NHL Rumor Mill – October 31, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 31, 2020

Could the Flyers or Blues attempt to sign Mike Hoffman? What’s the deal behind the Sabres’ recent short-term RFA signings? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall noted a recent report by TSN’s Pierre LeBrun indicating a “dozen or so” teams have expressed an interest in Mike Hoffman. However, a source told Hall the Flyers aren’t among the clubs pursuing the unrestricted free-agent winger.

Free-agent winger Mike Hoffman (NHL Images).

Hall notes Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher likes his club’s prospects on the wing and he still has defenseman Philippe Myers to re-sign. They’re also hoping for a better performance by veteran winger James van Riemsdyk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Flyers have $4.8 million in cap space, which will shrink after Myers is signed. Unless they make a cost-cutting move to clear room for Hoffman, don’t expect to see him suit up for the Flyers in 2020-21.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong wouldn’t rule out adding a player like Hoffman. However, such a move would have to make sense dollar-wise for the Blues.

Rutherford noted the Blues already sit $1.2 million above the $81.5 million salary cap with restricted free agent defenseman Vince Dunn to be signed. They can put sidelined forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen (combined AAV of $13.25 million) on long-term injury reserve next season to exceed the cap by that amount, but they must also be cap compliant when those players are ready to return to action.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It doesn’t look like the Blues will be among Hoffman’s suitors. Rutherford reported Armstrong wants to give more playing time to forwards Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou. The Blues GM also remains confident Tarasenko will return at some point in 2020-21.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently examined the Buffalo Sabres signing Sam Reinhart, Taylor Hall and Brandon Montour to one-year contracts, as well as their acquisition of Eric Staal, who has a year left on his contract.

O’Brien considers those “prove it” moves in which the players will have to justify longer deals through their performance in 2020-21. He also points out the flexibility it gives the Sabres at the 2021 trade deadline.

If the Sabres are non-contenders by then, they could peddle Hall to wherever he’s willing to accept getting dealt to. O’Brien also doesn’t rule out the possibility of shopping Reinhart by inflating his value, trading him before they have to pay up, and coming out on the better side of the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres could use the same approach with Staal and Montour. Of course, that depends on how next season shakes out. If the Sabres are contenders, they won’t be sellers even at the risk of losing Hall, Staal and Montour to next year’s UFA market.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 27, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 27, 2020

The Stars stave off elimination in a Game 5 doubt OT win, the Rangers trade Marc Staal to the Red Wings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Corey Perry scored twice, including the winner in double overtime, as the Dallas Stars edged the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. Joe Pavelski scored the game-tying goal in the third period, becoming the highest-scoring American-born player in NHL playoff history with 61 career postseason goals. Tyler Seguin assisted on all three Stars goals while Anton Khudobin made 39 saves for the win.

Dallas Stars winger Corey Perry (NHL Images)

Ondrej Palat and Mikhail Sergachev scored for Tampa Bay, who hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 6 set for Monday night. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was listed unfit to play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dallas’ oldest players (the 36-year-old Pavelski, 35-year-old Perry and 34-year-old Khudobin) were the heroes for the Stars, who were outshot 41-33 and outplayed for long stretches in this game. It appeared the Lightning had this one in the bag when Sergachev made it 3-2 early in the third. For the second straight game, Pavelski forced overtime with the game-tying goal. He also leads the Stars with 13 goals.

NEW YORK POST/THE DETROIT NEWS: The New York Rangers traded defenseman Marc Staal and a second-round pick in the 2021 draft to the Detroit Red Wings for future considerations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a significant move for the Rangers, freeing up $5.7 million in salary-cap space for next season, giving them over $20 million in cap room. The Post points out the Rangers have the room now to re-sign RFAs Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, Alexandar Georgiev and Brendan Lemieux.

Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said this deal plugs a huge hole on their defense while also adding a future asset with that second-round pick. Staal, who’s entering the final season of his contract, agreed to this trade as he carries a no-movement clause. This could be a short-term move by the Wings to buy time until their younger blueliners are more NHL-ready.

