NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 27, 2021

Recaps of Friday’s action plus the latest on Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Vladimir Tarasenko and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Two goals in 12 seconds by Colin Blackwell and Chris Kreider lifted the New York Rangers to a 6-2 drubbing of the Boston Bruins in front of 1,800 fans at Madison Square Garden. Ryan Strome had a goal and two assists for the Rangers. Bruins’ captain Patrice Bergeron scored to collect his 889th career point, surpassing Bobby Orr for fifth on the club’s all-time points list while linemate Brad Marchand netted his 300th career goal. The Bruins have dropped four of their last five contests.

Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

The Minnesota Wild picked up their fifth straight victory by downing the Los Angeles Kings 3-1, snapping the latter’s six-game win streak. Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov scored his fifth of the season and leads the Wild and all NHL rookie skaters with 16 points in 17 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov must be considered the favorite to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year. The smooth-skating 23-year-old is very entertaining to watch and a big reason why the Wild are playing so well of late.

Nazem Kadri had a goal and two assists as the Colorado Avalanche held off the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist while rookie goalie Hunter Miska made 16 saves for this first NHL win.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is listed as day-to-day with an injured hand. Goaltender Frederik Andersen (lower-body injury) was on the ice yesterday ahead of Leafs practice while winger Joe Thornton and defenseman Jake Muzzin joined their teammates in practice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews’ injury is reportedly considered a minor issue. He and his teammates are slated to meet the Edmonton Oilers tonight.

ESPN.COM: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury while goaltender Linus Ullmark is expected to miss at least two games with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s absence could force Sabres coach Ralph Krueger to insert Jeff Skinner into the lineup. The struggling winger was a healthy scratch for the club’s last three games.

STLTODAY.COM: Vladimir Tarasenko could soon return to the Blues’ lineup before the club’s six-game road trip ends on March 8. The 29-year-old winger has been recovering from offseason shoulder surgery but is taking part in practice with his teammates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have struggled of late so the return of their top sniper should provide a welcome boost to their offense. They’ll have to do some juggling with their salary cap space to make room for his $7.5 million annual salary-cap hit when he comes off long-term injury reserve.

THE ATHLETIC: Jim Rutherford told Pierre LeBrun he’s ready to work in the NHL only a month after suddenly stepping down as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rutherford insists he was “treated great” by the Penguins and has no regrets. He also said he has no geographical limitations on where he’d like to work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford has a solid reputation around the NHL as one of the savviest general managers in the business. I doubt he’ll be unemployed for long.

NHL.COM: Former Montreal Canadiens general manager Irving Grundman passed away on Friday at age 93 following a short illness. He was the Habs GM from 1978-79 to 1982-83, winning the Stanley Cup in his first season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Grundman’s family, friends, and the Canadiens’ organization. During his tenure as GM he drafted future Hall-of-Famers Chris Chelios and Guy Carbonneau, as well as such noteworthy players as Mats Naslund, Craig Ludwig and Mike McPhee.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 4, 2021

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos hits the ice for training camp, the Wild name Jared Spurgeon captain, an update on Joe Thornton, the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: After missing all but one game of the 2020 playoffs to a core muscle injury, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said he’ll be a full participant in training camp. He also expects to be ready for the start of the season on Jan 13.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A healthy Stamkos should help the defending Stanley Cup champions offset the absence of winger Nikita Kucherov, who’s expected to miss the regular season recovering from hip surgery.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild named Jared Spurgeon as their second full-time captain in franchise history. He replaces Mikko Koivu, who was their first full-time captain for 11 seasons until his departure via free agency in October.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spurgeon gets the nod over long-time Wild stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. The 31-year-old defenseman has spent his entire NHL career with the Wild, becoming an underrated but invaluable part of their roster core.

TSN: Joe Thornton will begin Toronto Maple Leafs training camp playing left wing alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how long that line stays together. There will be concerns over whether the 41-year-old Thornton can keep pace with his younger, faster linemates.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed Dylan Strome to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $3 million. The 23-year-old center is expected to take on a larger role this season with centers Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach sidelined by illness and injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks couldn’t afford to let Strome’s contract negotiations keep him out of training camp. With Toews and Dach on the shelf, they need all the help they can get at the center position.

