NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2022

Jonathan Huberdeau talks about the pressure of playing in Montreal, Canadiens’ new captain Nick Suzuki hopes to improve his proficiency in French plus the latest on Shea Theodore and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Huberdeau recently addressed the offseason rumors linking him to the Canadiens prior to his re-signing with the Calgary Flames. A native of Saint-Jerome, Quebec, the 29-year-old winger acknowledged that “a lot of people” were saying he should play one year with the Flames and then sign next summer with the Canadiens as a free agent.

Calgary Flames winger Jonathan Huberdeau (NHL Images).

As much as I love Montreal, I dunno. I think it’s a tough city for a French-Canadian,” said Huberdeau. “Calgary traded for me. If Montreal wanted to trade for me, they would’ve traded for me. That’s how I see it. And I want to play for a team that wants me. Calgary wanted me, so that’s why I wanted to sign a big extension.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Huberdeau’s stating his own opinion but it appears to confirm the suspected reluctance of Quebec-born players to play in Montreal. The pressure of being a Canadien is intense for any NHL star regardless of nationality or background but the burden would be much heavier for a Francophone. They would be expected to become the next great French-Canadien star and follow in the footsteps of the legends who’ve donned the Habs sweater in the past.

It’s one thing to be drafted and developed by the Canadiens where you can be gradually prepared for what you’re about to face. It’s another to jump into that unique hockey hotbed as a free agent when you’ve never experienced anything like it before in your professional career.

Visiting players only get a small taste of it and then move on. Experiencing that fishbowl existence on a full-time basis can be daunting for players used to a less-stressful hockey market.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: New Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki is hoping to become more proficient in French. A native of London, Ontario, the 23-year-old center takes no issue with local and provincial politicians calling on him to improve his French language skills.

A lot of the Quebec politicians want (players) to speak French and that’s fair,” said Suzuki. “French is more spoken in Quebec than English.” He admitted living and working in bilingual Montreal can be challenging as he doesn’t get to use it in that city as much as he could. The Habs captain felt Canadiens players should have some level of French.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will become a non-issue for Suzuki if he becomes more fluent in French. However, it’s another factor that seems to make it difficult for the Canadiens to attract top free-agent talent to Montreal.

THE ATHLETIC: Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore recently announced another $50,000.00 donation to the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Las Vegas as part of his “Kay’s Power Play” fund launched in 2020.

The fund is named in memory of Theodore’s grandmother, Kay Darlington, who passed away in June 2020 due to breast cancer. “Kay’s Power Play” has already raised $250,000.00 to help women access breast cancer screening.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yet another example of an NHL player giving their time and money for charitable causes. Well done, Shea Theodore.

DAILY FACEOFF: Mike McKenna on how a surprising number of NHL veterans are trying to earn contracts with professional tryout offers as teams invest more money in young stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The flattened salary cap since 2020-21 is also a contributing factor. It’ll be interesting to see how the number of PTOs are affected once cap increases rise by 2024 as projected.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Speaking of the Golden Knights, team owner Bill Foley is reportedly heading a potential takeover effort of Premier League soccer club AFC Bournemouth. It could cost approximately $172 million USD to purchase the club.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski addresses everything hockey fans need to know about NHL jersey advertisements.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 3, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 3, 2022

Should the Islanders trade Semyon Varlamov? Is there any help in the trade market for the Oilers? How can the Golden Knights shed salary for Jack Eichel’s return next month? Check out the details in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner ponders the possibility of the New York Islanders putting Semyon Varlamov on the trade block. It hasn’t been the season the Isles or Varlamov envisioned. The club is well out of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference while the 33-year-old goaltender is struggling to regain his form being sidelined through training camp and the opening month of the season.

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (NHL Images).

Varlamov has a year remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit and a 16-team no-trade clause. Despite his struggles this season, he was among the league’s best goalies in 2020-21 with a 2.04 goals-against average, a .929 save percentage and a league-leading seven shutouts.

Moving Varlamov could free up some much-needed cap space for next season. They could then seek a more cost-effective backup for starter Ilya Sorokin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello could start quietly gauging Varlamov’s value in the trade market if his club hasn’t gained ground in the standings by March. It will also depend on whether Varlamov’s performance has improved by then.

Lamoriello could wait until the offseason to make that move. Then again, he could keep his tandem intact for next season provided Varlamov has no issue backing up Sorokin.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: With the Oilers winning just three of their last 12 games, Jim Matheson explored the trade market for help if replacing head coach Dave Tippett isn’t an option.

Matheson feels the Oilers need another top-six forward but there currently aren’t many available. Most teams have little cap space or they’re offering struggling players like Chicago’s Dylan Strome or San Jose’s Evander Kane, who has a myriad of issues. Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk could help but it would cost $4.85 million to qualify his rights this summer.

The Oilers also don’t have many tradeable assets. Matheson suggested maybe winger Kailer Yamamoto, prospect Xavier Bourgault or their 2022 first-round pick. He considers Dylan Holloway a non-starter because they don’t have many blue-chip prospects in their farm system.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers also need a reliable starting goaltender and perhaps a physical shutdown defenseman. Nevertheless, Matheson’s right about their limited possible trade assets. It also doesn’t help that obvious sellers (hello there, Arizona Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens) aren’t in any hurry to swing deals.

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger is the latest to examine options for the Vegas Golden Knights to shed salary ahead of Jack Eichel’s return from neck surgery next month.

One is trading a $5 million forward like Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith or Evgenii Dadonov plus backup goalie Laurent Brossoit. Others include shopping Shea Theodore, William Karlsson or Alec Martinez.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Marchessault, Theodore, Karlsson or Martinez going anywhere. Granger considers moving Theodore highly unlikely but an option nonetheless because he’d fetch the best return. It could come down to Dadonov or Smith with the latter the more likely trade candidate given his UFA status this summer.