NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 13, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 13, 2023

The Oilers’ Connor McDavid and the Blackhawks’ Connor Bedard face off for the first time, the Leafs Auston Matthews and the Canucks’ Brock Boeser reach the 20-goal plateau, the Blues fire head coach Craig Berube, and more in the NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid led his club over the Chicago Blackhawks and Connor Bedard 4-1 as the two stars faced off for the first time. McDavid collected two assists to extend his points streak to 10 games as the Oilers won their eighth straight, improving their record to 13-12-1 (27 points) to sit one point out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Bedard scored for the Blackhawks (9-18-1) as they slipped to the bottom of the overall standings with 19 points.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid now sits seventh among the league’s leading scorers with 38 points. He’s nine points behind Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov, who tops the leaderboard with 47.

Bedard, meanwhile, tops all rookie scorers (and the Blackhawks) with 12 goals and 24 points. Speaking of the Hawks, defenseman Seth Jones missed this game due to an upper-body injury while rookie blueliner Kevin Korchinski was away dealing with a family matter.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews scored twice and collected two assists to thump the New York Rangers 7-3. Matthews became the first player to crack the 20-goal plateau this season and is tied for first among the league’s leading scorers with 21 goals. Mitch Marner tallied twice and set up another for the 15-6-5 Leafs. Blake Wheeler replied with two goals for the Rangers (19-7-1), who remain in second place in the Eastern Conference with 39 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller missed this game for personal reasons. The Boston Bruins also have 39 points but lead the Blueshirts based on point percentage (.750).

A hat trick by Brock Boeser powered the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Boeser became the second player to reach 20 goals this season and is tied for the lead (21 goals) with the Leafs’ Auston Matthews. Quinn Hughes had three assists for the 19-9-1 Canucks. Brayden Point scored for the Lightning (13-12-5) as they slipped out of a wild-card berth with 31 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes also have 31 points but sit ahead of the Lightning based on games in hand. Bolts defenseman Victor Hedman missed this contest with an upper-body injury.

The St. Louis Blues fired head coach Craig Berube following their 6-4 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Kevin Hayes tallied two goals for the Blues as they sank to 13-14-1. Lucas Raymond and Michael Rasmussen each had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings (15-9-4) as they hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 34 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Berube was signed through 2024-25. He coached the Blues to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history but he’s had to deal with a steadily depleted roster as long-time stars such as Alex Pietrangelo, Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko departed in recent years.

The Blues are just one point out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference but they’ve struggled with consistency this season. Like many clubs this season, they lack sufficient salary-cap space to improve their roster. General manager Doug Armstrong had little option but to shake things up behind the bench in the hope that it would provide a boost to his struggling club.

Speaking of the Red Wings, the NHL Players Association has officially filed an appeal to reduce the six-game suspension handed down to David Perron for cross-checking Ottawa Senators defenseman Artem Zub on Saturday.

Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone’s overtime goal lifted his club over the Calgary Flames by a score of 5-4, extending his club’s points streak to nine games. Stone finished the night with two goals and two assists while Jonathan Marchessault had three assists as the league-leading Golden Knights (20-5-5, 45 points) become the first team to reach the 20-win mark this season. Yegor Sharangovich scored twice for the 11-14-4 Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Flames announced that defenseman Chris Tanev is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho scored twice and added an assist as his club snapped a four-game losing skid by downing the Ottawa Senators 4-1. Pyotr Kochetkov stopped 31 shots for the 15-12-1 Hurricanes (31 points) as they sit behind the Washington Capitals (31 points), who hold three games in hand. Josh Norris replied for the Senators as they dropped to 11-12-0 and remained last in the Eastern Conference with 22 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators still hold several games in hand over their Conference rivals but they’re failing to gain traction in the standings. They must start stringing some wins together if they hope to contend for a playoff berth. Meanwhile, Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour indicated before this game that sidelined winger Andrei Svechnikov is expected to be out “for a while” with an upper-body injury.

The Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the Arizona Coyotes 4-2 thanks to two-goal performances from Jeff Carter and Jake Guentzel. Connor Ingram kicked out 40 shots for the Coyotes (13-13-2) as they dropped into the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 28 points, one ahead of the surging Oilers. The Penguins improved their record to 12-12-3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph returned to action after missing 16 games with an undisclosed ailment.

An overtime goal by Filip Forsberg lifted the Nashville Predators over the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2. The Predators jumped to a 2-0 lead but the Flyers battled back on goals by Sean Couturier and Travis Sanheim. The Predators (16-13-0) have won five of their last six and hold the first Western Conference wild-card spot with 32 points. The Flyers (15-10-3) had their four-game win streak snapped but hold third place in the Metropolitan Division with 33 points.

Seattle Kraken goaltender Joey Daccord made 24 saves for his first NHL shutout in a 4-0 victory over the Florida Panthers. Kailer Yamamoto had a goal and an assist for the 9-14-7 Kraken. Sergei Bobrovsky had 19 saves for the 17-9-2 Panthers, who sit one point ahead of the Leafs in second place in the Atlantic Division with 36 points.

A late goal by William Eklund gave the San Jose Sharks a 2-1 upset win over the Winnipeg Jets, snapping the latter’s four-game win streak. Mackenzie Blackwood turned aside 36 shots for the Sharks (9-17-3), who’ve won three of the last four games. Brenden Dillon scored for the 16-9-2 Jets, who hold third place in the Central Division with 34 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets are also awaiting a second opinion in Winnipeg regarding winger Kyle Connor’s knee injury. However, there’s speculation he could be sidelined for six to eight weeks. An update on his condition is expected today.


DAILY FACEOFF: Reports indicate the Washington Capitals (as well as the NBA’s Washington Wizards) will be moving across the Potomac River to a new arena in Alexandria, Virginia. It would be located about 20 minutes away from their current home, the Capital One Arena, which has hosted the Capitals since 1997-98. The anticipated move could take place in time for the 2028-29 season.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Speaking of the Capitals, Sammi Silber takes a look at the reasons why captain Alex Ovechkin is not scoring at his usual pace this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin leads the Capitals with 16 points in 25 games but he’s fourth in goals thus far with just five. He’s on pace for just 16 this season, which would be the first time he would fail to crack the 20-goal plateau.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen was none too pleased over reports from a Finnish columnist questioning his offseason dedication to training. The comments came from Ismo Lehkonen, father of Rantanen’s teammate Artturi Lehkonen.

Following the Avs win over the Flames on Monday, Rantanen accused the elder Lehkonen of “talking s**t about me”, accusing him of “making things up.” However, he also said everything was fine between himself and his old friend Artturi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Something tells me Lehkonen’s dad won’t be on Rantanen’s Christmas card list this year.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy and center Pavel Zacha are expected to miss tonight’s game against the New Jersey Devils with upper-body injuries. Both are listed as day-to-day and haven’t been ruled out of Friday’s matchup with the New York Islanders.

DAILY FACEOFF: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov is out day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

CBS SPORTS: The Islanders placed forward Matt Martin (upper body) on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 2.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2021

The Philadelphia Flyers sign Sean Couturier to an eight-year extension, the Carolina Hurricanes ink Andrei Svechnikov to an eight-year deal, Canadiens expect Carey Price and Jonathan Drouin to attend training camp, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Philadelphia Flyers signed center Sean Couturier yesterday to an eight-year, $62 million contract extension.

Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Couturier will earn an annual average value of $7.75 million starting in 2022-23 through 2029-30. He’ll be 29 when that contract begins.

Winner of the Selke Trophy in 2019-20 as the NHL’s top defensive forward, Couturier is considered among the best two-way players in the league. He’s also the Flyers’ best player and one of their team leaders.

