NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 17, 2020

Recaps of Sunday’s action plus the latest on Andrei Svechnikov, David Pastrnak, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: The New York Islanders have the Washington Capitals on the brink of elimination following their 2-1 overtime victory in Game 3 of their best-of-seven first-round series. Mathew Barzal broke a 1-1 tie to give the Isles a commanding 3-0 series lead. Anders Lee opened the scoring for the Islanders while Evgeny Kuznetsov tied it in the second period.



SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals have been outplayed by the Islanders, especially five-on-five. They held Washington captain Alex Ovechkin to just one shot in this contest. The Isles also held the Caps to just five goals in this series and can complete the sweep on Tuesday.

Joe Pavelski’s hat trick set the stage for Alexander Radulov’s overtime goal as the Dallas Stars edged the Calgary Flames 5-4 to tie their series at two games apiece. Stars defenseman John Klingberg picked up three assists. Flames forward Sam Bennett scored twice while Calgary goalie Cam Talbot made 57 saves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A vintage playoff performance by Pavelski, having the type of game the Stars expected when they signed him last summer. The Flames’ undisciplined play did in them in, taking seven penalties to the Stars’ four.

Corey Crawford made 48 saves as the Chicago Blackhawks staved off elimination with a 3-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. Drake Caggiula, Matthew Highmore, and Alex DeBrincat scored for the Blackhawks. Vegas winger Max Pacioretty was fined $2,500.00 for slashing DeBrincat as he scored into the empty net.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford saved the Blackhawks’ bacon. Most of this game seemed to be played in the Chicago zone but he put in a stellar performance to steal this one and keep his team’s hopes alive.

Braydon Schenn scored in overtime as the St. Louis Blues nipped the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in Game 3 of their first-round series. Jake Allen made 39 saves for the win while Ryan O’Reilly collected two assists. Jacob Markstrom kicked out 46 shots for the Canucks, who lead the series 2-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win for the Blues to avoid falling behind 3-0. Allen was solid replacing a struggling Jordan Binnington. The Blues were also playing without Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen as they were declared unfit to play for this game. Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes is just the third rookie defenseman in NHL history to tally points in six straight playoff games.

The Philadelphia Flyers spoiled Montreal Canadiens’ goalie Carey Price’s 33 birthday with a 1-0 win to take a 2-1 lead in their opening-round series. Flyers goalie Carter Hart made 23 saves while Jakub Voracek scored the only goal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good bounce-back performance by Hart and his teammates after getting blown out 5-0 in Game 2. This was a tight-checking, choppy game with Hart and Price once again the standouts.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Caroline Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said it’s highly doubtful Andrei Svechnikov returns to action during their opening-round series against the Boston Bruins. The winger suffered a leg injury during Game 3 on Saturday and will undergo an MRI today. Brind’Amour doesn’t rule out Svechnikov returning if the Canes reach the Eastern Conference Final or the Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Svechnikov’s injury might not be playoff-ending for him, but his absence will be felt by the Hurricanes. He and linemate Sebastian Aho provided Carolina with a potent one-two scoring punch.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy guessed there’s a 50-50 chance David Pastrnak suited up for Game 4 today against the Hurricanes. The winger’s been sidelined since suffering an apparent leg injury during Game 1.

NHL Rumor Mill – July 9, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 9, 2020

A look at the five teams affected the most by a flat salary cap in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin lists the Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Arizona Coyotes as the five clubs that will be most affected by a flat salary cap in 2020-21.

The Lightning has 15 players signed for next season with $5.33 million in projected cap space. That won’t be enough to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. Larkin suggests Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn as trade candidates. Gourde has a no-trade clause but Larkin thinks he could waive it for a fresh start elsewhere after seeing a reduced role this season. Larkin’s no-trade clause becomes a partial listing of 16 no-trade destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Joe Smith (subscription required) considers Killorn the top trade candidate, in part because of the flexibility his modified no-trade provides the Lightning. He also suggests Tyler Johnson ($5 million AAV through 2023-24) might be willing to waive his no-trade clause if it’s for a destination where he’d have a top-six center role. Cedric Paquette ($1.65 million through next season) could also be a trade option.

I think there will be more interest in Killorn, who’s more affordable ($4.45 million annual average value through 2022-23) than Gourde ($5.16 million AAV through 2024-25) and has a better reputation as a two-way forward. There’s no certainty Johnson would agree to be moved and his lengthy contract could be a deal-breaker for some clubs during these uncertain times.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen could become an off-season trade candidate (Photo via NHL Images).

