NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 9, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 9, 2020

Golden Knights down the Stars to tie the Western Conference Final, the latest on Mathew Barzal and Kevin Shattenkirk, the dates for the draft and free agency are adjusted, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights blanked the Dallas Stars 3-0 to even the 2020 Western Conference Final at a game apiece. Robin Lehner turned in a 24-save shutout while Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist. Game 3 is Thursday, Sept. 10 at 8 pm ET.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights took control of the game in the second period with three goals as they outshot the Stars 19-7. If not for Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin it would’ve been a more lopsided result. The Stars made things worse for themselves by taking six penalties, resulting in William Karlsson’s power-play goal that put Vegas up 2-0.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders center Mathew Barzal has matured as a player during his club’s postseason run. He played a crucial role in eliminating the Philadelphia Flyers with two goals and four assists in that seven-game series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barzal sits third among Islanders scorers with 14 points, but it’s his all-around play that’s garnering attention in this postseason.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has nine points in this postseason, sitting second among Bolts blueliners behind Victor Hedman. Five of those points came in the last two games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shattenkirk downplayed his recent production but he’s been quite effective for the Lightning in these playoffs. All but one of those points came at even strength.

TSN: The 2020 NHL Draft is slated for Oct. 6-7. The free-agent market opens on Oct. 9 at noon ET.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s shaping up to be a busy, interesting October.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The Devils have hired Mark Recchi as an assistant coach.

SPORTSNET: Calgary’s Dampy Brar is the winner of the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award, presented to the individual “who best utilizes hockey as a platform to help people build character and develop important life skills for a more positive family experience.” Brar, who played minor pro in the IHL and West Coach Hockey League, now coaches and mentors youth, and co-founded the APNA Hockey program.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 20, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 20, 2020

In today’s NHL rumor mill, we look at several possible buyout candidates plus some recent Blues speculation.

POTENTIAL BUYOUT CANDIDATES

NBC SPORTS: Sean Leahy recently listed Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner, Anaheim Ducks winger David Backes, New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris, and Vancouver Canucks winger Loui Eriksson as five prime off-season contract buyout candidates.

Alzner, 31, spent most of the past three seasons buried in the minors. He has two years left on his contract with an annual average value of $4.625 million, plus he’s owed a $1.5 million signing bonus this off-season.

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (Photo via NHL Images).

Backes, 36, has battled injuries as his ice time and production declined in recent years. A buyout won’t free up much cap room for the Ducks but would open up a roster spot for a younger player.

The emergence of young goalies Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev put the 38-year-old Lundqvist’s future with the Rangers into doubt. He has a year left at an AAV of $8.5 million. The Rangers could try to trade him but Lundqvist would have to waive his no-movement clause.

Turris was a health scratch at times this season. He’s earning $6 million annually for the next four years.

Eriksson is another veteran forward whose production and ice time have dropped. He has two years left with an AAV of $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have just over $63 million invested in 16 players, with Max Domi and Victor Mete as their notable free agents. Depending on the cost of re-signing those two, the Habs could have sufficient space under a projected $81.5 million cap next season to add to their roster without buying out Alzner. They could retain him for one more season to work with their minor leaguers and buy out his final season.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ducks bought out Backes. The years of physical play have caught up with him. Given his concussion history, retirement would be the best option, but that’s not something he seems to be considering.

Most of the speculation about Lundqvist points to a buyout unless he agrees to be traded or they move Georgiev instead.

Turris was frequently mentioned as a buyout candidate, but that’s something Predators GM David Poile could be reluctant to do. He doesn’t like carrying dead cap space but might not have much choice if he can’t move Turris in a cost-cutting trade.

There’s talk of trading Eriksson to a budget team after he’s paid his signing bonus for next season, as his actual salary will be lower than his $6 million AAV. If that’s not possible, the Canucks might have to go the buyout route.

LATEST ON THE BLUES

STLTODAY.COM: In a recent chat with Blues fans, Jim Thomas said he doesn’t see them going shopping in the free-agent market even if Alex Pietrangelo departs after this season. General manager Doug Armstrong would only have enough cap space to re-sign RFA defenseman Vince Dunn.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Jeremy Rutherford said he doesn’t see former Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk as a possible replacement for Pietrangelo. Currently with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Shattenkirk is 31 and the Blues don’t need him on the right side when they’ve already got Colton Parayko and Justin Faulk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues (as per Cap Friendly) have over $79.4 million invested in 20 players next season. If Pietrangelo walks they’ll still have to shed some salary to re-sign Dunn. They won’t have enough to jump into the UFA market.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 17, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 17, 2020

A look at several players facing uncertain futures in this summer’s free-agent market in the Sunday’s NHL rumor roundup.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently examined several of this summer’s 30-or-older UFA  goaltenders, as well as several veteran UFA defensemen and forwards facing uncertain futures.

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford is among several pending UFAs facing uncertain futures (Photo via NHL Images).

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford isn’t far removed from recent career-threatening injuries and there appears to be some front-office turmoil in the organization. He’s also 35, which will hamper efforts for a multi-year term. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks could re-sign him.

Jimmy Howard’s days with the Detroit Red Wings are likely over. Despite a brutal season, he could become a backup option for another club. Meanwhile, 38-year-old Mike Smith’s NHL career could be winding down after two sub-par seasons, though his size and puck-handling skills could still make him enticing.

O’Brien expects Anton Khudobin and Thomas Greiss will attract considerable interest. Ryan Miller’s future depends on his choices and his wish to remain in California. Brian Elliott must keep his expectations modest to stay in the NHL. Maybe 39-year-old Craig Anderson regains some of his form on a more hopeful team. Aaron Dell’s struggles over the past two seasons could hurt his value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Blackhawks land an established starter via trade or free agency, they’ll probably re-sign Crawford to a 35-plus, bonus-laden deal. Howard’s experience could help him land a backup role. Some Edmonton pundits suggest Smith could return for one more season with the Oilers.

