NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2021

Niklas Hjalmarsson to retire, the Red Wings re-sign Marc Staal, the Canucks to buy out Jake Virtanen and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER Craig Morgan reports Arizona Coyotes Niklas Hjalmarsson is retiring. Morgan doesn’t anticipate he’ll make a formal announcement.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hjalmarsson, 34, spent 14 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Coyotes. A shutdown defenseman, his best years were with the Blackhawks as he helped them win three Stanley Cups during his 10 seasons with the franchise. He finishes with 172 points in 821 career NHL games. Best of luck to Hjalmarsson and his family in their future endeavors.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings re-signed defenseman Marc Staal to a one-year, $2 million contract. The deal also includes a no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal proved to be a valuable addition to the Red Wings. The 34-year-old provided experience, leadership and stability to the rebuilding club’s defense corps. He hopes to become a mentor this season to promising Wings blueliner Moritz Seider, who’s expected to make his NHL debut in 2021-22.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks placed Jake Virtanen on unconditional waivers yesterday for the purpose of buying out the final year of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Virtanen was once considered a promising offensive forward but he failed to play up to expectations. His recent questionable off-ice behavior also became an issue. The Canucks attempted to trade the 24-year-old winger during this season but reportedly couldn’t find any suitable offers. He’s been on leave from the club since May 1 following a sexual misconduct allegation.

THE ATHLETIC: The Columbus Blue Jackets are expected to keep their goaltending tandem of Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo intact to start the 2021-22 season. Both are entering the final year of their contracts. It was anticipated one of them would be traded this summer but the tragic death of promising Matiss Kivlenieks on July 4 changed that plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps one of them will be shopped later in the season if the Jackets are out of playoff contention before the February trade deadline.

CAP FRIENDLY: The St. Louis Blues signed forward Nathan Walker to a two-year, two-way contract. He’ll earn $750K at the NHL level.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 25, 2021

The Jets sweep the Oilers with a triple-overtime victory, the Islanders put the Penguins on the brink in double overtime, the Panthers and Wild stave off elimination and the Leafs take a 2-1 series lead over the Canadiens. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets got a triple-overtime goal by Kyle Connor to defeat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 and sweep their opening-round series in four games. Mark Scheifele scored twice and Connor Hellebuyck made 37 saves for the win. Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Chiasson tallied for the Oilers while defensemen Darnell Nurse logged over 62 minutes of ice time. Oilers forward Josh Archibald missed this game serving a one-game suspension. The Jets await the winner of the Toronto Maple Leafs-Montreal Canadiens series.

Kyle Connor was the triple-overtime hero for the Winnipeg Jets as they swept the Edmonton Oilers (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers dominated the Jets during the regular season but they struggled in the heavier going of postseason play. Their lack of secondary punch also didn’t help matters.

Remember that late-season speculation suggesting Jets coach Paul Maurice could lose his job? We can put that to rest now. The Jets’ previous postseason experience also made a difference here. Their offense got a boost from Nikolaj Ehlers return from injury midway through this series. This was the first-ever NHL playoff sweep in Jets history and the first time they’ve eliminated the Oilers.

A double-overtime goal by Josh Bailey gave the New York Islanders a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ilya Sorokin kicked out 48 shots for the Isles, who hold a 3-2 lead in this first-round series heading back to Long Island on Wednesday. Bryan Rust and Kris Letang each had two points for the Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bailey’s goal came off a horrible turnover by Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry. Sorokin, meanwhile, has backstopped the Isles to consecutive wins since returning to the net in Game 4.

The Florida Panthers staved off elimination by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 in Game 5 of their first-round series. Panthers rookie goaltender Spencer Knight made 36 saves in his NHL playoff debut while Patric Hornqvist and MacKenzie Weegar each had a goal and an assist while Mason Marchment netted the game-winner. The Lightning holds a 3-2 series lead as the series returns to Tampa Bay for Game 6 on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Knight gave up the early goal but was unbeatable after that. He’s earned the start for Game 6.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot made 38 saves as his club avoided elimination by doubling up the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2. First-period goals by Kirill Kaprizov, Zach Parise and Jordan Greenway paved the way for Minnesota’s victory as they had just 14 shots on goal in this game. Wild defenseman Carson Soucy missed this game with an undisclosed injury. The series returns to Minnesota on Wednesday for Game 6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights dominated most of this game. Talbot came through for his teammates, especially in a second period where they were outshot 22-1.

