NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2020

The Stars and Golden Knights will meet in the Western Conference Final. Check out the game recaps plus the recent notable news in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars advanced to the Western Conference Final by edging the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 in Game 7 of their second-round series. Stars winger Joel Kiviranta completed his first-ever NHL hat trick with the game-winner at 7:24 of overtime. Alexander Radulov scored twice for the Stars while defensemen Miro Heiskanen and Joel Klingberg each collected two assists and Anton Khudobin made 40 saves. Vladislav Namestnikov tallied twice for the Avalanche while Nathan MacKinnon was shut out for the first time in this series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a very entertaining game that see-sawed back and forth between the two clubs. The story of the game, of course, was Kiviranta, a rookie with just one goal in 11 regular-season contests before his heroics as a replacement for the sidelined Andrew Cogliano in Game 7. Sometimes, the playoffs give us the unlikeliest of heroes.

The Stars will meet the Vegas Golden Knights in the Conference Final as the latter blanked the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 in Game 7 of their second-round series. The Golden Knights netted three unanswered third-period goals by Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch, and Paul Stastny, the latter two into an empty net as the Canucks went with an extra attacker in the dying minutes. Robin Lehner made 14 saves for the shutout while Vancouver netminder Thatcher Demko kicked out 33.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Through the first two periods it appeared Demko was going to steal this game as he did the previous two. Despite his best efforts, however, his teammates couldn’t muster any offense against a deep, talented Golden Knights club. Demko was dejected following the game but he had nothing to hang his head over. If not for his play, the Canucks wouldn’t have overcome a 3-1 series deficit.

The Golden Knights and Stars won’t have to wait long to face each other. Game 1 of the Western Conference Final begins at 8 pm ET on Sunday, Sept. 6.

NOTABLE HEADLINES

NOTE: We experienced some publishing problems from Wed, Sept. 2 to Fri, Sept. 4 that prevented us from publishing each day’s noteworthy headlines. Here’s a collection of the most interesting news during that period.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger David Pastrnak was hampered by a lower-body injury. It seemed to be related to his conditioning level following a month-long quarantine odyssey that prevented him from participating in Phase 3 training with his teammates.

TSN: Bruins captain Zdeno Chara indicated he’s committed to returning to the club next season. It would be the 23rd campaign of the 43-year-old blueliner’s NHL career.

SUN-SENTINEL: The Florida Panthers formally introduced Bill Zito as their new general manager.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins name former Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden as a new assistant coach. It’s his second stint as a Pens assistant coach.

NHL.COM: St. Louis Blues assistant coach Marc Savard is stepping down and returning to Ontario to be with his family.

THE ATHLETIC: The Columbus Blue Jackets won’t be renewing the expired contract of assistant coach Paul MacLean.

THE SCORE: The NHL is launching a series of initiatives to combat racism and foster inclusion and diversity training within the league.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 21, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 21, 2020

What next for the Flames, Capitals and Blue Jackets now that their postseason is over? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLAMES

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski wondered about the future of Johnny Gaudreau following yet another disappointing early playoff exit by the Calgary Flames. The 27-year-old winger’s been the subject of trade speculation throughout this season as he put up his lowest offensive output since his rookie season.

Could the Calgary Flames shop Johnny Gaudreau in the offseason? (NHL Images)

It’s been speculated Gaudreau, a New Jersey native, could be peddled to an East Coast team. There’s also a theory the Flames could trade away “Johnny Hockey” to make room for Arizona Coyotes winger (and Calgary native) Taylor Hall.

With notable coaches such as Bruce Boudreau, Peter Laviolette, and Mike Babcock available, Wyshynski pondered the future of Flames interim bench boss Geoff Ward. He also wondered which of their notable UFAs (goalie Cam Talbot, blueliners T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic) will be back.

CALGARY SUN: Kristen Anderson and Wes Gilbertson wondered if changes could be coming to the Flames’ core forwards like Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, and Sam Bennett. Gilbertson also mused over whether it’s time for general manager Brad Treliving to test Gaudreau’s trade value or make a change at center by trading Sean Monahan or dropping him to the second line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think a shakeup is coming and it could be Gaudreau on the move. A year ago, I considered that unthinkable. Not now. He seemed off-kilter until midseason and wasn’t much of a force in this postseason. As Gilbertson pointed out, he didn’t have an even-strength goal during the series with the Stars.

Despite Gaudreau’s struggles this season, he’s the Flames’ best trade chip. They aren’t moving Monahan because first-line centers are difficult to find. Spark plug Matthew Tkachuk isn’t going anywhere. I expect they’ll hang onto Bennett. He’s a versatile checking-line forward who elevates his play in the postseason. Backlund could be shopped but won’t fetch as strong a return as Gaudreau.

