NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 18, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s action features a record-tying performance by Mika Zibanejad and three-point performances from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, plus the latest on Anders Lee, Robin Lehner, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Mika Zibanejad tied an NHL record with six points in the second period as his New York Rangers crushed the Philadelphia Flyers 9-0. Zibanejad had a natural hat trick and collected three assists. Teammate Pavel Buchnevich enjoyed a four-point performance (including two goals) during that period. Alexandar Georgiev picked up the shutout with 26 saves. The loss leaves the Flyers (31 points) three points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (NHL Images).

The Rangers also accomplished this feat with their entire coaching staff missing the game due to COVID-19 protocols. Hartford Wolf Pack head coach Kris Knoblach, associate coach Gord Murphy and assistant general manager Chris Drury were behind the bench for this game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hey, maybe the Rangers should stick with those replacements even if the current coaching staff is cleared to return. Don’t change the luck, right? (Insert winky face emoji here).

Edmonton Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each had three points in a 7-3 drubbing of the Calgary Flames, handing the latter their first defeat under new head coach Darryl Sutter. Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie collected four helpers. The Oilers remain in third place in the Scotia North Division with 38 points while the Flames (31 points) are three points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 56 points in 32 games, McDavid sits seven points ahead of Draisaitl in the scoring race. Chicago’s Patrick Kane is third with 42 points. If McDavid remains healthy, he’s assured of winning the Art Ross Trophy.

Speaking of the Canadiens (34 points), they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Winnipeg Jets on an overtime goal by Nikolaj Ehlers. The Habs overcame a 3-1 deficit to force the extra frame on third-period goals by Brendan Gallagher and Tyler Toffoli. Kyle Connor scored twice and Pierre-Luc Dubois had three assists for the Jets (38 points) as they maintained their hold on second place in the North Division, two points back of the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are 0-5 in overtime and 0-3 in shootouts this season.

A four-goal third period rallied the Vegas Golden Knights over the San Jose Sharks 5-4 for their fourth straight victory. Shea Theodore had a goal and two assists for Vegas while Evander Kane replied for the Sharks with a goal and two helpers. With 41 points, the Golden Knights sit in first place in the Honda West Division with a four-point lead over the Minnesota Wild.

The Los Angeles Kings rode a three-goal first period to a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist as the Kings (30 points) moved to within three points of the fourth-place Blues in the West Division. The Blues have dropped five straight contests.

A shootout goal by Adam Gaudette gave the Vancouver Canucks a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Thatcher Demko made 30 saves for the win. The Senators overcame a 2-0 deficit to force overtime and the shootout but goalie Joey Daccord left the game in the third period with an apparent injury to his left knee. The Canucks (32 points) are one point behind the Canadiens in the North Division. Earlier in the day, they claimed forward Jimmy Vesey off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs while the Senators claimed goalie Anton Forsberg from the Jets.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The New York Islanders announced captain Anders Lee is sidelined for the remainder of the season as he undergoes surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles also placed Lee on long-term injury reserve, meaning they can use his $7 million cap hit to bring in a player or two by the April 12 trade deadline.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Sidelined Stars Tyler Seguin and Ben Bishop still aren’t close to practicing with their teammates. Seguin underwent hip surgery on Nov. 2 while Bishop had knee surgery on Oct. 21. It’s expected they could return by mid-April.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That won’t be in time to save the Stars’ season. With 25 points in 25 games, they’re eight points behind the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Central Division. They hold five games in hand on the Blackhawks but they must start stringing some wins together soon.

SPORTSNET: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner revealed he suffered a concussion that kept him out of the lineup since the second week of February. He chose to disclose the injury to combat baseless rumors that his absence was linked to the mental health issues he revealed back in September 2018.

I said this many times before, without going on a rant, the stigma around mental health is insane,” said Lehner. He spoke about the difficulty it creates for people struggling to make progress with those issues. “I think I should get the benefit of the doubt because I’ve been honest with it. If I had those issues again, which are not happening, I would be honest about it.”

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Carson Soucy received a one-game suspension by the league for a high hit on Arizona Coyotes forward Conor Garland.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 24, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 24, 2021

The latest on the Canadiens’ Phillip Danault and Victor Mete, some blueline trade targets for the Penguins and the Maple Leafs are looking for help at forward. Check out the details in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

DANAULT AND METE

LA PRESSE: Mathias Brunet last week reported Phillip Danault rejected a six-year, $30 million contract offer from the Montreal Canadiens. The 27-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Montreal Canadiens center Phillip Danault (NHL Images).