The Toronto Maple Leafs held off the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round series. All the scoring took place in the second period with William Nylander and Morgan Rielly tallying for the Leafs and Nick Suzuki replying for the Canadiens. Leafs center Nick Foligno sat out this game with a lower-body injury while Canadiens center Eric Staal was sidelined by an undisclosed injury. Habs winger Artturi Lehkonen left the game following a first-period collision with Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin. Game 4 goes tonight in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game saw an evenly-matched first period, the Leafs dominating the second and the Canadiens controlling the third. The goaltending was outstanding for both clubs, with Montreal’s Carey Price and Toronto’s Jack Campbell making some big saves.

William Nylander has scored in each game and leads the Leafs with four points. Habs rookie Cole Caufield made his playoff debut, generating a couple of quality scoring chances and earning more playing time as the game went on.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov is struggling to score in his club’s series with the Nashville Predators. He has just one goal on 21 shots and that was an empty-netter in Game 1.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Ondrej Kase (upper-body injury) and defenseman Steve Kampfer (hand surgery) are sidelined for the rest of the playoffs.

LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: The Anaheim Ducks hired former Los Angeles Kings executive Jeff Solomon as their new senior vice president of hockey operations.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 23, 2021

Golden Knights and Lightning take commanding series’ leads while Leafs and Islanders get big wins to tie their respective series. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Marc-Andre Fleury turned in a 35-save shutout as the Vegas Golden Knights blanked the Minnesota Wild 4-0 to take a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven opening-round series. Fleury moved into a tie with Curtis Joseph for third place among the all-time playoff shutouts leaders with 16. Nicolas Roy scored twice and Mark Stone tallied a shorthanded goal. The Golden Knights can wrap things up in Game 5 on Monday in Vegas.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An apparent game-tying goal by the Wild’s Joel Eriksson Ek was overturned on a coach’s challenge for goaltender interference. Eriksson Ek also had a goal overturned in Game 3 as offside on a coach’s challenge.

The Tampa Bay Lightning took a 3-1 lead in their series with a 6-2 win over the Florida Panthers. Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn each collected four points while Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 41 shots. Panthers’ netminder Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled after giving up five goals on 19 shots. Game 5 goes Monday in Sunrise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the worst-officiated game of these playoffs thus far. The Athletic’s Joe Smith pointed out this game took an ugly turn after Kucherov left the game with a leg injury from a slash by Panthers’ winger Anthony Duclair and teammate Mikhail Sergachev was shaken up following a blindside hit by Patric Hornqvist.

Smith also noted the game finished with 26 penalties and five misconducts, many of which stemmed from a brawl late in the third period. Lightning coach Jon Cooper struggled to keep his emotions in check talking about the officiating during the postgame press conference. No word following this game over the conditions of Kucherov and Sergachev.

Auston Matthews had a goal and two assists as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 to even their first-round series at a game apiece. William Nylander and Mitch Marner each had two points while Jack Campbell made 22 saves for his first-ever NHL playoff win. Jesperi Kotkaniemi replied for the Canadiens. The series shifts to Montreal for Game 3 on Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The first period was evenly matched but Toronto blew it open in the second as the Canadiens spent most of that frame on the penalty kill. The Leafs adjusted well to the Habs’ physical play while bringing their speed and offensive depth to bear.

The New York Islanders squared their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins at two games apiece with a 4-1 victory. Ilya Sorokin got the nod as the Islanders’ starting goalie over struggling Semyon Varlamov and turned aside 29 shots for the win. Isles winger Oliver Wahlstrom had a goal and an assist. The series returns to Pittsburgh on Monday for Game 5.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders are doing a fine job shutting down the Penguins’ top line. Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust each have just one point in this series. Meanwhile, a banged-up Evgeni Malkin has two assists in as many games but was also held off the score sheet in Game 4.

HEADLINES

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs general manager said team captain John Tavares suffered no structural damage to his head, face, neck or spine after being accidentally struck by the knee of Canadiens winger Corey Perry in Game 1. However, he has a concussion and also a sprained knee. He’ll be sidelined for at least two weeks.

TSN: Washington Capitals winger Anthony Mantha was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for goaltender interference against Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask during Game 4 of their first-round series.

The league also fined Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal $5,000.00 for a dangerous trip on Nashville Predators winger Luke Kunin during Game 3 of their first-round series.

