NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 17, 2020

NHL releases “Reverse Retro” jerseys plus the latest on Henrik Lundqvist, Bobby Ryan and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The NHL and adidas released their “Reverse Retro” alternate jerseys for all 31 clubs. The jerseys will be available for purchase on Dec. 1 and will be worn by the teams during multiple games in 2020-21.

Henrik Lundqvist could return to the New York Rangers once his playing career is over (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The big reveal of these jerseys stirred up considerable buzz on social media among NHL fans but time will tell if this translates into significant sales. As I noted yesterday, I’m not a fan of alternate jerseys. However, I don’t fault the league for its current cash grab given how COVID-19 is affecting the start of the 2020-21 season and NHL revenue. They’re facing a shortened season with limited attendance and needs all the money it can get.

FOREVER BLUESHIRTS: Former New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist could be returning to the Blueshirts following his playing career. The 38-year-old goaltender told Sweden’s Goteborgs-Posten he expects to return to the club in some capacity.

I’ll be part of the Rangers for the rest of my life, in one way or another,” he said.”Both I and the Rangers have been clear about that. That’s how it will be.”

Lundqvist signed with the Washington Capitals after the Rangers bought out the final season of his contract. He’s not sure what his role with the Blueshirts will be but feels he’ll be connected to the club “forever.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post subsequently picked up the story, confirming the blog’s translation of the Swedish interview.

TSN: Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Bobby Ryan is really motivated to have a great year with the club. The 33-year-old winger signed with the Wings after the Ottawa Senators bought out his contract. Blashill feels his experience and right-hand shot will be beneficial to the Wings’ power play. Ryan won the Masterton Trophy after publicly sharing his battle with alcohol issues.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed prospect winger Jack Quinn to a three-year entry-level contract. They selected the 18-year-old Quinn with the eighth overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers are facing a lawsuit from a Dallas hotel over two unpaid hotel bills. The first was last December worth $28,000.00 and the second was $27,000.00 for a stay in March. The club claims the error is due to an accounting glitch compounded by a timeline miscommunication and intends to pay the bill in full in a matter of days.

ESPN.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning announced the elimination of 30 positions. The club didn’t make any money during its 2020 Stanley Cup championship run because the playoffs took place in quarantine bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton. Due to COVID-19, the Lightning lost money last season and expects to do so again in 2020-21.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’re not the only NHL club to lose money, cut positions and lay off employees because of the pandemic. That’s why the majority of clubs are keen to return to play this season in their own arenas.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 16, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 16, 2020

A recent survey of player agents revealed which high-profile players they expect to be traded and which teams they feel still need to make a significant move. Check it out in today’s NHL rumor mill

THE ATHLETIC: A recent survey of 21 player agents conducted by Craig Custance revealed Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel, and Toronto Maple Leafs forwards Mitch Marner and William Nylander topped their list of high-profile players who could change teams in the next year.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

One agent pointed to the recent trade speculation surrounding Laine in recent weeks. Another feels Eichel will tire of losing in Buffalo. Another feels Marner could become a trade candidate if the Leafs decide to move one of their expensive forwards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m also leaning toward Laine because of the ongoing trade chatter and the uncertainty over his future beyond this season when he’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Eichel could decide he’s had enough in Buffalo if the Sabres fail to improve but I don’t think he’s reached that point yet.

Moving Marner and his $10.8 million annual average value will be more difficult to trade than Nylander’s $6.96 million under the current economic climate. I know Dubas reportedly said Nylander wouldn’t be traded as long as he was general manager, but that doesn’t mean he can’t change his mind, especially if the Leafs make another early playoff exit.

The Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Edmonton Oilers topped their list of teams they feel still need to make a significant offseason move.

One agent believes the Bruins must figure out what direction they’re going in. Another felt they’re still a Stanley Cup contender but must find a suitable defenseman to replace the departed Torey Krug

One agent said the Lightning need to get out of their salary-cap hell. Another believes the Oilers must get better faster or they’ll run into a problem.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of the Bruins offseason speculation suggests they’re waiting to re-sign restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk until after they’ve sorted the left side of their blue line. DeBrusk has also been mentioned as a possible trade chip to address that need.

