NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 13, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 13, 2023

The Blue Jackets refute a privacy violation accusation against coach Mike Babcock, Carey Price admits his playing career is likely over, the Blues’ Torey Krug will miss the start of training camp, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Columbus Blue Jackets released statements from head coach Mike Babcock and team captain Boone Jenner refuting allegations that he invaded his players’ privacy.

Spittin’ Chiclets” podcast host Paul Bissonnette said he got a text from an unnamed player claiming Babcock called Jenner into his office asking to see his phone in order to view the photos on it to determine the type of person he was.

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Mike Babcock (NHL Images).

After looking into the allegation yesterday, the Blue Jackets released statements from Babcock and Jenner with their versions of what happened, stating Bissonnette’s depiction wasn’t delivered in the proper context.

Babcock said that he asked players and staff to share family photos off their phones as a way of getting to know them better. He called Bissonnette’s depiction of events “a gross misrepresentation of those meetings and extremely offensive.”

Jenner, meanwhile, said he was “happy to share” some of his photos of his family, pointing out Babcock had done the same with him. “I thought it was a great first meeting and a good way for us to start a relationship. To have this blown out of proportion is truly disappointing.”

Blue Jackets winger Johnny Gaudreau fully supported Babcock and Jenner. He said the coach also asked him to share some of his family photos. “It was his way of kinda getting to know me, and I got to know him,” said Gaudreau, adding he had no problem with it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Babcock was hired as the Blue Jackets coach earlier this summer. He is under a harsher spotlight following allegations in 2019 that he bullied players during his coaching tenures with the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Bissonnette is standing by his comments claiming “tons of players” have confirmed the accusation. However, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league doesn’t consider this to be an issue. He also said the NHLPA has followed up, claiming Bissonnette’s depiction of the events wasn’t consistent with what the players reported to the PA.

Babcock and Jenner also spoke to the media yesterday after their statements were released. They insisted what happened was taken out of context and blown out of proportion.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price admitted that his knee injury has likely ended his playing career. He missed all of 2022-23 and is expected to be sidelined again this season.

Price, 36, said his knee feels good on a day-to-day basis and he can do things that are strenuous for a short period of time. However, he cannot handle the brunt of a full season of goaltending as he still gets tremendous swelling in his knee as a result. Price indicated that it was swollen for two weeks following his participation in a charity softball event this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price still has three seasons remaining on his contract with an average annual value of $10.5 million. He will be placed on long-term injury reserve this season once he completes his training camp medical next week.

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues defenseman Torey Krug will miss the start of training camp after injuring his right foot during off-season training. He’ll be reevaluated on Oct. 1.

Krug, 32, has been hampered by injuries in recent years. He missed 19 games last season and 18 contests in 2021-22.

NHL.COM: Seth Jones said he’d be honored if he were to be named the next captain of the Chicago Blackhawks. “I’ve always wanted to be a captain,” said Jones, adding he’d learned from some great leaders such as Shea Weber, Nick Foligno and Jonathan Toews over this career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have yet to name a replacement for Toews, who captained the club from 2008 to April of last season. Jones could be the front-runner for the role.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets named center Adam Lowry as their new team captain. Lowry, 30, takes over from Blake Wheeler, who was bought out of the remaining year of his contract in June.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets head coach Rick Bowness cited Lowry’s work ethic, competitiveness and ability to communicate with his teammates as reason why he was tapped as the new captain. The Athletic’s Murat Ates cited Lowry as “a level-headed, inclusive, passionate, honest and consistently hard-working player.”

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche signed free-agent winger Tomas Tatar to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rumors linked Tatar to the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders. Instead, he lands with one of the top teams in the Western Conference.

The 32-year-old winger has a reputation as a solid regular-season performer who struggles in the postseason. Perhaps he’ll have better luck in the playoffs with the Avalanche.

CALGARY SUN: Mikael Backlund hasn’t closed the door on signing a contract extension with the Flames. The 34-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Backlund is taking a wait-and-see approach to this season to determine if the Flames are ready to become a Stanley Cup contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backlund could be shopped by the March 8 trade deadline if the Flames are out of playoff contention by then.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Golden Knights signed winger Maxime Comtois to a professional tryout offer (PTO).

