Tampa Bay Lightning: 2020 Stanley Cup Champs
The latest on the Lightning and Stars in the NHL morning coffee headlines plus updates on Alex Pietrangelo and Braden Holtby and the latest Penguins and Senators speculation in the NHL rumor mill.
MORNING COFFEE HEADLINES
TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said team captain Steven Stamkos will not return for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Final. Stamkos returned to the Lightning lineup in Game 3 for the first time since February, scoring a goal but playing only five shifts in the first period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise there. Stamkos was in obvious discomfort following his final shift in Game 3. It’s believed he’s still dealing with an issue tied to the core muscle surgery he underwent in March.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars coach Rick Bowness yesterday said forwards Roope Hintz, Blake Comeau and Radek Faksa, defenseman Stephen Johns and goaltender Ben Bishop remain unfit to play.
MLIVE.COM’s Ansar Khan reported Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman confirmed unrestricted free agent defensemen Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley won’t be re-signed.
THE SCORE: Forward Chris Stewart announced his retirement after 11 NHL seasons. He played 668 career games with the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, and Philadelphia Flyers, finishing with 160 goals and 322 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Stewart in his future endeavors.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen cites multiple reports claiming the Golden Knights will aggressively pursue Alex Pietrangelo if the St. Louis Blues defenseman becomes an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9. The Blues are reportedly offering an eight-year deal worth $8-million annually but Pietrangelo is said to be seeking an annual average value of over $9 million.
The Golden Knights have limited salary-cap space but Schoen believes they would “perform the necessary salary-cap gymnastics” to fit in Pietrangelo’s new contract. He said team owner Bill Foley’s financial clout and dogged pursuit of the Stanley Cup makes the Golden Knights among the few clubs willing to spend to the $81.5 million salary cap.
Schoen said the Golden Knights aren’t expected to be active in free agency outside of Pietrangelo. However, he suggested several other blueline targets, such as Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, Winnipeg’s Dylan DeMelo, Washington’s Brenden Dillon, Calgary’s Travis Hamonic and Carolina’s Sami Vatanen. If they seek depth elsewhere in the roster, New York Rangers winger Jesper Fast and Calgary’s Cam Talbot are among his proposed options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Golden Knights have $76.5 million tied up in 18 players, with goaltender Robin Lehner their most notable free agent. Those “gymnastics” to free up cap space for Pietrangelo could include trading away players under contract for next season, contract buyouts, or acquiring a player on permanent long-term injury reserve. The Golden Knights are also allowed to spend over the cap by 10 percent in the offseason but must become cap compliant when the regular season begins.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Tarik El-Bashir lists the Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks among possible destinations for free-agent goalie Braden Holtby. He also included returning with the Washington Capitals if Holtby can’t find better offers in the free-agent market but acknowledged the math doesn’t appear to work there. El-Bashir reports the Capitals asked Holtby’s camp if there was interest in a one-year contract but there wasn’t.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames, Hurricanes, Oilers and Sharks all need a reliable starting goalie. The question is, how much are they willing to pay to get one via free agency. Holtby is coming off a five-year contract worth an annual average value of $6.1 million and likely unwilling to accept a similar or lesser cap hit on his next deal. The Flames, Oilers and Sharks have the most cap space but could be reluctant to invest too much in a goalie during the current economic situation.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe believes the Pittsburgh Penguins recent blueline addition of Mike Matheson could mean veteran Jack Johnson won’t be in the lineup and might not be back at all. With three left-side defensemen, Johnson will either have to play on the right side, become a healthy scratch or get traded. Yohe feels the Penguins will try to move Johnson to a team trying to reach the salary-cap floor, or perhaps package him in a deal involving goalie Matt Murray.
Regarding recent rumors tying the Penguins to Vancouver Canucks rearguard Chris Tanev, Yohe points out they lack the cap space to sign him now. He also said the front office is looking forward to seeing Kris Letang’s performance under his second stint playing for defense coach Todd Reirden.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Johnson won’t be easy because of the steady deterioration of his play, but we cannot outright dismiss the possibility, slim as it may seem. He lacks no-trade protection and carries a reasonable cap hit ($3.25 million) through 2022-23. Those two years beyond next season, however, are a sticking point.
