NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 21, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 21, 2022

As training camps begin, check out the latest on Ryan Ellis, Joe Thornton, Tyler Bertuzzi and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Ryan Ellis continues to rehab a pelvic injury suffered during preseason last year. There is no timetable for the 31-year-old defenseman’s return to the lineup. Daily Faceoff first reported Ellis’ status on Tuesday. He played just four games with the Flyers last season. 

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This news comes a day after the Flyers announced first-line center Sean Couturier is sidelined week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Having two of their best players on the shelf for the opening weeks of 2022-23 is a major setback for a club hoping to bounce back from one of the worst seasons in franchise history.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks released their training camp roster yesterday and Joe Thornton was not among the 34 forwards. The 43-year-old Thornton has taken part in informal “captain’s skates” with several of his former Sharks teammates in recent weeks, sparking speculation he might attend camp on a professional tryout offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks general manager Mike Grier said he isn’t sure if a PTO is in Thornton’s future but he’s happy to have him and former Shark Patrick Marleau around the team. It sounds like Grier’s angling for one or both to join the club in an off-ice capacity. So far, there’s no word from Thornton or Marleau regarding their plans.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Tyler Bertuzzi might not have to miss games in Canada this season. The Canadian government will lift the COVID-19 vaccination requirement to cross the border on Sept. 30 pending cabinet approval. Bertuzzi was the only NHL player unvaccinated last season and wasn’t allowed to play in Canada.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: “Personal choice. Freedom of choice. And life choice,” explained Bertuzzi last season of his decision to be unvaccinated. The Red Wings won just two of its nine games in Canada last season without him in the lineup.

TORONTO STAR: Defenseman Timothy Liljegren will miss the start of Maple Leafs training camp with an undisclosed injury. The team is expected to provide an update on the 23-year-old defenseman on Wednesday but he could be for a long-term period. It’s also believed forward Pierre Engvall could also be injured heading into camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report also indicates Liljegren’s absence isn’t expected to put more pressure on Leafs management to sign restricted free agent blueliner Rasmus Sandin.

TORONTO SUN: Speaking of the Leafs, they’ll have a “Milk” advertising patch on the right breast of their sweaters for this season. It’s part of their ongoing marketing partnership with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This news will likely enrage purists who are udderly against ad patches on NHL sweaters. It’s just part of each team’s desire to milk as much advertising revenue as possible but there will be fans who’ll find the whole scheme rather cheesy.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER’s Luke DeCock reports Jake Gardiner isn’t expected to join his Carolina Hurricanes teammates in training camp this week. He’s likely to end up on long-term injury reserve again.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gardiner spent all of last season on LTIR recovering from hip surgery. This could spell the end of his playing career. The 32-year-old defenseman is entering the final season of his four-year contract with an average annual value of $4.050 million.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed restricted free agent Barrett Hayton to a two-year contract. The 22-year-old center will earn an average annual value of $1.775 million.

TSN: St. Louis Blues defenseman Marco Scandella will undergo surgery on his right hip joint. He’s expected to be re-evaluated in six months.

The Colorado Avalanche have reportedly signed forward Alex Galchenyuk to a professional tryout offer. Galchenyuk, 28, had 21 points in 60 games last season with the Arizona Coyotes.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 18, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 18, 2022

Check out the latest on Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun and Ducks goaltender John Gibson plus an update on Joe Thornton in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

LATEST ON THE COYOTES

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan reports Jakob Chychrun has been the subject of rampant trade speculation for some time. However, Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said last week that he expects the 24-year-old defenseman to report to training camp when it opens on Sept. 21.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

Armstrong said they’ve had “continued, healthy conversations” throughout the summer as Chychrun continued to rehab an injury. He also praised the blueliner’s professionalism.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rumors persist tying Chychrun to the Ottawa Senators but if that move was going to happen it probably would’ve by now. Armstrong has reportedly set a high asking price and has stuck to it.

We’ll likely hear Chychrun’s name come up again in rumors throughout this season depending on his performance this season. However, the earliest I see him being traded (if it happens at all) is in the days leading up to the March 3 trade deadline.

The Coyotes GM also indicated contract negotiations are ongoing with restricted free agent Barrett Hayton. “We’re in a staring contest,” said Armstrong, who sympathize with the young center.

Armstrong also indicated a decision on Andrew Ladd’s future could be coming this week. He’s entering the final year of his contract but said at the end of last season that his plans remained uncertain due to the wear on his oft-injured body.

