NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 16, 2023
Another scoring milestone for the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, the date for the draft lottery is announced, an update on a potential increase in next season’s salary cap, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin reached another scoring milestone in a 5-4 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres. Ovechkin scored his 402nd career home goal to move into fourth place for the most home goals in NHL history. Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie scored in the shootout for the 33-29-7 Capitals (73 points) as they sit five points behind the New York Islanders for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The Sabres (33-28-6) sit one point behind the Capitals.
Speaking of the Islanders, Kyle Palmieri had a goal and three assists as they downed the Anaheim Ducks 6-3. Brock Nelson scored twice and Zach Parise had a goal and an assist for the 35-27-8 Islanders. Kevin Shattenkirk tallied twice for the 22-36-10 Ducks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders are tied in points (78) with the Pittsburgh Penguins but the latter holds the first-wild spot with three games in hand.
A shootout goal by Nathan MacKinnon lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mikko Rantanen scored in regulation for the Avalanche while Morgan Reilly tallied for the Leafs. The Avalanche (38-22-6) sit third in the Central Division with 82 points while the 40-18-9 Leafs are second in the Atlantic Division with 89 points.
A five-goal second period powered the Minnesota Wild over the St. Louis Blues 8-5. Ryan Hartman led the way with two goals and an assist for the Wild (39-21-8) as they remain four points ahead of the Avalanche in second place in the Central Division with 86 points. Pavel Buchnevich had a hat trick and Jakub Vrana scored twice for the 29-33-5 Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues goalie Jordan Binnington gave up five goals and earned a match penalty for charging into the Wild’s celebration of their fifth goal to go after Hartman, sparking a melee that saw the linesmen restrain Binnington and Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from fighting each other.
NHL.COM: The 2023 draft lottery will be held on May 8 as the league revealed the remaining critical dates for the 2022-23 season following the completion yesterday of the general managers’ meetings in Florida.
Monday, April 17
Start of 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Monday, May 8
2023 NHL Draft Lottery (7 p.m. ET, ESPN, SN, TVAS)
Saturday, June 3
Tentative start of 2023 Stanley Cup Final (TNT, SN, TVAS)
Sunday, June 4 – Saturday, June 10
2023 NHL Scouting Combine presented by adidas (Buffalo)
Monday, June 26
2023 NHL Awards (Bridgestone Arena)
Wednesday, June 28
Round 1 of 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft (7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT, ESPN, SN, TVAS) (Bridgestone Arena)
Thursday, June 29
Rounds 2-7 of 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft (11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT, NHLN, SN, TVAS) (Bridgestone Arena)
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speculated the salary cap could rise higher than the projected $1 million to $83.5 million for 2023-24. He indicated it could go up by $4.5 million if hockey-related revenue for the remainder of this season exceeds expectations. That would allow the remaining escrow debt owed by the players to the team owners to be paid in full.
Failing that, Bettman hinted that he’d be willing to meet with the NHL Players Association to discuss artificially increasing the salary cap for next season. Doing so, however, would mean increasing the six percent escrow rates the players are required to pay under the final three seasons of the current collective bargaining agreement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: How much the players would be willing to increase that rate and for how long will determine whether the cap goes up higher than projected for next season. If they’re unwilling to entertain that option, the cap might only go up by $1 million for 2023-24 if HRR isn’t greater than expected. That means any significant cap increases would have to wait until 2024-25.
TSN: Bettman also said that he anticipates the sale of the Ottawa Senators could take place within a matter of weeks. Phase 2 of the sale process is underway as the number of interested parties is narrowed down.
THE ATHLETIC: Bettman said the league is looking at short- and long-term backup options for dealing with the bankruptcy of the parent company of Bally Sports, which holds regional broadcasting rights for 12 US-based NHL teams. Bally Sports’ coverage is expected to continue for the remainder of this season.
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Christian Dvorak is the latest member of the Canadiens to be sidelined for the season. The club announced the 27-year-old center underwent season-ending knee surgery on Wednesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As of March 10, the Canadiens led the league in man-games lost to injury with 540. Dvorak joins Carey Price, Paul Byron, Cole Caufield, Juraj Slafkovsky, Arber Xhekaj, and Jake Evans who are done for the season. Brendan Gallagher, Sean Monahan, and Kirby Dach remain sidelined indefinitely.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins placed defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (lower body) on long-term injury reserve. This will allow the cap-strapped club to recall a player from their AHL affiliate if necessary. Kulikov appeared in four games with the Penguins after being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline.
SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Matthew Knies, Montreal Canadiens prospect Lane Hutson, and Arizona Coyotes prospect Logan Cooley are among this year’s finalists for the Hobey Baker Award honoring the top college hockey player in the United States. 2023 prospect Adam Fantilli is also among the nominees.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fantilli is considered by most scouts as the second-best prospect in this year’s draft.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Carson Briere, son of Flyers interim general manager Daniel Briere, issued an apology for pushing a disabled student’s wheelchair down a flight of stairs at a bar on Saturday. His father also issued a statement saying he was shocked by Carson’s actions in the video, calling it “inexcusable” and that it ran “completely counter to our family’s values of treating people with respect.”
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet intends to implement an offseason conditioning schedule designed to improve his players’ fitness for next season.