NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 14, 2020

The latest on the league’s 2020-21 plans plus updates on Brandon Saad, Brent Seabrook and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

TVA SPORTS: Renaud Lavoie reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said yesterday the league’s goal remains to start the season on Jan. 1. “But if it has to be postponed for a week or two, it won’t change our plans,” he said.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly (NHL.com).

Lavoie believes it’s now impossible for the league to stage a full 82-game season. Daly wouldn’t confirm this but acknowledged the possibility of a shortened schedule.

Daly indicated they’re studying all financial models but the priority remains to ensure the health of the players. A baseball-style schedule that would reduce travel and the risks associated with COVID-19, including a Canadian division, would make the most sense.

Most observers believe the season will be at least 48 games. Lavoie feels a 60-game schedule seems logical, which would mean a club like the Montreal Canadiens would play 10 games against each team in the Canadian division.

Lavoie noted team owners want to play in their own arenas rather than in hub cities because they can generate more revenue.

The elephant in the room is whether the players would be paid in proportion to the number of games played in 2020-21. It was agreed under the new CBA they would receive 72 percent of their salaries for ’20-’21 regardless of the number of games played. Daly was reluctant to discuss the possibility of the league requesting the players be paid on a prorated basis, adding the priority is working toward a solution together to open the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An 82-game schedule is a fantasy. Most of the speculation ranges from as low as 48 games to as many as 72, though the sweet spot could be in the 60-68 game span.

Starting up on Jan. 1 could be difficult given the narrow time frame the NHL has to hammer out what next season will look like. Players also have to return to their teams and a training-camp timetable must be sorted out. I wouldn’t be surprised if the start of the season is pushed ahead to mid – or late January.

Reports yesterday indicated the NHL Players Association was against prorating players’ salaries, but there was talk the league could seek another deferral of a portion of their salaries. That would be more palatable for the players as they would still get their money but at a later date. How much of a deferral and for how long remains to be seen.

OTHER HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Brandon Saad said he’s hoping to remain with the Colorado Avalanche beyond his current contract. The 28-year-old winger was acquired last month from the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend on how well Saad performs with the Avalanche next season, as well as how much he’ll seek for salary on his next contract and for how long. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $55.1 million invested in 12 players for 2021-22, with Gabriel Landeskog, Cale Makar, Philipp Grubauer and Tyson Jost among their other notable free agents. New deals for Landeskog and Makar alone will each up a considerable chunk of their cap space.

THE ATHLETIC: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook told Pierre LeBrun he intends to play next season and silence the doubters. The 35-year-old blueliner’s performance has declined in part due to multiple injuries, but he’s resumed skating and has no plans to retire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would also eliminate the possibility of the Blackhawks placing Seabrook and his $6.875 million cap hit for 2020-21 on long-term injury reserve in order to bolster their roster via free agency.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore has created a fund in honor of his late grandmother who succumbed to breast cancer. The fund will pay for preventative cancer care for women without insurance coverage.

SPORTSNET: The Ottawa Senators signed forward Micheal Haley to a one-year, two-way contract.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 12, 2020

The latest on Johnny Gaudreau and Mike Hoffman plus an update on the Blackhawks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Tracey Myers was asked about the trade rumors surrounding Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau and if a move to the Philadelphia Flyers would help his production.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau was the subject of trade speculation (NHL Images).

Myers acknowledged last season’s dip in Gaudreau’s production but believes he’ll bounce back in 2020-21. She noted the winger has two years remaining on his contract and his desire to stay in Calgary. While there might be Philadelphia fans who’d welcome seeing the Salem, NJ native in a Flyers jersey, Myers doubts the Flames are ready to move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were plenty of calls from many of the Flames faithful demanding Gaudreau be traded following the club’s disappointing performance in the 2020 playoffs. However, Flames general manager Brad Treliving shot down that notion and defending his embattled scorer. I agree with Myers’ take, but that situation could change if Gaudreau has another sub-par performance or the Flames make another early postseason exit.

Myers was also asked if the St. Louis Blues could sign free-agent winger Mike Hoffman to a cheap, one-year contract, and if he’d be a good fit in the tight Blues locker room.

She noted they found sufficient offense when winger Vladimir Tarasenko missed most of last season. With Tarasenko sidelined again with shoulder surgery for five months, she suggested inking Hoffman to replace some of his offense might be worth looking into. Hoffman is willing to accept a one-year contract and Myers feels he’d be a good fit with the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues GM Doug Armstrong didn’t rule out making another addition via free agency but suggested it might not make sense dollar-wise. Cap Friendly indicates the Blues sit above the $81.5 million cap by over $1.175 million with defenseman Vince Dunn still to sign.

