NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 26, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 26, 2019

Game recaps, the Penguins trade Erik Gudbranson to the Ducks, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals overcame a 5-1 deficit to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 6-5 on a shootout goal by Nicklas Backstrom. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Michal Kempny each scored twice for the Capitals. Tim Schaller tallied two goals while Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat each collected two assists for the Canucks.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored twice to rally the Washington Capitals to a 6-5 win over the Vancouver Canucks (Photo via NHL Images).

​SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals gave the young Canucks an invaluable lesson. Never sit on a big lead against a talented veteran club.

Third-period goals by Barrett Hayton and Clayton Keller lifted the Arizona Coyotes to a 5-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Jason Demers collected three assists while Nick Schmaltz and Oliver Ekman-Larsson each had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes, who’ve won six of their last eight contests. Devils rookie Jack Hughes scored a goal and set up two others. Devils defenseman Will Butcher returned from injured reserve while Connor Carrick (upper body) was placed on IR.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After a shaky start the Coyotes are playing well of late. Their once-sputtering offense has significantly improved in recent games.

Speaking of surging teams, the New York Islanders picked up their sixth consecutive victory by doubling up the Ottawa Senators 4-2. Nick Leddy scored twice, including on a penalty shot, and collected an assist. Tyler Ennis tallied twice for the Senators.

Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 10 games with two assists in a 6-1 thumping of the Vegas Golden Knights. Former Golden Knights forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare collected three points while Nazem Kadri and Matt Calvert each scored twice for the Avs. Golden Knights starter Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled after giving up four goals on 26 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wasn’t Fleury’s fault. He had little defensive support in this contest.

Buffalo Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark posted a 41-save performance to shut out the Detroit Red Wings 2-0. Sam Reinhart and Jake McCabe were the goal scorers. The Wings have dropped seven straight games. Sabres winger Jimmy Vesey and defenseman Marco Scandella were ruled out for this game. Both will be evaluated when the club returns to Buffalo. Wings forward Luke Glendening (upper body) will be sidelined two-to-four weeks.

The Toronto Maple Leafs downed the San Jose Sharks 4-1, spoiling former Leafs winger Patrick Marleau’s return to Toronto. Mitch Marner and Ilya Mikheyev each collected two points while Marleau was held scoreless.

HEADLINES

TRIBLIVE.COM/ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday traded defenseman Erik Gudbranson to the Anaheim Ducks for minor-league forward Andreas Martinsen and a seventh-round pick in 2021. The Penguins also placed blueliner Zach Trotman on waivers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gudbranson was linked to the Ducks in the rumor mill following their failed attempt last month to acquire Justin Faulk. He’ll bring size, toughness and a much-needed right-handed shot to the Ducks blueline. The move is not linked to Josh Manson’s recent injury.

The Penguins, meanwhile, free up invaluable salary-cap space by shedding Gudbranson’s $4 million cap hit. They’ll need that room when sidelined forwards Evgeni Malkin, Alex Galchenyuk, and Bryan Rust return to the lineup.

CBS SPORTS: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (upper body) will miss the club’s next two games. Winger Sammy Blais is listed as day-to-day with an injured thumb.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk returned to practice yesterday showing no ill-efect from a collision in his crease during Tuesday’s contest against the Edmonton Oilers. Dubnyk was shaken up and forced to leave the game. 

TSN: Former Carolina Hurricanes winger Justin Williams has quietly resumed skating but still hasn’t reached a decision regarding his playing career. An unrestricted free agent, Williams is taking some time away from the game to consider his future.

CBS SPORTS: Calgary Flames forward Austin Czarnik is sidelined with a lower-body injury.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets forward Mason Appleton is listed as week-to-week after breaking his foot in a pickup football game

YARDBARKER: Former Washington Capitals playoff hero Devante Smith-Pelly could be signing with KHL team Kunlun Red Star.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers prospect Vitali Kravtsov is returning to the KHL.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2019

The Avalanche re-sign Mikko Rantanen and the Jets ink Kyle Connor. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed winger Mikko Rantanen to a six-year, $55.5-million contract. Cap Friendly indicates the annual average value is $9.25 million. 