The Lightning’s cap issues are well known and dominate the offseason rumor mill. They must free up sufficient cap space to re-sign RFAs Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak. Forwards Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn are oft-mentioned as trade candidates.

Goaltending remains the Oilers’ Achilles heel but they couldn’t or wouldn’t invest in an upgrade over the current tandem of Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith. They’re just over the $81.5 million salary cap but could get some relief by placing defenseman Oscar Klefbom and his $4.167 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve if he should undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. That could provide a little wiggle room for other moves during the season.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 10, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 10, 2020

Recent speculation on Noah Hanifin, Eric Haula, Jimmy Howard and Corey Perry in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW (subscription required): Jimmy Murphy wondered if the Calgary Flames might shop left-side defenseman Noah Hanifin to bring in a right-side defenseman and to shed some cap space. The sources he spoke with believe Hanifin isn’t been shopped but didn’t rule out Flames general manager Brad Treliving listening to a “hockey trade” offer.

Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (NHL Images).

The Flames have over $1 million in cap space, with Hanifin having four years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $4.95 million. Murphy suggests the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets as teams that could initiate calls.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins might have to part with Brandon Carlo ($2.5 million), the Red Wings with Filip Hronek ($714K), the Sabres with Brandon Montour ($3.85 million), and the Blue Jackets with David Savard ($4.25 million).

The Bruins would have to find a suitable right-side replacement if they swap Carlo for Hanifin. I don’t see the Wings trading away the promising Hronek. Savard is a UFA next summer and won’t provide much cap savings this season for the Flames. Montour is also slated to become UFA after 2020-21 and the Flames could prefer someone with more term left on their contract.

The Dallas Stars suffered a double-whammy with goaltender Ben Bishop and center Tyler Seguin sidelined for five months following recent surgeries. Murphy cites an NHL source claiming they’ve circled back to free-agent center Erik Haula. He also wondered if they might consider adding free-agent goaltender Jimmy Howard, pointing out Stars GM Jim Nill’s ties to Howard during their time with the Detroit Red Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill could put Bishop and Seguin on long-term injury reserve to make an affordable signing or two to offset their absences on a short-term basis. It could depend, however, on when the 2020-21 season begins. Bishop and Seguin could be good to go if the season opens in March.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Matthew DeFranks was asked about the possibility of Corey Perry returning with the Stars. He believes the 35-year-old winger would have to take a pay cut on the $1.5 million in base salary and $1.75 million in bonuses that he was paid last season. He cited recent rumors linking Perry to the Ottawa Senators and noted the Stars want to inject some youth into their forward lines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve believed Perry could return to the Stars for another season. I’m not so sure now after reading DeFranks’ take. They have the cap space to sign him but he might be reluctant to accept a pay cut. We’ll see.










NHL Prospects: Top 3 Atlantic Division Organizational Rankings

NHL Prospects: Top 3 Atlantic Division Organizational Rankings

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 2, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 2, 2020

A look at five teams with unanswered offseason questions in the NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz recently listed five NHL teams with some unanswered questions to address in this offseason.

Gretz noted the Edmonton Oilers brought back the goaltending duo of Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen, wondering if they will be good enough in 2020-21. Smith is 38 and hasn’t played well over the last two seasons while the 32-year-old Koskinen still hasn’t established himself as an NHL starter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers couldn’t or wouldn’t pay big bucks to land someone like Jacob Markstrom via free agency. They’ll start next season with their current tandem and see how things shake out. I expect they’ll test the trade market if Smith and Koskinen aren’t getting the job done.

Defense remains the Winnipeg Jets’ Achilles heel entering 2020-21. Gretz feels they’re lacking a true No. 1 defender and maybe another top-four option.

Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That explains in part why Jets winger Patrik Laine keeps appearing in offseason trade speculation. He’d certainly land a No.1 defenseman, but no one’s willing to part with a top blueliner right now for a 40-goal first-line winger.

