NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 21, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 21, 2020

The Blackhawks begin rebuilding, a look ahead to next season, the latest notable contracts signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: In an open letter to their fans, the Blackhawks announced their commitment to “developing young players and rebuilding our roster”. The letter also stated the club needs “a stockpile of emerging talent to complement our top players” in order to return to Stanley Cup contention.

Chicago Blackhawks want core veterans like Jonathan Toews to be part of their rebuild. (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks are finally admitting what’s been apparent for some time. Years of salary-cap constraints led to cost-cutting moves that steadily eroded their depth of talent, leaving them with no choice but to restock with younger, affordable players.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports they want veterans such as Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith to be part of the rebuild. He said general manager Stan Bowman spoke with those players about their role in the club’s direction. “Now, we’ll see how those players react,” said LeBrun.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the joint NHL-NHLPA committee tasked with return-to-play for next season haven’t met yet but it eventually will as the league conducts internal intel among its clubs. Ten players are expected to be on this committee.

LeBrun reports the NHL general managers will be meeting on Friday. There will be discussion over when the American Hockey League will begin play as some GMs want to get their prospects playing as soon as possible. He also indicated the league and the PA have tentatively agreed that the seven clubs that didn’t qualify for return-to-play this summer will have extra training-camp time ahead of the normal training-camp period for next season.

Frank Seravalli reported NHL players are wondering if salaries will be prorated in case of a shortened season. For now, there’s been little discussion on that issue. The players are expected to receive all but 30 percent of their salaries next season, with 20 percent deducted for escrow and 10 percent deferred.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Player agent Allan Walsh believes it’s safe to assume the NHL won’t return to action on the tentative target date of Jan. 1. He believes it could be Jan. 15 or pushed to Feb. 1.

Walsh also speculated there could be multiple bubble cities with two in Canada and four in the United States where teams would travel to those cities for two weeks to play several games, return home for a week, and then travel to another bubble city for two weeks. He doesn’t expect to see any clarity on next season until mid-December.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everything seems to be in the preparatory stage for the actual meetings between the league and the PA. Holding a regular season during the pandemic comes with a different set of challenges compared to staging the 2020 playoffs in two bubble cities.

Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley last week suggested the league could return on Feb.1 with a reduced schedule played in some sort of divisional bubbles, including a Canadian division if the border between Canada and the United States remains closed to non-essential travel. We’ll probably find out by mid-December if Foley’s remarks foreshadow the league’s intentions.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs avoided salary arbitration with Ilya Mikheyev by signing the winger to a two-year deal worth $1.645 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs are $175K over the $81.5 million salary cap with defenseman Travis Dermott to re-sign. They’re allowed to sit over the cap by 10 percent during the offseason.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators and Connor Brown are $2.5 million apart in contract negotiations. Brown seeks a one-year, $4.8 million deal while the Senators countered with $2.25 million. Brown’s arbitration hearing is slated for Thursday.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland is skating again but his agent said his client’s health will determine if he resumes his playing career. Ferland made three attempts to return from a concussion suffered in a game last year against the Los Angeles Kings.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins signed forward Karson Kuhlman to a two-year, $1.5 million contract. It’s a two-way deal in the first year.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed Kaiden Guhle to an entry-level contract. The 18-year-old defenseman was the Habs first-round pick (16th overall) in this year’s NHL Draft.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Geoff Baker reports Kraken general manager Ron Francis said the ownership of the expansion club has approved spending toward the upper limit of the 2021-22 salary cap as long as they aren’t hamstrung in future years.

Baker speculates players with hefty contracts lacking no-movement protection, such as San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, Tampa Bay Lightning winger Tyler Johnson, Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie and Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby, could be targeted by the Kraken if left unprotected in next year’s expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect Francis to use the Vegas Golden Knights as his template for building an expansion roster. Thanks to some savvy moves including trades and free-agent signings, the Golden Knights became a Stanley Cup Finalist in their inaugural season and a perennial playoff club ever since.










NHL Trade Roundup: Reviewing the Deals Last Week

NHL Trade Roundup: Reviewing the Deals Last Week

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 13, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 13, 2020

The latest on Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner, Canucks acquire Nate Schmidt, the Islanders sign Cory Schneider and trade Devon Toews to the Avalanche, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Vegas Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said he will be keeping his goaltending tandem intact for next season and won’t be trading Marc-Andre Fleury. He also indicated Robin Lehner will undergo shoulder surgery but will recover in time for training camp.

Marc-Andre Fleury is staying with the Vegas Golden Knights (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury was the subject of trade speculation after Lehner got the bulk of the starts in the playoffs and signed a contract extension earlier this month. There was talk they were trying to move Fleury by getting a third team involved who would absorb part of his $7 million salary-cap hit. It was assumed he’d be moved to clear salary-cap space to sign Alex Pietrangelo, but the Golden Knights made another move (see below) to address that issue.

The coming season could be Fleury’s last in Vegas. He lacks a full no-movement clause and will likely be left unprotected in next year’s expansion draft.

THE PROVINCE: The Golden Knights found another way to shed some cap payroll after signing Pietrangelo yesterday, trading Nate Schmidt to the Vancouver Canucks for a third-round pick in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights shed Schmidt’s $5.95 million cap hit. They’re still above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $974K but that’s within the 10 percent allowable offseason cap overage.

The Canucks, meanwhile, find a suitable replacement for Chris Tanev, who signed with Calgary as a free agent. Schmidt is a good puck-moving defenseman who can log over 21 minutes per game and skate on the left or right side of the blueline. He’s got five years remaining on his contract, which could become a cap headache in the latter years, but he should be a welcome addition to the Canucks defense corps in the short term.