The Red Wings also re-signed forward Sam Gagner to a one-year contract. Cap Friendly indicates it’s worth $850K.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports of “murmurs” suggesting the NHL might seek to enforce the force majeure clause (paragraph 17) of the standard player contract to prorate the players’ pay should next season be shorter than expected.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league’s intention is to return with a full 82-game schedule next season. We’ll have to wait and see what transpires. The players have agreed under the new CBA to defer 10 percent of their salaries for next season.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2020

The Wild trade Eric Staal to the Sabres for Marcus Johansson, Canadiens re-sign Joel Edmundson, and the latest on Brayden Point, Johnny Boychuk, Kyle Clifford and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild traded center Eric Staal last evening to the Buffalo Sabres for center Marcus Johansson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a straightforward one-for-one swap with no salary retention by either club. Cap Friendly indicates Staal, 35, has one year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.25 million. He has a 10-team no-trade list but the Sabres reportedly weren’t on it. The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported Staal was stunned by the news.

Johansson, 29, also has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.5 million AAV. He’s a versatile forward (when healthy) who can play center or on the wing. However, he managed just 30 points in 60 games last season as a center with the Sabres. Staal netted 47 in 66 contests.

Wild general manager Bill Guerin made no secret of his intentions to shore up his depth at center. Last week, he acquired center Nick Bjugstad from the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, I don’t see the trading away Staal for Johansson as an improvement.

Staal may be older but he was more productive than Johansson, who seems better suited for the wing. Guerin’s recent re-signing of Jonas Brodin has sparked speculation he’s shopping defenseman Matt Dumba for a scoring forward, preferably a center.

The Sabres, meanwhile, are reportedly going to set an internal cap of $70 million for 2020-21. Shedding Johansson for Staal shaves $1.25 million off their payroll. He’ll play a second-line role behind Jack Eichel and perhaps help out in a leadership role.

Speaking of the Wild, StarTribune.com’s Sarah McLellan reported Guerin said it’s unlikely pending free agent center Alex Galchenyuk returns. He also declined to comment on the future of captain Mikko Koivu, who’s also a pending UFA.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Montreal Canadiens re-signed Joel Edmundson to a four-year, $14-million contract extension. The Habs acquired the 27-year-old defenseman last week from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The annual average value is $3.5 million, making Edmundson an affordable, physical addition to the Canadiens’ defense corps. The deal also comes with a 10-team no-trade list for all four seasons.

Adding Edmundson provides experienced depth on the left side of the Habs’ blue line. It’s also sparked suggestions Brett Kulak or Victor Mete could be packaged in a deal for a scoring forward. The Habs now have over $10.2 million in cap space invested in 19 players for 2020-21.

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point’s status for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final remains uncertain. Point missed the previous game with an undisclosed injury and didn’t practice yesterday. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he didn’t know if Point will be available but remains hopeful he’ll be in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning lost both games Point missed due to injury.

NEW YORK POST: The return of veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk provided a big lift for the New York Islanders in their Game 5 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday. Boychuk returned to action for the first time since being sidelined in the opening game of the qualifying round against the Florida Panthers.

TORONTO SUN: Agent Todd Reynolds said client Kyle Clifford will be testing the unrestricted free agent market. The 29-year-old left wing was acquired by the Maple Leafs in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings last February. If Clifford doesn’t re-sign with Toronto, the Kings will receive a third-round pick from the Leafs.

THE SCORE: The St. Louis Blues announced former Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery will be joining them as an assistant coach on a two-year deal. He’ll replace Marc Savard, who stepped down earlier this month.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks are expected to make interim head coach Bob Boughner their full-time bench boss.

TSN: A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against North America’s most powerful hockey leagues (including the NHL, AHL, and the Canadian junior leagues) alleging conspiracy to limit opportunities for young players. The suit was filed by Kobe Mohr, who played in the WHL from 2015 to 2020.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Former Pittsburgh Penguins president Jack Kelley died Tuesday at age 93. Kelley was the Penguins president from 1993 to 1998. He was also inducted in the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993 and the WHA Hall of Fame in 2010.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kelley’s family and friends.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2020

Recaps of the second day of exhibition games, an update on John Chayka’s departure from the Coyotes, the Blackhawks announce initiatives to honor Native American culture, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

EXHIBITION GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The line of Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat combined for 10 points as the Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Florida Panthers 5-0. Point led the way with two goals and two assists. Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up the shutout with a 26-save performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky gave up five goals on 34 shots, but he was hung out to dry by his teammates. The Panthers must improve their defensive play before they face off against the New York Islanders in their qualifying round series.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied twice and set up another to lead his club over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Capitals defenseman John Carlson left the game in the final 10 minutes as a precautionary measure after crashing awkwardly into the boards. An update on his condition is expected today. Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek gave up three goals on 16 shots before being replaced by James Reimer.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck kicked out 37 shots in a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Jets captain Blake Wheeler had a goal and an assist. Teammate Nikolaj Ehlers also scored, but left the game in the third period with an apparent lower-body injury. No word yet as to his status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the long layoff had little effect on Hellebuyck’s performance. The Vezina Trophy finalist was on top of his game against the Canucks. Ehlers may have aggravated an ailment that nagged him throughout training camp.

