NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 18, 2021

Game recaps plus the latest on Patrik Laine, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, J.T. Miller, Erik Johnson, Jason Spezza and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Jake Guentzel tallied the only goal in a shootout as the Pittsburgh Penguins picked up their first win over the season by edging the Washington Capitals 4-3. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his first of the season, moving to within one career goal of tying Mike Gartner (708) for seventh place on the all-time goal-scoring list.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images).

Three unanswered third-period goals by Eetu Luostarinen, Patric Hornqvist and Jonathan Huberdeau lifted the Florida Panthers to a 5-2 season-opening victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Huberdeau had a goal and two assists while teammate Keith Yandle tallied his 100th career goal in his 867th consecutive NHL game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trade rumors dogged Yandle last week amidst speculation he could become a healthy scratch, snapping his Ironman streak. It remains to be seen how things unfold for the veteran blueliner and the Panthers.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Patrik Laine left practice yesterday with an apparent injury above his left hip. Head coach Paul Maurice shed little light on Laine’s status, adding he’ll see how the winger is doing on Monday. Laine is slated to travel with the team to Toronto.

AZCENTRAL: The Arizona Coyotes placed captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson on injured reserve. He’s slated to miss their next three games. Ekman-Larsson suffered a lower-body injury during Saturday’s 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks following a hit from Sharks’ winger Evander Kane.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller returns to the lineup after missing the club’s first three games in coronavirus quarantine as a high-risk contact of teammate Jordie Benn.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defensemen Erik Johnson and Bowen Byram will join their teammates after completing COVID-19 quarantine. Johnson missed all of training camp and the Avs’ first test games after testing positive for the coronavirus. Byram was in quarantine after traveling from Canada following the 2021 World Juniors in Edmonton.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs placed center Jason Spezza and goaltender Aaron Dell on waivers for the purpose of assigning them to their taxi squad. Spezza indicated he’ll retire immediately if claimed by another club. Dell, meanwhile, could be targeted by a club with goalie issues like the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll learn their fate by noon ET today.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins placed defenseman Mike Matheson on injured reserve retroactive to Friday with an undisclosed ailment. Head coach Mike Sullivan said Matheson was injured during Friday’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues placed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo on injured reserve following a hit to the head suffered during Friday’s loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Bortuzzo was struck by the shoulder of Avs winger Valeri Nichushkin.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Ondrej Kase is doubtful for Monday’s game against the New York Islanders. Kase suffered an upper-body injury during Saturday’s overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils.

CBS SPORTS: The Calgary Flames signed forward Brett Ritchie to a one-year, two-way contract. He’d attended Flames’ training camp on a professional tryout offer.










Going For Something Old Nothing New To Maple Leafs

Going For Something Old Nothing New To Maple Leafs

 










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.










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 Rumor Mill – March 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 18, 2020

The NHL regular-season may be paused, but the trade and free-agent rumor mill churn on. Check out the latest on the Leafs and Sharks.

LEAFS WOULD BE AFFECTED BY FLAT SALARY CAP

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox examined the effect of the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million could affect the Toronto Maple Leafs. He wondered if pending UFA forwards Kyle Clifford and Jason Spezza would accept something near the league minimum to re-sign with the Leafs.

UFA defenseman Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci aren’t expected back. Their spots could be filled by affordable youngsters like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, but that would leave only Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin as established veterans. Fox wonders who they could add via trade or free agency and what the price would be. Re-signing RFAs like Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott, and Frederic Gauthier will also eat up valuable cap room.

A flat salary cap could force the Toronto Maple Leafs to swap a forward like Kasperi Kapanen for a defenseman (Photo via NHL Images).

A nuclear option to address their blueline needs would involve trading a top forward like William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews or John Tavares, but Fox doesn’t detect any desire from Leafs management to go that route. Instead, they could be forced to swap a middle-class forward such as Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot for a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every NHL team will be affected by a flat cap for 2020-21. Teams like the Leafs with limited cap space will feel the pinch more than others. They have over $76 million invested in 16 players next season

Clifford and Spezza probably won’t get much more than offers that are close to the league minimum from other clubs, so they could be open to staying in Toronto. Bringing in one or two veteran blueliners will cost more than the Leafs can afford right now.

If they’re unwilling to move one of their top-four forwards for a blueliner, a deal involving Kapanen, Kerfoot or Johnsson seems the only viable option. Unless they can free up the additional salary, such a move could end up being dollar-for-dollar.