The Habs are said to be willing to increase their offer by a few hundred thousand dollars annually but received no counter-offers from the Danault camp. His agent, Stephane Fiset, declined to comment.

Brunet indicated Danault is happy in Montreal and wants to continue his career with the Canadiens. Sources indicate the gap between the two sides isn’t that large but seems to hang on the duration of the deal. Some speak of a five-year contract, others a six-year deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens’ offer would be worth an annual average value of $5 million. The Danault camp might try to push that to between $5.5 million and $6 million annually.

Cap Friendly shows the Canadiens with over $65.9 million committed to 15 players for 2021-22 with Tomas Tatar and Joel Armia also due to become UFAs this summer. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Victor Mete and Artturi Lehkonen are their notable restricted free agents.

There seems a willingness on both sides to get a deal done. However, the flattened salary cap for next season and the rise of young centers like Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki could affect those negotiations.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Victor Mete can’t get into the lineup on a deep Canadiens roster. The club won’t assign the 22-year-old defenseman to their taxi squad because a rival team could claim him off waivers. Friedman believes some teams will be keeping an eye on this situation to see what progresses.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens probably don’t want to shop Mete just yet. Several NHL teams have already seen their roster depth depleted by injuries and the Habs would prefer avoiding that situation. Nevertheless, they could trade Mete if the right offer came along or if push comes to shove and they have no choice but to put him on waivers.

DEFENSE TRADE TARGETS FOR THE PENGUINS

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski looked at several possible trade targets for the Pittsburgh Penguins to address their injury-depleted defense corps. One could be Minnesota Wild blueliner Carson Soucy. Another could be Detroit Red Wings rearguard Danny DeKeyser.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kingerski listed five defensemen but those two caught my eye. He noted the Wild now have seven defensemen with their recent addition of Ian Cole. Soucy, 26, carries an affordable $2.75 million AAV through 2022-23. He’s currently seeing third-pairing minutes with Cole so the Wild might not be keen to move him.

DeKeyser, 30, missed most of last season due to back surgery. He carries a $5 million AAV through next season and has a 10-team no-trade list. The Wings might be reluctant to move DeKeyser at this point in the season but could change their minds if they sink to the bottom of the standings again. That might not happen until later in the season but the Penguins need immediate help on their blueline.

The Penguins could be among those clubs Friedman said were keeping an eye on Victor Mete’s situation in Montreal.

LEAFS LOOKING FOR FORWARDS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman noted Toronto Maple Leafs forwards Nick Robertson (knee) and Joe Thornton (fractured rib) are sidelined with long-term injuries while center Auston Matthews (upper body) is listed as day-to-day. While the Leafs have a lot of forwards, Friedman believes they’re looking around to add or upgrade up front.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are already pressed for cap space and are already moving players in and out of their taxi squad on a regular basis to stay cap compliant. Robertson and Thornton are on long-term injury reserve but their combined salaries ($1.52 million) won’t free up much to make a significant addition. That might require a dollar-for-dollar swap.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 6, 2020

Connor McDavid tests positive for COVID-19, the Wild trade Devan Dubnyk and Ryan Donato to the Sharks, Matt Niskanen retires, Penguins buy out Jack Johnson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers captain Connor McDavid has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The club reports McDavid, 23, is experiencing minor symptoms but otherwise feeling well and self-quarantining at his Ontario home.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid tests positive for COVID-19 (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to McDavid for a swift and full recovery. He’s the biggest NHL star to be diagnosed with the coronavirus since a report emerged in June revealing Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews also tested positive. Matthews recovered and played for the Leafs in the NHL’s return-to-play tournament in August.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA/TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild made two trades yesterday with the San Jose Sharks, shipping goaltender Devan Dubnyk (along with a seventh-round pick in 2022) and winger Ryan Donato to the Sharks for a fifth-round pick in 2022 and a third-round pick in 2021. The Wild also retained half of Dubnyk’s $4.33 million cap hit for 2020-21, which is the final season of his contract. The Wild also re-signed defenseman Carson Soucy to a three-year, $8.25-million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubnyk will share the Sharks’ goaltending duties with Martin Jones. General manager Doug Wilson is confident the 34-year-old netminder can regain his form after dealing with his wife’s health issues last season. Wilson also feels Donato, who was stuck on the Wild’s fourth line, could flourish given more playing time.