Sportsnet’s Ken Wiebe doesn’t see the Jets trading Laine unless they’re blown away by a big offer in the coming weeks or months. He didn’t rule out using Jack Roslovic and Sami Niku in a package deal or in separate trades to bring in a defenseman. Maybe that package nets a second-pairing rearguard but it’s not enough for a top defender.

Gretz wonders how the Nashville Predators will replace the offense lost by the departures of Craig Smith, Mikael Granlund and Nick Bonino. He doesn’t think the additions of Brad Richardson, Nick Cousins and Luke Kunin will address that issue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hence the rumors claiming the Predators have interest in Mike Hoffman. However, the 30-year-old unrestricted free agent winger reportedly seeks a one-year deal worth $6 million. It’s believed the Predators (and other interested clubs) are playing the waiting game hoping he’ll lower his asking price.

The departure of Torey Krug via free agency leaves a big hole on the left side of the Boston Bruins’ defense corps. Gretz pointed out Sami Vatanen and Slater Koekkoek remain available but they’re not going to replace Krug’s minutes and production.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have over $6.6 million in cap space. However, they must re-sign restricted free agent Jake DeBrusk and determine if long-time captain Zdeno Chara will return for another season. New contracts for those two will eat up most of that cap space. They won’t have enough cap room to bring in someone to suitable replace Krug unless they go the trade route, and that’ll mean parting with a very good player.

Gretz also wondered why the Buffalo Sabres stuck with goaltenders Linus Ullmark and Carter Hutton. The latter was a notable flop between the pipes. He feels none of their offseason additions will matter if their goaltending doesn’t improve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gretz did point out Ullmark was solid last season. Nevertheless, he’s yet to establish himself as a reliable NHL starter. Hutton blamed vision problems for his struggles last season but credits therapy with addressing that issue. Like the Oilers, I daresay the Sabres will evaluate their goaltending during next season and look to the trade market if there’s no significant improvement by their current tandem.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 31, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 31, 2020

Could the Flyers or Blues attempt to sign Mike Hoffman? What’s the deal behind the Sabres’ recent short-term RFA signings? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall noted a recent report by TSN’s Pierre LeBrun indicating a “dozen or so” teams have expressed an interest in Mike Hoffman. However, a source told Hall the Flyers aren’t among the clubs pursuing the unrestricted free-agent winger.

Free-agent winger Mike Hoffman (NHL Images).

Hall notes Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher likes his club’s prospects on the wing and he still has defenseman Philippe Myers to re-sign. They’re also hoping for a better performance by veteran winger James van Riemsdyk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Flyers have $4.8 million in cap space, which will shrink after Myers is signed. Unless they make a cost-cutting move to clear room for Hoffman, don’t expect to see him suit up for the Flyers in 2020-21.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong wouldn’t rule out adding a player like Hoffman. However, such a move would have to make sense dollar-wise for the Blues.

Rutherford noted the Blues already sit $1.2 million above the $81.5 million salary cap with restricted free agent defenseman Vince Dunn to be signed. They can put sidelined forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen (combined AAV of $13.25 million) on long-term injury reserve next season to exceed the cap by that amount, but they must also be cap compliant when those players are ready to return to action.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It doesn’t look like the Blues will be among Hoffman’s suitors. Rutherford reported Armstrong wants to give more playing time to forwards Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou. The Blues GM also remains confident Tarasenko will return at some point in 2020-21.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently examined the Buffalo Sabres signing Sam Reinhart, Taylor Hall and Brandon Montour to one-year contracts, as well as their acquisition of Eric Staal, who has a year left on his contract.

O’Brien considers those “prove it” moves in which the players will have to justify longer deals through their performance in 2020-21. He also points out the flexibility it gives the Sabres at the 2021 trade deadline.

If the Sabres are non-contenders by then, they could peddle Hall to wherever he’s willing to accept getting dealt to. O’Brien also doesn’t rule out the possibility of shopping Reinhart by inflating his value, trading him before they have to pay up, and coming out on the better side of the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres could use the same approach with Staal and Montour. Of course, that depends on how next season shakes out. If the Sabres are contenders, they won’t be sellers even at the risk of losing Hall, Staal and Montour to next year’s UFA market.