NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 22, 2021

Flyers avoid arbitration with Travis Sanheim plus the latest on Juuse Saros, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeny Svechnikov and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers avoided salary arbitration with Travis Sanheim by signing the 25-year-old defenseman to a two-year, $9.35 million contract.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was another quiet offseason for arbitrators. All of the 19 players scheduled for hearings wound up settling with their respective clubs.

Cap Friendly indicates the Flyers have just over $281K in remaining cap space. They could shed some salary to create some additional wiggle room for the coming season. 

THE TENNESSEAN: With a new contract signed, Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros is training in Helsinki with several other Finnish NHL players in preparation for the 2021-22 season. Saros inked a four-year, $20 million deal earlier this month.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Chicago Blackhawks created a minor buzz on Twitter with a photo of the jerseys of their offseason acquisition with Marc-Andre Fleury’s last name misspelled. The tweet was later removed and replaced with one showing his name spelled correctly. Fleury was acquired by the Blackhawks last month from the Vegas Golden Knights.

MLIVE.COM: Former Detroit Red Wings forward Evgeny Svechnikov signed a one-year AHL contract with the Manitoba Moose. He’ll attend the Winnipeg Jets training camp on a professional tryout offer in hope of securing a one-year, two-way deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A former first-round pick (19th overall, 2015), Svechnikov struggled to crack the rebuilding Red Wings’ roster. The Wings decided not to qualify his rights, making him an unrestricted free agent.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Seattle Kraken prospect Matty Beniers is returning to the University of Michigan for the coming season. Beniers was the second-overall pick in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Owen Power (first overall, Buffalo Sabres) and Kent Johnson (fifth overall, Columbus Blue Jackets) are also returning to the University of Michigan for the coming season. The trio is keen to win the national championship before moving on to their NHL careers.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Former Avalanche goaltender Peter Budaj has returned to the franchise as a development goalie coach.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 17, 2021

Juuse Saros and Kevin Fiala among four players to avoid arbitration, Alex Nedeljkovic remains eligible for the Calder Trophy plus an update on Jack Eichel in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (NHL Images).

  THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators and goaltender Juuse Saros agreed to a four-year, $20 million contract.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Winger Kevin Fiala inked a one-year deal worth $5.1 million with the Minnesota Wild.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks reached an agreement with winger Alex Nylander on a one-year deal worth just over $874K.

THE DENVER POST: Defenseman Dennis Gilbert signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Colorado Avalanche. He’ll earn $750K at the NHL level.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: By re-signing with their respective clubs the four avoided salary arbitration. Only two players – Calgary’s Nikita Zadorov and Philadelphia’s Travis Sanheim – are now slated for hearings, both on Aug. 26.

It’s unsurprising that the Predators invested that much in Saros. After all, he took over as their starting goalie from Pekka Rinne last season. Cap Friendly shows them carrying over $12 million in cap space with restricted free agent winger Eeli Tolvanen to sign.

Wild general manager Bill Guerin hoped to sign Fiala to a long-term deal but the two sides couldn’t find common ground. They’ll get another opportunity next summer when the winger once again becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

How much the Wild can pay Fiala beyond this season depends on the cost of signing Calder Trophy winner Kirill Kaprizov. That’s when the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter start biting deeply into their cap room.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: 2021 Calder Trophy Finalist Alex Nedeljkovic remains eligible for the award this season. That’s because he played less than 25 games last season, in fewer than six games in each of the previous two seasons and doesn’t turn 26 until January.

WGR 550: “Blueshirts Breakaway”, a New York Rangers-based podcast, attempted to pressure the Buffalo Sabres into trading Jack Eichel (preferably to the Rangers) with a billboard near KeyBank Center in Buffalo. The billboard, in Rangers colors, reads, “Aren’t trade requests a pain in the neck? #FreeJack”. It refers to Eichel’s well-publicized standoff with Sabres management and medical staff regarding treatment for a herniated disc in his neck.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Scene: A headshot of Jack Eichel. Narrator: “Blueshirts Breakaway got their wish but it wasn’t the result they expected.” The camera pulls back revealing Eichel wearing an Anaheim Ducks jersey. Cue end music and credits.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2021

A look at the status of some of this summer’s top restricted free agents in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined where things stand with some of the top restricted free agents.

Negotiations are ongoing between the Vancouver Canucks and center Elias Pettersson and defenseman Quinn Hughes. They’re both represented by agents Pat Brisson and J.P. Barry. The latter had acknowledged the Canucks’ cap issues, saying they were exploring five years or under for Pettersson and longer for Hughes.