Perhaps a budget club would acquire him and buy him out if he’s part of Yohe’s suggested package deal. Cap Friendly indicates the cap hit would be $1.16 million for the next two seasons, rising to over $1.9 million in 2022-23, then falling to over $916K for the final three years.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch expects more changes for the Senators after they bought out winger Bobby Ryan’s contract last week. Approaching next week’s NHL draft with three first-round picks, GM Pierre Dorion is reportedly listening to all offers as he looks to bolster his roster.
Anders Nilsson’s concussion could push the Senators into the market for a goaltender. Garrioch claims Carolina’s Petr Mrazek or James Reimer, Toronto’s Frederik Andersen, Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray and Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper are available. He said they’re not seeking a long-term solution because they’ve got six goalies in their system.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes won’t move one of their goalies unless they pursue an upgrade. The same goes for the Leafs with Andersen. Murray is on the block and the Penguins could try to pry away one of the Sens’ first-round picks for him. A first-rounder could also be part of the asking price for Kuemper.
Steven Stamkos returns as the Lightning take 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, the latest on a potential Patric Hornqvist-for-Mike Matheson trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Steven Stamkos scored in his return to action as the Tampa Bay Lightning downed the Dallas Stars 5-2 in Game 2 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Stamkos, who’s been dealing with a core-muscle issue that sidelined him since July, played only five shifts in the first period but scored the Lightning’s second goal, eluding Stars defenseman Esa Lindell and sniping a wrister past Anton Khudobin. He spent the rest of the game on the Lightning bench. In his post-game interview, Stamkos said he’s still working through the issue, adding it was too early to tell if he’ll suit up for Game 4 on Friday.
Victor Hedman had a goal and two assists, becoming the third defenseman in Stanley Cup playoff history to score at least 10 goals in a postseason. Only Paul Coffey (12 goals) and Brian Leetch (11) have more. Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat each had a goal and an assist.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos’ brief return in Game 3 still provided a big lift to his teammates. You could see it by the way they played and their reaction to their captain’s goal. They took control of the game in the second period, scoring three goals and outshooting the Stars 21-4.
Hedman, meanwhile, is making a strong case as the favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. In addition to his goal-scoring efforts, he’s been the Lightning’s leader during Stamkos’ absence, playing a strong game at both ends of the rink.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports a potential trade in which the Pittsburgh Penguins would send winger Patric Hornqvist to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Mike Matheson could be falling apart over Hornqvist’s no-trade clause and concerns over whether his contract was covered by insurance.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This deal could still go through if those issues are sorted out, but Friedman sounds skeptical. “One hurdle would be challenging enough…but two? Big problem.” If the deal goes through, the Penguins will have a surplus of left-side defensemen, meaning another trade could be likely.
TSN: Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion confirmed his club won’t be re-signing long-time goaltender Craig Anderson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in the 39-year-old Anderson’s performance over the past two years made this inevitable. Nevertheless, it’s the end of an era between the pipes for the Senators. Anderson is their all-time leader in wins, losses, and games-played, and played a big role in their surprising run to the 2017 Eastern Conference Final.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed forward Jake Evans to a two-year contract extension. The first year is a two-way deal paying him $750K at the NHL level. He’ll earn $800K in the second year.
TORONTO STAR: The Canada Revenue Agency alleges former Maple Leafs Shayne Corson and Darcy Tucker participated in a scheme to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. The duo claimed millions in business losses related to foreign currency trading during their years with the Leafs, but the CRA alleges it was a sham to claim the losses to lower their taxable income. Corson and Tucker deny the allegations.
The latest on Steven Stamkos and Jimmy Howard in this morning’s NHL headlines, plus updates on the Devils, Flyers, Senators, and Hurricanes in the NHL rumor mill.