The Blues have 20 players under contract for next season with a little over $2 million in cap space and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn to re-sign. Larkin speculates they’ll attempt to move out goaltender Jake Allen ($4.35 million AAV through 2020-21) and suggests keeping an eye on winger Jaden Schwartz ($5.35 million AAV through ’20-’21, 15-team no-trade list).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeff Gordon wonders how other teams will view Allen’s cap hit. Center Tyler Bozak has come up in recent trade speculation, but Gordon considers Bozak’s $5 million AAV a luxury few teams can afford.

Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford considers moving Schwartz far-fetched while the Blues’ championship window remains open. They could buy out the final season of Alexander Steen’s contract ($5.75 million AAV) but they’ll only get $2.4 million in cap relief for next season.

If the Blues intend to re-sign Pietrangelo and Dunn, significant cost-cutting is in order. Any way you slice it, however, it means parting with a couple of meaningful players.

The Blackhawks have 18 players inked for next season with $7.35 million in projected cap space. Larkin believes they could get much-needed cap relief if Brent Seabrook ($6.875 million AAV through 2023-24) and Andrew Shaw ($3.9 million AAV through 2021-22) go on long-term injury reserve for next season. Seabrook however, is attempting to return for the upcoming playoff tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larkin and The Athletic’s Scott Powers point out the Blackhawks lack sufficient cap space to re-sign goalie Corey Crawford and forwards Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome. Powers suggests they could buy out defenseman Olli Maatta ($4.083 million AAV through 2021-22) and center Zack Smith ($3.25 million through 2020-21). The combined savings (over $5.5 million) along with Shaw potentially remaining on LTIR would free up valuable cap room to re-sign those key players.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have 16 players signed for next season with $4.59 million in projected cap room. With Tyson Barrie expected to depart via free agency, Larkin believes they won’t have enough space to bring in one or two impactful right-shot defensemen. GM Kyle Dubas could attempt to shop a mid-tier forward like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot for a blueliner. He also wonders if Dubas might attempt to acquire more LTIR contracts with David Clarkson and Nathan Horton coming off the books in the off-season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran points out the cost of re-signing Travis Dermott and Ilya Mikheyev could eat up most or all of that cap space. He also anticipates one of those mid-tier forwards could be shopped, including Zach Hyman among them. Unless the CBA extension prohibits clubs from acquiring the contracts of players on permanent LTIR, it wouldn’t be surprising if Dubas goes to that well again to gain some wiggle room.

The Arizona Coyotes have 16 players signed with just $1.51 million available, though they’ll gain some cap relief with Marian Hossa ($5.75 million) on permanent LTIR. They need more than that if they hope to re-sign pending UFA winger Taylor Hall. Larkin suggests packaging center Derek Stepan ($6.5 million through next season) with a sweetener to free up more room.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could take one helluva sweetener to tempt a rival club with more cap space into taking Stepan’s contract.

The NHL Buyout Barometer – Central Division (Part II)

The NHL Buyout Barometer – Central Division (Part II)


NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – St. Louis Blues

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – St. Louis Blues


Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 3, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 3, 2020

Check out recent Blues and Sabres speculation in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.


STLTODAY.COM: During a recent live chat with his readers, Tom Timmermann was asked if Blues fans should be worried about Alex Pietrangelo departing via free agency after this season. He didn’t rule out it, suggesting the 30-year-old defenseman will take a business-like approach to the situation. If Pietrangelo gets a better offer from a rival club, Timmermann thinks he’ll take it.

Blues fans remain concerned over Alex Pietrangelo’s future in St. Louis (Photo via NHL Images).

Given the possibility of the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million, most clubs won’t have the cap space to make Pietrangelo a lavish offer. Nashville Predators blueliner Roman Josi’s annual average value of $9 million is considered the yardstick. Nevertheless, Timmermann feels the Blues will fight hard to keep their captain.

Timmermann’s colleague Benjamin Hochman shares this view, pointing to the Blues’ lack of salary-cap space next season. It could mean shedding one or two players to free up sufficient room. They could trade goaltender Jake Allen and buy out the final season of Alex Steen’s contract, though the Blues rarely do contract buyouts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo’s status will remain a hot topic for conjecture until this season is finally over. With $79.4 million tied up in 20 players and restricted free agent Vince Dunn also to be signed, the Blues must shed salary if they hope to re-sign Pietrangelo.

There’s lots of talk among fans and pundits suggesting compliance buyouts could return this off-season to help cap-strapped clubs as a result of the pandemic’s effect upon league revenue. However, if the league and the NHL Players Association agree to maintain the cap at $81.5 million, that could rule out compliance buyouts. If so, the Blues would have to go the conventional route to buy out Steen, which would only free up $2.33 million of his current $5.75 million cap hit for 2020-21.