I expect Khudobin and Greiss will be quickly signed if they hit the open market. Elliott could return for another season with the Flyers. It’s probably the end of the road for Miller and Anderson, while Dell could have difficulty finding a new NHL club. 

O’Brien wondered if former Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will resume his NHL career and at what cost. Questions about his injured ankle will also be a factor.

Age and declining performance could hurt the stock of blueliners Mike Green and Roman Polak. Andy Greene, however, could have some value as a defense-first rearguard, while puck-moving Kevin Shattenkirk could be worth a low-risk contract.  O’Brien wondered if a desperate club might take a chance on Dmitry Kulikov or Zach Bogosian.

UFA blueliners who could retire due to age or health issues include Jonathan Ericsson, Jay Bouwmeester, Deryk Engelland, or perhaps Andrej Sekera.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byfuglien will attract lots of attention if he decides to return. He won’t get an expensive long-term deal, but probably a 35-plus contract full of bonus clauses. Shattenkirk revived his career with the Lightning and shouldn’t have much difficulty finding another NHL team. Greene will also probably get a one-year deal.

Green and Polak, on the other hand, are likely done as NHL defensemen. The same goes for Kulikov, Bogosian, Ericsson, Bouwmeester, Engelland, and Sekera.

Aging former star forwards like Corey Perry and Jason Spezza also face uncertain futures following this season. Spezza’s defensively responsible play could earn him another contract.

Ryan Reaves’ gritty style could also ensure he remains in the NHL for another season. Carl Soderberg’s underlying stats were underwhelming this season. O’Brien noted 35-year-old checking-line forward Nate Thompson still remains in demand. Questions about Patrick Maroon’s health could leave him twisting in the wind for another off-season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry’s no longer as effective as he once was. The Stars took a chance on him this season and it didn’t pan out. He might not get another opportunity elsewhere. Spezza, on the other hand, earned praise for his leadership and defensive skills with the Leafs. I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to bring him back for another season.

Soderberg is 35 and his best seasons are behind him, but he still managed decent offensive stats with the Coyotes. He’ll probably get a one-year deal elsewhere. Reaves’ style of play will help him land another contract with another club. Despite his age, Thompson’s style of play should ensure he gets another NHL deal. I also wouldn’t rule out Maroon landing with another team. 










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Tampa Bay Lightning

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Tampa Bay Lightning

 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2020

Check out the latest Maple Leafs and Red Wings speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

MAPLE LEAFS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked how much it could cost the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-sign Morgan Rielly when the defenseman’s contract expires in 2022. A good comparable is the Arizona Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s eight-year, $66-million deal. Fox also suggested paying attention to whatever Boston Bruins blueliner Torey Krug gets in the coming off-season.

How much could it cost the Toronto Maple Leafs to re-sign Morgan Rielly? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox acknowledged the fallout from the pandemic could affect the salary cap by 2022, which could impact what Rielly’s next contract looks like. Then again, perhaps league revenue rebounds by that point. Given Rielly’s value to the Leafs, don’t be surprised if his agent seeks top dollar. It’s worth noting the Leafs have over $55 million invested in just seven players for 2022-23.

Asked about a suggestion in The Athletic in which the Leafs trade goaltender Frederik Andersen and sign Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray or Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Fox isn’t sold on either guy as an upgrade over Andersen. He doesn’t expect Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas to break up his current goalie tandem in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. I expect the Leafs will return with their Andersen-Jack Campbell tandem next season. Their performances will determine their long-term futures in Toronto. Murray, by the way, is a restricted free agent. The Leafs will have to trade for him or sign him to an offer sheet.

Fox doesn’t see the Leafs acquiring another LTIR contract to free up cap space to pursue St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. However, he thinks Dubas could attempt to acquire a defenseman via trade. “Paying Ryan Kesler or Marian Hossa to not play hockey won’t help Toronto land Petro. Paying Kesler might, in theory, help Dubas acquire a Josh Manson plus a draft pick from Anaheim in exchange for Kasperi Kapanen.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas and his staff surprised observers with their wheeling and dealing last summer to free up sufficient cap space to re-sign Mitch Marner. We can’t rule out a scenario like that mentioned by Fox to bring in a defenseman, although that might not be necessary with yesterday’s signing of Mikko Lehtonen. Speaking of which…

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the addition of Lehtonen could bring some intrigue to the Leafs defense corps. On paper, his addition creates a log-jam of left-handed defensemen. O’Brien wonders if the Leafs could trade someone like Travis Dermott to balance things out on the right side.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehtonen said he’s comfortable playing either side. If he adjusts well on the right side with the Leafs, they won’t have to trade someone like Dermott for a right-handed defender.

RED WINGS

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James examined potential free-agent options to bolster the Red Wings’ defense corps. The best of the bunch is St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo, but he’d probably prefer going somewhere more competitive if he doesn’t re-sign with the Blues. It might not be possible to lure Michigan native Torey Krug away from the Boston Bruins.

Other options include Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, Carolina’s Sami Vatanen, Tampa Bay’s Kevin Shattenkirk, and Calgary’s TJ Brodie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Red Wings have over $46.2 million invested in 11 players for 2020-21. A good chunk of that cap room will be invested in re-signing key players like Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha.

Provided ownership is willing to spend toward the cap ceiling, they should have enough to make a competitive offer to one of those UFAs in the offseason. Nevertheless, the rebuilding Wings might have to overpay to entice one of those blueliners to join them.










Early-Season Free Agent Stock Watch: Top NHL UFAs for 2020

Early-Season Free Agent Stock Watch: Top NHL UFAs for 2020