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues defensemen Justin Faulk and Robert Bortuzzo remain doubtful for Game 4 today against the Colorado Avalanche. Blueliner Vince Dunn’s status is also uncertain.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller will miss Game 5 today against the Washington Capitals. He was sidelined in Game 4 by a high hit to the head by Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers forward Kevin Hayes will reportedly undergo sports hernia surgery next week in Philadelphia. His recovery time is expected to be six weeks.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars promoted Rich Peverley to Director of Player Personnel. He’s served as their Player Development Coordinator for six years.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 18, 2021

The Bruins tied their series with the Capitals, the Avalanche and Hurricanes draw first blood in their respective series, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Brad Marchand’s goal 39 seconds into overtime lifted the Boston Bruins over the Washington Capitals 4-3 to even their best-of-seven first-round series at one game apiece. Boston winger Taylor Hall scored the tying goal late in the third period to send the game into the extra frame. Garnet Hathaway scored twice for Washington, who got a 44-save performance from goaltender Craig Anderson. Capitals center Lars Eller left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Questionable officiating saw this game deteriorate into a sloppy contest. Game 3 goes Wednesday evening in Boston.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images)

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon scored twice and set up another in a series-opening 4-1 victory against the St. Louis Blues. Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two assists as the Avalanche broke the game open with three goals in the third period. Jordan Binnington kicked out 46 shots for the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Binnington was the only reason this game was tied through two periods before the Avs blew it open in the final frame. This series will end quickly if he doesn’t get more help from his teammates. Games 2 is on Wednesday evening.

The Carolina Hurricanes got two goals from captain Jordan Staal to defeat the Nashville Predators 5-2 in Game 1 of their first-round series. Nino Niederreiter tallied the game-winner by snapping a 2-2 tie early in the third period. Juuse Saros turned aside 33 shots for the Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators defeated the Hurricanes in the final two games of the season but the latter took six of eight in their regular-season series. The Canes dominated the play through the final two periods of this one. The two sides face off again in Game 2 on Wednesday.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and winger Brendan Gallagher played in the Laval Rocket’s 2-0 loss to the Toronto Marlies last night. Price and Gallagher were on a long-term injury conditioning stint with the Habs’ farm club before their opening-round series against the Maple Leafs. Price allowed two goals on 15 shots while Gallagher had two shots on goal and a double-minor penalty for high-sticking.

ESPN.COM: The NHL department of player discipline handed a one-game suspension to Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett for boarding Tampa Bay Lightning forward Blake Coleman in Game 1 of their series on Sunday.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs promoted Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser to senior director of player development and Danielle Goyette has joined the department as a director.

Speaking of the Leafs, TSN’s Kristen Shilton reports defenseman Ben Hutton has a non-COVID, non-hockey-related medical issue that is being monitored by the team.

NEW YORK POST: ESPN hired Leah Hextall as the first woman to do play-by-play as a regular part of a national NHL TV package. She did play-by-play of an NHL game last season for Sportsnet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall previously worked for CTV Winnipeg, NESN and Sportsnet. Hockey runs in her family. She’s a cousin of Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ron Hextall and her grandfather was Hall of Famer Bryan Hextall. 

AWFUL ANNOUNCING: Veteran NHL reporter Frank Seravalli has decided to leave TSN after six seasons. Speculation suggests he might join ESPN or Turner Sports ahead of their coverage of the NHL starting next season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have offered up Canadian Tire Centre to the city and the province of Ontario as a mass vaccination site.

TSN: A civil lawsuit has been filed against Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen alleging he sexually assaulted a young woman in 2017.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: A lawyer representing a former Chicago Blackhawks player in a sexual assault lawsuit against the team intends to call a former teammate to the stand as a witness in the case.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars signed forward Tanner Kero to a two-year, two-way contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 28, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – April 28, 2021

Could the Rangers pursue a veteran defenseman this summer? Which pending free agents will the Red Wings keep? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks recently reported the Rangers were a finalist in the offseason Zdeno Chara sweepstakes before the 44-year-old defenseman signed with the Washington Capitals. Brooks feels they need to add a veteran presence to their blue line. Someone in their mid-to-late 20s or even in their thirties from a winning program, preferably with a Stanley Cup on his resume, would be ideal.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers could look into this year’s unrestricted free agent market to address that need. The one who best fits that description is Vegas’ Alec Martinez (33), who won two Stanley Cups with the Los Angeles Kings. Chara could also be available again but he might still prefer playing for Cup contenders if he decides to return for another season. Minnesota’s Ian Cole and Toronto’s Zach Bogosian also have Stanley Cups on their resume but aren’t as skilled as Martinez or as respected as Chara.