Speaking of Allen, Timmermann was asked about bundling the goalie with Ivan Barbashev as a cost-cutting move. He feels Allen would be enticing to clubs seeking help between the pipes, but that move would only free up $5.8 million, not enough to re-sign Pietrangelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Timmermann points out, that’s why folks keep turning to trading or buying out Steen.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Joe Yerdon recently examined the salary-cap issues facing the Buffalo Sabres next season. They’re currently around $1.25 million over the $81.5 million salary cap because of bonuses owed to Rasmus Dahlin and Henri Jokiharju.

Should Dahlin finish in the top-10 among defensemen in assists, he’ll be owed another $2 million. It would push the Sabres’ overage to $3.275 million, leaving them with $78.225 million available next season.

Yerdon observes the Sabres have over $47 million committed to next season’s cap payroll, but those potential bonus overages make that cap space a bit of a mirage. They could make low-ball offers to their restricted free agents or trade one or two players (like Rasmus Ristolaninen) to loosen the salary cap pressure.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres’ RFAs include Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Brandon Montour, Dominik Kahun, and Linus Ullmark. Their UFAs include Wayne Simmonds, who was acquired from New Jersey at the trade deadline.

Re-signing them will take up a sizable chunk of their cap space, leaving less to replace the others or to address their ongoing roster needs. A $3.2 million overage penalty will complicate things.

Ristolainen frequently surfaced as a trade candidate this season, as did Montour whenever pundits discussed the Sabres’ need for another scoring forward. One or both could get moved before next season.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Travis Jost suggests Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli could be an intriguing fit for the Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cirelli would be an intriguing fit for any NHL club. However, I don’t believe the Lightning intend to move him. He’s a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract without arbitration rights.

With over $76 million invested in 15 players, the Bolts don’t have enough cap space to re-sign him and their other free agents. However, media speculation suggests they could look at moving one or two veterans (like Alex Killorn) to clear space to re-sign Cirelli and Sergachev to affordable bridge contracts.

NHL Rumor Mill – April 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 25, 2020

More Alex Pietrangelo conjecture plus some recent Devils speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.


STLTODAY.COM: In his latest Q&A live chat with his readers, Jim Thomas was asked how the St. Louis Blues could free up sufficient salary-cap room to re-sign team captain Alex Pietrangelo, who becomes an unrestricted free agent in the off-season. He feels the most likely scenario is trading goaltender Jake Allen and buying out the final season of veteran forward Alexander Steen’s contract.

What can the St. Louis Blues do to free up salary-cap space to re-sign Alex Pietrangelo? (Photo via NHL Images)

Thomas doesn’t consider buying out Justin Faulk as an option, in part because it would be more costly to the Blues for much longer than buying out Steen or Tyler Bozak. He also speculated the re-signing of Marco Scandella means at least two players must come off the current roster to re-sign Pietrangelo and doesn’t see Jaden Schwartz being moved in a cost-cutting deal.

If Pietrangelo wants the biggest possible deal, Thomas speculates the blueliner could move on. Despite the possibility of a flat cap next season, he feels there will be enough teams willing to pay big bucks for Pietrangelo. Thomas doubts the Toronto Maple Leafs will be among them, as they have over $76.9 million invested in next season’s cap payroll.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo wants to stay in St. Louis and the Blues want to keep him, but he also wants to be paid what he considers fair market value. Reports throughout this season suggest that’s over $9 million annually.

If he’s unwilling to come down from that or the Blues can’t free up sufficient cap room, he’ll be playing elsewhere next season. Unless the Leafs shed a considerable amount of salary, he won’t be coming to Toronto.


NORTHJERSEY.COM: Abbey Mastracco believes the New Jersey Devils could attempt to bring in a short-term veteran winger or two to bridge the gap until those in their farm system are ready to join the roster.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak suggested the Devils could attempt to add an impact defenseman in the off-season. He thinks they’ll try to do that via the trade route, like the New York Rangers last summer when they acquired Jacob Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets. If they shop one of their first-round picks, Masisak felt it could be for that impact blueliner or a first-line winger.

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs are two cap-strapped clubs the Devils could target in the trade market. The Lightning might be forced to part with winger Alex Killorn or Ondrej Palat to re-sign Mikhail Sergachev. Leafs wingers Kaspari Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson could be available, but Toronto would have to include something else if they want the Devils’ third first-rounder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Killorn and Palat have no-trade protection and probably won’t waive it to join a rebuilding club. Kapanen and Johnsson lack such protection and would be more viable trade options.