This deal could work out well for the Flyers as long as he maintains that Selke form. That shouldn’t be a concern through the first half of this new deal but could become burdensome if his performance declines over the second half.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed winger Andrei Svechnikov to an eight-year, $62 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Svechnikov is getting a big pay raise coming off his entry-level contract. Unlike Couturier who is an established star at the peak of his playing career, the 21-year-old Hurricanes winger is a rising star who has displayed considerable potential as a first-line winger.

The Canes are banking on Svechnikov reaching or exceeding expectations. If he does, they’ll have a high-scoring top-line forward under contract during most of his best seasons at a price well below those of his peers.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme said Carey Price is expected to be ready for the start of training camp next month. The 34-year-old goaltender is currently recovering from offseason knee surgery.

Jonathan Drouin is also expected to be at camp. The 26-year-old winger took a leave of absence in April for personal reasons and missed the remainder of the regular season and the Canadiens march to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite last season’s surprising playoff success, the Canadiens could be in a tough fight to clinch a playoff berth in 2021-22 in the competitive Atlantic Division. A healthy Price and Drouin could be crucial to their postseason hopes this season.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins center Charlie Coyle is recovering well from offseason surgery to repair a fracture in his left kneecap and a small tear in his patellar tendon. He’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp in mid-September.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haggerty indicates those injuries accounted for Coyle’s struggles last season as he managed only 16 points in 51 games. He’s expected to take over the second-line center position left vacant by David Krejci’s decision to return to the Czech Republic.

TSN: The Calgary Flames signed winger Dillon Dube to a three-year, $6.9 million deal.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators are expected to name a team captain before the end of training camp. Thomas Chabot and Brady Tkachuk could be the leading candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators haven’t had a captain since trading Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks three years ago.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 22, 2021

Flyers avoid arbitration with Travis Sanheim plus the latest on Juuse Saros, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeny Svechnikov and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers avoided salary arbitration with Travis Sanheim by signing the 25-year-old defenseman to a two-year, $9.35 million contract.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was another quiet offseason for arbitrators. All of the 19 players scheduled for hearings wound up settling with their respective clubs.

Cap Friendly indicates the Flyers have just over $281K in remaining cap space. They could shed some salary to create some additional wiggle room for the coming season. 

THE TENNESSEAN: With a new contract signed, Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros is training in Helsinki with several other Finnish NHL players in preparation for the 2021-22 season. Saros inked a four-year, $20 million deal earlier this month.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Chicago Blackhawks created a minor buzz on Twitter with a photo of the jerseys of their offseason acquisition with Marc-Andre Fleury’s last name misspelled. The tweet was later removed and replaced with one showing his name spelled correctly. Fleury was acquired by the Blackhawks last month from the Vegas Golden Knights.

MLIVE.COM: Former Detroit Red Wings forward Evgeny Svechnikov signed a one-year AHL contract with the Manitoba Moose. He’ll attend the Winnipeg Jets training camp on a professional tryout offer in hope of securing a one-year, two-way deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A former first-round pick (19th overall, 2015), Svechnikov struggled to crack the rebuilding Red Wings’ roster. The Wings decided not to qualify his rights, making him an unrestricted free agent.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Seattle Kraken prospect Matty Beniers is returning to the University of Michigan for the coming season. Beniers was the second-overall pick in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Owen Power (first overall, Buffalo Sabres) and Kent Johnson (fifth overall, Columbus Blue Jackets) are also returning to the University of Michigan for the coming season. The trio is keen to win the national championship before moving on to their NHL careers.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Former Avalanche goaltender Peter Budaj has returned to the franchise as a development goalie coach.

NHL Rumor Mill – August 21, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 21, 2021

A look at the remaining notable restricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently looked at how some of the most prominent restricted free agent situations could play out.

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

Regarding Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson and defenseman Quinn Hughes, O’Brien noted the club’s salary-cap crunch could result in bridge contracts for those two. Both are represented by agent JP Barry, who floated the possibility of Hughes getting more term and Pettersson less, perhaps something comparable to Mathew Barzal’s three-year, $21 million contract with the New York Islanders.