TSN: Speaking of the Golden Knights, Nick Holden is joining their front office after announcing his retirement yesterday. The 36-year-old defenseman played 654 career regular-season games over 12 seasons (2010-11 to 2022-23) with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, the Golden Knights and Ottawa Senators, finishing with 178 career points.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Edmonton Oilers signed forward Adam Erne to a PTO contract.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken prospect Shane Wright will be granted an exemption from the OHL allowing him to play for the club’s AHL affiliate if he fails to make the Kraken roster this season. In other words, he won’t have to return to his junior club because he missed the age eligibility cutoff by just five days.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins announced their “Historic 100” list of the 100 most legendary players in franchise history ahead of its “All-Centennial” all-star roster reveal on Oct. 12. Among the notables are Bobby Orr, Raymond Bourque, Phil Esposito, Eddie Shore, Brad Park, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Gerry Cheevers, Tim Thomas, Brad Marchand, Jean Ratelle, Rick Middleton and Joe Thornton.

ESPN.COM: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly believes a third attempt at operating an NHL franchise in Atlanta could be more successful than the previous two attempts. He indicated the market demographics have significantly improved in that area but noted that the rink location would be important.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report also indicated that league commissioner Gary Bettman has said that expansion isn’t a priority for the NHL right now.

Nevertheless, there’s been speculation among some pundits that another franchise in Atlanta could become a possibility down the road. In addition to the construction of an arena in a suitable location, it will also require a deep-pocketed ownership group willing to pay over $1 billion in expansion fees.

TSN: The NHL and NHLPA are planning on staging a scaled-down version of the World Cup of Hockey in February 2025 given the timeframe and uncertainty over the participation of Russian players. It will not be a “typical tournament” of eight national teams playing over 16 days.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 12, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 12, 2023

Speculation over Steven Stamkos’ future with the Lightning plus the latest on Tomas Tatar in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont recently mused over whether the Tampa Bay Lightning can afford to re-sign captain Steven Stamkos. The 33-year-old forward is in the final season of an eight-year, $68-million contract and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Dupont acknowledged that it’s way too early to think the Lightning won’t pony up for Stamkos. However, they’re always tucked up against the salary cap. If Stamkos becomes available next summer, Dupont believes the Boston Bruins would be among at least a dozen suitors for the right-shot center.

Stamkos will have lots of mileage on him by next summer. Nevertheless, Dupont felt that he would still be “a worthy contributor for another 3-4 years.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos doesn’t get mentioned much among next summer’s possible UFA targets. That’s because it’s assumed he and the Lightning will work something out to keep him in Tampa Bay.

As Dupont observed, salary-cap constraints could be an issue. They’ve already got over $74 million invested in 15 players for 2024-25. Assuming the salary cap hits $87.5 million as projected for next season, they’ll have over $12 million in cap space.

Fortunately for the Lightning, Stamkos is their most notable potential free agent at the end of this season. They’ll have sufficient space to re-sign him if he seeks a cap hit similar to his current $8.5 million. Perhaps he’ll accept a pay cut to between $6.5 million to $7 million annually to finish his career in Tampa Bay.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Horwat cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying he’s not convinced that Tomas Tatar will sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The 32-year-old free-agent winger reportedly had discussions with the Penguins earlier this summer. However, Friedman said they weren’t the only club involved. He noted that Tatar had recently changed agents and is expected to sign with an Eastern Conference team soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With training camps opening next week, we won’t have to wait long to find out where Tatar lands. There’s been recent speculation suggesting the New York Islanders as a possible destination. 

NHL Rumor Mill – September 6, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 6, 2023

Could Patrick Kane sign with the Red Wings? Could they pursue William Nylander or Tomas Tatar? What’s the latest on the Flames’ Elias Lindholm and the Ducks’ Trevor Zegras? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Kevin Allen recently cited the Chicago Herald’s John Dietz suggesting Patrick Kane could sign with the Red Wings.