Dump Gaudreau to sign Hall? Stranger things have happened but Hall did little to raise his UFA stock this season. Maybe he’d regain his 2018 Hart Trophy form in Calgary but he would be an expensive gamble.

CAPITALS

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan examined some possible off-season moves by the Washington Capitals. It appears long-time starting goaltender and pending UFA Braden Holtby has played his final game for the Caps. Their blueline could use some help but they have limited salary-cap space. Kaplan also wondered about the fate of head coach Todd Reirden.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Barry Svrluga wondered if the Capitals’ early playoff departure suggests a team in decline or perhaps the interruption of the season by COVID-19 skewed the results. He points out most of their core players are now in their thirties, took note of Holtby’s expected departure and wondered about Reirden’s fate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Replacing the coach is easier than replacing the roster, and there’s some justification for a change behind the Capitals bench after Reirden got schooled in the Isles series by former Washington coach Barry Trotz. The Caps remain a talented team but most of their stars don’t have many good years left. 

Holtby’s departure is a foregone conclusion. His performance declined over the last couple of years. Ilya Samsonov had a promising debut season and will be their starter for the foreseeable future.

Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have over $71.1 million invested in 16 players. There’s a chance they’ll re-sign Brenden Dillon but he could cost over $4 million annually. RFA Jonas Siegenthaler will get an affordable bridge deal coming off his entry-level deal. That won’t leave much to bolster their blueline depth.

BLUE JACKETS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Aaron Portzline reports of rumors Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen could be preparing for some big off-season moves to bolster his forward lines.

Portzline believes their priority should be adding a top-six center. He feels the Jackets’ GM could draw from his blue-line depth for trade bait, suggesting David Savard as a candidate. RFA winger Josh Anderson could be another. With Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins as bonafide starters, the Jackets could get calls from clubs seeking help in goal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen showed a willingness to make significant moves leading up to the 2019 trade deadline. With his club in dire need of scoring punch, I expect he’ll swing a trade or two to address that need. Several clubs with limited salary-cap space could be looking to shed a high-salaried talent for a more affordable option.

As per Cap Friendly, the Jackets have over $76 million invested in 23 players, with center Pierre-Luc Dubois due for a raise coming off his entry-level contract. He lacks arbitration rights so Kekalainen could ink him to an affordable short-term bridge deal with the promise of a more lucrative contract afterward.

If Kekalainen seeks impact forwards, he’ll have to move salaried players too. He could get $5.85-million in cap flexibility if sidelined forward Brandon Dubinsky starts the season on long-term injury reserve.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 9, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 9, 2020

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs acquire David Savard or Rasmus Ristolainen? Could they move William Nylander or Kasperi Kapanen? Check out the latest speculation in the NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest mailbag, Luke Fox was asked if David Savard or Rasmus Ristolainen are legitimate potential trade targets for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Fox believes they are but feels any deal involving either right-hand defenseman means the Leafs will have to trade from their depth of talented forwards.

Both blueliners lack no-trade protection. Ristolainen is younger (25) but carries a more expensive contract ($5.4 million annually through 2022) with the Buffalo Sabres, while the 26-year-old Savard has a $4.25 million AAV through 2021 with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Ristolainen seems the more likely trade candidate. He frequently surfaced in this season’s rumor mill and recently said he believes he’ll be among those on the move if the Sabres decide to make changes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The question is, would the Sabres trade Ristolainen to a hated division rival like the Leafs? If the Leafs are willing to part with a scoring forward, the answer could be, “yes”.

Don’t expect the Toronto Maple Leafs to trade William Nylander in the off-season (Photo via NHL Images).

Fox pointed out Savard has no issues with Blue Jackets management, but he wondered how desperate GM Jarmo Kekalainen could be for goal scorers. It’s a fair point. Kekalainen could listen f someone like the Leafs made a reasonable offer.

Asked if the Leafs will move William Nylander to free up salary-cap space to sign other players, Fox considers it highly unlikely this off-season. He believes Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas when he said he intends to keep all his upper-class forwards and build around elite offensive talent.

However, Fox also pointed to the Leafs’ need to re-sign Frederik Andersen and Zach Hyman before they become unrestricted free agents next year. Defenseman Morgan Rielly can start contract extension talks next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nylander won’t be moved, though I wonder if the Leafs could be tempted by an offer of a quality top-pairing defenseman. Dubas reportedly told Nylander that he won’t be traded as long as he was the GM. At some point, however, the Leafs’ need to address their defensive issues will come to a head, forcing Dubas to make an uncomfortable decision involving Nylander or another of his high-priced forwards.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Jonas Siegel believes the Leafs shouldn’t give up on Kasperi Kapanen just yet. After the trade deadline and before the schedule was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 23-year-old winger acknowledged the trade speculation swirling around him, but claimed he didn’t think about it too much. He said he hadn’t spoken with Dubas about a potential trade and didn’t think the Leafs wanted to move him, but understood the business of the game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kapanen is often mentioned as the player most likely to be used as trade bait to bring in a top-four defenseman. I think Dubas is reluctant to part with him, but he could be the necessary trade chip to address the Leafs’ blueline issues.

