SPECTOR’S NOTE: The dollars were the sticking point in negotiations resulting in Zegras missing nearly two weeks of training camp and preseason play. It was reported the Ducks offered between $3 million and $4 million annually.
Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras (NHL Images).
Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek ended up paying more but it’s still a team-friendly amount. This deal also sets an artificial cap ceiling for Verbeek to wield when he goes into contract talks with promising youngsters such as Mason McTavish and Leo Carlsson.
As The Athletic’s Eric Stephens and Pierre LeBrun observed, this contract gives Zegras a runway to elevate his game and establish himself as a true franchise player for the Ducks. If he does, he’ll be poised to command a much more lucrative deal as he’ll have arbitration rights when this contract expires in 2026.
Verbeek’s next order of business is signing restricted free agent Jamie Drysdale. With Zegras under contract, perhaps a new deal for the 21-year-old defenseman will be announced before the end of this week.
THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks head coach David Quinn said Logan Couture (lower-body injury) is improving but he remains questionable for the club’s season opener next week. The 34-year-old center isn’t expected to resume skating until the end of this week at the earliest.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers center Filip Chytil remains sidelined with an upper-body injury. He remains day-to-day but head coach Peter Laviolette isn’t sure if Chytil will be ready for their season opener.
The Lightning blank the Avalanche in their first game since the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, Dougie Hamilton sets a franchise record for Devils defensemen, Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky reaches a career milestone and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 30-save performance to shut out the Colorado Avalanche 5-0 in the first game between the two clubs since the 2022 Stanley Cup Final. Brandon Hagel scored twice and collected an assist and Alex Killorn had three assists for the Lightning (33-16-2) as they move within two points of the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division with 68 points. The 27-19-4 Avalanche cling to third place in the Central Division with 58 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche played without defenseman Cale Makar as he’ll be sidelined for the remainder of their road trip with an upper-body injury following a blindside hit by Pittsburgh Penguins center Jeff Carter on Tuesday. Carter wasn’t penalized on the play and received no supplemental discipline. Lighting forward Nick Paul missed this game with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.
New Jersey Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton (NHL Images).
The New Jersey Devils got two power-play goals by Dougie Hamilton in a 3-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken. MacKenzie Blackwood stopped 33 shots for the 34-13-4 Devils as they move two points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs into third place in the Eastern Conference standings with 72 points. Adam Larsson replied for the Kraken (29-17-5) as they remain in second place in the Pacific Division with 63 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton (51 points) set a record for Devils defensemen for the fewest games to reach 50 points in a season (51 games). The previous record was 55 games by Bryan Rafalski in 2006-07. The Devils played this game without leading scorer Jack Hughes as he’s week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky picked up his 350th career win with a 33-save performance to beat the San Jose Sharks 4-1. Sam Reinhart and Eric Staal each tallied twice for the 26-22-6 Panthers as they moved within one point of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 58 points. Alexander Barabanov replied for the 16-26-11 Sharks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky sits 25th overall in career wins among NHL goaltenders.
Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel had a goal and an assist in a 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. It was a costly win for the Golden Knights as goaltender Logan Thompson was helped from the ice in the third period with an apparent left-leg injury. Vegas improved their record to 31-18-4 to open a three-point lead over the Kraken in the Pacific Division with 66 points. Kirill Kaprizov replied for the Wild (27-20-4) as they’ve dropped three straight games and cling to the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 58 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following the game, Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said Thompson was moving around and will undergo an MRI on Friday morning. He’s hopeful that the injury isn’t serious.
The Vancouver Canucks overcame a 4-2 deficit to nip the New York Islanders 6-5. Former Islander Anthony Beauvillier tallied the game-winner while former Canucks captain Bo Horvat also scored in this game. Brock Boeser had a four-point night and Elias Pettersson had three points for the Canucks (21-27-3). Mathew Barzal had a three-point game as the Islanders (27-23-5) remained behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders and Penguins each have 59 points but the latter holds five games in hand. Canucks defenseman Luke Schenn missed this game with an upper-body injury.
