NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2021

Oilers Darnell Nurse and Islanders Adam Pelech sign lucrative long-term contracts, concern about season ticket sales and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed Darnell Nurse to an eight-year, $74 million contract extension. The 26-year-old defenseman’s annual cap hit is $9.25 million.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nurse’s new contract raise eyebrows around the league. He’s a very good defenseman but the overall consensus is the Oilers overpaid to keep him in Edmonton. He is also the fifth blueliner this summer to sign a long-term deal worth $9 million or more annually, joining Columbus’ Zach Werenski ($9.583 million), Chicago’s Seth Jones ($9.5 million), Colorado’s Cale Makar ($9 million) and New Jersey’s Dougie Hamilton ($9 million).

The Oilers had little choice. Nurse is their top defenseman and they couldn’t risk losing him next summer to free agency. That would leave them scrambling to find a replacement as they did following Adam Larsson’s surprise departure to Seattle last month. Often, the replacement is more affordable but of lesser skill.

This move ensures some stability on the Oilers’ blueline. Over time, however, it could have long-term salary-cap implications if Nurse’s performance declines over the second half of this deal.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders avoided salary arbitration with Adam Pelech by signing the 26-year-old defenseman to an eight-year, $46 million contract. The annual average value is $5.75 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The announcement of Nurse’s contract overshadowed the Pelech signing. Islanders fans should be delighted with this deal. Pelech is a solid stay-at-home blueliner who’s become a key part of his club’s defense corps. The term is a little long as it takes Pelech well past his prime years. However, the cap hit is quite reasonable and shouldn’t be a drag on the Isles’ payroll during the latter years of the contract.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken avoided arbitration with defenseman Vince Dunn by reaching an agreement on a two-year contract worth $4 million per season. They also signed free-agent forward Marcus Johansson to a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn was among the players selected by the Kraken in last month’s expansion draft. He was coming off a one-year, $1.875 million deal with the St. Louis Blues. This is a “show-me” contract for the 24-year-old Dunn. He’s coming off his fourth-straight 20-point campaign but has struggled with consistency.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed forward Brandon Hagel to a three-year contract worth $1.5 million annually.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks centers Isac Lundestrom and Sam Steel accepted their one-year, two-way contracts yesterday. Each will receive over $874K at the NHL level.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed defenseman Conor Timmins to a two-year, $1.75 million contract. They acquired the 22-year-old blueliner from the Colorado Avalanche as part of the return in the Darcy Kuemper trade earlier this week. They also hired Larry Pleau as a special advisor to general manager Bill Armstrong.

THE ATHLETIC: Some NHL executives are concerned over a dip in season-ticket sales for the 2021-22 seasons. Fans are opting more for partial season-ticket plans rather than full-season packages. That includes some fans who were used to opt for the full-season deals in the past.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the new broadcasting deals, gambling deals and the addition of a new franchise in Seattle, the NHL remains a gate-driven league. The worry about season-ticket sales comes amid concerns the cap could remain flattened over the next several years if league revenue doesn’t significantly increase.

As reported by Frank Seravalli yesterday and confirmed by The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro based on his multiple sources, the players owe the league approximately $1 billion because salaries exceeded revenue over the past two seasons. Until that’s paid back, the salary cap will only rise by $1 million per season only if revenue exceeds $4.8 million each season. That’s expected to happen for the coming season.

The amount owed by the players will be repaid through escrow rates agreed upon in last year’s CBA extension. If the debt isn’t fully repaid by 2025-26, the CBA will be extended for another season at a higher escrow rate until the owners’ share is made whole.

Perhaps those partial ticket sales are tied to fans’ concerns over another spike in COVID-19 resulting in another shortened season or restrictions on attendance. That could change in the long term if the league gets through 2021-22 without reductions to the schedule or limitations on the number of fans in the stands.

THE SCORE: Speaking of concerns over rising COVID numbers, The Athletic’s Michael Russo tweeted out the league has issued a memo to its 32 teams prohibiting the players from all corporate, charity and community-based interaction with fans.

The league and the NHLPA will continue observing vaccination rates and the spread of COVID variants during this offseason to determine whether similar measures will be required for training camp.

TSN: Rick Westhead reports a lawyer for a former Chicago Blackhawks player has asked the U.S. Center for SafeSport to investigate Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse of two former Blackhawks players.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2019

Game recaps, Lightning extend Jon Cooper’s contract, Flyers re-sign Michael Raffl, an update on Erik Karlsson and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl tallied his first career NHL hat trick while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored three times to lead the Edmonton Oilers to an 8-4 drubbing of the Los Angeles Kings. Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected four points while Kings captain Anze Kopitar had three assists. With 76 points, the Oilers are five points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. 

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl tallied his first career NHL hat trick in an 8-4 win over the Los Angeles Kings (Photo via NHL images).

