NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 4, 2021

NHL players will participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics, the Senators sign Drake Batherson, the Red Wings ink Filip Hronek to a new deal, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league has reached an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) to take part in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. NHL players will be returning to the Olympics for the first time since the Sochi Games in 2014. The league will break from Feb. 3-22 to allow for the 2022 All-Star Game in Las Vegas followed by the Olympics.

NHL players will take part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics (NHL.com).

The agreement also provides the league and the NHL Players Association the option for a possible later decision to withdraw from the Beijing Games in the event COVID-19 conditions render participation to be impractical or unsafe.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some hockey fans and pundits believe the NHL should boycott the Beijing Games for a variety of reasons. That decision, however, isn’t up to the league.

The players wanted Olympic participation as part of the extension to the CBA. As a result, the league had to work with the PA, IIHF and the International Olympic Committee to reach an agreement on the Beijing Games. It appears the only thing that will prevent it will be the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators winger Drake Batherson to a six-year, $29.85 million contract. The 23-year-old winger’s annual average value is $4.975 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Batherson enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2020-21 after two short seasons with the Senators, tallying 17 goals and 34 points in 56 games. The report noted that the versatile two-way forward enjoyed terrific chemistry on a line with Brady Tkachuk and Josh Norris. That should continue in the coming years as the rebuilding Senators rise in the standings. Batherson’s new contract could also be a cost-effective deal if he continues to improve as management believes he will.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings signed Filip Hronek to a three-year, $13.2 million contract. That’s a $4.4 million annual average cap hit for the 23-year-old defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable new deal for Hronek, who developed into the Red Wings’ best blueliner over the past two seasons. He’ll likely be joined on their top pairing by Nick Leddy, who was acquired earlier this summer from the New York Islanders.

STLTODAY.COM: After signing an eight-year contract extension, Colton Parayko assured nervous Blues fans that he’s fully recovered from the back injury that hampered him last season. The 28-year-old defenseman missed 21 games but said he required minimal offseason treatment, relying instead on rest and building up the muscles around it.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins invited forward Brian Boyle and defenseman Matt Bartkowski to training camp on professional tryout offers. Boyle is attempting a comeback after sitting out last season while Bartkowski spent all but one game last season with the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Rocky Thompson has stepped down as an associate coach with the San Jose Sharks. Medical reasons prevent him from taking the COVID-19 vaccine, making it difficult for him to perform his duties under the league’s COVID protocols for the coming season.

USA HOCKEY: John Hynes, David Quinn, Todd Reirden and Ryan Miller will serve as assistant coaches to head coach Mike Sullivan for the 2022 USA Men’s Olympic hockey team.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 12, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 12, 2020

In today’s NHL morning coffee headlines: Alex Pietrangelo reportedly close to signing with the Golden Knights, the Blackhawks core aren’t happy with management’s recent moves, and the latest notable free-agent signings.

Alex PIetrangelo is reportedly close to a deal with the Vegas Golden Knights (NHL Images).

THE ATHLETIC’s Jeremy Rutherford reported hearing Alex Pietrangelo and the Vegas Golden Knights were getting close to a deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford speculated it could’ve come as early as last night. Nothing so far as of this posting but they could reach an agreement later today. Cap Friendly indicates the Golden Knights currently have $1.875 million in salary-cap space. A new contract for Pietrangelo could cost over $8 million annually on a long-term deal.

They are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason, but they’ll have to shed significant salary to fit that deal under the cap before the start of next season. I’ll have more about that in the Rumors section.

THE SCORE: cited The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus reporting the Chicago Blackhawks veteran core players (Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and captain Jonathan Toews) are fed up with management’s offseason moves. Lazerus cites a source claiming they’re “pissed off” and have “had enough”.