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart kicked out 34 shots to upset the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 on a shootout goal by James van Riemsdyk. Kevin Hayes opened the scoring for the Flyers (22-22-9), who sit six points out of the final Eastern playoff spot with 53 points. Evander Kane replied for the 29-18-5 Oilers, who hold third place in the Pacific Division with 63 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected an assist to extend his points streak to 14 games.
The Detroit Red Wings kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 2-1 upset of the Calgary Flames. Ville Husso stopped 35 shots while Filip Zadina netted the game-winner as the Wings (22-20-8) sit seven points out of the final Eastern wild-card berth with 52 points. Blake Coleman scored for the Flames (24-18-10) as they sit just outside the final Western playoff spot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames are tied in points with the Wild but the latter holds that final wild-card berth with a game in hand. Calgary defenseman Rasmus Andersson missed this game after being struck by a vehicle while riding a scooter in Detroit on Wednesday evening. He was taken to a hospital, underwent a battery of tests and was released. Andersson was rattled by the accident but is otherwise ok.
TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs goaltender Matt Murray has returned to the injured reserve list as he remains sidelined by an ankle injury suffered in late January. The Leafs also announced the signing of defenseman Conor Timmins to a two-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $1.1 million.
THE TENNESSEAN: In a recent interview, Nashville Predators general manager David Poile gave a vote of confidence to head coach John Hynes, saying he’s absolutely not in jeopardy of losing his job. The Predators are currently battling for the final Western Conference wild-card spot.
THE PROVINCE: Speaking of coaches, former Canucks bench boss Bruce Boudreau is returning to NHL Network as a TV analyst. He previously worked with the network from August 2020 until hired by the Canucks in December 2021.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets forward Mason Appleton will return to action on Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s been sidelined by a broken wrist since mid-November.
The Devils, Bruins and Blues’ win streaks come to an end, the Stars’ Jason Robertson moves up in the scoring race and Alex Ovechkin continues his approach to 800 career goals. Details on these stories and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils win streak ended at 13 games as they fell 2-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Matt Murray picked up the win with a 34-save performance while John Tavares and Pontus Holmberg scored for the Leafs (11-5-5). Dougie Hamilton replied for the 16-4-0 Devils.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils had three goals overturned, prompting a barrage of beer cans from their unhappy fans. Speaking of the Leafs, they acquired defenseman Conor Timmins from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for minor league forward Curtis Douglas. They made this move because three of their regular blueliners (Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin and TJ Brodie) have been sidelined by injuries.
Speaking of teams having their win streaks snapped, the Boston Bruins’ seven-game streak ended in a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers. Spencer Knight kicked out 37 shots while Aleksander Barkov and Aaron Ekblad led the way as they each scored a goal and added two assists as the Panthers improve to 10-8-2. David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy scored for the 17-3-0 Bruins.
The St. Louis Blues saw their seven-game win streak come to an end as they were defeated by the Buffalo Sabres 6-2. Jeff Skinner and Jack Hughes each scored twice while Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 34 shots for the 9-11-0 Sabres while the Blues drop to 10-9-0.
Dallas Stars winger Jason Robertson (NHL Images)
Dallas Stars winger Jason Robertson scored twice in a 6-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Stars scored five unanswered goals in the third period to improve their record to 12-5-3. Max Domi had a goal and an assist for the 6-10-3 Blackhawks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Robertson is now tied with Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Vancouver’s Bo Horvat for the NHL goal-scoring lead (16) while his 31 points are just three behind the league-leading McDavid.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin’s 790th career NHL goal came in overtime to down the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2, bringing his club’s four-game winless skid to an end. Ovechkin finished the night with two points for the 8-10-3 Capitals while the Flyers (7-8-5) saw their winless skid stretch to eight games.
The Seattle Kraken set a franchise record for most goals in a single game in an 8-5 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Jaden Schwartz tallied twice while Andre Burakovsky and Matty Beniers each had a goal and two assists. The Kraken (11-5-3) are 7-1-1 this month thus far. Timo Meier had a hat trick as the Sharks fell to 7-12-3.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Sharks activated defenseman Radim Simek from injured reserve but placed forward Nico Sturm on IR.