The top defenseman potentially available is Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton but he’ll be expensive to sign. The Blueshirts could prefer more affordable options given their depth in young players and the cost of re-signing some of them over the next couple of years.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: In a recent mailbag segment, Helene St. James was asked which pending UFAs the Red Wings could bring back. They include center Luke Glendening, goaltender Jonathan Bernier, defenseman Marc Staal and forwards Bobby Ryan, Sam Gagner, Darren Helm and Valtteri Filppula.

St. James considers Glendening a lock to be re-signed given his presence in the dressing room and his work ethic and professionalism. Bernier is a close second because he gives the Wings a chance to win every game he plays plus they lack an NHL-ready netminder in their farm system.

Ryan and/or Gagner could be re-signed depending on the circumstances. Perhaps one-year deals can be worked out for Helm and Staal. Filppula isn’t expected back as he was a healthy scratch until injuries forced otherwise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Red Wings with just $33.4 million invested in only nine players for 2021-22. They can easily afford to re-sign most or all of those aforementioned UFAs to cost-effective one-year contracts if they wish. How many of them want to return with the rebuilding Wings remains to be seen. Guys like Glendening and Bernier could draw interest from playoff contenders if they test the open market.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 13, 2021

Recaps of Monday’s action following the trade deadline, the stars of the week are revealed, the Kings re-sign Alex Iafallo, the Flyers re-up Scott Laughton, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 10 games with a goal and an assist as the Colorado Avalanche held off the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. Mikko Rantanen scored twice for Colorado as they’ve won 16 of their last 19 contests. With 62 points, the Avalanche sit atop the Honda West Division and the NHL’s overall standings. The Coyotes (43 points) remain one point back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty netted his 300th career NHL goal as his club scored four unanswered goals to beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. The Golden Knights remain four points behind the first-place Avs in the West Division.

A franchise-record 46-save shutout performance by Anthony Stolarz carried the Anaheim Ducks over the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Alexander Volkov scored two goals for the Kings. The loss leaves the Sharks (40 points) four points behind the Blues.

The Montreal Canadiens doubled up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 to snap Leafs goalie Jack Campbell’s 11-game winning streak. Montreal winger Tomas Tatar scored twice while Leafs star Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 32nd of the season. The Canadiens sit in fourth place in the Scotia North Division with 45 points, 14 back of the first-place Leafs.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk tallied two goals in a 4-2 upset of the Winnipeg Jets. Senators forward Connor Brown extended his goal-scoring streak to eight games. The Jets remain in second place in the North with 53 points.

An overtime goal by Brandon Hagel gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Patrik Laine scored twice for the Jackets, who sit eight points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators in the Discover Central Division. The fifth-place Blackhawks, meanwhile, sit just two points back of the Predators.

The Detroit Red Wings spoiled the 1,000th career NHL game of Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal by dropping the Hurricanes 3-1. Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 37 saves as his teammates tallied three third-period goals. The loss leaves the Hurricanes tied with the Tampa Bay Lighting with 58 points but the latter holds first place in the Central Division on the basis of wins.

The NHL postponed Monday’s game between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild. The game is rescheduled for May 12.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz are the three stars for the week ending April 11, 2021.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings signed forward Alex Iafallo to a four-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contract talks between the Kings and Iafallo went through most of Monday before an agreement was reached before the 3 pm ET trade deadline. Having traded long-time veteran forward Jeff Carter to Pittsburgh, the Kings cleared sufficient cap room to keep the 27-year-old Iafallo as they continue their rebuild.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers signed forward Scott Laughton to a five-year contract extension worth an annual salary-cap hit of $3 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Iafallo, Laughton’s contract talks carried on until close to the trade deadline. Both players were considered potential trade candidates if their respective teams failed to re-sign them before the 3 pm ET deadline. This is an affordable signing by the Flyers, retaining a versatile, energetic 26-year-old player who could help them rebound from this difficult season going forward.

WIVB.COM: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said Jack Eichel will remain sidelined for a while. The Sabres captain has been out since March 7 with an upper-body injury. With 15 games remaining, this could be season-ending for Eichel.

THE ORANGE COUNTRY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm could miss the remainder of the season with a fractured wrist suffered on Feb. 27 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Branden Tanev could be sidelined for the rest of the regular season with an undisclosed injury.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators claimed defenseman Victor Mete off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens.

NJ.COM: The Dallas Stars claimed blueliner Sami Vatanen off waivers from the New Jersey Devils.