GIBSON STAYING PUT IN ANAHEIM

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens last week reported the Anaheim Ducks won’t be trading John Gibson. “The Ducks didn’t do it over the summer. Gibson said he didn’t want to leave.”

Stephens observed that both sides appear committed to keeping the long-term relationship going “for now.” He also pointed out that the 29-year-old goaltender has another five years and $32 million remaining on his contract plus a 10-team no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephens acknowledged it’s possible the relationship between Gibson and the Ducks changes. However, he considers it more probable that he doesn’t move. For now, they can comfortably afford his contract but it could become an anchor when they have to re-sign their promising young players.

UPDATE ON THORNTON

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng reports Joe Thornton recently joined the San Jose Sharks for a “captain’s skate” with Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Kaapo Kahkonen and James Reimer. However, Peng considers it unlikely that the 43-year-old forward will be returning to the Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton is one of the greatest playmakers in NHL history and a certain first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. As I’ve stated previously, however, his play has noticeably declined over the past few seasons as age and the wear-and-tear of 24 years of NHL hockey have caught up with him. An NHL club could invite him to training camp for a tryout but I think his playing days at the NHL level are probably over.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 6, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – September 6, 2022

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill: more speculation over possible trade destinations for Patrick Kane plus a suggestion for the Calgary Flames to sign Joe Thornton to a tryout offer.

LATEST ON PATRICK KANE

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Matt Porter suggests it “seems probable” Patrick Kane will play games this season for an Atlantic Division team.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Kane’s hometown team, the Buffalo Sabres, has the cap space to bring him home. If the cap-strapped Toronto Maple Leafs can find a way to clear sufficient cap space, he’d give them their most Stanley Cup-worthy roster in years. Shipping him to the Detroit Red Wings could send their rebuild into overdrive.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane remains a subject of ongoing media trade chatter despite his whopping $10.5 million salary-cap hit and a full no-movement clause. He’s also been linked to the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers, who couldn’t afford him unless they could pull off a complicated trade with a third team to spread his cap hit around.

Meanwhile, Chicago sportswriters such as Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times continue to report that Kane (and longtime teammate Jonathan Toews) haven’t approached the Blackhawks about a trade. Pope cited Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson repeating that Kane and Toews are excited about training camp and look forward to seeing how the season unfolds.

There have also been reports that both players aren’t really keen to leave the only NHL club they’ve ever played for. It’s believed Davidson will give both stars the time and space they need to decide whether their plans involve the Blackhawks after this season.

Nevertheless, the rumor mill keeps churning about Kane. Get used to seeing his name popping up in trade chatter over the course of the coming season. If he does get moved it’ll likely be closer to the trade deadline depending on how the Blackhawks’ season shakes out.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarlane suggests the Flames should consider bringing in Joe Thornton on a professional tryout offer. He thinks the 43-year-old forward could be the perfect addition for a smooth dressing-room transition given the roster changes the club has undergone this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We don’t know what Thornton’s plans are but there is talk he could take up a management position with a team in Switzerland, where he resides with his family during the offseason.

It was painfully apparent last season that the future Hall-of-Famer has reached the end of the line as an effective NHL player. Sure, it’s a risk-free opportunity as Macfarlane suggests, but it would also take away a training camp spot from a younger hopeful who might play a more meaningful long-term role.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 30, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – August 30, 2022

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, a look at some of the notable players still available in the unrestricted free agent market and some tryout candidates for the Golden Knights.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Evan Rodrigues, Sonny Milano and P.K. Subban top Steven Ellis’ list of the top unrestricted free agents entering September.

Rodrigues is a 28-year-old center coming off a career-best 43-point performance with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Milano, a 26-year-old winger, spent last season skating alongside promising Trevor Zegras on the rebuilding Anaheim Ducks. Subban is no longer the player he used to be but the 33-year-old defenseman could bring good value for the right price.

Former New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rodrigues has been linked to the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some other clubs interested in him. Milano could be a good cost-effective option as a playmaking winger.

Subban is the biggest name on this list. The former Norris Trophy winner could help a club seeking an experienced defenseman for their third defense pairing or a power-play specialist on the blue line. Oddsmakers have linked him to the Edmonton Oilers but there has been no media gossip tying him to the club.

Former Ducks winger Sam Steel, veteran forward Sam Gagner and winger Tyler Motte fill out spots four through six on Ellis’ list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Steel (24) is the youngest player on this list and could be an affordable reclamation project for a team willing to invest the time in his development. The versatile Gagner, 32, had a respectable 31 points with the rebuilding Red Wings last season and could be a good depth addition. Motte, 27, acquitted himself well as a checking-line winger with the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers.