New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin stopped 49 shots to shut out the Edmonton Oilers 3-0. Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored twice for the Islanders (13-8-0) while the Oilers drop to 10-10-0. Earlier in the day, the Islanders announced that winger Kyle Palmieri is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
The Minnesota Wild romped to a 6-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Marcus Foligno scored twice while Matthew Boldy had a goal and two assists for the Wild (9-8-2), who acquired winger Ryan Reaves earlier in the day from the New York Rangers in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2025. Kyle Connor replied for the 11-6-1 Jets, who announced earlier in the day that winger Nikolaj Ehlers underwent successful sports hernia surgery and will be sidelined for six-to-eight weeks.
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry made 33 saves for his 100th career NHL victory to nip the Calgary Flames 2-1 on a shootout goal by Evgeni Malkin, who was honored by the Penguins in a pregame ceremony for reaching the 1,000 career game milestone earlier this week. Jan Rutta scored in regulation for the Penguins (10-7-3) while Dillon Dube replied for the 9-7-3 Flames.
A 36-save shutout by Karel Vejmelka carried the Arizona Coyotes to a 4-0 upset over the Carolina Hurricanes. Lawson Crouse scored two goals for the 7-9-2 Coyotes while the Hurricanes fall to 10-6-4. Earlier in the day, the Hurricanes announced they reached an agreement with goalie Pyotr Kochetkov to a four-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $2 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Coyotes activated winger Zack Kassian off injured reserve. They also announced defenseman Juuso Valimaki was listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Speaking of shutouts, the Detroit Red Wings blanked the Nashville Predators by a score of 3-0. Ville Husso made 26 saves while Dylan Larkin, Filip Hronek and Michael Rasmussen scored for the Red Wings (10-5-4), who also claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken. Kevin Lankinen stopped 26 shots for the Predators as their record drops to 9-9-2.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This marks the third time Hellberg’s been claimed off waivers. He was claimed from the Kraken last month by the Ottawa Senators and reclaimed earlier this month by the Kraken before being plucked off the wire yesterday by the Red Wings.
Third-period goals by Sheldon Dries and Ethan Bear lifted the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Bo Horvat scored his 16th goal of the season while Spencer Martin made 33 saves for the win as the Canucks improve to 7-10-3. Mikko Rantanen scored twice for the Avalanche (11-6-1), who also lost winger Evan Rodrigues with an injured right leg in the first period.
The Vegas Golden Knights downed the Ottawa Senator 4-1. Jack Eichel had a goal and an assist as the Golden Knights improved to 16-4-1. Jake Sanderson tallied the only goal for the Senators (6-12-1), who have gone 2-10-1 in their last 13 contests.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The calls for head coach D.J. Smith to be fired are growing among unhappy Senators fans. Something’s going to have to happen soon if the Sens have any hope at all of salvaging what was supposed to be their much-anticipated breakout campaign.
Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson turned in a 41-save performance as his club held off the New York Rangers by a score of 3-2. Troy Terry scored what proved to be the winning goal in the second period as the Ducks (6-13-1) picked up their first regulation win of the season. Artemi Panarin collected his 400th career assists as his Rangers fell to 10-7-4.
The Montreal Canadiens rode a 30-save effort by Sam Montembeault to a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. All the scoring came in the third period with Arber Xhekaj, David Savard, and Sean Monahan tallying for the Canadiens (10-9-1) while Mathieu Olivier replied for the 7-11-1 Blue Jackets.
What defensemen could the Leafs target in the trade market? What’s the latest on the Canucks rumored efforts to peddle Tyler Myers? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
POTENTIAL LEAFS’ BLUELINE TRADE TARGETS
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently looked at several potential trade targets for the Toronto Maple Leafs to upgrade their blueline. The biggest names believed available are the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun, the San Jose Sharks’ Erik Karlsson and the Anaheim Ducks’ John Klingberg.
The Leafs are believed to have some interest in the 24-year-old Chychrun. However, his injury history and the Coyotes’ expensive price tag are areas of concern.
Karlsson’s strong start to this season has bolstered his trade value but his no-movement clause gives him full control. His $11.5 million cap hit through 2026-27 is a stumbling block even if the Sharks retained some of it.
Anaheim Ducks defenseman John Klingberg (NHL Images).