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed winger Kyle Connor to a seven-year, $50-million deal with an AAV of $7.14 million

The Colorado Avalanche re-signed winger Mikko Rantanen to a six-year deal (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And with that, the last two notable restricted free agents are finally under contract. Both players missed training camp and preseason action but are expected to rejoin their respective clubs as the curtain rises this week on the 2019-20 regular season. It’ll be interesting to see what effect their absences will have upon their early-season performance.

As for the contracts, they’re worthwhile long-term deals for the two sides. Both players get long-term security. Rantanen becomes the highest-paid player on the Avalanche on a front-loaded deal paying him $12 million annually this season and next in real salary ($34 million over the first three seasons) while Connor becomes the second-highest paid forward on the Jets. 

The Avs and Jets each get an important young player under a contract that could turn out to be a long-term bargain. Rantanen is coming off back-to-back 80-point performances while the two-way Connor netted 30-plus goals in each of the last two seasons. The 22-year-olds are core players entering their playing prime with their best seasons still to come. What looks expensive today could look cost-effective in a few years. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust suffered undisclosed injuries blocking shots in last night’s preseason loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Coach Mike Sullivan said both were being evaluated and more info could be available today. Speaking of the Sabres, Connor Sheary missed the game with a lower-body injury and remains day-to-day. 

VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks winger Brock Boeser and defenseman Oscar Fantenberg skated in practice with their teammates yesterday. Both have been sidelined by concussions since Monday. 

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny (hamstring) remains doubtful for the club’s season opener on Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL’s David Schoen reports Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch is week-to-week with an upper-body injury while Cody Eakin is day-to-day. 

THE SCORE: The Calgary Flames released Devante Smith-Pelly from his professional tryout offer. 

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs placed blueliners Ben Harpur and Jordan Schmaltz on waivers for the purpose of sending them to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2019

An update on NHL CBA talks, the latest on Connor McDavid, the Kings re-sign Adrian Kempe, the latest PTOs, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: NHL Player Association executive director Donald Fehr said the players haven’t decided if they’ll exercise their early opt-out of the collective bargaining agreement by the Sept. 15 deadline. The PA executive board and other players met in Chicago yesterday for an update on current negotiations with the NHL. No decisions were reached regarding the CBA. Talks with the league continue on Friday.

Fehr said discussions remain pleasant and cordial. “It doesn’t mean there haven’t been disagreements and significant disagreements, but it’s so far at least free from rancor,” he said. “That’s a big improvement.” The PA and the league haven’t discussed a possible extension of the Sept. 15 deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fehr’s statement was essentially status quo. He’s not going to tip the PA’s hand while negotiations with the league are ongoing but also won’t say anything that could put those talks in jeopardy.

Escrow payments likely remain among the “significant disagreements” Fehr was alluding to. Indeed, it’s the biggest, perhaps the only, impediment toward a new agreement or an extension of the current one.

As for extending the PA’s opt-out deadline, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes that won’t fly with the league as both sides would have to agree. If so, Sept. 15 remains the next significant milestone.

No certainly Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid will be ready for the start of the season (Photo via NHL Images).

 THE SCORE: Player agent Jeff Jackson can’t say if client Connor McDavid will be fully recovered from a knee injury by the start of the Edmonton Oilers’ season on Oct. 2. The Oilers captain suffered the injury during the final game of the 2018-19 season. Jackson said McDavid hasn’t had any setbacks and is working toward getting ready for the start of training camp next week.

WINNIPEG SUN:Josh Morrissey confirmed contract-extension talks have begun with the Jets. The defenseman is slated to become a restricted free agent next summer. “I’d love to get something done. I’d love to play here throughout my career,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After the recent departure of Jacob Trouba, Morrissey’s remarks will be music to the ears of Jets fans. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings re-signed center Adrian Kempe to a three-year contract with an annual average value of $2 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise Kempe got a bridge deal. After a promising 37-point rookie campaign in 2017-18, Kempe managed just 28 points last season. Cap Friendly indicates the Kings now have over $74.7 million invested in 23 players for 2019-20.

VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks inked restricted free agent winger Nikolay Goldobin to a one-year, $900K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is probably Goldobin’s last chance to prove himself as a reliable NHL regular with the Canucks. Another inconsistent effort could turn him into a waiver or trade candidate.

TSN: The Calgary Flames signed forwards Devante Smith-Pelly, Tobias Rieder, Zac Rinaldo, and Alexandre Grenier to professional tryout offers. Meanwhile, the Florida Panthers have brought back forward Troy Brouwer on a PTO.

STAR-TRIBUNE.COM: Winger Drew Stafford will attend Minnesota Wild training camp on a professional tryout offer.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Sonny Milano and Colorado Avalanche forward A.J. Greer pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan court to an assault charge stemming from an incident in New York on July 7. Both will be permitted to skip their next court date next month because of their respective travel schedules.

THE SCORE: NBC Sports has removed Pierre McGuire from its No. 1 broadcast team, relegating him to the second game of their doubleheaders. McGuire will be replaced by Brian Boucher.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McGuire has attracted criticism for his coverage in recent years. The Score observed he was “essentially forced to apologize for a series of awkward on-air exchanges with fellow analyst Kendall Coyne Schofield in January.”

THE HOCKEY NEWS: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and former NHLers Tim Thomas and Brian Gionta are among this year’s inductees into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The taciturn Thomas was part of the conference call with reporters following the announcement, marking his first public statement since his retirement in 2014. He alluded to a “state of nervousness” since his retirement, adding he doesn’t like traveling and prefers to keep his personal life to himself.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2019

Updates on Jake Gardiner and Nikita Gusev, plus five players who could need training camp to get new contracts in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

WHY IS GARDINER STILL UNSIGNED?

TSN: Bryan Hayes and Mike Johnson discussed why former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner remains unsigned. Johnson said he’d heard whispers suggesting Gardiner enjoyed playing for the Leafs so much he’d prefer taking a lesser deal for Toronto. Hayes wondered if he’d accept a one-year deal to bolster his value for next summer’s market.

Speculation abounds over why Jake Gardiner remains unsigned (Photo via NHL Images).

Hayes considers Gardiner a top-four defenseman on most teams in the league and doesn’t believe he’s not getting calls. His back, which was injured last season, could be an issue but Hayes isn’t convinced that’s the case.

Hayes feels Gardiner wants to play for a specific club and believes it’s the Leafs, despite the flak he sometimes got from fans and media. Both men point out the blueliner was very popular with his Leafs teammates. 

Both agree it could depend upon the outcome of Mitch Marner’s contract talks. Johnson also wondered if the Montreal Canadiens could be a destination for Gardiner if there’s no deal to be had with the Leafs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve assumed Gardiner became the odd man out in the musical chairs that is the NHL UFA market. In other words, the teams that might have had interest in him no longer have sufficient cap space to sign him to a lucrative long-term deal. That would force Gardiner to accept a short-term deal for below market value. I also felt last season’s back injury might have scared off potential suitors. 

Hayes and Johnson, however, believe something else is afoot. They raise good points about Gardiner’s back and the possibility he prefers returning to the Leafs or only playing in specific markets. Nevertheless there hasn’t been a peep from the blueliner or his representatives that he’s close to inking a new deal.

I don’t see Gardiner returning to the Leafs unless Marner accepts a very affordable bridge deal, which I doubt he will. Still, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has done a good job juggling his club’s limited salary-cap space this summer. Maybe he’s got one more trick up his sleeve that could bring Gardiner back for one more year. 

GUSEV COULD STAY IN THE KHL

TSN: cites a report from a Russian news outlet indicating the agent for winger Nikita Gusev will advise his client to remain in the KHL if he isn’t re-signed by the Vegas Golden Knights or traded before a set date. Yuri Nikolaev said he’s aware the Golden Knights have received trade offers for his client but Gusev prefers to re-sign with Vegas. The two sides are reportedly around $2 million apart, with Gusev seeking $4 million and the Knights offering up $2 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears Gusev’s agent is trying to speed things along for his client. Over two weeks ago, it appeared the Russian winger’s NHL rights were on the verge of being traded but things have gone quiet since then. The Golden Knights’ limited salary-cap space could force Gusev to accept their offer if he’s determined to play in the NHL this season. 