Citing stats via Evolving Hockey, O’Brien speculated both could come in at $12 million. In that scenario, Pettersson could get two years at just under $5 million and Hughes getting six years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Brien noted it’s a messy situation that could go down to the wire. Pat Brisson, who represents both players with Barry, remains confident deals will get down but these things take time. He and Barry have said they’re open to short- or long-term contracts for their clients.

O’Brien doesn’t see a team attempting to sign Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov to an offer sheet. However, he wonders if the one signed by teammate Sebastian Aho two years ago (five years, $8.45 million annually) could be a barometer for what Svechnikov gets.

Evolving Hockey projects a four-year deal worth $6.175 million per season for Svechnikov. O’Brien wonders if it might make sense for the winger to take less, or if the Hurricanes might bump up that annual average value to sign him to a longer-term that takes up more of his UFA years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A longer-term with a cap hit of $7 million annually could be a bit of a gamble if the 21-year-old Svechnikov doesn’t blossom into a superstar. On the other hand, it would be worth it to lock him into that kind of deal if they’re confident he’ll reach that next level.

Observing Kirill Kaprizov’s contract standoff with the Minnesota Wild, O’Brien wonders if some of the other notable RFAs might wait and see what he eventually signs for. The Wild reportedly made offers of seven and eight years worth $9 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov reportedly has a one-year, eight-figure contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow. His camp prefers a three-year deal with the Wild to bring him up to his UFA eligibility to cash in on a more lucrative deal. Wild GM Bill Guerin claims to be unconcerned about that KHL deal but indicated he’s willing to entertain mid-range deals of four to six years.

O’Brien noted there was plenty of speculation over how much Brady Tkachuk might get on his next contract with the Ottawa Senators. Mikko Rantanen’s six-year, $9.25 million AAV with the Colorado Avalanche was one suggested comparable. More conservative estimates suggest six years at over $6.46 million annually or three years at $7.7 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk is arguably the most important core player on the rebuilding Senators. I can see him getting over $7 million annually for four-to-six years.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin’s up-and-down performance and the mess that is the Sabres franchise could affect what his next deal looks like. Projections suggest a three-year, $6.5 million AAV deal, six years at $6 million per or eight years at between $8 million and $8.25 million annually. O’Brien suggests a bridge deal might be best here for a blueliner who hasn’t shown his best work yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see the bridge deal here, but it’s the Sabres, so who knows what they’ve got planned for Dahlin.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 15, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 15, 2021

The Senators are linked to several notable centers, the Hurricanes could be looking for another top-six forward, and the Jets are eyeing a former Red Wing. Details in this edition of the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators are still trying to add a center or winger via trade or free agency. Defenseman Erik Brannstrom could be used as a trade chip to add a winger or another center in order to move someone to the wing.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

The Senators kicked tires on Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel but the asking price and contract are expensive. Internet rumors claim they’ve had talks with the San Jose Sharks about Tomas Hertl, who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.

New York Rangers center Ryan Strome could be a good fit if they acquire Eichel. The Chicago Blackhawks are trying to move Dylan Strome and the Senators are mildly interested. The Sens would like to move center Logan Brown as it hasn’t worked out for the two sides. They’d prefer to get a player in return rather than a future asset.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks could shop Hertl if he intends to test the market next summer. A rebuilding club like the Senators could seek assurances he’ll re-sign with them. Unless you’re a playoff contender interested in Hertl as a rental player it makes little sense for the Senators to waste assets on a player who could depart as a free agent soon afterward.

A deal for Dylan Strome seems possible. Earlier this month, Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times speculated Strome could be a cost-cutting candidate to free up cap space for new contracts for Brandon Hagel and Alex Nylander. They’re already over the cap by $2.1 million. With Brent Seabrook off their books, they can only draw upon the $3.9 million of Andrew Shaw as long-term injury reserve cap relief.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Sara Civian was asked if the Carolina Hurricanes still need another top-six forward. She believes they do, adding they seem to be looking for one.