Free agent winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

The 34-year-old former Blackhawks winger is currently rehabbing from a hip resurfacing procedure in June. An unrestricted free agent, he’s indicated he could be ready to return to action earlier than expected.

Dietz cited a source close to Kane claiming the winger told him that he’d like to follow former Blackhawks linemate Alex DeBrincat to Detroit if he’s able. There would have to be mutual interest from the Red Wings.

Allen is skeptical that Kane will sign with the Red Wings. He doesn’t dismiss the possibility, noting that they’re among the few teams with more than $5 million in salary-cap space this season. However, he pointed out that Kane might prefer signing with a Stanley Cup contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s preference may be joining a contender but the priority is to return to action. If the clubs he’s interested in can’t afford him, he’ll have to consider signing with a team like the rebuilding Red Wings. That would give him the opportunity to prove that he’s returned to form with no lingering effects from his hip procedure.

That would also make Kane a valuable bargaining chip near the trade deadline for the Wings. They could retain part of his salary to send him to a contender for a decent return.

MLIVE.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Ansar Khan was asked if there was a possibility the Wings could pursue a trade for William Nylander if the Toronto Maple Leafs decide to shop the 27-year-old winger.

Khan doubted the Wings would release the assets necessary to acquire Nylander unless the winger agreed to re-sign with them. He noted that the Leafs will have plenty of potential trade partners outside the Atlantic Division for Nylander. Khan also pointed out that the Wings no longer have the urgency to acquire a sniper since landing Alex DeBrincat in July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Nylander were interested in joining the Red Wings, he’d only have to wait until next summer when he could sign with them as an unrestricted free agent. He will be an expensive signing for any club as he’s reportedly seeking an average annual value of $10 million on a long-term contract.

Asked if the Wings might have a reunion with winger Tomas Tatar, Kahn didn’t rule it out. However, he thinks general manager Steve Yzerman might prefer someone who can play center and wing. Khan also believes the club is comfortable with its current group of wingers.


SPORTSNET: In his Sept. 4 “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman acknowledged Elias Lindholm’s recent interview with a Swedish reporter indicating his willingness to remain with the Calgary Flames. However, Friedman said that it’s his understanding that contract discussions have been quiet between the two sides.

Friedman believes it’s good news for the Flames and their fans that Lindholm wants to stay. Nevertheless, the two sides have to reach a place in negotiations where they’re comfortable. He anticipates discussions could pick up as the season gets closer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lindholm said he was leaving it up to his agent and Flames management to work out a suitable new contract. This could occur before the season opens in October or those talks could continue during the season. For now, it appears there is a low possibility of the Flames trading him.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also weighed in on Trevor Zegras’ contract talks with the Anaheim Ducks. The 22-year-old center is a restricted free agent after completing his entry-level contract last season.

Friedman doesn’t see the two sides reaching an agreement on a long-term contract. Instead, it sounds like Zegras will be getting a bridge deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman didn’t indicate how much of an annual cap hit the young center will receive. Bridge deals tend to be two or three years in length. Zegras will get a significant raise following back-to-back 60-plus point seasons.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 5, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 5, 2023

Why didn’t the Bruins trade a goalie this summer? Could they pursue Jets center Mark Scheifele? Could Tomas Tatar end up with the Islanders? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


98.5 THE SPORT HUB: Ty Anderson offered up his thoughts on the Boston Bruins with training camps opening later this month. Despite an offseason that saw the departures of key talent such as Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, he believes the Bruins could still be competitive in the Atlantic Division this season.

Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (NHL Images)

Regarding why the Bruins didn’t trade a goaltender to address their needs at center, Anderson pointed out that Linus Ullmark had a no-trade clause that required his consent to be dealt to half the league. There was some scuttlebutt claiming that a team offered up a fair market offer for Ullmark. However, it would’ve meant “a corresponding trade that never happened” as well as Ullmark waiving his NTC.