The Blackhawks let Corey Crawford depart for New Jersey via free agency, traded Brandon Saad to Colorado for Nikita Zadorov, and didn’t tender qualifying offers to Drake Caggiula and Slater Koekkoek. Toews said the recent moves came as a shock, adding he was never told the club was going through a rebuild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman deserves criticism for his management of the club’s cap payroll. They have little room to maintain a playoff-caliber roster. However, a big chunk of those cap dollars is invested in those core players. I can sympathize with their frustration, but they have no business being pissed off when their contracts annually eat up over $33 million in salary-cap space.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars re-signed center Radek Faksa to a five-year contract worth $3.25 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Faksa, 26, has become an effective shutdown center on the Stars’ third line. This is an affordable deal that’s pretty much in line with market value for a center of his skill set.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings signed forward Vladislav Namestnikov to a two-year, $4-million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another good, affordable signing by Wings GM Steve Yzerman. Namestnikov is a versatile two-way forward who can play center or wing. He also wanted to play for Detroit. He’s the nephew of former Wing Slava Kozlov and lives in the area.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues signed forward Kyle Clifford to a two-year contract worth $1 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues sit above the salary cap by $1.175 million with defenseman Vince Dunn to re-sign. While they could make a cost-cutting deal, they will likely start next season with Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Steen on long-term injury reserve, allowing them to exceed the cap by their equivalent salaries until such time as they return to action.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed defenseman Derek Forbort to a one-year, $1-million contract and center Nate Thompson to a one-year, $750K deal.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed forward Jimmy Vesey to a one-year, $900K contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 6, 2020

Connor McDavid tests positive for COVID-19, the Wild trade Devan Dubnyk and Ryan Donato to the Sharks, Matt Niskanen retires, Penguins buy out Jack Johnson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers captain Connor McDavid has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The club reports McDavid, 23, is experiencing minor symptoms but otherwise feeling well and self-quarantining at his Ontario home.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid tests positive for COVID-19 (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to McDavid for a swift and full recovery. He’s the biggest NHL star to be diagnosed with the coronavirus since a report emerged in June revealing Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews also tested positive. Matthews recovered and played for the Leafs in the NHL’s return-to-play tournament in August.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA/TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild made two trades yesterday with the San Jose Sharks, shipping goaltender Devan Dubnyk (along with a seventh-round pick in 2022) and winger Ryan Donato to the Sharks for a fifth-round pick in 2022 and a third-round pick in 2021. The Wild also retained half of Dubnyk’s $4.33 million cap hit for 2020-21, which is the final season of his contract. The Wild also re-signed defenseman Carson Soucy to a three-year, $8.25-million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubnyk will share the Sharks’ goaltending duties with Martin Jones. General manager Doug Wilson is confident the 34-year-old netminder can regain his form after dealing with his wife’s health issues last season. Wilson also feels Donato, who was stuck on the Wild’s fourth line, could flourish given more playing time.

These moves were straightforward salary dumps by the Wild, giving them $12.5 million in salary-cap space. GM Bill Guerin has made no secret he wants to improve his goaltending plus he still needs a proven scoring center after trading Eric Staal to Buffalo last month. Perhaps he’ll put some of that cap space to addressing those needs.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen has retired after 13 NHL seasons. The 33-year-old blueliner had a year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $5.75 million. Niskanen had 72 goals and 356 points in 949 games with the Flyers, Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, winning the Stanley Cup with the latter in 2018.

The Flyers also re-signed defenseman Justin Braun to a two-year, $3.6-million contract worth annual average value of $1.8 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Niskanen in his future endeavors. His decision was reportedly based on being away from his family during the recent playoffs and uncertainty over what next season could be like. His retirement clears his cap hit from the Flyers’ books.