Dominik Kubalik scored twice and added an assist as the Chicago Blackhawks blanked the St. Louis Blues 4-0. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford made 11 saves through two periods.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford looked sharp in this contest after missing most of the Blackhawks’ training camp when he tested positive for COVID-19. His performance against the Blues is a good sign as he and his teammates face the Edmonton Oilers in the qualifying round.

Colorado Avalanche forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Joonas Donskoi were the goal scorers as their club edged the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Wild center Eric Staal had a goal and an assist. The Avs killed off seven of eight penalties.

Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss combined for 26 saves as the New York Islanders held off the New York Rangers 2-1. Anthony Beauvillier and Devon Toews scored for the Isles. Rangers defenseman Marc Staal left the game in the second period for precautionary reasons and isn’t expected to miss their qualifying series against the Hurricanes.

HEADLINES

NEW YORK POST: Howie Kussoy cites multiple reports claiming former Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka’s relationship with the club’s ownership was irrevocably damaged when he lied about having a job interview with the New Jersey Devils, who then were uninterested in hiring him. Chayka resigned from the Coyotes last weekend as the club was preparing to head to Edmonton for Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan.

An NHL team approached Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo about a month ago seeking permission to speak to Chayka, which Meruelo rejected. Chayka then reportedly lied to Meruelo about the Devils’ interest, only to subsequently request his contract be terminated so he could pursue an opportunity within the Devils ownership’s sports portfolio.

Meruelo felt betrayed but wanted to wait until the season ended to discuss this with Chayka, but the latter felt that was unreasonable. The situation quickly deteriorated, culminating in Chayka’s departure from the team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This has degenerated into a messy they-said/he said situation with each side blaming the other. If Chayka lied about the Devils interview, it could damage his reputation and his efforts to find employment elsewhere in the NHL.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks are taking steps designed to honor Native American culture. They’ve banned headdresses at their games and intend to incorporate Native American culture and education into their arena and the games there. The club has resisted calls to change its nickname and logo after the NFL’s Washington Redskins announced they were moving on from their nickname.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins re-signed forward Anders Bjork to a three-year, $4.8-million contract extension. The annual average value is $1.6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins now have over $65.1 million invested in 19 players for 2020-21. Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, and team captain Zdeno Chara are among the notables still to be re-signed.

TSN: Former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock has taken on a volunteer advisory role with the Vermont Catamounts coaching staff.

LA PRESSE: Montreal Canadiens winger Dale Weise denied a report out of Switzerland claiming he signed a contract with Swiss club HC Lausanne.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2020

Result of the NHLPA executive board vote on proposed return-to-play format is expected today, a closer look at what the proposed format could look like, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHLPA EXECUTIVE VOTES ON PROPOSED RETURN-TO-PLAY FORMAT

SPORTSNET: The National Hockey League Players’ Association executive board voted Thursday night the NHL’s proposed 24-team return-to-play tournament. The board is comprised of the 31 NHLPA player representatives. The result of the vote is expected by Friday evening.

The NHLPA executive board is voting on a 24-team return-to-play tournament format.

The top-four teams in each conference qualify for the 16-team playoffs, receiving a bye from the 16-team, best-of-five play-in series. They will, however, play a three-game round-robin against each other to determine their final seedings.

“In the Eastern Conference, the opening round will play out like this:

• 5. Pittsburgh vs. 12. Montreal (winner plays four seed)
• 6. Carolina vs. 11. Rangers (winner plays three seed)
• 7. Islanders vs. 10. Florida (winner plays two seed)
• 8. Toronto vs. 9. Columbus (winner plays one seed)

And the Western Conference opening round will play out like this:

• 5. Edmonton vs. 12. Chicago (winner plays four seed)
• 6. Nashville vs. 11. Arizona (winner plays three seed)
• 7. Vancouver vs. 10. Minnesota (winner plays two seed)
• 8. Calgary vs. 9. Winnipeg (winner plays one seed)”

“Once the play-in tournament has concluded, the playoffs will be “bracketed” — similar to what is done in the NCAA tournament — meaning any of the top-four teams in the East or West could actually end up facing the lowest remaining seed following the play-in round. For example, the No. 4 seed could face No. 12 Montreal (in the event the Canadiens pulled off an upset over No. 5 Pittsburgh) while the No. 1 seed would be left with the winner of No. 8 Toronto vs. No. 9 Columbus.”

