NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 4, 2023
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins winger Jake Guentzel is a step closer to returning to action as he joined his teammates in a full practice yesterday for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery in August. He’s been skating since training camp and joined the Penguins’ main practices last week in a non-contact capacity.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guentzel said it’s still too early to tell if he’ll be good to go for the Penguins’ season opener next week. Nevertheless, he appears to be on track to return to the lineup soon.
THE SCORE: Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft isn’t naming his starting goaltender yet for the club’s season opener on Oct. 11. He said that role remains an open competition between Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell.
“We’re realists and we understand that we need both goalies – it’s a two-goalie league now,” said Woodcroft. “We have 1A and 1B, and they’re going to sort out who’s who.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner wrested the starter’s job away from Campbell over the course of last season. However, it was Campbell who had to relieve Skinner when the latter struggled in several postseason contests. Having healthy competition between the two could improve the caliber of the Oilers’ goaltending, which has been questionable in the past.
TSN: Veteran forward Derek Stepan announced his retirement yesterday. In 890 games over 13 seasons with the New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, Ottawa Senators and Carolina Hurricanes, the 33-year-old Stepan scored 182 goals and 333 assists for 515 points. He also had 55 points in 120 playoff games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stepan’s best seasons were the seven he spent with the Rangers from 2010-11 to 2016-17. He exceeded 50 points five times and two seasons with over 40 points.
PRESEASON GAMES RECAP
NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard scored his first NHL preseason goal and collected two assists in a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Corey Perry tallied two goals and Taylor Hall had three assists for the Blackhawks. Joe Veleno scored both Red Wings goals.
The Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Florida Panthers 2-0. Lightning goaltender Jonas Johansson stopped 25 shots for his second shutout of the preseason. Tanner Jeannot and Nick Paul were the goal scorers. Sergei Bobrovsky made 20 saves for the Panthers.
The Washington Capitals downed the Boston Bruins 5-4 on an overtime goal by Matthew Phillips. John Carlsson had a goal and two assists for the Capitals while Boston winger Milan Lucic had a goal and an assist. Linus Ullmark stopped 36 shots for the Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Bruins sent forward Fabian Lysell to their AHL affiliate in Providence. The 20-year-old winger is considered among their top prospects but this is the third straight year that he’s failed to crack their roster in training camp.
IN OTHER NEWS…
STARTRIBUNE.COM: After recovering from his fourth knee surgery, Mason Shaw signed a one-year, one-way contract with the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa. The 24-year-old forward played 59 games for the Wild last season before suffering a season-ending ACL tear on April 1.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman believes the Arizona Coyotes could be close to resolving their arena situation. Bettman said the club is in the process of exploring several parcels of land that can host an arena and entertainment retail district project. He anticipates they’ll finalize something “in the next few months.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unlike the Coyotes’ ill-fated attempt to build a new arena in Tempe, they won’t require a referendum from the local population for approval to contract their venue.