NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 30, 2020

The Sabres avoid arbitration with Victor Olofsson, the Stars name Rick Bowness as a full-time coach, former Panthers GM Dale Tallon cleared of wrongdoing, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres avoided salary arbitration with Victor Olofsson by reaching an agreement on a two-year, $6.1 million contract.

Buffalo Sabres winger Victor Olofsson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Olofsson had an impressive first full NHL season, scoring 20 goals and 42 points in 54 games to become a finalist for the 2019-20 Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. This is a reasonable raise for the 25-year-old winger, who becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in 2022.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars removed the interim tag from head coach Rick Bowness’ job title as he signed a two-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise. Bowness took over behind the bench on Dec. 10 and guided the Stars to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The NHL has cleared former Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon of wrongdoing following an investigation into whether he used racially-charged language during the club’s time in the Toronto playoff bubble.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tallon was reportedly being considered for an advisory role with the Pittsburgh Penguins. This could clear the way for his new job but is being greeted with criticism by some observers.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes are renouncing the rights of 2020 fourth-round pick, Mitchell Miller, after reports emerged of his bullying and racially taunting an African-American classmate with developmental issues four years ago.

THE DENVER POST: Former Colorado Avalanche winger Colin Wilson discussed his struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as drug and alcohol abuse, in The Players’ Tribune on Thursday. The 31-year-old center also indicated hip injuries may have brought his NHL career to a close. He’s now sober, receiving therapy and back in New England preparing for the next step in his life.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson spent 11 seasons in the NHL with the Nashville Predators and the Avalanche, tallying 113 goals and 286 points in 632 games. Best wishes to him in his future endeavors.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon has an option to sell the club back to former owner Peter Karmanos. While the coronavirus is affecting the NHL’s economics, Dundon doesn’t believe it will affect his ownership of the club. “I don’t have any intention of not owning the team,” he said.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning officially announced the signings of Patrick Maroon and Luke Schenn. The pair signed new contracts with the Lightning on Oct. 9.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks have loaned center Kirby Dach to Team Canada’s roster for the 2021 World Junior Championships.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A wise decision by the Blackhawks. This will allow Dach to get in some meaningful playing time under a quarantine bubble in Edmonton as he and the Hawks await the start of the 2020-21 season.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed restricted free agent defenseman Sami Niku to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $725K.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed defenseman Colton White to a one-year, two-way contract.

TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens have been refused access to their practice facility in Brossard by public health officials. The facility is within a COVID-19 red zone.

SPORTSNET: Travis Roy, who was left paralyzed in his first college hockey game with Boston University in 1995, has died at age 45. He went on to become an advocate for spinal cord injury survivors both in and outside the sports world, raising over $9 million through the Travis Roy Foundation. He also worked in tandem with the Boston Bruins, with team president Cam Neely and former Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque among those extending condolences.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sympathies to Roy’s family, friends, and former teammates. Neely put it best when he called him “the ultimate symbol of determination and courage.”










List of Notable NHL UFA Signings – October 9, 2020

List of Notable NHL UFA Signings – October 9, 2020

8:30 pm ET: St. Louis Blues sign Torey Krug to a seven-year, $45.5 million contract.

7 pm ET: Toronto Maple Leafs sign T.J. Brodie to a four-year contract ($5 million AAV).

4 pm to 5 pm ET: Calgary Flames sign Jacob Markstrom to a six-year, $36-million contract.

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3 pm to 4 pm ET: Anaheim Ducks sign Kevin Shattenkirk to a three-year contract ($3.9 million AAV)

Washington Capitals sign defenseman Justin Schultz to a two-year, $8 million contract.

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2 pm to 3 pm ET: Florida Panthers sign Alexander Wennberg to a one-year $2.25 million contract.

New York Rangers sign Jack Johnson to a one-year, $1-million contract.

Nashville Predators sign Mark Borowiecki to a two-year, $4-million contract.

In other contract news, the Ottawa Senators sign Matt Murray to a four-year contract with an annual average value of $6.25 million. The Senators acquired Murray, a restricted free agent, on Wednesday from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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1 pm to 2 pm ET: Vancouver Canucks sign Braden Holtby to a two-year deal ($4.3 million AAV)

Minnesota Wild sign goaltender Cam Talbot to a three-year, $11-million contract.

Dallas Stars sign Anton Khudobin to a three-year contract ($3.5 million AAV)

Edmonton Oilers sign center Kyle Turris to a two-year contract ($1.65 million AAV)

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12 pm to 1 pm ET:  Washington Capitals sign goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.

Toronto Maple Leafs sign winger Wayne Simmonds to a one-year, $1.5-million contract with a full no-movement clause.

Detroit Red Wings sign winger Bobby Ryan to a one-year, $1-million contract.

Winger Pat Maroon (two years, $900K AAV) and defenseman Luke Schenn (one year, $800K) are returning with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Florida Panthers sign defenseman Radko Gudas to a three-year contract ($2.5 million AAV).

