NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2020

Steven Stamkos returns as the Lightning take 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, the latest on a potential Patric Hornqvist-for-Mike Matheson trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Steven Stamkos scored in his return to action as the Tampa Bay Lightning downed the Dallas Stars 5-2 in Game 2 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Stamkos, who’s been dealing with a core-muscle issue that sidelined him since July, played only five shifts in the first period but scored the Lightning’s second goal, eluding Stars defenseman Esa Lindell and sniping a wrister past Anton Khudobin. He spent the rest of the game on the Lightning bench. In his post-game interview, Stamkos said he’s still working through the issue, adding it was too early to tell if he’ll suit up for Game 4 on Friday.

Victor Hedman had a goal and two assists, becoming the third defenseman in Stanley Cup playoff history to score at least 10 goals in a postseason. Only Paul Coffey (12 goals) and Brian Leetch (11) have more. Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat each had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos’ brief return in Game 3 still provided a big lift to his teammates. You could see it by the way they played and their reaction to their captain’s goal. They took control of the game in the second period, scoring three goals and outshooting the Stars 21-4.

Hedman, meanwhile, is making a strong case as the favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. In addition to his goal-scoring efforts, he’s been the Lightning’s leader during Stamkos’ absence, playing a strong game at both ends of the rink.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports a potential trade in which the Pittsburgh Penguins would send winger Patric Hornqvist to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Mike Matheson could be falling apart over Hornqvist’s no-trade clause and concerns over whether his contract was covered by insurance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This deal could still go through if those issues are sorted out, but Friedman sounds skeptical. “One hurdle would be challenging enough…but two? Big problem.” If the deal goes through, the Penguins will have a surplus of left-side defensemen, meaning another trade could be likely.

TSN: Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion confirmed his club won’t be re-signing long-time goaltender Craig Anderson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in the 39-year-old Anderson’s performance over the past two years made this inevitable. Nevertheless, it’s the end of an era between the pipes for the Senators. Anderson is their all-time leader in wins, losses, and games-played, and played a big role in their surprising run to the 2017 Eastern Conference Final.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed forward Jake Evans to a two-year contract extension. The first year is a two-way deal paying him $750K at the NHL level. He’ll earn $800K in the second year.

TORONTO STAR: The Canada Revenue Agency alleges former Maple Leafs Shayne Corson and Darcy Tucker participated in a scheme to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. The duo claimed millions in business losses related to foreign currency trading during their years with the Leafs, but the CRA alleges it was a sham to claim the losses to lower their taxable income. Corson and Tucker deny the allegations.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2020

The latest on Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Seguin, Ryan Kesler and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov isn’t allowing the Dallas Stars to frustrate him and knock him off his game during the Stanley Cup Final. In the past, opponents would target Kucherov and get under his skin.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov’s taken his lumps from the Stars during the first two games of the series. He was held off the score sheet in Game 1 but the Lightning as a team played poorly for most of that contest. In Game 2, Kucherov got the primary assists on the Lightning’s first two goals and leads all NHL scorers with 28 points.

NATIONAL POST: The Stars need more from Tyler Seguin if they hope to win the Stanley Cup. The first-line center has just two goals and eight points in 22 games, with one assist in the last 12. His last goal was on Aug. 26 against Colorado.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in Seguin’s production is troubling but could attributable to an undisclosed injury. He missed an exhibition game against Nashville and a round-robin game against St. Louis. It was a topic of concern in early August but hasn’t been mentioned much as the Stars rolled to the Cup Final.

ESPN.COM: Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler said the lack of education among NHL players regarding the painkiller toradol led to his chronic digestive problems. Kesler and other former NHL players talked about the overuse of pain medication in the TSN documentary, “The Problem of Pain”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL must do a better job educating its teams, medical staff, and players regarding pain management and the use of pain medication. Failure to do so can lead to addiction or serious medical side effects.

NHL.COM: The Ottawa Senators won’t have a captain for 2020-21. They’ll go with three alternate captains on a game-by-game basis. Head coach D.J. Smith said the plan is to transition younger players like Thomas Chabot and Brady Tkachuk into leadership roles.

OTTAWA SUN: Speaking of the Senators, they and the other teams that didn’t qualify for the return-to-play program could be granted a longer training camp leading up to next season if the NHLPA agrees to it.

TSN: The San Jose Sharks named Bob Boughner their full-time head coach. Boughner took over on an interim basis on Dec. 29 after the club fired Peter DeBoer.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes fired assistant general manager Lindsay Hofford.