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

Because Quinn is a 10.2(c) RFA, he’s ineligible to receive an offer sheet. Canucks general manager Jim Benning has vowed to match any offer sheet for Pettersson. Fox wondered if a bridge contract is the only solution. Both players remain committed to signing with Vancouver.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Province’s Patrick Johnston reported Friday that Brisson said there is no holdup in negotiations with the Canucks. “Our goal is to get it done,” he said, adding that sometimes “these things take time.” He also said they’re open to long or short-term contracts.

Training camps start in late September so there’s plenty of time for both sides to hammer out agreements. An offer sheet for Pettersson is a remote possibility. If it was going to happen it likely would’ve taken place soon after the free-agent market opened on July 28.

Fox noted the recent report of Kirill Kaprizov having a tentative one-year, eight-figure contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow in case negotiations with the Minnesota Wild fall through. Wild GM Bill Guerin is willing to compromise with a five- or six-year offer to the 2021 Calder Trophy winner. He cited The Athletic’s Michael Russo reporting the Wild still expect to get a deal done despite the KHL threat from the Kaprizov camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A number of observers are skeptical the KHL contract is a serious one. They point to CSKA Moscow’s limited budget for the coming season plus Kaprizov’s apparent desire to play in the NHL. This staredown might not last long as the KHL deal is supposed to begin on Sep. 1.

Brady Tkachuk would be willing to commit to a long-term deal with the Ottawa Senators if ownership is willing to spend what it takes to deliver a Stanley Cup team. Elliotte Friedman recently suggested a three-year bridge deal might be the route here.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk reportedly likes his teammates and what the Senators are building in Ottawa. Still, it’s understandable that he wants assurance from ownership to invest in building and maintaining a winner. The length of his next contract could provide an indication of where he sees his future.

Contract terms seem to be the sticking point between the Carolina Hurricanes and Andrei Svechnikov. Nevertheless, the young winger expressed confidence a deal will be done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It usually takes most of the offseason to get the top RFAs under contract, especially for those ineligible for arbitration like most on Fox’s list. Both sides are going to take as much time as they can to work toward an acceptable deal. Things will pick up when the calendar flips to September and the start of training camp approaches.

The Detroit Red Wings remain flush with cap space after signing Jakub Vrana and Tyler Bertuzzi. Fox believes defenseman Filip Hronek could get more term on his new contract than any of his teammates.

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros’ arbitration hearing is set for Aug. 18. One way or another he’ll be under contract with the Predators for the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most who file for arbitration merely use their hearing date as an artificial deadline to negotiate a new contract with their teams. Few actually go before a hearing. I’ll be surprised if things reach that point for Saros.

Negotiations are underway between the Buffalo Sabres and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. Fox suggested the safe play for both sides could be a bridge deal. With the Sabres lacking a defenseman signed beyond 2022, he wondered if they could try for a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That depends on whether young Dahlin believes the Sabres are worth sticking with through yet another rebuild.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2021

Marc-Andre Fleury will report to the Blackhawks, the Kraken’s contract with Philipp Grubauer rejected by the league, Evander Kane denies betting on NHL games, and 17 players file for salary arbitration. Get the details in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Marc-Andre Fleury confirmed Sunday he will report to the Blackhawks this season. “Hey, Chicago, it’s Marc,” he said via the club’s social media account. “Just wanted to let you know: I’m in. Let’s get to work.”

Marc-Andre Fleury will report to the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL Images).

The Blackhawks acquired Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights last Tuesday. However, he took several days to discuss his situation with his family and consider his future. The 36-year-old goaltender has a year remaining on his contract with a $7 million salary cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury won the Vezina Trophy for the first time last season with the Golden Knights. He won’t have a solid defense in front of him in Chicago as he did in Las Vegas. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks could have a shot at a playoff spot in the Central Division this season if Fleury maintains his Vezina form.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken have rectified an accounting error that resulted in the league rejecting the club’s first attempt to finalize its contract with goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The front-loaded contract violated the CBA’s 25 percent cap above the amount in the initial contract year.

Grubauer’s annual average value is $5.9 million for six seasons. He will earn $5 million in actual salary this season. It was originally slated to rise to $6 million in 2022-23 and $7.5 million in 2023-24, an increase of 30 percent. The deal has been restructured by shifting $250K from the third year to the second year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: When this was first reported some fans on social media wondered if the contract would be voided. Doesn’t work that way. The team gets the opportunity to fix the accounting error. In this case, it was an easily addressed minor detail.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane denied allegations made by his estranged wife claiming he bet on NHL games. “I have NEVER gambled/bet on hockey, NEVER gambled/bet on Sharks games, NEVER gambled/bet on any of my games and NEVER thrown a hockey game,” he said in a statement released yesterday.