These moves were straightforward salary dumps by the Wild, giving them $12.5 million in salary-cap space. GM Bill Guerin has made no secret he wants to improve his goaltending plus he still needs a proven scoring center after trading Eric Staal to Buffalo last month. Perhaps he’ll put some of that cap space to addressing those needs.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen has retired after 13 NHL seasons. The 33-year-old blueliner had a year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $5.75 million. Niskanen had 72 goals and 356 points in 949 games with the Flyers, Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, winning the Stanley Cup with the latter in 2018.

The Flyers also re-signed defenseman Justin Braun to a two-year, $3.6-million contract worth annual average value of $1.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Niskanen in his future endeavors. His decision was reportedly based on being away from his family during the recent playoffs and uncertainty over what next season could be like. His retirement clears his cap hit from the Flyers’ books.

With the Braun signing, the Flyers have $2.9 million in cap space for 2020-21. Niskanen’s retirement could send them into the trade or free-agent market for a replacement, or it could make them reluctant to trade blueliner Shayne Gostisbehere.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday placed defenseman Jack Johnson on waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a surprising move. The writing was on the wall for Johnson when the Penguins acquired Mike Matheson last month from the Florida Panthers. The move leaves the Penguins with $1.16 million in dead cap space for the next two seasons, $1.9 million in 2022-23, dropping to $916K for the following three seasons.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs re-signed Jason Spezza to a one-year, $700K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spezza, 37, was a worthwhile depth addition playing a variety of roles for the Leafs last season. His signing scarcely dents their cap room, leaving them with $4.7 million.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres re-signed forward Tage Thompson to a three-year contract worth $1.4 million per season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators re-signed defenseman Josh Brown to a two-year, $2.4-million deal.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): The Dallas Stars salary-cap space shrunk for next season, incurring over $3 million in performance bonuses last season that will count against their 2020-21 salary cap payroll.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames will be adopting their classic 1980s jerseys and color combinations for the entire 2020-21 season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 3, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 3, 2020

The Stars hope to re-sign Anton Khudobin, the Wild are close to re-signing Carson Soucy, the Senators acquire Josh Brown from the Panthers, the Jets re-sign Laurent Brossoit, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun reports sources say the Dallas Stars hope to re-sign Anton Khudobin. The 34-year-old goaltender is due to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9. General manager Jim Nill has reached out to Khudobin’s agent, Kent Hughes, expressing the club’s desire to re-sign him.

Dallas Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise the Stars hope to keep Khudobin in the fold following his heroics in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. LeBrun reports Hughes said his client is interested in staying.

The question, of course, is the cost. Khudobin’s completing a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $2.75 million. He could seek between $3.5 million and $4 million annually on a two- or three-year deal.

Cap Friendly indicates the Stars have over $15 million in cap space, but they must also re-sign restricted free agents Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov. They could be keen to bring back pending UFA Corey Perry for another season. A new contract for Khudobin could be a tight fit, depending on how close to the salary cap ownership is willing to go.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the Minnesota Wild are closing in on re-signing defenseman Carson Soucy to a three-year contract at $2.75 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Soucy is completing a one-year deal worth $750K. Seravalli recently reported the pending UFA blueliner was attracting a lot of interest.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday acquired defenseman Josh Brown from the Florida Panthers in exchange for the Senators’ fourth-round pick (95th overall) in the 2020 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the Senators found their potential replacement for the departing Mark Borowiecki. The 6’5”, 217-pounder is a restricted free agent completing a two-year, $1.35-million contract.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed goaltender Laurent Brossoit to a one-year, $1.5-million contract.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs re-signed forward Denis Malgin to a one-year, $700K contract.

ESPN.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights revealed their metallic gold third jersey for 2020-21.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes named Ryan Jankowski as their new associate director of amateur scouting. He spent the last two years as the Buffalo Sabres director of amateur scouting.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Tim Smith, who performed as the Los Angeles Kings’ team mascot Bailey, was fired following allegations of sexual misconduct.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Former Bruins winger Bobby Miller passed away yesterday at age 64. Miller spent his first four NHL seasons with the Bruins from 1977 to 1981, scoring 20 goals as a rookie in ’77-’78. He also spent two seasons with the Colorado Rockies and one with the Los Angeles Kings, finishing his NHL career with 75 goals and 194 points in 404 games.

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