 










NHL Morning Headlines & Rumor Mill – September 21, 2020

NHL Morning Headlines & Rumor Mill – September 21, 2020

The latest on Steven Stamkos and Jimmy Howard in this morning’s NHL headlines, plus updates on the Devils, Flyers, Senators, and Hurricanes in the NHL rumor mill.

NHL MORNING COFFEE HEADLINES

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Steven Stamkos is inching closer to returning to action, but he doesn’t expect his captain to suit up for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final tonight against the Dallas Stars. Stamkos has been sidelined since July with a core-muscle issue.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Goaltender Jimmy Howard wants to continue his NHL playing career but acknowledged it probably won’t be with the Red Wings. Howard, 36, is an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings are likely in the market for a starting goaltender, something Howard is no longer capable of being. He could land elsewhere on a one-year deal as a backup and mentor to a younger starter.

TSN: Former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Albert (Junior) Langlois passed away over the weekend at age 85. He spent four seasons with the Canadiens from 1957 to 1961, winning three Stanley Cups. He also spent three seasons with the New York Rangers, two with the Boston Bruins, and one with the Detroit Red Wings, followed by one season with the WHL before retiring in 1967.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Langlois’ family, friends and former teammates.

NHL RUMOR MILL

TSN RADIO VANCOUVER: TSN analyst Ray Ferraro speculated Devils defenseman Damon Severson may have “soured” in New Jersey. Ferraro noted Severson is a right-hand shot, praising his skating and shot. He believes the 26-year-old blueliner would be more affordable than Minnesota’s Matt Dumba if the Devils are willing to move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have been quiet since hiring Lindy Ruff as head coach and removing the interim tag from Tom Fitzgerald’s title as general manager in early July. Their most notable move since then was hiring Mark Recchi earlier this month as an assistant coach.

We don’t know if Fitzgerald has any intention of shopping Severson, who has three years remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $4.166 million and lacking no-trade protection. The Devils have $55.2 million invested in 13 players. Unless they have an internal cap lower than the league’s $81.5 million, Fitzgerald won’t be under pressure to shed salary. Nevertheless, it could be worth keeping an eye on Severson and the Devils in the coming weeks as activity builds up in the trade market.

PHILLY.com‘s Sam Carchidi believes the Philadelphia Flyers will try to move defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and winger James van Riemsdyk. He believes Gostisbehere will draw more interest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players are signed through 2022-23 and lack no-trade protection. Gostisbehere, however, carries an annual average value of $4.5 million while van Riemsdyk’s is $7 million. So yeah, there will probably be more interest in Ghost Bear than JVR in this economic climate.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch expects the Senators will receive plenty of calls from clubs looking to shed contracts in exchange for draft picks. The Sens have nine picks in the first three rounds and 13 in total.

Garrioch doesn’t expect them to take on bad contracts but maybe they can use this situation to their advantage to bolster their roster. It’s believed they’ve been in talks for a veteran goalie, including Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Arizona Coyotes could also be shopping goaltenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sens have three first-round picks, including the third and fifth overall, in this year’s draft. I don’t see them moving either of those (or both) unless they’re getting a terrific player in return. They could, however, entertain offers for the first-rounder they acquired from the New York Islanders in the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade at the February trade deadline.

The Blue Jackets could move either Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins. The Coyotes, meanwhile, could shop Darcy Kuemper or Antti Raanta.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): With the Carolina Hurricanes carrying limited salary-cap space next season, Sara Civian wondered if they’ll go the free-agent or trade route to upgrade their goaltending.

Free-agent options could include Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom or Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, though Civian doesn’t expect an encore with the Hurricanes for the latter. If the Golden Knights re-sign Lehner, she suggests the Hurricanes look into acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury.

Civian wondered what they’d be willing to trade for a goalie. Jaccob Slavin is off-limits, they don’t want to trade Brett Pesce or Martin Necas, and she doesn’t believe they’d move Dougie Hamilton even though he’s a year away from UFA eligibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t believe the Hurricanes can become a Cup contender next season with their current goaltending tandem of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer. Maybe they ride it out for another season with those two until their contracts expire next summer, but if the front office is serious about building a contender, they must look to the trade or free-agent market for an upgrade.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 1, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 1, 2020

Could the Jets consider shopping Patrik Laine or Nikolaj Ehlers? What’s the latest on Matt Murray and Max Domi? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LAINE AND EHLERS TRADE BAIT?

TSN 1290 WINNIPEG‘s Jim Toth reports NHL insider Frank Seravalli said to expect Jets forwards Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers to be on his TSN Trade Bait List when it comes out later this week. The Jets are said to be evaluating the best way to address the holes in their lineup.

Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just when Jets fans thought they could get through an off-season without trade rumors about Laine and Ehlers, they get dragged back in.

