NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 9, 2023
The preseason schedule is released, details of how the Erik Karlsson trade went down, plus the latest on Brendan Gallagher, Jeremy Swayman, Tim Thomas and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The 2023-24 preseason schedule was released yesterday. It will be “a 15-day, 111-game slate played across 44 NHL and neutral-site venues in North America and Australia from Sept. 23 to Oct. 7.”
The schedule kicks off with the Arizona Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings playing two games in Australia in the 2023 NHL Global Series in Melbourne at the Rod Laver Arena from Sept. 23-24. It’s the first time NHL games will be played in the Southern Hemisphere.
In the Kraft Hockeyville series, the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs face off at the Joe Thornton Community Centre in St. Thomas, Ont, on Sept. 27 while the Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators meet on Oct. 1 at Centre 200 in Sydney, NS.
The 2023-24 regular season begins on Oct. 10.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Training camps are expected to begin between Sept. 21 and 25.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Details emerged about how the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks in a blockbuster three-team deal involving the Montreal Canadiens. Among the highlights:
Sharks general manager Mike Grier dismissed reports from last month claiming he and Penguins GM Kyle Dubas were close to a deal on the opening day of free agency (July 1) or during the NHL Draft on June 28-29. Dubas, meanwhile, said his side pushed hardest during the last week to make it work.
As expected, moving Karlsson’s hefty contract proved to be challenging, especially given the Sharks’ unwillingness to retain a significant portion of his $11.5 million average annual salary. Grier also indicated that the Penguins and the Carolina Hurricanes were the only clubs seriously in the hunt.
There was also a deadline for the Penguins to acquire Karlsson that was tied to the settlement last week of winger Drew O’Connor’s salary arbitration. It opened a 48-hour contract buyout window over the weekend that would’ve been Dubas’ last chance to clear some significant salary-cap space barring a trade before the beginning of the regular season. The Penguins intended to buy out Mikael Granlund but instead managed to include him in the trade package to San Jose for Karlsson.
The Sharks were on Jeff Petry’s 15-team no-trade list. He was traded to the Canadiens with the Penguins retaining 25 percent of his $6.25 million AAV. Dubas revealed there was some difficulty attempting to move the 35-year-old defenseman until Canadiens GM Kent Hughes stepped in toward the end.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were a lot of pieces to this deal that needed time to be worked out. Fans and pundits are grading this trade to determine the winners and losers. Time, however, will be the ultimate judge of how this deal works out for all concerned.
What’s undeniable is this became the biggest trade in Pittsburgh Penguins’ history. It involved 12 assets, breaking the record of nine that was set in the 2015 Phil Kessel trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of the Canadiens, Brendan Gallagher said he’s healthy after recovering from a twice-broken ankle that limited him to 37 games last season. The 31-year-old winger is looking forward to playing a leadership role with the rebuilding Habs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallagher’s physical, aggressive style of play could lead to him being sidelined at times this season. He missed considerable time over the past three years.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jeremy Swayman said he holds no ill will against the Bruins after being awarded a one-year, $3.47 million contract via arbitration. While the 24-year-old goaltender acknowledged it was business, he also said he didn’t want to repeat the process.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Going through the arbitration process often leads to a player’s departure once they become eligible for unrestricted free-agent status. However, the Bruins’ limited salary-cap space this season put the club in a difficult situation where they couldn’t afford to pay Swayman a more lucrative contract.
With the cap expected to rise by at least $4 million for 2024-25 and Swayman once again a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, perhaps the two sides will reach an agreement on a longer-term contract.
Speaking of the Bruins, former goalie Tim Thomas is looking forward to being part of the club’s centennial celebrations this season. Thomas, 49, said he’s looking forward to seeing some old teammates and expects it will be a fun season given the events planned by the team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thomas has had a change of heart after saying he wouldn’t take part in the ceremonies during a 2019 interview. He’ll likely get a warm welcome from the Bruins faithful given his invaluable role in the club’s 2011 Stanley Cup championship run.
DAILY FACEOFF: cited Edmonton Oilers commentator Bob Stauffer reporting Brandon Sutter is expected to join the club’s training camp next month on a professional tryout offer. He hasn’t played since the 2020-21 season due to the effects of long-COVID but said in March that he’s been making some progress.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo has put in a letter of intent to purchase 41 acres in Mesa, AZ, for the club’s new arena. If successful, it would become the first privately funded sports and entertainment district in the state. Meruelo is also reportedly looking at other possible sites in the East Valley.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move follows a May vote by Tempe voters rejecting the Coyotes’ proposal to construct a venue in their area.
RDS.CA: Former NHL star Jaromir Jagr confirmed he’s returning for another season with Czechia’s Kladno Knights. Jagr, 51, owns the club and is in his seventh season with Kladno since leaving the NHL. He had five goals and nine assists in 26 games last season.