Armstrong gets some cap relief by placing Tarasenko ($7.5 million) and Alex Steen ($5.75 million) on long-term injury reserve, but he’ll have to clear cap room when they return to the lineup at some point during the season. Hoffman is also believed seeking $6 million on a one-year deal, which could prove too expensive for the Blues to absorb.

Asked if the Chicago Blackhawks could find a buyer for one of their four big contracts, Myers believes Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will finish their careers in Chicago.

Toews, Kane and Keith are signed through 2022-23, Seabrook through 2023-24. They all have full no-movement clauses. She noted Toews recently said he has no interest in playing anywhere else and would be surprised if Kane and Keith felt differently. The Blackhawks have given no indication they’re trading Seabrook. Given his contract, Myers considers it unlikely.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe one or more of those four will feel differently in a couple of years if the rebuilding Blackhawks haven’t made sufficient progress. For now, I don’t expect either of them to be changing teams. Their contracts remain tough to move and their no-movement clauses give them full control over their futures.










How Will The Blackhawks Rebuild Affect Their Veteran Core?

How Will The Blackhawks Rebuild Affect Their Veteran Core?

 










NHL Rumor Mill – October 23, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 23, 2020

The latest on the Blackhawks and Avalanche in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus reports the Chicago Blackhawks’ core of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook isn’t going anywhere anytime soon as the club undergoes a rebuild.

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (NHL Images).

The contracts of Toews and Kane ($10.5 million annually through 2022-23 with full no-movement clauses) are largely untradeable plus they both want to stay with the Blackhawks. Seabrook’s injury history and his full no-movement clause could also keep him in Chicago. However, Lazerus speculates maybe a trade with the expansion Seattle Kraken next summer could be worked out if the blueliner agrees to waive his clause to be nearer his home in Richmond, British Columbia.

Lazerus speculates Keith could be the most likely to be moved. He carries a reasonable $5.538-million AAV but will earn over $6 million in actual salary over the remaining three years of his deal. He also has a full no-movement clause but at 37 doesn’t have as much time to wait on a rebuild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lazerus emphasizes he’s merely speculating and isn’t saying any of those four will be traded anytime soon. A lot can happen over the remaining three years of the respective contracts of Toews, Kane and Keith and the four years on Seabrook’s contract.

Nevertheless, trying to move any of them in the current economic climate would be very difficult even if they were willing to accept a trade. Toews and Kane would attract considerable interest if they hit the trade block but the Blackhawks would have to pick up a big chunk of their respective cap hits or take back a significant toxic contract to facilitate a deal.

THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers recently noted the Colorado Avalanche were sitting with around $5.2 million in salary-cap space following their recent re-signing of Tyson Jost to a one-year deal. They still must re-sign defenseman Devon Toews, who was recently acquired from the New York Islanders.

Chambers also believes the Avs need to add another defenseman and a physical veteran depth forward to add some toughness to their checking lines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews’ arbitration hearing is slated for Oct. 31. Cap Friendly indicates he’s coming off a two-year, $1.4 million contract and will seek a significant raise over his $700K AAV.

If general manager Joe Sakic signs Toews for around $2.5 million annually on a short-term deal it should leave enough to bring in a couple of inexpensive UFAs to address those other needs and leave a bit of wiggle room under the cap for other moves during the season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 19, 2020

The latest on the Bruins, Blackhawks, Leafs and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney is willing to let Zdeno Chara take his time to reach a decision for the 2020-21 season. He said he’s been in regular contact with the 43-year-old defenseman and his agent. Chara is an unrestricted free agent who’s spent the past 14 seasons with the Bruins.

Zdeno Chara has yet to reach a decision on next season (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chara’s agent recently said his client is drawing interest from multiple teams. For now, there’s no indication the long-time Bruins captain is planning to leave Boston. The uncertainty over what next season will look like could be a factor in his decision not to rush into signing a new contract.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Uncertainty over the status of Brent Seabrook, Andrew Shaw and Zack Smith is affecting the Blackhawks’ salary-cap flexibility. The trio missed the 2020 playoffs because of injuries and there’s some question whether they’ll be medically cleared to play next season. They could be placed on long-term injury reserve to start the season, which would allow the Blackhawks to address their goaltending and other roster issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have around $5 million in cap space with center Dylan Strome to re-sign. Seabrook, Shaw and Smith take up roughly $14 million.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas doesn’t anticipate making any more significant offseason moves for the 2020-21 season. Dubas has added Joe Thornton, TJ Brodie, Wayne Simmonds, Aaron Dell, Zach Bogosian, Jimmy Vesey, Travis Boyd and Joey Anderson. He also brought back Jason Spezza. He doesn’t anticipate having to move out salary to re-sign restricted free agents Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott and Anderson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs have $1.469 million in salary-cap space. Dubas could bury some salary in the minors.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche forward Tyson Jost elected to sign his one-year qualifying offer worth over $874K.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – August 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 20, 2020

What’s next for the Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, and Carolina Hurricanes now that they’ve been eliminated from the playoffs? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski wondered if the Arizona Coyotes will re-sign winger Taylor Hall, whose efforts to land a lucrative long-term contract could be affected by the flat salary cap for next season. Team ownership met with the pending UFA before the postseason began, but the club only has $1.51 million in cap space for next season.