We can’t dismiss the notion of Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff considering his options. Fixing his depleted defense corps and adding a second-line center are the priorities.

Shopping Laine and/or Ehlers would address one or both needs. However, that doesn’t mean Cheveldayoff will go that route. He’ll get lots of interest in those guys but there’s no guarantee he’ll find a suitable return in what will be an unusual off-season trade market.

UPDATES ON MURRAY

OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan believes Senators GM Pierre Dorion should put in a call to Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford for goaltender Matt Murray.  Rutherford has indicated he’ll probably move a goalie and Brennan believes he’ll keep Tristan Jarry. He points out Murray is a proven winner with two Stanley Cup rings and advocates offering up the first-round pick Dorion received from the New York Islanders in the Jean-Gabriel Pageau deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s injury history and inconsistency over the last two seasons could hurt his trade value. He’s also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who could seek over $6 million annually on his next contract. Murray might not be keen to stick with a rebuilding club for too long. If Dorion is in the market for a goalie he might have other options in mind.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski wondered if the Calgary Flames could be a potential trade partner for Murray. Changes could be in store for the Flames following their first-round ouster by the Dallas Stars.

Cam Talbot could depart via free agency while David Rittich has a career NHL save percentage of .907. Kingerski listed Sam Bennett, Dillon Dube, and Oliver Kylington among the possible return options for the Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames GM Brad Treliving has long resisted moving Bennett because of his versatility and how he elevates his play in the postseason. I also think Treliving prefers keeping Dube in the fold. Kylington has occasionally surfaced as a trade candidate but that could depend upon how many of the Flames’ UFA blueliners Treliving intends to re-sign.

DOMI REPORTEDLY FIRES HIS AGENT

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan feels Max Domi’s days with the Canadiens appear to be over after he reportedly fired longtime agent Pat Brisson, who is a good friend of Habs GM Marc Bergevin. The 25-year-old center is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a sub-par season following a 72-point campaign in 2018-19.

Cowan also indicated the relationship between Domi and head coach Claude Julien isn’t good and didn’t improve after Domi started the playoffs on the fourth line. Bergevin, meanwhile, was non-committal over Domi’s future when asked about the center during his end-of-season press conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Domi frequently surfaced in trade speculation in the Montreal media this season. He was linked to the Penguins before they acquired Kasperi Kapanen last week from the Toronto Maple Leafs. We probably haven’t heard the last of the Domi trade chatter given his decline in production this season and change of agents, If the Habs decide to shop him their asking price could be a good top-four, left-side defenseman in return.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 24, 2020

Speculation over Marc-Andre Fleury’s future with the Golden Knights, plus the latest on the Flames, Senators, and Kings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLEURY’S FUTURE

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required) Jesse Granger suggests Marc-Andre Fleury‘s defense of his agent, Allan Walsh, gives the impression the veteran goaltender didn’t disagree with Walsh’s provocative post criticizing his client’s lack of playing time.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

Over the weekend, Walsh posted an image showing Fleury being stabbed in the back by a sword with the name of Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer on the blade. Fleury appeared in just two of the Golden Knights’ games since the NHL returned to action, with trade-deadline acquisition Robin Lehner seeing the bulk of the starts. He’s had Walsh remove the image from his Twitter feed. 

Granger noted Fleury said he speaks regularly with Walsh. The fact Fleury didn’t immediately condemn the image gave the impression the netminder wasn’t that upset over it.

Fleury has two years remaining on his contract while Lehner is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. If the Golden Knights re-sign Lehner to a large contract, Granger believes they could face having between $12 – $14 million invested in the goalie position or they would have to move on from Fleury.

Granger pointed out Fleury has a 10-team no-trade list. Given the flattened salary cap for next season, there might not be many destinations for Fleury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury’s future with the Golden Knights is now a topic of speculation that will intensify the longer he remains Lehner’s backup. As Granger noted, trading him won’t be easy. In addition to his no-trade clause and the flattened cap, his $7.5 million annual average value, his age (35), and inconsistency this season could also become sticking points.

LATEST FLAMES SPECULATION

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson acknowledged Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau’s playoff performance was disappointing. Trading him, however, could be risky. He wondered what the return would be, suggesting they’d have to get someone to replace Gaudreau’s production. Gilbertson mused about perhaps bringing in a blue-chip defenseman with Mark Giordano about to turn 37, or perhaps swapping Gaudreau for picks and prospects and using the cap savings to sign Taylor Hall. The danger would be looking back after the trade and realizing they got little in return.