Strome played well during his first season with the Blackhawks (51 points in 58 games during 2018-19) but his numbers tumbled to 38 points in the same number of games in 2019-20. This will be a golden opportunity for Strome to prove his worth to the Hawks and earn himself a more lucrative long-term deal in two years’ time.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins signed defenseman John Marino to a six-year contract extension beginning in 2021-22. The annual average value is $4.4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marino, 23, enjoyed a promising NHL debut with the Penguins, netting 26 points in 56 games while averaging over 20 minutes of ice time per game. This contract could be a bargain for the Pens if he blossoms into a full-time first-pairing defenseman.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders are downplaying Mathew Barzal’s absence from training camp as contract negotiations continue with the restricted free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barzal is in New York and it’s expected a new contract could be announced sometime this week.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland won’t be in training camp and his playing career could be in jeopardy as he continues to deal with post-concussion symptoms. He saw action in just 14 regular-season games last season. GM Jim Benning said Ferland is expected to miss the start of the upcoming season.

SPORTSNET: Benning also said the club intends to sign head coach Travis Green to a contract extension. Green has one year remaining on his current deal.

CBS SPORTS: The Calgary Flames signed defenseman Michael Stone to a professional tryout offer. Stone spent the last four seasons playing with the Flames

SPORTSNET: The province of British Columbia has become the second Canadian province to officially approve NHL games this season. Alberta last week also issued its approval for its NHL teams to stage games in Calgary and Edmonton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s expected the other three provinces with NHL franchises (Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec) will follow suit this week.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 28, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 28, 2020

The latest on Colton Parayko, Dylan Strome, Erik Gudbranson, and Jaromir Jagr plus speculation on when the 2020-21 season might begin in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo believes Colton Parayko is ready to still up and fill his spot on the St. Louis Blues. Pietrangelo, who signed a seven-year deal with the Golden Knights last month, believes his former teammate has what it takes to become the leader of the Blues’ defense corps. The Blues haven’t indicated yet what Parayko’s role will be but the 27-year-old blueliner said he’s looking forward to the challenge.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Parayko will have some big skates to fill. How well he adjusts to replacing Pietrangelo on the Blues’ top defense pairing will determine how the Blues perform in their own zone next season.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope reports the Blackhawks still plan to re-sign restricted free agent center Dylan Strome. One reason for the holdup could be due to Strome’s now-former agent, Mark Guy, left the hockey industry this week.

OTTAWA SUN: Ottawa native Erik Gudbranson is happy to be playing in his hometown after being recently acquired by the Senators. He and his wife are expecting their first child in March and are pleased to be close to family. Gudbranson is also looking forward to playing for what he considers a “really good, up-and-coming hockey team” in Ottawa.

NEW YORK POST: Former NHL great and future Hall-of-Famer Jaromir Jagr doesn’t want the pandemic to get in the way of his hockey planers. The 48-year-old winger hopes to continue playing for one more season in the Czech Republic with Kladno, the club which he is also the majority owner.

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman and Chris Johnston yesterday shared their thoughts on when they felt the 2020-21 NHL season might begin.

Return-to-play talks between the NHL and NHLPA cooled recently over the league’s requests for an increase in escrow and salary deferral rates. Nevertheless, Friedman believes the two sides will eventually work things out. He feels it would be disastrous for the owners and players if the NHL doesn’t play this season while other sports leagues (such as the NBA) are carrying on with their respective schedules.

Johnston said the players and coaches are preparing as though training camp could start on Dec. 15 but they want some clarity over when the season might begin. He feels the owners and players must start discussions soon.

Friedman postulates training camp could be shorter than we’re used to, suggesting it could be 10 days instead of 14 without exhibition games since the league can’t make money off them without fans. The players are already in good shape and ramping up in anticipation of camp. He also thinks there won’t be as many players invited to camp compared to previous years. If some players returning to Canadian teams miss the start of training camp because they have to quarantine for 14 days the teams may just have to live with it.