Fox is warming to Klingberg. He’s a right-shot puck-moving defenseman who logs big minutes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chychrun finally made his season debut last night following off-season wrist surgery. He’ll need to stay healthy and perform well in the coming weeks to convince interested clubs that he’s worth the Coyotes’ high asking price. The Leafs might be reluctant to get into that bidding war.
Karlsson is far too expensive for the Leafs even if San Jose retained a healthy chunk of his cap hit. The Sharks will also seek a significant return that could prove too rich for the Leafs. That’s assuming he’d waive his NMC for Toronto.
Klingberg could be the better option here. His $7 million salary for this season is expensive but the Ducks will probably retain part of it for a sweetener in the return. How much they’d want as part of the return could be an issue. Anaheim general manager Pat Verbeek could prefer to wait until the trade deadline in hope of drawing more interest in Klingberg.
The Athletic’s Eric Duhatschek isn’t fully sold on Klingberg. While the blueliner had an impressive 17-point performance during the 2020 playoffs with the Dallas Stars, he managed just one point in their seven-game opening-round defeat at the hands of the Calgary Flames. The 30-year-old Klingberg has eight points in 19 games with the offensively anemic Ducks.
Pending UFA options on Fox’s list include the Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Vladislav Gavrikov, the Washington Capitals’ Dmitry Orlov, Ottawa Senators’ Artem Zub, Pittsburgh Penguins’ Brian Dumoulin, New York Islanders’ Scott Mayfield, and the New Jersey Devils’ Damon Severson. He also suggested the Vancouver Canucks’ Luke Schenn and Tyler Myers, who still has a year remaining on his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Dumba, Orlov, Dumoulin, Mayfield or Severson being available as long as their respective clubs remain in playoff contention. I think the Blue Jackets will try to re-sign Gavrikov and the Senators will attempt to re-up Zub.
Fox’s colleague Elliotte Friedman reported a couple of sources believe the Leafs are interested in Coyotes defenseman Conor Timmins, who’s currently with their AHL affiliate on a conditioning stint. He also said they were looking at Ducks winger Frank Vatrano but would have difficulty fitting his $3.65 million cap hit within their payroll even if the Ducks retained half of it.
LATEST ON TYLER MYERS
CHEK TV’s Rick Dhaliwal talked about the details of the Vancouver Canucks’ attempt to trade Tyler Myers to the Ottawa Senators for Nikita Zaitsev. He revealed that the 32-year-old defenseman gets a $5 million signing bonus next July 1, which is difficult for most teams to swallow. Dhaliwal believes that’s why the Senators asked for a sweetener in the deal which the Canucks weren’t willing to give up.
THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance believes the Canucks would be better off waiting to move Myers after that $5 million is paid next July. He’ll be in the final season of his contract by that point, which could improve his trade value by making him more palatable to interested clubs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once the Canucks pay out that $5 million next July, Myers will be owed just $1 million for the remainder of next season. That could make him attractive to teams looking for teams seeking blueline depth hoping to remain close to the cap minimum.
Game recaps, the league finds no evidence to support anonymous allegations against Ian Cole, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby had his second straight three-point game to lead his Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tristan Jarry got the win with a 34-save performance while Jake Guentzel and Jeff Carter each had two points for the Penguins. Lightning forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov each had two points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was also the second straight game that the Penguins scored six goals.
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov turned aside 26 shots and Justin Holl snapped a 2-2 tie to nip the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Claude Giroux had a goal and an assist for the Senators. Samsonov got the start when Matt Murray suffered an adductor injury that will sideline him for four weeks. The Leafs recalled Erik Kallgren as Samsonov’s backup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It didn’t take long for Murray to be sidelined again, bringing into question the decision by general manager Kyle Dubas to acquire the oft-injured netminder this summer. The Leafs had better pray Samsonov remains healthy and plays well given their limited cap space and lack of depth in quality goalies within their system.