Anderson thinks the Bruins weren’t keen to move Jeremy Swayman. There was a rumor claiming the 24-year-old netminder wanted a trade in order to be closer to his parents in Alaska. That speculation was “bogus” as Swayman’s parents no longer live in Alaska.

If the Bruins end up being a fringe playoff club by the trade deadline, Anderson hopes that they go into sell mode. Of their eight pending unrestricted free agents, only Jake DeBrusk should be considered an automatic re-signing. He believes the rest (including Milan Lucic, James van Riemsdyk, and Matt Grzelcyk) should be shopped as their value at the trade deadline could be higher than in September.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some interesting tidbits regarding Ullmark and Swayman. The Bruins appear determined to ride their goalie tandem this season as they try to cope with the loss of their top two centers.

The trade rumors surrounding Ullmark and Swayman have died down in recent weeks. Still, they could resurface at some point this season if the Bruins can’t adjust to the absences of Bergeron and Krejci.

Given Swayman’s eligibility as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer, they could be forced to choose between one or the other at some point. Much will depend on how both goalies perform this season.

I expect the Bruins will be sellers if they’re a borderline playoff club or out of postseason contention leading up to the trade deadline. As Anderson points out, the 2024 first-round pick they sent to the Detroit Red Wings last season for Tyler Bertuzzi is top-10 protected. A selloff of pending UFAs at the trade deadline, if they’re already out of contention, could ensure that they retain that pick, meaning the Wings get the 2025 pick.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy noted that the Bruins have been linked to Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele since Bergeron and then Krejic announced their retirements.

He cited Mark McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press suggesting Boston could make sense for the 30-year-old Scheifele, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. McIntyre wondered what the Bruins could offer up for the Jets, who would be interested in retooling their roster rather than rebuild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murphy questions if Scheifele would be a good fit with the Bruins given his reputation as difficult to coach. I have my doubts that the Bruins have sufficient depth in tradeable assets to make a competitive bid for him if he hits the trade block.

Even if they did land Scheifele, it remains to be seen if he would significantly improve the Bruins. It could work out well, providing them with the inside track to re-signing him. If not, they’ll end up squandering their precious few assets on a rental that didn’t work out.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Stefen Rosner noted there hasn’t been much news of late regarding Tomas Tatar. The 32-year-old winger is coming off a 48-point performance last season with the New Jersey Devils but remains available in this summer’s UFA market.

Rosner wonders if Tatar might already have a contract in hand with an NHL club but it hasn’t been officially announced yet. He points out that New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has a reputation for such stealth signings during the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the Tatar speculation had him linked to the Pittsburgh Penguins. So far, however, there’s no indication yet that he’s close to signing with them.

We can’t dismiss the possibility of a club like the Isles having already signed him but not announcing it until training camp begins. With training camps opening on Sep. 21, we’ll find out soon enough.

NHL Rumor Mill – August 31, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – August 31, 2023

How much could it cost the Bruins to re-sign Jake DeBrusk? Could Jake Guentzel get $10 million annually from the Penguins? Can the Pens bring in Tomas Tatar on a tryout basis? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


NHL.COM: Derek Van Diest reports Jake DeBrusk isn’t looking toward testing next summer’s unrestricted free-agent market. The 26-year-old winger hopes to sign a new contract with the Boston Bruins.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

Entering his seventh season with the Bruins, DeBrusk is in the final season of a two-year, $8 million contract with an average annual value of $4 million. He tied a career-best in goals last season with 27 and had a career-best 50 points but those stats would’ve been higher had he not been sidelined for 18 games.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy observed that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will have around $28.5 million in salary-cap space for 2024-25 thanks in part to the projected rise of the salary cap by $4 million.

Part of that cap room could be taken up with shoring up his top-two center depth if Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle don’t pan out in those roles this season. Murphy believes DeBrusk could seek a deal similar to the eight-year, $52 million contract ($6.5 million AAV) recently signed by Brandon Hagel with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins also have just 11 active roster players under contract for 2024-25. If they have to find suitable top-two centers it might not leave enough to re-sign DeBrusk and fill out the rest of the roster.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jacob Punturi recently pondered how much it could cost the Pittsburgh Penguins to re-sign Jake Guentzel. The 29-year-old left winger has been their top goal scorer over the past five seasons.