In other news, the Tampa Bay Lightning placed winger Tyler Johnson on waivers. He has four years remaining on his contract with a $5 million annual cap hit and a full no-trade clause.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson will remain with the Arizona Coyotes. His deadline to be traded to either Boston or Vancouver came and went without a deal.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 18, 2020

Game recaps, Dougie Hamilton sidelined by a fractured fibula, Dave Backes on waivers, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli tallied his first career NHL hat trick as his club crushed the Winnipeg Jets 7-1. Nikita Kucherov scored twice, Ondrej Palat collected three assists, and Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his 10th straight win.

Anthony Cirelli’s first NHL hat trick carried the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Winnipeg Jets 7-1 (Photo via NHL Images).

Sidney Crosby scored in overtime as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. He has six points in three games since returning from core muscle surgery. Bryan Rust’s 20th goal of the season tied the game and forced the extra period.

Anaheim Ducks center Sam Steel’s overtime goal lifted his club over the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. It was the Hurricanes’ first game since losing defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a fractured left fibula. Teammate Jaccob Slavin will replace Hamilton at the upcoming 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton’s injury leaves a gaping hole in the Hurricanes’ blue line. With 40 points in 47 games, he’s the Canes’ highest-scoring defenseman and was well on his way to a career year. I’ll have more on the Hurricanes in the Rumors section.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers are reportedly nearing a contract extension with Zack Kassian. The 28-year-old winger is completing a three-year contract worth $1.95-million annually and is due to become an unrestricted free agent in July. It’s assumed the deal will be announced before the trade deadline on Feb. 24. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kassian’s a big-bodied forward with 20-goal potential who plays a physical style and is popular among his teammates. It’ll be interesting to see how much of a raise he receives. It could be a five-year deal worth $4 million annually.

Nashville Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson was fined $2,000.00 by the league’s department of player safety under the league’s rules regarding diving and embellishment.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins placed veteran winger David Backes on waivers for the purpose of assigning him to their AHL affiliate in Providence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backes played infrequently this season due to his injury history and declining performance. His demotion will clear $1 million of his $6-million salary-cap hit from the Bruins’ books for the rest of the season. Backes could be bought out of the final season of his contract in June.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning placed defenseman Luke Schenn on waivers.

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson will return to the roster tonight after a 15-game absence in part because of an upper-body injury.

NBC SPORTS: Some good-natured billboard trolling between Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers fans has raised over $50K for various charities.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets TSN analyst Kevin Sawyer will address criticism regarding comments he made two weeks ago about an apparent hazing incident involving Jared Spurgeon during the Minnesota Wild defenseman’s junior hockey days. “Favourite story of Jared Spurgeon,” Sawyer began. “He was a 15-year-old. Two months into the season we saran-wrapped him to a pillar in the arena, about six feet up in the air … he was tiny. He looked like he was 12.”










Blues Re-Sign Brayden Schenn

Blues Re-Sign Brayden Schenn

The St. Louis Blues have re-signed center Brayden Schenn to an eight-year, $52-million contract extension

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Schenn, 28, was slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Cap Friendly indicates the annual average value of his new deal is $6.5 million, up from the $5.125 million AAV of his current contract.

The St. Louis Blues re-sign center Brayden Schenn to an eight-year extension (Photo via NHL Images).

Critics will argue the Blues overpaid to keep Schenn in the fold. However, he probably would’ve received a higher salary-cap hit on the open market next summer, considering the Philadelphia Flyers signed Kevin Hayes to a seven-year, $50-million deal this year.

Now in his third season with the Blues, Schenn quickly established himself among their core players. He tallied 70 points in 2017-18 and 54 last season, along with five goals and 12 points in 26 playoff games during their run to the Stanley Cup last spring.

The question now is, how does this affect the Blues’ efforts to re-sign defenseman and team captain Alex Pietrangelo?

Schenn’s deal pushes them to over $73 million invested in 17 players for 2020-21. Considered one of the league’s elite blueliners, the 29-year-old Pietrangelo is also slated to become a UFA in July. He’ll want a significant raise over his current $6.5-million AAV. 

General manager Doug Armstrong admitted he’ll have to get creative to retain Schenn and Pietrangelo. That could mean a cost-cutting trade or two before next summer. Otherwise, the Blues could be looking for a new captain after this season. 










NHL Rumor Mill – October 3, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – October 3, 2019

Updates on Alex Pietrangelo, Brayden Schenn, Joshua Ho-Sang, Jesse Puljujarvi, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman cited an NHL executive suggesting the St. Louis Blues and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo should agree to a new contract unless one side doesn’t want to make it work. Pietrangelo is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo’s contract status could be a hot topic in this season’s NHL rumor mill (Photo via NHL Images).

Friedman points out Pietrangelo turns 30 in January. His negotiations come at a time when teams are spending more on younger talent. Friedman also believes the Blues are “taking a big run” at re-signing pending UFA center Brayden Schenn.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cost and term will be the big issues for Pietrangelo. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong could balk if his captain seeks a seven- or eight-year deal worth over $9 million annually. However, he could also be reluctant to let his top defenseman – the guy who led the Blues to its first-ever Stanley Cup championship – depart via free agency.