NHL MORNING COFFEE HEADLINES
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said Steven Stamkos is inching closer to returning to action, but he doesn’t expect his captain to suit up for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final tonight against the Dallas Stars. Stamkos has been sidelined since July with a core-muscle issue.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Goaltender Jimmy Howard wants to continue his NHL playing career but acknowledged it probably won’t be with the Red Wings. Howard, 36, is an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings are likely in the market for a starting goaltender, something Howard is no longer capable of being. He could land elsewhere on a one-year deal as a backup and mentor to a younger starter.
TSN: Former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Albert (Junior) Langlois passed away over the weekend at age 85. He spent four seasons with the Canadiens from 1957 to 1961, winning three Stanley Cups. He also spent three seasons with the New York Rangers, two with the Boston Bruins, and one with the Detroit Red Wings, followed by one season with the WHL before retiring in 1967.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Langlois’ family, friends and former teammates.
NHL RUMOR MILL
TSN RADIO VANCOUVER: TSN analyst Ray Ferraro speculated Devils defenseman Damon Severson may have “soured” in New Jersey. Ferraro noted Severson is a right-hand shot, praising his skating and shot. He believes the 26-year-old blueliner would be more affordable than Minnesota’s Matt Dumba if the Devils are willing to move him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have been quiet since hiring Lindy Ruff as head coach and removing the interim tag from Tom Fitzgerald’s title as general manager in early July. Their most notable move since then was hiring Mark Recchi earlier this month as an assistant coach.
We don’t know if Fitzgerald has any intention of shopping Severson, who has three years remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $4.166 million and lacking no-trade protection. The Devils have $55.2 million invested in 13 players. Unless they have an internal cap lower than the league’s $81.5 million, Fitzgerald won’t be under pressure to shed salary. Nevertheless, it could be worth keeping an eye on Severson and the Devils in the coming weeks as activity builds up in the trade market.
PHILLY.com‘s Sam Carchidi believes the Philadelphia Flyers will try to move defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and winger James van Riemsdyk. He believes Gostisbehere will draw more interest.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both players are signed through 2022-23 and lack no-trade protection. Gostisbehere, however, carries an annual average value of $4.5 million while van Riemsdyk’s is $7 million. So yeah, there will probably be more interest in Ghost Bear than JVR in this economic climate.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch expects the Senators will receive plenty of calls from clubs looking to shed contracts in exchange for draft picks. The Sens have nine picks in the first three rounds and 13 in total.
Garrioch doesn’t expect them to take on bad contracts but maybe they can use this situation to their advantage to bolster their roster. It’s believed they’ve been in talks for a veteran goalie, including Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Arizona Coyotes could also be shopping goaltenders.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sens have three first-round picks, including the third and fifth overall, in this year’s draft. I don’t see them moving either of those (or both) unless they’re getting a terrific player in return. They could, however, entertain offers for the first-rounder they acquired from the New York Islanders in the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade at the February trade deadline.
The Blue Jackets could move either Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins. The Coyotes, meanwhile, could shop Darcy Kuemper or Antti Raanta.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): With the Carolina Hurricanes carrying limited salary-cap space next season, Sara Civian wondered if they’ll go the free-agent or trade route to upgrade their goaltending.
Free-agent options could include Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom or Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, though Civian doesn’t expect an encore with the Hurricanes for the latter. If the Golden Knights re-sign Lehner, she suggests the Hurricanes look into acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury.
Civian wondered what they’d be willing to trade for a goalie. Jaccob Slavin is off-limits, they don’t want to trade Brett Pesce or Martin Necas, and she doesn’t believe they’d move Dougie Hamilton even though he’s a year away from UFA eligibility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t believe the Hurricanes can become a Cup contender next season with their current goaltending tandem of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer. Maybe they ride it out for another season with those two until their contracts expire next summer, but if the front office is serious about building a contender, they must look to the trade or free-agent market for an upgrade.