LATEST SHARKS SPECULATION

THE MERCURY NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Curtis Pashelka was asked if the San Jose Sharks might move a big contract in the off-season. While general manager Doug Wilson insists he likes the core of his team, he hinted after the trade deadline that there could be a deal made in the off-season. The effect of the current health crisis upon league revenue will also affect the salary cap, which could hamper any potential deals by the Sharks unless it’s a “money-in, money-out” move.

Regarding their next head coach, Pashelka thinks they could take a long look at former Nashville Predators bench boss Peter Laviolette if they decide not to keep interim coach Bob Boughner in that role. He also thinks they could consider adding more grit to their lineup.

Asking if former Sharks Brenden Dillon or Patrick Marleau might return via free agency, early indications are Marleau will be back next season. Pashelka doesn’t see Dillon coming back after the Sharks re-signed Radim Simek to a four-year contract extension.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt reports long-time Sharks center Joe Thornton intends to return next season. “”I have years to go!” Thornton recently texted The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $66 milion committed to 13 players, the Sharks will have around $15 million to work with under an $81.5 million cap. While all their core players are under contract, upgrading their roster could prove difficult. Wilson has proven adept in the past in retooling a roster quickly through trades and free agency, but this off-season could prove challenging.

If Wilson moves a big contract, I suspect it’ll be for a return that provides immediate roster help. It won’t easy. Timo Meier is the only high-salaried Shark lacking any form of no-trade protection. Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have no-movement clauses, while Logan Couture, Brent Burns, Evander Kane and Martin Jones each have modified no-trades listing three preferred trade destinations.

Interesting that it appears Marleau could return with the Sharks next season. He’ll have to a pay cut to do so, but at this stage in his career, I don’t think that’s a concern for him. The same goes for Thornton. If they want to return to the Sharks and if Wilson wants to bring them back, it’ll be under affordable, one-year deals.

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 10, 2019

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 10, 2019

The latest Taylor Hall speculation plus an update on Jason Spezza in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

DEVILS’ CHANCES OF RE-SIGNING HALL COULD BE BLEAK

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman considers it unlikely the New Jersey Devils will get Taylor Hall re-signed during this season. While the two sides met recently in Calgary, Hall’s agent Darren Ferris has a history of telling his clients to wait until as late as possible to determine their true market value. Friedman feels it’s up to Devils general manager Ray Shero to decide on his club’s course of action.

It’s looking unlikely Taylor Hall will re-sign with the New Jersey Devils during this season (Photo via NHL Images).

Friedman’s colleague Rory Boylen recently listed eight NHL teams that Hall could conceivably sign with by next July. The Devils are on that list but Boylen suggests their slow start could jeopardize their chances of re-signing him.

Boyle believes the Colorado Avalanche have the salary-cap space to sign Hall to a big contract. He also included Hall’s former club, the Edmonton Oilers, on this list but considers his return to Edmonton a long shot. He also wonders if the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, and Pittsburgh Penguins could be landing spots for Hall.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater examined the pros and cons of the Avalanche acquiring Hall near the trade deadline as a playoff rental. Acquiring him could be expensive. Dater speculates the asking price could be “Tyson Jost/J.T. Compher/Nikita Zadorov/all of the above, plus a first-round-pick and maybe another pick.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall’s name will remain a fixture in this season’s rumor mill if his camp is determined to wait until June to evaluate his free-agent value. Money won’t be an issue for the Devils. With over $57 million invested in 14 players, they can afford to re-sign Hall to an expensive new contract. I believe it boils down to whether he believes the Devils will provide him the best chance to play for a Stanley Cup contender. In the short term, there’s no indication they’re heading in that direction.

Hall’s only made one postseason appearance in his career. Approaching his 28th birthday, he’s at the stage in his career where he might be unwilling to wait on a rebuilding team for that opportunity.

Shero will set a high asking price if he shops Hall before the trade deadline. Interested parties will attempt to wait him out in hopes he’ll drop that price as the deadline nears.

The Avalanche could express interest but it’ll depend upon where they are in the standings and how long top-line forwards Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog remain sidelined. They do have the cap space to re-sign him but must consider how that could affect efforts to re-sign some key players within the next two or three seasons.

SPEZZA ODD MAN OUT WITH THE LEAFS

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Toronto Maple Leafs have to clear a roster spot to activate Zach Hyman this week. It appears center Jason Spezza could be the odd man out.

Spezza’s missed three straight games as a healthy scratch (nine overall so far this season). Johnston said Leafs GM Kyle Dubas and coach Mike Babcock have had a constant dialogue with the veteran center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston also suggested that situation could change if Mitch Marner is sidelined for any length of time. Marner left last night’s game against Philadelphia with an apparent ankle injury. No word yet as to his status. If Marner is ok, the Leafs could place Spezza on waivers or attempt to trade him.