The Los Angeles Kings tamed the Minnesota Wild 7-6 on a third-period goal by Adrian Kempe, who finished the night with two goals and an assist. Anze Kopitar collected three assists while Kevin Fiala notched three points against his former team. Mats Zuccarello had a goal and two assists for the Wild, who pulled goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury after he gave up four goals on 14 shots.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild overcame a 3-0 deficit and had tied the game at six before Kempe’s game-winning tally. It was a sloppy defensive contest for both clubs. Zuccarello didn’t mince words about his team’s performance. “Sometimes we play defense like we’re a f**king junior team. It’s the whole team. We have to sharpen up,” he said.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals while Pavel Buchnevich and Brayden Schenn each had two points as the St. Louis Blues rolled to a 5-2 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Johnny Gaudreau collected an assist for the Jackets, who have dropped three straight to start the season.
The Calgary Flames got a three-point performance from defenseman Michael Stone and two points from Nazem Kadri as they held off the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Connor McDavid scored a goal and Leon Draisaitl had two assists for the Oilers.
Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin had a goal and two assists to lead his club over the New Jersey Devils 5-2. Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic turned aside 37 shots for the win. Devils captain Nico Hischier returned to the lineup after being sidelined by a hamstring injury during preseason play.
The Dallas Stars defeated the Nashville Predators by a score of 5-1. Roope Hintz had two goals and an assist, Jason Robertson a goal and two assists while netminder Jake Oettinger kicked out 29 shots.
Vegas Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault tallied twice and Adin Hill made 31 saves to beat the Seattle Kraken 5-2. The Golden Knights have won three straight. Andre Burakovsky had two assists for the Kraken.
Boston Bruins winger A.J. Greer scored twice and set up another in a 6-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Charlie Coyle, Nick Foligno and Pavel Zacha each had a goal and an assist for the Bruins, who also lost defenseman Brandon Carlo in the first period to a possible head/concussion injury following a hit by Coyotes forward Liam O’Brien. Coyotes defenseman Conor Timmins left the game with an upper-body injury.
Defensemen Robin Salo and Scott Mayfield each scored twice and Anders Lee collected three assists as the New York Islanders crushed the Anaheim Ducks 7-1. Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier and Oliver Wahlstrom each had two points. Isles forward Cal Clutterbuck returned from injured reserve but Sebastian Aho went on IR with an upper-body injury.
The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 2-0 deficit to upset the Vancouver Canucks 3-2. Travis Konecny scored the game-winner and assisted on Scott Laughton’s game-tying goal while Carter Hart made 28 saves for the win. Canucks defenseman Tucker Poolman left the game following the first period with an undisclosed injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers are 2-0-0 while the Canucks have lost their first two games. Canucks star J.T. Miller is frustrated by his performance, acknowledging he’s been on the ice for all eight goals scored against his team thus far. Speaking of the Flyers, they placed winger Owen Tippett on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.
Three unanswered second-period goals by Conor Sheary, Anthony Mantha and T.J. Oshie lifted the Washington Capitals over the Montreal Canadiens 3-1. Oshie finished with two points. Nick Suzuki scored for the Canadiens, who remain scoreless in 10 power-play opportunities thus far this season.
The Florida Panthers held off the Buffalo Sabres 4-3. Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and an assist while Aleksander Barkov chipped in two assists. Alex Tuch and Rasmus Dahlin each had a goal and an assist for the Sabres.
Two second-period goals by Sam Lafferty helped the Chicago Blackhawks overcome a 2-0 deficit to down the San Jose Sharks 5-2. The Sharks have dropped four straight games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Sharks honored former general manager Doug Wilson, who stepped away from the role last season for health reasons.
NHL.COM: The league announced Saturday it had concluded its investigation into anonymous allegations of sexual assault on social media made against Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ian Cole, finding no evidence to substantiate the allegations.
The league conducted two interviews with Cole as well as interviews with NHL club personnel and other individuals with potentially pertinent information. It conducted a detailed review of online and social media, public data, court records and law enforcement checks, as well as attempted to contact the source of the allegations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reaction to this report on social media has been mixed, with some claiming the league didn’t go far enough with its investigation, expressing skepticism over the findings or insisting they turn this over to the police. That’s understandable given Kyle Beach’s allegations that he was sexually assaulted by a former Chicago Blackhawks video coach were so poorly handled.
However, I don’t see this as sweeping it under the table. The league took the allegation seriously and suspended Cole with pay while conducting what appears to have been a thorough investigation.