Contract talks break off between the Blues and Alex Pietrangelo, the Wild won’t re-sign captain Mikko Koivu, an update on Steven Stamkos, the Penguins re-sign Jared McCann, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Darren Dreger last night reported contract talks between the St. Louis Blues and captain Alex Pietrangelo have broken off, with the Blues advising the 30-year-old defenseman to pursue unrestricted free agency.
Pietrangelo told Dreger contract discussions haven’t gone the way both sides were hoping. Unless something changes, it’s in the best interest of both sides for him to test the market.
Dreger colleague Pierre LeBrun wondered if the Blues would be willing to trade Pietrangelo’s rights before the UFA market opens on Oct. 9. “If so, what is the draft pick that gets it done?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports sources said a recent Blues offer to Pietrangelo had an annual average value of $7.7 million, though it’s now believed to be $8 million. He’s willing to accept less than market value (believed to be $9 million AAV) but is concerned over the structure of the deal, such as term, no-movement clause, and a signing bonus in the final year of a long-term deal, guaranteeing Pietrangelo a cash payout in the event of a buyout.
While there’s still time for the two sides to work things out, it appears the Blues are willing to let Pietrangelo walk if he gets a better offer via the open market. The door could be open to both sides resuming discussions if he doesn’t find anything to his liking. Nevertheless, if I were a Blues fan, I’d be resigned to Pietrangelo playing with another club next season.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild won’t be re-signing long-time captain Mikko Koivu. The 37-year-old center spent his entire 15-year NHL career with the Wild. It’s unclear if he’ll sign with another club. He’s previously indicated he’s not interested in playing for a different NHL team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears retirement beckons for Koivu. The wear and tear of his long career caught up with him over the last two seasons as he slid down the Wild depth chart, skating on the fourth line. I think we expected the Wild would part ways with Koivu, but it’s still a little sad to see the end of an era and the potential end of a long, productive career.
TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois remains hopeful Steven Stamkos could return at some point during the Stanley Cup Final. However, the Lightning captain won’t suit up for Game 1 tonight against the Dallas Stars.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos has been sidelined with what’s believed to be a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training in July. He’s resumed skating but there’s still no timetable for his return.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed center Jared McCann to a two-year contract worth an annual average salary of $2.94 million. McCann was the subject of recent trade rumors but this new contract turns down the heat on that speculation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCann could still be traded now that he’s carrying an affordable contract for the next two years. Nevertheless, I think Penguins GM Jim Rutherford re-signed him with the intent of keeping him in the lineup for at least next season.
TSN: The Washington Capitals re-signed winger Daniel Sprong to a two-year contract worth an AAV of $725K.
Cap Friendly published a list of upcoming important dates on the NHL calendar. Among the noteworthy timings:
The first contract buyout period begins on Sept. 25.
The deadline for club-elected salary arbitration is Oct. 5.
The 2020 NHL Draft will be held Oct. 6 and 7, with free agency beginning at noon ET on Oct. 9.
No-movement and no-trade clauses for 2020-21 also take effect at noon ET on Oct. 9.
The deadline for player-elected arbitration is 5 pm ET on Oct. 10.
The second club-elected arbitration window begins 5:01 pm ET on Oct. 10 to 5 pm ET on Oct. 11.
Arbitration hearings will be held from Oct. 20 to Nov. 8.
Nov. 12 is the last day for teams to exercise their walkway right and the last day for the second buyout period.
TSN: Rick Westhead cited executives from several NHL sponsors telling him talks for 2020-21 deals presuppose teams will at least play in bubbles of some sort. The NHL and NHLPA hope to avoid this but cross-border travel and crowds at indoor arenas are unlikely for many months. Westhead said NHL team sponsorships in many markets hang in the balance.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Money will ultimately decide when the NHL returns to action next season and in what form. The league and the PA might not have much choice but to return under some sort of bubble.
There’s been talk of seeing purely divisional play, or having all the Canadian teams play each other while the American-based clubs would face each other based on regions, followed by more bubble hockey for the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. The league could be closely watching how MLB and the NFL have handled travel during their respective schedules.