Defenseman Anton Stralman, center Tyler Ennis, winger Daniel Sprong and winger Zach Aston-Reese round out the list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stralman could draw interest from teams seeking an experienced and reliable right-shot rearguard. Ennis and Sprong are well-traveled players who could be enticing to cap-strapped or cost-conscious clubs seeking decent depth forwards. The same applies to Aston-Reese.

Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on where these players could end up in the comments section below. 

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Rodrigues, Milano, Sprong, Steel and Aston-Reese also showed up on Owen Krepps’ list of proposed professional tryout offer candidates for the Golden Knights. Joe Thornton and Michael Stone were the other NHL players on his listing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of those players on Ellis’ list could end up accepting tryout offers with the Golden Knights or other NHL clubs next month hoping to earn jobs in training camp or through preseason play.

It will be interesting to find out what Thornton’s plans are. He played with the Florida Panthers last season on a one-year contract but saw action in just 34 regular-season games and one playoff contest. Now 43, Thornton is among the greatest playmakers in league history but his performance has steadily declined in recent years as age and the grind of 24 NHL seasons have caught up with him.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2022

Leon Draisaitl talks about how his ankle injury affected his postseason play, Joe Thornton won’t be returning with the Panthers, Mike Babcock intends to retire from coaching and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Kayla Douglas cited Leon Draisaitl telling Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman how his high ankle sprain during the playoffs forced him to change his style of play. The Edmonton Oilers center suffered the injury in Game 6 of his club’s first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

Draisaitl usually relies on speed to beat his opponents. He explained that the injury forced him to slow down his game and evolve as a player. “I tried to find a way to be productive in a different way,” said Draisaitl. “I thought I did a pretty good job of that.”

For the remainder of the Oilers’ playoff run, Draisaitl scored twice and collected 22 assists in 10 games while playing a more stationary style.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was apparent Draisaitl was hampered by his injury yet his output was impressive. It’s bad news for opponents that he used the experience to evolve his style of play. This lesson could also help him remain productive when age inevitably slows his skating.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: On Wednesday, Joe Thornton’s wife posted to her private Instagram account that the family will be moving on from South Florida. He signed a one-year contract last summer with the Panthers but appeared in just 34 regular-season games and one playoff contest. It’s uncertain what the future holds for the 43-year-old free-agent forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After 24 seasons, Thornton’s NHL career has likely come to an end. His performance has been declining since his season-ending knee injury in 2017-18.

650 CKOM: Mike Babcock said he intends to retire from coaching after stepping down earlier this week as head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. While he seemed to leave the door open for a possible return to the NHL coach ranks, the 59-year-old indicated retirement was best for himself and his family.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Babcock had a long and successful career in the NHL. He sits 10th all-time in wins (700) between 2002-03 and 2019-20 with the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, winning the Stanley Cup with the Wings in 2008. Babcock faced allegations of bullying players following his dismissal by the Leafs but he has denied those claims.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings signed Filip Zadina to a three-year contract with an average annual value of $1.825 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chosen sixth overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, Zadina has struggled to play up to expectations as a top-six winger. The Wings appear intent on staying patient with the 22-year-old right winger. His affordable new contract could also make him easier to trade if the two sides feel he might benefit from a change of scenery.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed Philippe Myers to a one-year, $1.4 million contract extension. The 25-year-old defenseman was acquired from the Nashville Predators as part of the return in the Ryan McDonagh trade earlier this summer. Myers is entering the final season of his current contract with a $2.55 million cap hit.

DAILY FACEOFF: Vegas Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon said the club will go with the goalie tandem of Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit to start the upcoming season. There was speculation over how they would address the absence of Robin Lehner, who is undergoing double hip surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCrimmon has no choice. There are no viable replacement options via free agency or the trade market for his cap-strapped club.

TSN: cited the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reporting Senators general manager Pierre Dorion saying he’s still talking with the agents for Erik Brannstrom and Alex Formenton. He anticipates the two restricted free agents to be signed before training camp opens next month.

In other Senators’ news, they recently reached an affiliation agreement with the ECHL’s Allen Americans. Speaking of NHL teams and ECHL affiliates…

CALGARY SUN: The Flames named the Rapid City Rush as their ECHL affiliate.