FIVE NHL VETERANS WHO COULD NEED TRAINING CAMP TO GET NEW CONTRACTS.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Derick Brassard and Andrew MacDonald top Jared Clinton’s recent list of five veteran NHLers who could need training camp to land new contracts. Riley Sheahan, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Tobias Rieder round out the list. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t be surprised if all five accept professional tryout offers if they remain unsigned when September rolls around. Some of them could also avoid that possibility by inking cheap one-year deals in hopes of bolstering their value for next summer. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 20, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 20, 2019

Avalanche eliminated the Flames, Leafs push Bruins to the brink of elimination, Masterton Trophy finalists revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: For the first time in 11 years, the Colorado Avalanche are going to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Avalanche defeated the Calgary Flames 5-1 to win their opening-round matchup in five games. Philipp Grubauer made 28 saves, Mikko Rantanen and Colin Wilson each scored twice while Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie each collected three assists.

T.J. Brodie scored the only goal for the Flames, who made veteran winger James Neal a healthy scratch for this contest. The Flames’ elimination marks the first time in league history the top seeds in each conference failed to advance to the second round. 

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon collected three assists in his club’s 5-1 series-clinching Game 5 victory over the Calgary Flames (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Tampa Bay Lightning against the underdog Columbus Blue Jackets, the Flames were outplayed by the upstart Avalanche, who didn’t clinch a playoff berth until the final week of the regular season. Put simply, the Avs best players rose to the occasion while most of the Flames’ best did not.

This defeat cannot be pinned on Flames goaltender Mike Smith, as he was outstanding through most of this series. His teammates, especially his defense, let him down, especially in Games 3 and 4 when he faced a total of 108 shots. Smith and versatile forward Sam Bennett were the only Flames who can still hold their heads high following this series. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs held off a late rally by the Boston Bruins for a 2-1 victory in Game 5 of their opening-round series and return to Toronto with a chance to close things out in Game 6 on Sunday. Auston Matthews and Kasperi Kapanen scored in the third period while David Krejci tallied for the Bruins. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen kicked out 28 shots for the win. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless you’re a Leafs or Bruins fan you probably found this game duller than dishwater. Nevertheless, the Leafs must be commended for playing what I consider their best defensive game of the season. They did a superb job containing the Bruins offense.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno, New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner, and San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton are this year’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers could be unavailable for tonight’s crucial Game 6 against the St. Louis Blues after blocking a shot late in Game 5. 

NBC SPORTS: With winger T.J. Oshie sidelined with an upper-body injury, the Washington Capitals recalled 2018 playoff hero Devante Smith-Pelly from their AHL affiliate in Hershey for Game 5 of their series tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. The series is deadlocked at two games apiece. 

SPORTSDAY: Dallas Stars forward Mattias Janmark could return to the lineup for Game 5 this afternoon against the Nashville Predators. A lower-body injury sidelined Janmark since Game 2. 

TSN: New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk will be sidelined three-to-four weeks by a lower-body injury. 

NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers “removed Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” from their music library and covered up the statue of the opera singer near the Wells Fargo Center in light of several songs by Smith containing racist lyrics being unearthed.” It’s expected the statue will be removed in the near future. 

On an non-NHL note, congratulations to the Yarmouth Mariners (my old hometown team) on winning the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Canadian Tire Cup with a four-game sweep of the Campbellton Tigers. Way to go, boys, you’ve made Yarmouth County proud.  










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 21, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 21, 2019

Game recaps, Ducks re-sign Jakob Silfverberg, Flyers Radko Gudas receives a two-game suspension, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow this link for my reaction to the Minnesota Wild trading Charlie Coyle to the Boston Bruins. 