With the Braun signing, the Flyers have $2.9 million in cap space for 2020-21. Niskanen’s retirement could send them into the trade or free-agent market for a replacement, or it could make them reluctant to trade blueliner Shayne Gostisbehere.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday placed defenseman Jack Johnson on waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a surprising move. The writing was on the wall for Johnson when the Penguins acquired Mike Matheson last month from the Florida Panthers. The move leaves the Penguins with $1.16 million in dead cap space for the next two seasons, $1.9 million in 2022-23, dropping to $916K for the following three seasons.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs re-signed Jason Spezza to a one-year, $700K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spezza, 37, was a worthwhile depth addition playing a variety of roles for the Leafs last season. His signing scarcely dents their cap room, leaving them with $4.7 million.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres re-signed forward Tage Thompson to a three-year contract worth $1.4 million per season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators re-signed defenseman Josh Brown to a two-year, $2.4-million deal.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): The Dallas Stars salary-cap space shrunk for next season, incurring over $3 million in performance bonuses last season that will count against their 2020-21 salary cap payroll.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames will be adopting their classic 1980s jerseys and color combinations for the entire 2020-21 season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2020

Lady Byng and Masterton Trophy finalists are announced,  Edmonton’s Rogers Place suffers some water damage, plus the latest on David Pastrnak, Vladimir Tarasenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, and St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly are this year’s finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded annually to the player who bests combines sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct, and ability.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is a finalist for the 2020 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This award typically goes to the most notable superstar with the lowest penalty minutes. MacKinnon had 12 PIMs this season, O’Reilly 10 and Matthews eight. However, this year’s selections stirred up some controversy.

Matthews got himself into trouble last year when he and a group of friends were accused of harassing a female security guard in Arizona. Meanwhile, some pundits were puzzled why Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin (10 PIMs) was passed over as a finalist. It was also pointed out only three defensemen (Bill Quackenbush, Red Kelly, and Brian Campbell) have won the Lady Byng.

Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns, Philadelphia Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom, and Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan are this year’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johns returned to action after being sidelined nearly two years by post-traumatic headaches that at times left him confined to darkened rooms battling depression and suicidal thoughts.

Lindblom’s rookie season was derailed by Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. He recently completed cancer treatments, including chemotherapy.

Ryan took a leave of absence last November to receive treatment for alcohol abuse. He returned to action on Feb. 25 and scored a hat trick two days later.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

TSN: A storm in Edmonton caused some water damage to Rogers Place just two weeks before it becomes a host city for the Western Conference teams in the upcoming playoff tournament. Oilers Entertainment Group issued a statement expressing confidence the incident won’t hamper its hosting efforts. Most of the damage was reportedly limited to the Ford Hall terminus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Time to break out the Shop-Vacs! Seriously, though, it doesn’t appear the arena, training facilities, or dressing rooms suffered any damage.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins wingers David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were declared unfit to participate in practice yesterday. Both had emerged from travel quarantine earlier in the week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Do they have COVID-19 symptoms? Did they suffer injuries preparing to return to play? No one knows because the league won’t allow teams to reveal a sidelined player’s status due to “medical privacy”. 

CALGARY SUN: Flames general manager Brad Treliving shot down speculation suggesting winger Johnny Gaudreau’s skating with a smaller group of players was some sort of punishment over his conditioning. “Johnny Gaudreau has never looked better,” claimed Treliving. He added Gaudreau’s placement with the smaller group was due to circumstances arising from the need to be cautious as the players returned from a long layoff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That won’t prevent some folks from theorizing Gaudreau’s fallen out of favor with the coaching staff or stoking rumors about the winger’s future in Calgary.

THE SCORE: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Taransenko isn’t concerned about living in a quarantine bubble in Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. “I don’t need much to live. I just need a bed and food,” he told The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu is more concerned about his club’s opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup than his future. The 37-year-old center is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and could be playing his final games with the Wild.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre examines the strict pandemic protocols the Winnipeg Jets are following during Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan. Defenseman Luca Sbisa explained the players aren’t really allowed to go anywhere but the rink and their homes, though they do partake in simple errands such as grocery shopping. The Jets have their own Phase 3 policies as well as those issued in a 19-page document by the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Phase 3 is the crucial period if the playoff tournament under Phase 4 is to take place starting in two weeks. The Jets, and the other clubs involved, are taking significant steps to ensure the health and safety of the players. Time will tell, however, if those measures prove successful.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TORONTO SUN: Long-time Leafs TV reporter Paul Hendricks is stepping down to spend more time with his wife, who’s battling cancer. Hendricks was part of Leafs TV from its infancy in the mid-1990s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hendricks and his wife during this difficult time.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Rocky Thompson is stepping down as head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves after three seasons behind their bench. He’s expected to coach the Vegas Golden Knights’ new AHL affiliate in Nevada next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 12, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 12, 2020