Darcy Kuemper turned in a 31-save shutout as the Arizona Coyotes nipped the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0. With the win, the Coyotes (81 points) move into a tie with the Colorado Avalanche for the final Western wild-card berth. The Blackhawks (76 points) remain five points behind.

Alex Ovechkin tallied his league-leading 49th goal of the season and John Carlson netted his 400th career point as the Washington Capitals downed the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Sitting atop the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals (98 points) opened a three-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders.

Before the game, Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov responded to Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry calling him “a jerk” over his bird dance goal celebrations. “If he want(s) to say something, he can call me or he can meet me, but to call me (a) jerk on TV doesn’t make him look good, you know? But whatever he said, my parents (taught) me a lot of good things when (I was) young, and I’m not going to say anything bad about a guy who’s much older than me,” said Kuznetsov.

Speaking of the Islanders, they failed to gain ground on the Capitals after the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked them 4-0. Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky picked up his third shutout in his last four games and moved into a tie with Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury for the league lead with eight. The Jackets (88 points) remain two points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. 

Earlier in the day, the Islanders announced winger Andrew Ladd suffered a season-ending injury in his left knee. His recovery time will be four-to-five months and he’s expected to be ready for training camp in September. 

The Canadiens (90 points), meanwhile, rolled to a 6-1 victory over the Florida Panthers and moved within a point of the Hurricanes for the first wild-card spot. Carey Price made 33 saves while Tomas Tatar scored twice and collected an assist. Canadiens forward Paul Byron left the game with a suspected concussion following a fight with Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar.

Anaheim Ducks rookie Sam Steel had his first NHL hat trick as his club edged the Vancouver Canucks 5-4. Despite the win, the Ducks are officially eliminated from the playoff race. 

Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson kicked out 35 shots to shut out the Buffalo Sabres 4-0. The Sabres have lost 13 straight road games. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning yesterday announced they’ve signed head coach Jon Cooper to a multi-year contract extension. Cooper is the league’s longest-tenured active coach and is the franchise leader in wins (300) and games (500). 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This comes as no surprise. Under Cooper’s tenure, the Lightning won their first Presidents’ Trophy this season, reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2015 and advanced to three Eastern Conference Finals (2015, 2016, 2018). 

NBC SPORTS: The San Jose Sharks have reduced Erik Karlsson’s practice schedule as he continues to rehab a groin injury. Karlsson recently said he expected to be 100 percent in time for the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs. 

NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers re-signed winger Michael Raffl to a two-year, $3.2-million contract extension. It’s a 32 percent pay cut from his current three-year, $7.05-million deal. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Raffl’s production has declined in recent years but he remains a versatile, physical checking-line forward. He obviously had no qualms about accepting a pay cut to stay with the Flyers. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 1, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 1, 2018

Canucks defeat Blackhawks plus the latest on Jonathan Quick, Henrik Lundqvist, Sebastian Aho and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Jake Virtanen had his first two-goal NHL game to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Canucks forward Brendan Gaunce had a goal and an assist. Blackhawks star Patrick Kane missed the game due to illness.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick is sidelined indefinitely following surgery yesterday to repair a torn meniscus. Recovery time is typically between three-to-six weeks.

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick will be sidelined several weeks following knee surgery. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll have more on the Kings later this morning in the Rumors section. 

NEW YORK POST: Long-time Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist insists he’s committed to the club’s rebuilding plans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, he’s not going to ask for a trade to a playoff contender so quit bugging him about it. 

THE SCORE: The Nashville Predators activated goaltender Pekka Rinne (undisclosed ailment) off injured reserve yesterday.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said he believes a new contract for rising star Sebastian Aho can be completed before season’s end. Both sides are seeking a long-term deal and Waddell said they’re not that far part regarding the money.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Aho is in the final season of his entry-level contract and has steadily improved in his brief NHL career. He had 49 points as a rookie, 65 as a sophomore (and was their leading scorer last season) and is on pace (17 points in 12 games) for 116 points this season. He might not finish with 100 points but it’s safe to assume (barring injury) he could reach 80.

Aho is the real deal, the biggest star the Hurricanes have had since Eric Staal was in his playing prime. He could get between $8.5 million and $10 million annually. If the Hurricanes can get him for less than $8 million per it’ll be a bargain. 

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Ron Hainsey will play in his 1,000th career NHL game when the Leafs face off against the Dallas Stars.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron (lower-body injury) is questionable for tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators placed goaltender Mike Condon on waivers. 

CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers forward Corban Knight (broken collarbone) is expected to be sidelined four months. 

The Anaheim Ducks sent forward Sam Steel to their AHL affiliate

AWFUL ANNOUNCING: The NHL is shifting more weekend games to afternoons to attract more European fans. The league “has changed the start time of nearly 50 games this season for the purpose of broadcasting games in prime time across the European continent.”