I’m not saying the anonymous source shouldn’t be listened to or believed but if they’re unwilling to speak to the league or the police then there’s not really much else that can be done. Cole, meanwhile, will be reinstated but this incident has tarnished his personal life and reputation.
THE ATHLETIC’S Peter Baugh reports there’s still no timeline for Gabriel Landeskog’s return to the Colorado Avalanche lineup. He remains sidelined with a lower-body injury.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets head coach Rick Bowness hopes to return behind the bench on Wednesday. He’s currently sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19.
SPORTSNET: The Washington Capitals are reportedly poised to sign free-agent winger Sonny Milano to a one-year, $750K contract.
Sean Couturier could have some good news today, better conditioning contributed to the Flames’ improvement last season, plus the latest on Joe Thornton, Matt Dumba and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers center Sean Couturier will address the media later today regarding his rehab from back surgery. It could be an indication that his rehab went well and he’ll be ready for training camp next week. The Flyers will have their physicals on Sept. 21 and will take to the ice the following day.
Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A healthy Couturier will be vital to the Flyers’ hopes for improvement. His injury and absence contributed to their poor performance last season.
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Improved player conditioning last summer played a key role in the Flames bouncing back from missing the playoffs in 2021 to finishing atop the Pacific Division last season.
Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said the club was among the poorest-trained he’d ever seen after taking over behind the bench midway through the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season. He demanded that his players train harder last summer to become faster players. As a result, half a dozen of them went on to career-best performances in 2021-22.
Sutter’s message to the players heading into this summer wasn’t much different. “Train 10 percent harder”, he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The pandemic likely had something to do with the Flames’ poor team conditioning in 2020-21. There was considerable uncertainty throughout the autumn of 2020 over when the season would take place, how many games would be played and what the scheduling would look like.
That would’ve created havoc for the players’ offseason training. Creatures of habit, their workout programs were thrown off-kilter by the pandemic, sometimes forcing them to train on their own or in groups smaller than they were used to.
Some teams probably had more difficulty adjusting than others. Last summer brought more of a semblance of normalcy toward their offseason plans and probably made it easier for them to improve their conditioning.
DAILY FACEOFF: Speaking of the Flames, they’ve signed forward Cody Eakin to a professional tryout offer.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Former Sharks center Joe Thornton has returned to San Jose with his family while he figures out his future. He’s been recently seen skating a few times with some of the Sharks players at the club’s practice facility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton’s playing career could come to an end if he doesn’t get a contract with an NHL club for 2022-23. The 43-year-old saw action in just 34 regular-season games and one playoff contest with the Florida Panthers last season.
TSN: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba was among several black NHL players who took part in the documentary “Black Ice” examining the role of players of color in Canadian hockey. Dumba, 28, is a founding member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance.
TVA SPORTS: Former NHL coach Craig Ramsay believes Juraj Slafkovsky will make his debut with the Montreal Canadiens this season. Ramsay, 71, saw the first-overall draft pick’s potential as part of Slovakia’s coaching staff in the 2022 Winter Olympics, where the 18-year-old winger was the tournament’s leading scorer.
Ramsay, 71, explained why Slafkovsky shone in international play while his stats were unimpressive playing in Finland. The Slovakian team let the young winger play to his strengths as an offensive player whereas he was forced to play a more defensive trapping style in Finland.
Slafkovsky could thrive playing for Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis. Ramsay believes St. Louis will help the young Slovakian winger correct his mistakes while allowing him the freedom to let him bloom.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ramsay said he never yelled at Slafkovksy behind the bench for making mistakes but instead spoke quietly to him about them in a positive way following the game. That’s the same approach St. Louis took with his players last season and they responded well.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals winger Carl Hagelin continues to work his way back from a career-threatening eye injury suffered in practice last March. He took part in scrimmages with teammates last week wearing a regular practice jersey.
GOPHNX.COM: Conor Timmins has fully recovered from a season-ending knee injury and is ready to start his first full season with the Arizona Coyotes. The 23-year-old defenseman played in just six games for the Coyotes last season.
THE ATHLETIC: Andrew Lustgarten will step down as president and CEO of MSG Sports at the end of 2022. MSG Sports is the parent company of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers. James Dolan, owner of both clubs, will continue to oversee operations for the Rangers and Knicks.