Johnston thinks it could take up to four weeks from the time an agreement is reached to when they drop the puck on the season. Friedman’s “educated guess” is the players are brought in right after Christmas and the puck drops between Jan 6 – 8.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A return-to-play on New Year’s Day or early January is possible if the NHL and NHLPA are willing to be flexible with the training-camp period. For now, discussions between the two sides have stalled for over a week. That could soon change coming out of the American Thanksgiving long weekend and the calendar flipping to December.

Many pundits maintain there’s a mutual desire among the NHL leadership and the players to stage a shortened season as soon as possible, with Jan. 1 often mentioned as the target date. The longer this stalemate between the two sides over escrow and salary deferral rates drags on, the less likely we’ll see a puck drop in early January.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 14, 2020

The latest on the Bruins and Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: In his latest mailbag, Joe Haggerty was asked if the Bruins will sign a free agent. Right now, he doesn’t think so but that could change once the dates for next season are sorted out.

Will the Boston Bruins re-sign or trade Jake DeBrusk? (NHL Images)

It also hinges on their remaining moves, such as whether they’ll re-sign winger Jake DeBrusk or trade him. If they do the latter in exchange for a young defenseman, it could free up space to pursue a scorer like Mike Hoffman on a one-year deal. Either way, they could also be in a position to sign winger Anthony Duclair on a short-term contract.

Haggerty also mentioned the possibility of swapping DeBrusk for a defenseman when asked if the Bruins would trade for a rearguard to fill the gap left by Torey Krug’s departure. He also noted they were willing to part with Urho Vaakanainen and other assets (including a high draft pick) for Oliver Ekman-Larsson. However, he thinks the Bruins would have to convince the other club to absorb part of a defenseman’s salary or take back someone like John Moore in return.

Ultimately, Haggerty thinks the Bruins could go into next season with their current blueline corps. He has his doubts Zdeno Chara will be back, though Chara’s agent said his client is waiting on a season format before re-upping with the Bruins.

Speaking of Chara, Haggerty’s colleague Jimmy Murphy reports there’s speculation linking the big blueliner to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins re-sign DeBrusk, which I expect they will, they’ll have to go into the bargain bin for a free-agent left-side defenseman or stick with their current blueline and see how things unfold during the season.

The Bruins have over $6.6 million in cap space, which should be enough to get DeBrusk signed to an affordable two-year bridge deal and leave some wiggle room for other additions. Depending on when the season begins, they could get some early cap relief by placing sidelined wingers Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak on long-term injury reserve and use it to add a player or two. However, they would have to shed salary to become cap compliant when those two return.

As for Chara, I don’t see how the Lightning, Leafs or Islanders could fit him in even if he accepted a bargain basement deal.

The Lightning must shed salary to sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. The Isles must re-sign RFA center Mathew Barzal. Once that’s done, they are expected to officially announce the signings of Cory Schneider, Matt Martin and Andy Greene, which will use up whatever cap space they’ve got left. The Leafs, meanwhile, are over the cap by $1 million but are expected to bury salary in the minors.

Unless those clubs make a cost-cutting trade or acquire a player on permanent LTIR to allow them to exceed the cap, they don’t have room for Chara or anyone else.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello looked ahead at possible moves by the New York Rangers at next year’s trade deadline. He expects they’ll be sellers again, suggesting center Ryan Strome as a prime trade chip, especially if he has another big year skating alongside Artemi Panarin.

Carpiniello speculates the Rangers could attempt to package defenseman Tony DeAngelo for either a second-line center or a first-pair right-side blueliner. Rearguards Brendan Smith and Jack Johnson could also be shopped. Winger Pavel Buchnevich could also hit the trade block if youngsters Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko earn top-six minutes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s far too early to determine which Rangers will be trade candidates by the deadline. Much will depend upon where they are in the standings by then. I doubt they’ll shake things up too much if they’re holding onto a playoff spot. The play of Strome, DeAngelo, Buchnevich, Smith and Johnson will determine how much value they might have in the trade market by the deadline.

If we’re going to play the guessing game, Buchnevich could be the most likely to move. The Rangers have a surplus of wingers and he could slip down the depth chart, especially if Lafreniere is moved to right wing and plays well at that position. However, that’s not a certainty as we don’t know how well the youngster will adjust to the NHL level, let alone getting used to skating on his wrong wing.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 7, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 7, 2020

An update on Jake DeBrusk plus the latest on the Rangers and Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT WILL DEBRUSK’S NEW CONTRACT LOOK LIKE?