They’ve been linked to St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. Even if they can’t land him, she still thinks they’ll make a trade of some sort, pointing out they’ll still have some cap space left after signing Andrei Svechnikov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes currently have over $12 million remaining. Assuming they spend up to $7 million on Svechnikov, there’s enough wiggle room to add another top-six forward. That depends, of course, on ownership’s willingness to spend toward the ceiling and which forward they target.

Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual average value is a lot to take on. They’ll have to ship out a salary in that deal, swing a separate cost-cutting move or convince the Blues to pick up part of his cap hit.


NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 14, 2021

A look at the status of some of this summer’s top restricted free agents in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined where things stand with some of the top restricted free agents.

Negotiations are ongoing between the Vancouver Canucks and center Elias Pettersson and defenseman Quinn Hughes. They’re both represented by agents Pat Brisson and J.P. Barry. The latter had acknowledged the Canucks’ cap issues, saying they were exploring five years or under for Pettersson and longer for Hughes.

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

Because Quinn is a 10.2(c) RFA, he’s ineligible to receive an offer sheet. Canucks general manager Jim Benning has vowed to match any offer sheet for Pettersson. Fox wondered if a bridge contract is the only solution. Both players remain committed to signing with Vancouver.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Province’s Patrick Johnston reported Friday that Brisson said there is no holdup in negotiations with the Canucks. “Our goal is to get it done,” he said, adding that sometimes “these things take time.” He also said they’re open to long or short-term contracts.

Training camps start in late September so there’s plenty of time for both sides to hammer out agreements. An offer sheet for Pettersson is a remote possibility. If it was going to happen it likely would’ve taken place soon after the free-agent market opened on July 28.

Fox noted the recent report of Kirill Kaprizov having a tentative one-year, eight-figure contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow in case negotiations with the Minnesota Wild fall through. Wild GM Bill Guerin is willing to compromise with a five- or six-year offer to the 2021 Calder Trophy winner. He cited The Athletic’s Michael Russo reporting the Wild still expect to get a deal done despite the KHL threat from the Kaprizov camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A number of observers are skeptical the KHL contract is a serious one. They point to CSKA Moscow’s limited budget for the coming season plus Kaprizov’s apparent desire to play in the NHL. This staredown might not last long as the KHL deal is supposed to begin on Sep. 1.

Brady Tkachuk would be willing to commit to a long-term deal with the Ottawa Senators if ownership is willing to spend what it takes to deliver a Stanley Cup team. Elliotte Friedman recently suggested a three-year bridge deal might be the route here.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk reportedly likes his teammates and what the Senators are building in Ottawa. Still, it’s understandable that he wants assurance from ownership to invest in building and maintaining a winner. The length of his next contract could provide an indication of where he sees his future.

Contract terms seem to be the sticking point between the Carolina Hurricanes and Andrei Svechnikov. Nevertheless, the young winger expressed confidence a deal will be done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It usually takes most of the offseason to get the top RFAs under contract, especially for those ineligible for arbitration like most on Fox’s list. Both sides are going to take as much time as they can to work toward an acceptable deal. Things will pick up when the calendar flips to September and the start of training camp approaches.

The Detroit Red Wings remain flush with cap space after signing Jakub Vrana and Tyler Bertuzzi. Fox believes defenseman Filip Hronek could get more term on his new contract than any of his teammates.

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros’ arbitration hearing is set for Aug. 18. One way or another he’ll be under contract with the Predators for the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most who file for arbitration merely use their hearing date as an artificial deadline to negotiate a new contract with their teams. Few actually go before a hearing. I’ll be surprised if things reach that point for Saros.

Negotiations are underway between the Buffalo Sabres and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. Fox suggested the safe play for both sides could be a bridge deal. With the Sabres lacking a defenseman signed beyond 2022, he wondered if they could try for a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That depends on whether young Dahlin believes the Sabres are worth sticking with through yet another rebuild.