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane scored twice, including the winner in overtime, to lead his club to a 5-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Kane’s point streak now sits at 19 games, the second-longest by an American-born player in NHL history. He also owns the record for the longest streak by an American player (26 games). Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou each scored twice for the Wings, who overcame a 4-1 deficit to force the extra frame.

With the win, the Blackhawks are tied with the Colorado Avalanche in points (61), but the Avs hold the final Western Conference wild-card spot because they hold a game in hand. 

Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane has extended his points streak to 19 games (Photo via NHL Images).

Speaking of the Avalanche, they vaulted into the final wild-card spot by crushing the Winnipeg Jets 7-1. Carl Soderberg and Tyson Jost each had a goal and two assists while Nathan MacKinnon tallied his 30th of the season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets (76 points) hold a one-point lead over the Nashville Predators for first in the Central Divison but they’ve won only four of their last 10 games. Last night’s humiliation could push general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff into swinging a big trade before Monday’s deadline. 

The Calgary Flames blew a 2-0 lead but third-period goals 29 seconds apart by Austin Czarnik and Johnny Gaudreau lifted them to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders. The Flames sit atop the Western Conference with 81 points. 

Shootout goals by Jake DeBrusk and David Backes gave the Boston Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, extending their winning streak to seven games. With 80 points, the Bruins hold a four-point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs for second in the Atlantic Division. Golden Knights defenseman Colin Miller was a healthy scratch but coach Gerard Gallant said the move was related to Miller’s poor play in his previous game and tied to any potential trade. 

HEADLINES

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks have reached an agreement with winger Jakob Silfverberg on a five-year contract extension. The deal cannot be officially announced until after Monday’s NHL trade deadline due to salary-cap “tagging” rules. The deal is expected to be worth an annual average value of $5.25 million, a considerable raise over his current $3.75 million per season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to Elliott Teaford, the Ducks are currently sitting over $1 million above the $79 million salary cap. GM Bob Murray must either shed salary by the deadline or wait until March 1 to formally announce the deal, as that’s when teams get a 10 percent “tagging bump”. The “tagging rule” means a team cannot spend more on next season’s payroll than they’re spending on their current one.

As for Silfverberg, he’s a good two-way winger and a streaky scorer, who reached the 40-point plateau in each of the last two seasons. The raise seems a tad high but evidently, Murray values his skills and experience. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals have placed forward Devante Smith-Pelly on waivers. Initial reports had Dmitrij Jaskin’s hitting the waiver wire but management soon changed that to Smith-Pelly. It’s assumed the switch was made because a possible trade could be in the works. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Capitals tipped their hand with his move, speculating they could be working on a possible deal to acquire winger Carl Hagelin from the Los Angeles Kings. We’ll find out for certain later today. 

**UPDATE** The Capitals acquired Hagelin from the Kings in exchange for a third-round pick in 2019 and a conditional 2020 draft pick. Smith-Pelly, meanwhile, cleared waivers today, making room for Hagelin, who’ll provide speed and experience to the Capitals’ fourth line. 

NBC PHILADELPHIA: The NHL department of player safety handed a two-game suspension to Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas for a high-sticking infraction to the head of Tampa Bay Lighting winger Nikita Kucherov on Tuesday. Flyers blueliner Robert Hagg also received a $3,091 fine for interference on Lightning center Cedric Paquette. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league agreed with Gudas’ contention that the slash wasn’t excessively forceful or violent. To critics of the department of player safety, it’s another example of the league’s unwillingness to crack down forcefully on repeat offenders. 

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill shot down rumors Sabres coach Phil Housley might be fired because of the club’s recent collapse in the standings. Botterill said there won’t be a coaching change. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes re-signed defenseman Jordan Oesterle to a two-year contract extension with an annual average value of $1.4 million. 

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks claimed forward Micheal Haley off waivers from the Florida Panthers. 

CBS SPORTS: The Dallas Stars re-signed defenseman Joel Hanley to a two-year, two-way contract extension. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Former NHL winger Scott Hartnell has become a studio analyst for the NHL Network.