Slated to become a UFA next July, Guentzel will be due for a healthy raise after earning a team-friendly $6 million annually on his current contract. While he could easily justify seeking an AAV of $10 million, Punturi doubted he’ll get more from the Penguins than the $8.7 million AAV currently earned by team captain Sidney Crosby.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins are in “win-now” mode trying to win one more championship with Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. Ultimately, I think they’ll pay up to keep Guentzel in the fold.

Penguins GM Kyle Dubas could hold the line for Guentzel at between $8 million and $8.5 million. However, I don’t think Crosby’s AAV will be that much of a barrier.

Unless Guentzel is willing to accept as much or slightly less than Crosby, he could get between $9 million and $10 million from the Penguins. And I don’t think the Penguins captain would have an issue with that. After all, Malkin’s last contract had a higher AAV ($9.5 million) and that wasn’t a problem for Crosby.

Punturi’s colleague Nicholas Brlansky believes the Penguins still have a shot at signing Tomas Tatar. With some free agents starting to sign professional tryout option (PTO) contracts, Tatar is starting to run out of time to find a deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tatar could have a couple of contract offers on the table. One of them could be with the Penguins.

The 32-year-old winger could be waiting to see if he gets any better proposals before training camp. If he doesn’t, he could end up accepting the best existing offer.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2023

The league’s executive committee approves the sale of the Senators, Ottawa captain Brady Tkachuk praises teammate Jake Sanderson, an update on Max Pacioretty, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the sale of the Ottawa Senators to billionaire Michael Andlauer cleared another hurdle when the NHL’s executive committee approved his purchase of the club from the estate of Eugene Melnick, the club’s former owner. It is said to be on track for completion in the coming days.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Completion of the sale of the Senators to Andlauer is expected to be completed in September. The final step will be approval from the NHL Board of Governors. A two-thirds majority is required but Garrioch writes that it’s expected the sale will receive unanimous approval.

THE SCORE: Speaking of the Senators, team captain Brady Tkachuk praised teammate Jake Sanderson. During a recent appearance on the podcast “Dropping the Gloves”, Tkachuk called the young defenseman “one of the most important players on our team.”

Ottawa Senators defenseman Jake Sanderson (NHL Images)

Sanderson, 21, made his NHL debut last season, finishing with 32 points in 77 games. Tkachuk was impressed by the young blueliner’s all-around game and leadership, calling him “the most underrated player” in the NHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A strong sophomore campaign by Sanderson will be crucial to the Senators’ hope of reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: It could be over a month into the 2023-24 season until Max Pacioretty makes his debut with the Capitals. Head coach Spencer Carbery recently indicated that he wasn’t sure of the exact timeline for when the 34-year-winger would join the roster.

Pacioretty’s 2022-23 season was limited to just five games by two torn Achilles tendons. Limited by salary cap constraints, the Capitals signed him to a one-year contract that is incentivized by games played, earning him $4 million if he plays over 20 games this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier this summer, Pacioretty indicated that he was doing well in his recovery from surgery. He stated that he would miss the start of the season but didn’t expect to be sidelined for too long.

DAILY FACEOFF: Patrick Kane, Tomas Tatar, Paul Stastny and Phil Kessel remain the most notable players still available in this summer’s unrestricted free-agent market. Max Comtois, Noah Gregor and Jaroslav Halak are also unsigned.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane is rehabbing from a hip resurfacing procedure in June and isn’t expected to entertain offers from teams until December. Tatar was frequently linked to the Pittsburgh Penguins in recent weeks but there’s no indication he’s close to signing with them or another club. No word on the status of the others.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens are mourning the passing of journalist Yvon Pedneault at the age of 77 following a month-long battle with cancer. Pedneault covered the Canadiens and other Quebec sports clubs and events since 1965. In 1998, the Hockey Hall of Fame honored him with the Elmer Ferguson Lifetime Achievement Award.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Pedneault’s family, friends and associates