With over $67 million invested in 16 players (stick tap to Cap Friendly), it’ll be difficult to keep Pietrangelo and Schenn. Armstrong’s admitted he’ll have to get creative to re-sign both and leave enough for the rest of the roster. That could mean a cost-cutting trade or two before July 1.

If the Blues are out of playoff contention by the Feb. 24 trade deadline, Armstrong could shop Pietrangelo and/or Schenn if there are no agreements on new contracts by that point. Nevertheless, I think he’ll be keen to keep both players in the fold.

Friedman also believes a break is coming between the New York Islanders and Joshua Ho-Sang. He cited Isles GM Lou Lamoriello saying the young winger worked hard to earn a roster spot in training camp but it didn’t work out. Ho-Sang passed unclaimed through waivers earlier this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some think Ho-Sang might improve with a new club. The fact he passed through waivers, however, indicates nobody else wants to give him that opportunity.

It’s been five years since the Islanders selected Ho-Sang in the first round (28th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft. He’s had several opportunities under different coaches and management to crack their roster. The simple truth could be that he isn’t good enough to cut it at the NHL level.

Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland indicated things are quiet on the Jesse Puljujarvi trade front. The young winger is currently playing in Finland waiting for the Oilers to honor his trade request. Holland hopes Puljujarvi’s performance overseas bolsters his trade value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have until Dec. 1 to re-sign Puljujarvi or he’ll become ineligible to play the remainder of this NHL season.

Friedman advises keeping an eye on the Arizona Coyotes goaltending. They re-signed Darcy Kuemper and claimed Eric Comrie off waivers this week. With Antti Raanta and Adin Hill also in the fold, perhaps GM John Chayka will use this goalie surplus to swing a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could depend on Raanta. Friedman notes he’s very good when healthy, but he’s struggled through injuries over the past two seasons. He was sidelined during training camp and was sent to their farm team on a two-week conditioning stint. If there’s concern over Raanta’s health, Chayka could need that surplus between the pipes.

Friedman believes the New Jersey Devils looked at Florida Panthers defenseman Mark Pysyk. He also noted the Dallas Stars seek a “reasonably high pick (second- or third-rounder) or a prospect” for rearguard Julius Honka.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – October 2, 2019

A look at this season’s potential trade candidates in the NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston compiled a list of potential trade candidates for the coming NHL season. Topping the list is Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, followed by St. Louis Blues center Brayden Schenn and Montreal Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen could be a trade candidate this season (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen, 24, was a fixture in the off-season rumor mill. Speculation linked him to the Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks. He’s signed through 2021-22 with an annual average value of $5.4 million. With Brandon Montour currently sidelined, Ristolainen probably isn’t going anywhere. As Johnston notes, if the Sabres get off to a stumbling start the Ristolainen conjecture will grow. 

Schenn is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. With over $66 million invested in 16 players and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo also slated for UFA status, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong recently said he’ll have to get creative to re-sign both players. As long as the Blues remain a playoff contender, however, I doubt they’ll move Schenn this season. 

Two inconsistent seasons and a poor outing in a recent preseason game gave rise to rumors suggesting Drouin’s name is “out there”. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin denied it and The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin cited sources claiming there’s no indication Drouin’s being shopped. Another erratic performance, however, could keep Drouin in the rumor mill.

Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris, Florida Panthers winger Mike Hoffman, and Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Jack Johnson are landed on Johnston’s list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another poor performance like last season and the Turris trade chatter will certainly increase. Moving him, however, won’t be easy. Cap Friendly indicates he’s signed through 2023-24 with an annual average value of $6 million. Nashville Predators GM David Poile doesn’t retain salary to make a trade but he might not have any choice in this case.

Hoffman is also slated to become a UFA in July. He enjoyed a career-best 36-goal, 70-point performance in 2018-19. If he comes close to those stats this season and the Panthers are playoff contenders I don’t believe they’ll trade him.

A report over the weekend suggested a Johnson trade was imminent. However, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports GM Jim Rutherford dismissed that notion. “I’m sorry to see a player have to go through that where there’s things thrown out there publicly that aren’t true”, said Rutherford.

Johnston also included Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker plus New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider and Vladislav Namestnikov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the Wild’s off-season management change, Johnston doesn’t consider Zucker safe. He pointed out the winger was nearly traded to Calgary and Pittsburgh earlier this year. The Wild’s new GM, Bill Guerin, doesn’t seem as keen as his predecessor to move Zucker. A bounce-back performance will ensure he remains with the Wild.

Pending UFAs Kreider and Namestnikov frequently popped up in off-season trade chatter. If the Rangers are out of playoff contention leading up to the Feb. 24 trade deadline, one or both could be on the move.

Los Angeles Kings forward Tyler Toffoli, Vancouver Canucks rearguard Chris Tanev, and Dallas Stars blueliner Julius Honka round out Johnston’s list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli and Tanev are pending UFAs skating with rebuilding clubs this season. That combination usually spells “trade candidate”.

Honka, meanwhile, is a restricted free agent skating in Finland while waiting for the Stars to honor his trade request. The asking price is said to be a second- or a third-round pick or a young player. He could be waiting for a while.