The NHL considers its options as the NBA suspends its season over coronavirus concerns, plus game recaps and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: The National Hockey League will provide an update on its season later today regarding coronavirus concerns. The league released a statement last night indicating its awareness of the National Basketball Association’s decision to suspend its season indefinitely after a player tested positive for the virus. NHL officials will continue to consult with medical officials and evaluating options. It is also in close contact with the NHL Players Association.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the league is expected to hold a conference call with all 31 clubs today.

SPORTSNET: While the league hasn’t yet decided on suspending its season, Chris Johnston believes it wouldn’t be surprising if it followed the NBA’s lead. “How can they reasonably play on with the virus spreading quickly in North America?”, asked Johnston. Even if the league held games in empty arenas, it might not be enough to guarantee the safety of the players and officials. Johnston also raised concern over whether the NHL can award a Stanley Cup champion this season, noting several European leagues have scrapped their seasons over COVID-19 concerns.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports playing games without fans would have consequences for league revenue this season, in turn affecting the salary cap for 2020-21. The NHL is the most gate-reliant for revenue among the four major North American sports leagues.

SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens have grounded their international scouts over COVID-19 concerns.

THE SCORE: Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith attempted to find some humor over the possibility of playing games in empty arenas. “I played in an empty building for a couple of years in Florida so I’m used to it,” he said.

Could the NHL suspend its season over COVID-19 concerns? (Image via NHL.com)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the league addresses this situation. The Columbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks already announced it would play several upcoming home games without fans. The league could go that route with all its clubs on a week-by-week basis, they could postpone the remaining schedule by two or three weeks or suspend it indefinitely.

Whatever the league decides, it will affect hockey-related revenue for this season. It’s probably safe to assume those rosy projections of the cap rising next season to between $84 million to $88 million can be scrapped.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Pietrangelo scored twice to lead the St. Louis Blues over the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 to complete the game that was postponed last month after Blues defensemen Jay Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac incident. With the win, the Blues (94 points) hold a two-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first overall in the Western Conference.

An overtime goal by J.T. Compher lifted the Avalanche to a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers. Cale Makar collected three assists for the Avs in his return to the lineup following a five-game absence to an upper-body injury The Rangers (79 points) sit two points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Earlier in the day, the Avs announced center Nathan MacKinnon was sidelined one-two weeks with a lower-body injury.

The Winnipeg Jets picked up their fourth straight win by doubling up the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. Kyle Connor scored two goals for the Jets (80 points), moving two points ahead of the Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Oilers (83 points) remain three points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division.

Chicago Blackhawks rookie Dominik Kubalik tallied his 30th goal of the season in a 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. Kubalik leads all NHL rookies in goals this season. Patrick Kane scored twice for the Hawks.

The Los Angeles Kings picked up their seventh straight win by edging the Ottawa Senators 3-2. The Kings have won 10 of their last 13 contests.

IN OTHER NEWS…

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Pacioretty leads the Golden Knights with 32 goals and 66 points.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens sophomore center Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s season is over following an injured spleen suffered on Friday playing for the Habs’ AHL affliate.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Filip Zadina’s attempt to return from an ankle injury has been delayed by a mid-body injury. The Wings are hoping it won’t be season-ending for the young winger.

PHILLY.COM: Flyers center Nate Thompson will be sidelined for two weeks with a sprained left knee.










NHL Trade Deadline: Lesser Deals That Could Exceed Expectations

NHL Trade Deadline: Lesser Deals That Could Exceed Expectations