Has Taylor Hall played his final game with the Arizona Coyotes? (NHL Images)

Wyshynski wondered if the Nashville Predators might be interested as they need a shakeup following another disappointing postseason. He also noted the Coyotes need to bolster their anemic offense.

AZCOYOTESINSIDER.COM (subscription required): Craig Morgan suggests the Coyotes flawed, tapped-out roster could need another rebuild, pointing out they were overmatched in skill and scoring in the playoffs. They lack a true No.1 center, scoring punch, and physicality at forward and on the blueline.

Efforts to acquire young talent will be hampered by a lack of a first- and third-round pick in this year’s draft. Morgan doesn’t expect pending UFAs Brad Richardson and Carl Soderberg will return and speculates players with one year on their contracts, such as Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, and Alex Goligoski could be shopped.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Difficult decisions await new general manager Steve Sullivan. They must attempt to convince Hall to re-sign, but even if he won’t get as much as he would’ve before COVID-19 flattened the salary cap, the Coyotes must shed salary to keep him.

Hall will likely test the market if the Coyotes opt to rebuild again. However, I don’t see him landing with the Predators unless they can dump some salary. They’ve got over $72 million committed to 17 players.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports the Chicago Blackhawks could face another off-season salary cap crunch with veteran starting goalie Corey Crawford an unrestricted free agent and RFAs Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome due for raises. She also said there’s some buzz around the league that this could be it for general manager Stan Bowman and head coach Jeremy Colliton.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope believes the goalie situation remains murky, the defense has some talent but little cohesion, and their bottom-six forwards were sub-par.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Phil Thompson believes the Blackhawks will be hard-pressed to go anywhere without Crawford. They have no one in their system capable of taking over as their starting goalie.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers wondered what the future holds for Brent Seabrook in the wake of two hip surgeries and shoulder surgery earlier this year. He has an unmovable contract worth $6.875 million annually for the next four seasons. Trying to trade him would mean including a key young player they cannot afford to give up. Andrew Shaw also faces an uncertain future as concussion injuries mount for the 29-year-old forward.

Lazerus and Powers expect Olli Maatta and Zack Smith to be bought out, freeing up a combined $5.5 million for next season. They also wondered about Alex Nylander’s place in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blackhawks have over $74 million tied up in 19 players next season. If Seabrook and Shaw both start next season on long-term injury reserve, it would give them over $10.7 million in cap flexibility, enough to re-sign Crawford, Kubalik, and Strome and still leave a little wiggle room for other moves.

Seabrook, however, remains determined to return, as could Shaw if he feels he can continue his playing career. That could lead to buyouts for Maatta and Smith.

Crawford seems willing to finish his playing career in Chicago. The 35-year-old netminder could ink a one-year, bonus-laden deal with a low base salary ($2.5 – $3 million) to provide the Hawks with a bit of breathing space. Kubalik and Strome will get raises but could be signed to affordable short-term deals with promises of bigger rewards ahead.

Upsetting the Edmonton Oilers in the qualifying round and the emergence of young players like Kubalik, Strome, Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, and Adam Boqvist could give Bowman and Colliton a reprieve. Nevertheless, the front-office shakeups earlier this year suggest they’re on notice.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan speculates the Carolina Hurricanes could part ways with one or two of their pending UFA defensemen like Sami Vatanen, Joel Edmundson, or Trevor van Riemsdyk. She also wonders if Justin Williams has played his final NHL game and expects the budget-conscious Hurricanes to stick with their affordable goalie tandem of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer for one more season. Both are signed through 2020-21.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke DeCock also wondered if the 38-year-old Williams has come to the end of his playing career. He feels the Hurricanes lack an intimidating presence on their blueline. He thinks they’re built to make the playoffs but the Boston Bruins have shown them in successive postseasons what it takes to become a Stanley Cup contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to Cap Friendly, the Hurricanes have over $72 million invested in 16 players, with RFAs Warren Foegele and Haydn Fleury also due for new contracts.

Those two will be affordable short-term signings, as could Edmundson if they want to retain some snarl on defense, but they won’t have enough to go shopping for an established starting goalie or to bring in some physical leadership. They could make it work for Williams if he wants to come back but I think this was his last hurrah.