The NHL announced it would investigate Kane based on the allegation made on an unverified Instagram account attributed to Angela Kane. She responded to Kane’s statement via that account yesterday, accusing him of abandoning her and their daughter to party and gamble in Europe. She also claimed he had a gambling addiction and claimed he was trying to use the media to control the narrative.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s personal life has been under growing media scrutiny since applying for bankruptcy in January. He was also the topic of trade speculation following a recent report claiming several of his teammates expressed frustration about him to management during their season-ending exit interviews. The Sharks released a statement on Saturday saying they supported the league’s intent to investigate the gambling allegations.

NHLPA: Seventeen NHL players applied for salary arbitration yesterday:

Zach Aston-Reese (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Ross Colton 
(Tampa Bay Lightning)
Andrew Copp 
(Winnipeg Jets)
Jason Dickinson 
(Vancouver Canucks)
Vince Dunn 
(Seattle Kraken)
Adam Erne 
(Detroit Red Wings)
Dante Fabbro 
(Nashville Predators)
Dennis Gilbert 
(Colorado Avalanche)
Adin Hill 
(San Jose Sharks)
Michael McNiven 
(Montreal Canadiens)
Victor Mete 
(Ottawa Senators)
Adam Pelech 
(New York Islanders)
Neal Pionk 
(Winnipeg Jets)
Zach Sanford 
(St. Louis Blues)
Juuse Saros 
(Nashville Predators)
Jakub Vrana 
(Detroit Red Wings)
Nikita Zadorov 
(Calgary Flames)

The deadline for club-elected arbitration is 5 pm ET on Monday, Aug. 2. The arbitration period is from Aug. 11 to Aug. 26.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several notable names on this list include Dunn, Pelech, Pionk, Saros and Vrana. If history is anything to go by we can expect most, perhaps all of these players to reach agreements with their teams on new contracts before their scheduled arbitration hearings.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 24, 2021

The Bruins eliminated the Capitals, the Avalanche sweep the Blues, the Jets rally to put Oilers on the brink, and the Predators tie their series with the Hurricanes. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Patrice Bergeron scored twice and Tuukka Rask made 40 saves as the Boston Bruins defeated the Washington Capitals 3-1 to win their opening-round series 4 games to 1. David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist for the Bruins

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins were strong on the power play and penalty kill in this series. Core veterans like Bergeron, Rask, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak led the way while Charlie McAvoy continues to grow as an elite defenseman.

The first three games of this series were very close and could’ve gone either way, but Washington failed to recover from their double-overtime loss in Game 3. Changes could be in store for the Capitals following three straight first-round playoff exits.

The Colorado Avalanche swept the St. Louis Blues in four games with a 5-2 victory. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and an assist. Vladimir Tarasenko scored both goals for the Blues, who played without sidelined forward David Perron and defensemen Justin Faulk, Robert Bortuzzo and Vince Dunn.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The absence of those key players contributed to the Blues’ demise. Even if they had been in the lineup, however, they might’ve only delayed their club’s elimination by a game or two. Led by MacKinnon, Landeskog, and Rantanen, a deep blueline corps featuring Cale Makar and goaltender Philipp Grubauer, the Avalanche were just too powerful for St. Louis.

An overtime goal by Nikolaj Ehlers capped a four-goal rally as the Winnipeg Jets downed the Edmonton Oilers 5-4 to take a 3-0 lead in their first-round series. Ehlers scored twice while Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made 44 saves. Leon Draisaitl scored two goals and Connor McDavid collected three assists. The Jets can close out the series in Game 4 tonight. Oilers forward Josh Archibald faces a hearing with the NHL department of player safety for clipping Jets defenseman Logan Stanley.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was a stunning collapse by Edmonton. They had a 4-1 lead early in the third period and seemed to have this game under wraps.

The turning point was the Archibald penalty. The Jets tallied three goals in just over a three-minute span, including two goals 16 seconds apart by Blake Wheeler and Josh Morrissey to force the extra frame. The Oilers now face the daunting challenge of trying to overcome a 3-0 series deficit.

Nashville Predators winger Luke Kunin’s double-overtime goal gave his club a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes to even their series at two games apiece. Kunin also scored the game-opening goal while teammate Juuse Saros made 58 saves for the win. Brock McGinn scored twice for the Hurricanes. The series shifts back to Carolina for Game 5 on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the most entertaining game of the day for me. It was a see-saw contest as both clubs pushed hard for the win. With back-to-back double-overtime victories, the Predators overcame a 2-0 series deficit.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri will appeal his eight-game suspension for his hit to the head of Blues defenseman Justin Faulk.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber was fined $5,000.00 by the league for crosschecking Toronto Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds in Game 2 on Saturday.










NHL Playoffs: Nashville Predators vs. Carolina Hurricanes Game 1

NHL Playoffs: Nashville Predators vs. Carolina Hurricanes Game 1