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty speculates Jake DeBrusk’s next contract with the Bruins could be between what Ryan Strome signed with the New York Rangers and what Jake Virtanen and Denis Gurianov signed with their respective clubs.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

Strome, 27, signed a two-year, $9 million contract this week, with an annual average value of $4.5 million. Virtanen agreed to a two-year, $5 million deal ($2.55 million AAV) with the Vancouver Canucks. Gurianov inked a deal similar to Virtanen’s with the Dallas Stars.

Haggerty suggested DeBrusk could get a two-year bridge deal worth between $3.5 million and $4 million annually. That will put him in line to seek a more lucrative deal in two years’ time when he’ll be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk was the subject of some trade speculation in recent weeks. However, I doubt the Bruins part ways with him. While his production can be streaky, he still provides meaningful secondary scoring to the Bruins. They also hold the hammer in contract negotiations and will ink him to an affordable bridge deal.

LATEST ON THE RANGERS

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers completed their offseason business after signing Brendan Lemieux on Friday to a two-year contract. While they made no significant acquisitions via trades or free agency, they shed some salary by trading Marc Staal to Detroit and buying out the final season of Henrik Lundqvist’s contract. The Blueshirts also avoided arbitration with Lemieux, Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo and Alexandar Georgiev.

Brooks believes any roster restructuring will have to wait. He noted there was a limited trade market, if any, for DeAngelo, Strome, and Pavel Buchnevich. They have sufficient cap space to promote from within.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the trade market for DeAngelo, Strome or Buchnevich improves over the course of 2020-21. That depends on how they perform and the Rangers’ roster needs. I feel Strome is more valuable to the Rangers right now given his terrific chemistry with Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin. That could leave DeAngelo or Buchnevich as the more likely trade candidates.

RED WINGS NOT DONE MAKING MOVES?

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan reports Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has sufficient cap space ($9.5 million) to add talent if he chooses. Yzerman acknowledged this during a recent interview, pointing out a number of players remain available in the free-agent market. He said he would consider adding talent as the start of the regular season draws nearer.

Yzerman also indicated he’d be open to adding via trade. However, he said the market is quiet right now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Defensive depth was a big weakness last season for the Wings. Yzerman’s already made moves to address that problem by acquiring Marc Staal, Troy Stecher and Jon Merrill. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t surprise me if he brought in one more experienced blueliner on a one-year deal. He could also look at adding an experienced checking-line winger.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 6, 2020

Alex Ovechkin discusses his future, the Rangers avoid arbitration with Ryan Strome, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Alexander Ovechkin told Russian Television International he’d like to finish his playing career with KHL club Dynamo Moscow. However, he still intends to finish his NHL career with the Washington Capitals. “It is clear, in two, three, four years, maybe five, I will end my career in Washington,” he said.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He is still motivated to win another Stanley Cup, but he’s also chasing Wayne Gretzky’s goal-scoring record. Ovechkin sits 188 goals behind Gretzky’s 894. He’s also one season shy of tying Gretzky and Mike Bossy for the most 50-goal seasons (10).

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers avoided arbitration with Ryan Strome, signing the 27-year-old center to a two-year, $9 million contract. The annual average value is $4.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a nice pay raise for Strome over the $3.1 million AAV of his previous contract. Larry Brooks noted the move also provides stability at center for the Rangers, though they could leave Strome unprotected in next year’s expansion draft. Cap Friendly indicates the Blueshirts have over $6.3 million in projected cap space with Brendan Lemieux left to sign. He’s slated for arbitration today. 

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov to a three-year, $8.4 million contract. The annual average value is $2.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gavrikov, 24, had a solid NHL debut with 18 points in 69 games while averaging almost 19 minutes per game. His contract leaves the Blue Jackets with $9.225 million in cap space with Pierre-Luc Dubois to sign.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks signed prospect winger Jacob Perreault to a three-year, entry-level contract. Perreault was selected 27th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed winger Marko Dano to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700K at the NHL level.