide funds for various programs that benefit the military community. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As a Canadian Forces veteran, I salute Palmieri for his efforts to help the U.S. military community. 

THE ATHLETIC: Hockey-related revenue, escrow, shortening maximum-length contracts, the Olympics and expansion to Seattle are expected to be the major issues in the next round of collective bargaining between the NHL and NHLPA. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In case you’re wondering why we’re hearing about this now, the league and the NHLPA each have an opt-out option next September. If one or the other triggers that option, the current CBA will expire on Sept.15, 2020. 

OTTAWA SUN: Hockey Hall of Famer Eric Lindros recently clarified his comments suggesting the NHL should consider removing body contact from the game, saying “clean body contact should have a place in the upper tiers and professional hockey.” Lindros, whose career was cut short by concussion injuries, is now an advocate for improved player safety. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The family of recently deceased NHL player Kurt Walker will donate his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation at Boston University.

 











Tomas Plekanec to the Maple Leafs

Tomas Plekanec to the Maple Leafs

The Montreal Canadiens traded forwards Tomas Plekanec and Kyle Baun to the Toronto Maple Leafs for for Rinat Valiev, Kerby Rychel and Toronto’s second round draft pick in 2018. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Canadiens have retained half of Plekanec’s $6-million salary-cap hit. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired center Tomas Plekanec from the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After nearly fourteen NHL seasons, Plekanec’s long tenure with the Canadiens is over. Considering how thin the Habs are at center, there was talk they might try to re-sign the 35-year-old center rather than trade him. Perhaps they’ll attempt to bring him back this summer as a free agent.

Though Plekanec’s offense has declined over the last two years, he remains a very effective checking center. Those skills and his veteran presence should provide a much-needed boost to the Leafs’ defensive game, especially in the postseason. As for Baun, he will likely report directly to the Leafs’ farm team.

The Habs get a decent return in this deal. The addition of the Leafs second-round pick gives them four in that round in this year’s draft. 

Rychel, 23, is a former first-round pick with the Columbus Blue Jackets who’s struggled to stay in the NHL. As the Canadiens promote some of their promising youngsters into their lineup over the remainder of the season, Rychel and Valiev are likely destined to fill roster spots on the Habs farm team.