Gilbertson also pondered if Flames GM Brad Treliving will re-sign Cam Talbot, stick with David Rittich, or pursue a free-agent goalie like Jacob Markstrom, Robin Lehner or Braden Holtby. He wondered which of their pending UFA blueliners (T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Derek Forbort, Erik Gustafsson, Michael Stone) will be back. He also thinks Treliving would like to add a Nazem Kadri-type player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving could quietly gauge Gaudreau’s trade value following the playoffs. Maybe he shops him for a more affordable young winger with upside. Maybe he dumps Gaudreau’s salary and goes after Hall, though that comes with its own risks in terms of salary and Hall’s effectiveness as he approaches 30 next year. Maybe he tries to add that young forward and a gritty secondary scorer.

The goaltending is an interest situation. Re-signing Talbot would be merely a short-term solution as Gilbertson points out. Rittich looks less like a future starter with each passing season. Markstrom, Lehner or Holtby might be better options but they’ll also be expensive.

WILL THE SENATORS ADD A GOALIE?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch recently suggested several trade options for the Senators if GM Pierre Dorion wants to add a veteran goaltender.

The New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist could be the biggest name available but he might not want to join a rebuilding team. Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray could be another trade target.

Garrioch also noted the Arizona Coyotes have Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper while the Carolina Hurricanes may decide they need to do something with James Reimer or Petr Mrazek.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Lundqvist agreeing to be traded to a rebuilding club in what is likely his final NHL campaign. Murray’s injury history and inconsistency make him a risky acquisition.

The Coyotes won’t part with Kuemper, while Raanta also has a long history of injuries. The Hurricanes should upgrade their goaltending but they could stick with their current tandem because of their affordability. Both are signed for next season.

SUGGESTED BLUELINE OPTIONS FOR THE KINGS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Lisa Dillman recently listed Carolina’s Joel Edmundson, Chicago’s Olli Maatta, Washington’s Brenden Dillon, Vancouver’s Chris Tanev, and Florida’s Mike Matheson as possible blueline targets for the Los Angeles Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmundson, Dillon, and Tanev are UFAs at season’s end. Maatta is signed through 2021-22 with an annual average value of $4.083 million but Dillman suggests he could be a buyout candidate. Matheson is under contract until 2025-26 with an AAV of $4.875 million.

Kings GM Rob Blake seems content to continue rebuilding with youth but I can see him making an affordable free-agent addition or two this summer. One of those pending UFA options listed by Dillman could be on his list if he can get them to agree to short-term contracts. He could be reluctant to take on Matheson’s deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 18, 2020

A look at off-season questions for several teams eliminated during the qualifying round, plus the latest on the Ottawa Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen examined one big off-season question for each club eliminated during the qualifying round. Among the noteworthy:

What kind of return could Kaspari Kapanen fetch for the Toronto Maple Leafs? (NHL Images)

Regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boylen asked what kind of defenseman they’ll add. Given the flat cap and the free-agent pool would be difficult to wade into, Boylen suggested the trade market could be their best option. He wonders if Kaspari Kapanen or Alex Kerfoot become trade bait, and what type of return they might fetch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kapanen or Kerfoot at best could bring a second-pairing right-side defenseman. They won’t bring in a top-pairing guy unless they’re packaged with a first-round pick and/or a top prospect, and they’ll have to target a team in need of shedding salary.

Whoever becomes the Florida Panthers’ next general manager has a lot of work to do. The defense is a problem area, plus they have to decide what to do with free agent wingers Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman. Boylen wonders if they’ll be replaced by rookies if ownership decides to cut payroll.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things are a mess with the Panthers. We can’t really get a bead on their intentions until they’ve hired a new GM.

The Winnipeg Jets need more size on their blueline. Boylen wonders if GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will try to address that issue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets have over $65 million invested in next year’s payroll and all their core players under contract. There’s room to make an addition or two, but a bigger move would require shipping out a notable player as part of the return. However, he could get more cap flexibility if sidelined center Bryan Little is placed on LTIR next season.

Boylen noted Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin was dissatisfied with his goaltending. He mused about whether Guerin will promote promising Kaapo Kahkonen or explore the free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild’s current goalie tandem of Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock is under contract for next season. One of them would have to be moved to make room for Kahkonen or someone else. Dubnyk ($4.333 million AAV for 2020-21) has a 19-team list of preferred trade destinations, but his performance this season remains a stumbling block. Stalock’s cap hit ($785K annually through 2021-22) could be the easiest to move. 

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators owner Eugene Melnyk rejected rumors suggesting his club might offer up the third- and fifth overall picks to the New York Rangers for the first-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, calling the notion “nonsensical.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers would probably reject that offer anyway. It could take a significant pitch to pry that pick away from them.