Siegel took an in-depth look at Kapanen’s play and potential. He feels the Leafs should wait at least a year to determine what they’ve got in the young Finnish winger. Siegel suggests getting as much of out Kapanen as possible before dealing him away.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 25, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 25, 2019

Sergei Bobrovsky explains why he left the Blue Jackets, the latest contract signings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

TSN: cited Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky telling Russia’s Sport 24 why he left the Columbus Blue Jackets via free agency after seven seasons. He cited discord between himself and the club that started following their first-round elimination in the 2018 playoffs and continued throughout last season.

Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky explained why he left the Columbus Blue Jackets after seven seasons (Photo via NHL Images).

Bobrovsky said there was more to it than just the tensions within the club, adding he felt he needed a change of scenery. Despite the club’s constant efforts to re-sign the goalie, he said there was “no chance” he’d sign an extension with them.

“I was suspended by the team, there were some conflicts in the team, a lot of meetings and some of them just because of me,” he said, adding that he didn’t feel comfortable. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky merely confirmed the discord that was rumored throughout last season. Those conflicts he alluded to were highlighted by his one-game suspension by the team for not returning to the bench after being pulled from a mid-season contest. 

CALGARY SUN: The Flames avoided arbitration with Sam Bennett, re-signing the 23-year-old forward to a two-year contract worth $2.25-million annually. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a cost-effective deal for the Flames, who need all the cap space they can get with Matthew Tkachuk, David Rittich, and Andrew Mangiapane to re-sign. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $7.4 million in cap room and it’ll take more than that to sign Tkachuk. A salary-dumping trade before the start of the season seems likely, especially after Rittich gets his new contract. His arbitration hearing is slated for July 29. 

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs announced seven contract signings yesterday. None of them involved Mitch Marner. The players brought in were forwards Pontus Aberg, Kenny Agostino, Tyler Gaudet, Kalle Kossila, Nick Shore and Garrett Wilson, and defenceman Kevin Gravel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of these signings, such as Agostino, Shore and Wilson, were previously reported. The Leafs now sit above the $81.5 million cap by over $2.1 million. Most of those players, perhaps all of them, will likely spend this season in the minors. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals defenseman Christian Djoos received a one-year, $1.25-million contract via arbitration. The Capitals accepted the arbiter’s decision. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Over the weekend, Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford married his long-time girlfriend Kristy Muscolino.

THE TENNESSEAN: Predators captain Roman Josi also got married last weekend, tying the knot with model Ellie Ottaway.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My congratulations to the happy couples. 

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues hired former Boston Bruins forward Marc Savard as an assistant coach. His responsibilities will be the club’s special teams, especially the power play. 

THE AHL.COM: Former NHL winger Matt Moulson signed a one-year contract with the Hershey Bears. 

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 10, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 10, 2018

Stars of the week plus latest on Ryan O’Reilly, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Max Pacioretty and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM:  Dallas Stars winger Jamie Benn, Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo and Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux are three stars of the final week of the NHL 2017-18 regular season. 

Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly feels his club is stuck in the mindset that it’s ok with losing. (Photo via NHL Images)

  WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly was brutally honest about his club’s culture of losing and his own need to regain his love of the game. “We’re stuck in this mindset of just being OK with losing and I feel it’s really crept into myself and over the course of the year, I lost myself a lot and it was just kind of get through and being OK with not making a mistake, and that’s not winning hockey at all. It’s crept into all of our games and it’s sad. I feel throughout the year I’ve lost the love of the game multiple times and I need to get back to it because it’s just eating myself up.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Reilly’s comments could spark speculation over his future with the Sabres. Regardless, management has a lot of work to do this summer to change the culture and improve the roster. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson said he’d like to sign a contract extension on July 1. “I’ve said it so many times. This is where I want to be. Hopefully we can work something out.” He’s signed through next season, after which he’ll be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson surfaced several times this season as a possible trade target. Coyotes management regularly rejected the notion while the blueliner maintained his desire to stay in Arizona. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets that contract extension in early-July. 

TSN: Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan underwent four surgeries since March 24. He had “reconstructive wrist surgery, surgery on both hips and surgery on his groin.” Monahan said he expects to be fully healed within three months. 

Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty said he wouldn’t return to the club if he’s stripped of the captaincy. He also said he’s open to a contract extension but hasn’t had any discussions with management yet on the matter. Pacioretty insists he wants to stay in Montreal but acknowledged the possibility of a trade this summer. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If there’s a deal to be found where Pacioretty fetches a good young center or defenseman the Canadiens will do it. There’s a lot of unhappiness in Montreal over the club’s poor performance and an acknowledgement that changes are necessary. Pacioretty could be part of those changes.

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw said he’ll undergo knee surgery soon to allow him sufficient time to recover this summer. He also admitted he suffered a concussion during a collision with Dallas’ Greg Pateryn during a late-season game. 

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Good news for the Blues Jackets, as captain Nick Foligno received medical clearance to take part in the upcoming playoffs. 

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight said they expect to retain their jobs. There was speculation suggesting one or both might be replaced following the club’s disappointing second-half performance. 

BOSTON GLOBE: Former Bruin Marc Savard responded to a contentious comment from the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons. “Marc Savard basically disappeared when his career ended in Boston,” Simmons wrote. “Media called. Nobody answered. Now suddenly Savard is a media guy. My advice: If he calls, don’t answer.” Savard responded on Twitter saying his withdrawal wasn’t by choice.  “I spent many years dealing with some serious mental health issues and post-concussion symptoms.”. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmons has yet to apologize to Savard. He should. 

Former NHL forward Steve Reinprecht has announced his retirement following 18 professional seasons, including nearly 11 in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, Phoenix Coyotes and Florida Panthers. He won a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in 2001 and spent the last five seasons with the DEL’s Nuremberg Ice Tigers. Teammate Dave Steckel, who spent nearly nine NHL seasons with the Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Anaheim Ducks, could also retire. (Stick tap to “Roland” for the link). 

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 23, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 23, 2018

Game recaps, stars of the week, injury updates, Marc Savard retires and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The red-hot Colorado Avalanche picked up their 10th straight win by doubling up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2. The Avs overcame a 2-1 deficit on three unanswered goals by Nail Yakupov, Blake Comeau and Gabriel Landeskog.

Third-period goals by Jason Zucker and Mikael Granlund lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 3-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators. The Wild remain tied with the Avalanche (57 points) though the latter holds the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

Tampa Bay Lighting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 40 saves to backstop his club to a 2-0 shutout of the Chicago Blackhawks. Chris Kunitz and Yanni Gourde were the goal scorers. The Blackhawks now sit seven points out of a wild-card berth in the West. Earlier in the day, the Lightning learned left wing Ondrej Palat will be sidelined six-to-eight weeks with an injured right ankle.

Former Calgary Flames netminder Chad Johnson made 32 saves to give the Buffalo Sabres a 2-1 overtime win over his old club. Jack Eichel potted the game winner.

Nick Cousins’ overtime goal gave the Arizona Coyotes a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Cousins also tallied the first goal of the game. Anthony Beauvillier scored twice for the Islanders.

Goaltender Petr Mrazek collected his second consecutive shutout as the Detroit Red Wings blanked the New Jersey Devils 3-0. Wings forward Dylan Larkin scored a goal and added an assist.

Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon is the NHL’s first star for the week ending Jan. 21, 2018 (Photo via NHL Images).

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck and Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 21.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban will appear on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” on Wednesday, Jan. 24.

NBC SPORTS: Boston Bruins rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy will miss approximately two weeks following a procedure yesterday to address an abnormal heart rhythm.

Speaking of the Bruins, former center Marc Savard officially announced his retirement yesterday. Concussion symptoms ended his 13-year career in January 2011 but he prolonged his retirement announcement because of his seven-year contract with the Bruins. Savard said he’s feeling healthier now and is pursuing a coaching career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Savard in his future endeavors. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins have demoted winger Daniel Sprong to make room for returning forward Bryan Rust.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Columbus Blue Jackets traded defenseman John Ramage to the Arizona Coyotes for future considerations. The Jackets also acquired goaltender Jeff Zatkoff from the Los Angeles Kings for futures. 

TSN: Hall of Famer Eric Lindros and Montreal Canadiens chief surgeon Dr. David Mulder last year requested the NHL invested $31 million in brain-trauma research. Thus far, the league remains silent on the matter. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t hold your breath, guys. The league is reluctant to admit there’s any correlation between brain trauma and the physical nature of its product. 

NASDAQ.COM (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Despite rising revenue and lucrative TV contracts, interest in the NHL appears to be slipping in the United States. 

NHL.COM: Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin tops NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings of international skaters, becoming the first Swedish player in 29 years to hold that honor.