TSN: The New York Islanders signed goaltender Cory Schneider to a one-year, $700K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles are expected to go with Semyon Varlamov and promising Ilya Sorokin as their goalie tandem next season. Schneider is an affordable insurance move in case Sorokin struggles to adjust at the NHL level.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche acquired defenseman Devon Toews from the Islanders in exchange for a second-round pick in 2021 and a second-rounder in 2022. They also re-signed defenseman Ryan Graves to a three-year, $9.5 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs were looking for a defenseman after shipping Nikita Zadorov to Chicago for Brandon Saad over the weekend. Toews, 26, is a fine replacement. Colorado GM Joe Sakic sang his praises as “a smart, two-way puck-moving defenseman” who logs over 20 minutes per game and is “excellent in transition”.

Graves’ new contract is worth an annual average value of $3.16 million. That’s a considerable raise over the $735K of his previous deal. He earned it with a career-best 26-point performance and a league-leading plus-minus of plus-40.

Speaking of the Avalanche, The Athletic’s Ryan S. Clark took to Twitter reporting preliminary contract talks have begun with captain Gabriel Landeskog. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers signed defenseman Erik Gustafsson to a one-year, $3-million contract.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks signed center Mattias Janmark to a one-year, $2.25-million contract and center Lucas Wallmark to a one-year deal worth $950K.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-signed goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen to a two-year, $1.45-million contract.

NEW YORK POST: Alexis Lafreniere signed a three-year entry-level contract with the New York Rangers. The 19-year-old left-winger was the first-overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

THE ATHLETIC: Bill Shea reports talks are ongoing to extend the NHL’s 10-year, $2-billion broadcast rights contract with NBC Sports that expires at the end of next season. While the league’s playoff ratings were down due to the pandemic, it still helped NBCSN have one of its best-ever third quarters. ESPN, Fox Sports and Turner Sports are also interested in the NHL’s TV and streaming business.










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 Offseason Lookahead – New York Islanders

NHL Offseason Lookahead – New York Islanders

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 8, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 8, 2020

The Maple Leafs rally to tie their series with the Blue Jackets while the Canucks, Canadiens, Blackhawks, Coyotes, and Islanders march on to the playoffs. Recaps and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (Photo via NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: Auston Matthews’ overtime tally capped a four-goal rally by the Toronto Maple Leafs to edge the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3, tying their best-of-five qualifying-round series at two games apiece. The Leafs were down 3-0 late in the third when they tied it on goals by William Nylander, John Tavares, and Zach Hyman, setting the stage for Matthews’ OT heroics. The fifth and deciding game will be played Sunday.

 

    SPECTOR’S NOTE: Until that rally, Toronto looked done and dusted. With the game and the series seemingly in the bag following a solid defensive performance, the Jackets were unprepared for the Leafs’ desperate push. Both teams are now even in third-period comebacks. The Vancouver Canucks are marching on to the playoffs after Chris Tanev’s overtime goal gave them a series-clinching 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 4 of their qualifier. Tanev enjoyed a three-point performance while Bo Horvat, Quinn Hughes, and Tanner Pearson each had a goal and an assist.  

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series was a big step forward for the rebuilding Canucks. The Wild, meanwhile, enter an off-season that could lead to some significant roster changes. This game may have been the last one for long-time Wild captain Mikko Koivu. 

Carey Price had a 22-game shutout as he backstopped the Montreal Canadiens over the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 in Game 4 of their qualifier, winning the series 3 games to 1. Artturi Lehkonen snapped a scoreless tie on a beautiful pass by Paul Byron late in the third period. Shea Weber put it away with an empty-netter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens out-worked and out-hit the Penguins, whose intensity seemed to wan as they struggled to put pucks past Price. The Habs goalie was outstanding in this series, silencing (for now) the critics claiming he was past his prime. 

Dominik Kubalik snapped a 2-2 third-period tie to lift the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-2, series-ending Game 4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews collected two assists while Corey Crawford kicked out 43 shots for the win. Oilers captain Connor McDavid had two assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks had solid goaltending, veteran postseason experience, and scoring depth. The Oilers had McDavid’s line and not much else.

An overtime goal by Brad Richardson propelled the Arizona Coyotes to a 4-3 series-clinching win over the Nashville Predators. Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper made 49 saves, team captain Oliver-Ekman-Larsson collected two assists, and Phil Kessel tallied his first goal of the series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuemper was the difference throughout this series. Nashville dominated much of the play but couldn’t crack the Coyotes netminder. The Preds also didn’t get much secondary scoring in this series. 

Anthony Beauvillier scored twice as the New York Islanders wrapped up their series against the Florida Panthers with a convincing 5-1 victory in Game 4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers had little answer for the Islanders’ defensive system. Their lack of depth could lead to a front-office shakeup as a report claimed Dale Tallon could be out as general manager.

HEADLINES

LAS VEGAS SUN: The top seed in the Western Conference is on the line as the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche face off today in round-robin action.

TSN: Steven Stamkos will miss today’s final round-robin game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Tampa Bay Lightning captain is still recovering from an undisclosed injury suffered during Phase 2 training. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Stamkos is considered to be out indefinitely for the time being.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers winger Jakub Voracek is unavailable to play in today’s contest with the Lightning. As per league protocols, the club cannot elaborate as to his condition. Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk returns to the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Thursday’s win over the Washington Capitals.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings have loaned Filip Zadina to HC Ocelari Trinec (Czech) and Moritz Seider to Mannheim, his former German League club.

TSN: The NHL is continuing its investigation into allegations of pre-draft fitness testing by the Arizona Coyotes. A ruling could come on Monday.

NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken named Everett Fitzhugh as their team broadcaster, making him the NHL’s first Black full-time play-by-player announcer.