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the 24 clubs will be determined by points percentage. “The top four in the East are Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington, and Philadelphia; in the West, it’s St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas.”

TSN:  Bob McKenzie reports the “NHLPA conference call tonight was spirited if not raucous. While exec committee voting won’t be finalized until Friday, some believe Don Fehr may already have or will get the mandate to accept NHL RTP plan but not overwhelmingly so.”

“Which is to suggest that even if there are enough votes to pass, it may still be a tough call. Emotional issue, as one might expect. We should have more clarity in the next 24 hours.”

Frank Seravalli reports the when, where, and how for the return-to-play plan and the host cities hasn’t been determined yet. NHL general managers have privately expressed frustration with bracketing the playoffs, with some suggesting the rounds should be reseeded. The top-tier clubs are complaining about clubs like Montreal and Chicago being allowed to reach the playoffs.

Developing a comprehensive COVID-19 testing plan and the logistics of staging these games in two or four host cities still has to be sorted out. The NHL and NHLPA remain hopeful of implementing Phase 2 of their return-to-play program, which would see players engage in small-group training at their respective NHL facilities, after June 1.

Darren Dreger reports the NHL is leaning toward two hub cities. The province of Alberta is putting forth a major push for Edmonton to be one of those cities. Las Vegas is thought to be the front-runner, though there’s concern over the heat there in July and August whereas the average summer temperatures in Edmonton are more comfortable.

McKenzie said several NHL GMs feel a 24-team play-in format is a made-for-TV event with Chicago and the New York Rangers being involved. There are also questions over how the outcome of this tournament could affect the draft lottery.

NBC SPORTS: Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson and Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal raised concerns about the players being possibly isolated from their families for weeks under the proposed format. Carlson felt a 24-team tournament sounded like a lot, while Staal spoke of the many hurdles the league faces in pulling this off. Nevertheless, both players understand the challenges and seem willing to work with the league.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ian Cole is fully supportive of whatever decision is reached to return to action. “To be honest with you, I like to keep it simple: Whatever gets us back and playing, I’m 100 percent for. Whether that’s 16 teams, 24 teams — 30 teams, 31 teams — whatever gets us back and playing I’m 100 percent on board with,” Cole said.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin dismisses concerns over how a 24-team tournament might hurt the integrity of the NHL playoffs. He cites the NHL’s long history of wild, sometimes unfair formats.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This proposed format won’t please everyone and the NHLPA executive board could come back with some recommendations to adjust it. A number of players will have legitimate concerns about ensuring their health and safety and the long separations from their families.

Nevertheless, I anticipate the PA reps will vote to approve it, with the league board of governors giving their blessing soon afterward. The league and the PA will then shift their focus toward ironing out timelines, approving hub cities, and addressing the daunting logistics in staging this tournament.

I understand the concerns regarding the fairness of the proposed tournament and the integrity of the playoffs. But if the league can pull this off, those concerns will be forgotten. Even those hockey fans taking to social media proclaiming they’ll never watch it will probably find themselves drawn toward it, especially if it involves their favorite team. 

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports an NHL source indicates the league’s intention is “to agree on a slide with the NHL Players’ Association, which would uniformly extend all contracts through the end of the 2019-20 season.” That would also apply to minor-league players on two-way contracts. The league also hopes to do the same for coaches and other team employees on expiring contracts, but “(The) dynamic is different without collective representation.” 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, player contracts that would’ve expired on June 30 will be extended to the end of the proposed return-to-play format. That could be sometime in September. 

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman speculates we probably won’t see NHL training camps open before July. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Winnipeg’s pro sports teams can reopen their training facilities under strict physical distancing guidelines. 

PUCKPEDIA: Part three of their NHL player agents’ poll examines the best way to grow league revenue, whether there will be a lockout in 2022, and more. 










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – New York Rangers

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – New York Rangers