NHL.COM: The San Jose Sharks did the same with the Wichita Thunder as did the Arizona Coyotes with the Atlanta Gladiators.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 26, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 26, 2022

The Blues defeat the Avalanche to stave off elimination, the latest news on the Flames-Oilers and Hurricanes-Rangers series, updates on the Panthers, Tom Wilson undergoes knee surgery & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Tyler Bozak’s overtime goal lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 in Game 5 of their second-round series. The Blues overcame 3-1 and 4-3 deficits, setting the stage for Bozak’s OT heroics. Robert Thomas scored twice, Nick Leddy collected three assists and Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist for the Blues. Nathan MacKinnon tallied a hat trick for the Avalanche, who hold a 3-2 lead in this series as it returns to St. Louis for Game 6 on Thursday.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche seemed to have this game in the bag, holding a 2-0 first-period lead and 3-1 after the second. However, they let it slip through their fingers in the third by playing to protect the lead, enabling the Blues to tie the game. MacKinnon’s breathtaking end-to-end goal late in the third restored the Avs’ lead but the Blues pulled goalie Ville Husso and tied it again with less than a minute remaining in the period.

Before the game, Blues head coach Craig Berube spoke out against the racist threats aimed at Avalanche center Nazem Kadri. Claiming he’s not on social media, Berube said he was aware that a threat had been made against Kadri but didn’t know about the “racist stuff.” The threats led to heightened security by St. Louis police around the Blues arena (Enterprise Center) and the Avalanche’s hotel before and during Game 4.

DAILY HIVE: Edmonton Oilers winger Evander Kane didn’t join his teammates in Calgary yesterday as he took time away to be with girlfriend Mara Teigen for the birth of their child. He’s expected to rejoin his teammates today and be in the lineup for tonight’s Game 5 against the Flames. The Oilers hold a 3-1 series lead.

CALGARY SUN: Speaking of the Flames, three Calgary businessmen have engaged with the club in hope of reviving and mediating arena talks between the club’s ownership and the city.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames are in need of a new arena to replace the nearly 40-year-old Saddledome. After talks with the city fell through, ownership indicated they will not relocate the Flames but will continue to operate out of their current arena. Nevertheless, everyone understands that’s not a viable long-term solution. Time will tell if these efforts to restart those negotiations will be successful.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour called out his struggling scorers to step up their performances. Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Teuvo Teravainen, Vincent Trocheck and Martin Necas have been outplayed by the Rangers. Brind’Amour praised rookie winger Seth Jarvis for his effort during their two losses against the Rangers but felt the 20-year-old can’t be their best player.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers’ power play was a key factor in the club’s two wins to tie their series with the Carolina Hurricanes at two games apiece.

THE SCORE: Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov endorsed interim coach Andrew Brunette. “He did an unbelievable job,” said Barkov, stressing how much the players respected Brunette and enjoyed playing for him this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers enjoyed their best regular season in franchise history under Brunette, taking the Presidents’ Trophy for finishing atop the overall standings and winning their first postseason series since 1996. Still, there remains uncertainty over whether he’ll return on a full-time basis or be replaced by a more experienced head coach.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Joe Thornton said he hasn’t put any thought yet toward his future following the Panthers’ second-round playoff elimination. The 42-year-old forward intends to take the offseason to consider his options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton was sidelined for 20 games by injury and used sparingly by the Panthers, appearing in just 34 regular-season games and one playoff contest. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer but I think his NHL playing days are over.

Claude Giroux can see himself returning with the Panthers next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers acquired Giroux from the Philadelphia Flyers before the trade deadline. A pending free agent, he was a terrific fit with his new club. However, they might not have the cap space to bring him back unless he accepts a significant pay cut from his current $8.275 million cap hit.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals winger Tom Wilson underwent successful surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. His recovery timeline is six-to-eight months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The earliest he could return to action is late November.

SPORTSNET: Former NHL star Jaromir Jagr was unharmed when his vehicle and a tram collided in Prague. He took responsibility for the accident, saying his view was partially obscured by traffic before crossing into the tram’s path.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Happy to hear Jagr wasn’t hurt in the accident. The photo he shared on Instagram showed his vehicle suffered significant damage.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports a new contract for Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis is expected to be announced in the near future.

Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said the knee injury suffered by Tim Stuetzle during the World Championships is the same ailment he dealt with during the regular season. He’ll require a two-week recovery period.

THE PROVINCE: The agent for Alex Chiasson denied a report his client might sign with HC Lugano in Switzerland. The Vancouver Canucks winger is eligible for unrestricted free agent status this summer. However, his agent said Chiasson wants to stay with the Canucks.

TRIBLIVE.COM: After four seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, defenseman Juuso Riikola has signed with IK Oskarshamm of the Swedish Hockey League.