NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2020

An Avalanche player tests positive for COVID-19, plus the latest on Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, P.K. Subban, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE DENVER POST: A Colorado Avalanche player has tested positive for COVID-19. He’s been in isolation and has recovered. The club has not released his name. The Avs were in a coronavirus “hot spot” in San Jose between March 7 and 8, during which they played the Sharks the night after the Ottawa Senators also played there. Two Senators tested positive for COVID-19. The Avs also played the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on March 9. The Kings share that venue with the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, who had two players test positive for the virus.

TSN: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin indicated they wouldn’t mind if the 2020 playoffs began right away if the NHL resumes this season. New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban would be in favor of a 31-team playoff tournament. His club is 13 points out of a playoff spot.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (Photo via NHL Images).

Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno cautioned against agreeing to a schedule where the 2020-21 season begins soon after completion of the current one. “We’ve got to think about the health and safety of our star players,” Foligno said. “That’s a lot of games in one [calendar] year that we’re not used to. “I’m not saying guys won’t grind out a way to do it, because us hockey players will find a way. But you’ve got to think about the longevity of guys’ careers and their health as well.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand why players on teams currently not in playoff contention favoring a tournament that provides their clubs with some sort of relevant finish to this season. Otherwise, as Subban pointed out, they’d be working out to stay in shape simply to play some meaningless games if the league resumes the remainder of the current schedule.

Foligno makes a great point about looking after the health and safety of the players. Staging the two seasons close together without much recovery time in between will put the players at a greater risk to suffers injuries.

SPORTSNET: Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews donated $100K to the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund.

BANGOR DAILY NEWS: Detroit Red Wings goaltender (and former UMaine goalie) Jimmy Howard hopes to play one more NHL season. He acknowledged he’d have to transition to a backup role, but feels he could be a good mentor to a young netminder. Howard acknowledged that will depend on whether any other general managers feel the same way. Howard is eligible for unrestricted free agent status this summer.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL is considering several options regarding its recently postponed 2020 Draft. One is staging the full draft at a later date in Montreal, though that appears a long shot. Another is holding a smaller scale draft similar to that which followed the season-killing 2004-05 lockout. A third is staging a virtual draft involving all the NHL teams’ front offices. The latter seems the likeliest option, with the Canadiens hosting a full draft in 2021 or 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The full draft won’t be held. It’ll either be a stripped-down one or the virtual draft.

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 22, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 22, 2020

The latest on the Islanders, several stars who may have played their final NHL games, and questions about conditional draft picks in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

ISLANDERS WOULD MATCH OFFER SHEET FOR BARZAL

SPORTSNET: In a recent Q&A with New York Islanders fans, general manager Lou Lamoriello said it wasn’t his intention to let contract talks with Mathew Barzal reach the point where the 22-year-old center received an offer sheet from a rival club. If Barzal did sign one, however, Lamoriello said he’d match it. He remains confident in getting Barzal and fellow restricted free agents Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews re-signed.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles have over $71 million invested in 18 players. Assuming the salary cap remains at $81.5 million, Lamoriello will be hard-pressed to squeeze new contracts for Barzal, Pulock, and Toews within that $10 million of cap space available to him.

Matching an expensive offer sheet would gobble up almost all of that cap room. Lamoriello would get some cap wiggle room as he’s allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the off-season, but he must shed salary before the start of the season to become cap compliant.

I doubt Lamoriello’s worried about a rival GM signing Barzal to an offer sheet. Most NHL clubs will feel the financial squeeze from this pandemic, leaving few with enough cap room to take a run at poaching the young Isles center.

SEVERAL STARS WHO MAY HAVE PLAYED THEIR FINAL NHL GAMES

THE ATHLETIC: New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, Anaheim Ducks goalie Ryan Miller, and Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu are among those on James Mirtle’s list of 15 NHL players who may have played their final NHL games if this season is canceled.

Others include Carolina Hurricanes winger Justin Williams, St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, and Anaheim Ducks winger David Backes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Lundqvist may have played his last game with the Rangers, but I can see him playing with another NHL club if he waives his no-movement clause or is bought out of his current contract. Miller turns 40 in July and I suspect the Ducks will replace him with a younger option. If he’s unwilling to leave Calfornia, he’s likely done. Koivu has already hinted at retirement.

Williams spent half this season mulling retirement before returning to the Hurricanes. He could be done after this. Bouwmeester’s recent cardiac incident has likely ended his playing career. Seabrook’s double hip surgeries place his playing career in jeopardy. Ditto Backes’ concussion history.

WHAT TO DO WITH CONDITIONAL DRAFT PICKS FROM RECENT TRADES?

TSN: Frank Seravalli recently reported there are many questions about how the NHL deals with the minutiae related to contracts and trades if the schedule is reduced or canceled. What happens with conditional draft picks involved in recent trades is among those issues.

In last summer’s deal that saw the Edmonton Oilers ship Milan Lucic to the Calgary Flames for James Neal, the Flames get a conditional third-round pick if Neal tallies 21 goals and Lucic under 10 this season.

“What does the NHL do moving forward here? Do they decide to prorate it? In which case Lucic would remain under 10 and Neal gets to about 23? Or do they decide to leave it as is and that’s just one of the questions at stake with regards to other bonuses in contracts and compensation? Things like expansion draft considerations and also other picks that changed hands for deals at the deadline. Can we see things like compensatory picks and such.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This issue will have to be sorted out once a final decision is reached regarding the remainder of this season and the playoffs. For now, your guess is as good as mine.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2020

Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville returns to Chicago, Artemi Panarin to miss the upcoming NHL All-Star Game, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville made a triumphant return to Chicago as his club edged the Blackhawks 4-3. Quenneville, who coached the Hawks from 2008-09 to 2018-19, was honored by the club during the game. The Panthers’ victory was powered by Frank Vatrano’s hat trick, giving them six straight wins. Before the game, the Blackhawks honored Patrick Kane for reaching 1,000 career points. Earlier in the day, eyebrows were raised when Blackhawks’ stars Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith had a physical altercation during practice. Toews downplayed the incident as “just some friendly wrestling.”

Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville picked up a win in his return to Chicago (Photo via NHL.com)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers (61 points) maintain their hold on third place in the Atlantic Division, while the Blackhawks (54 points) remain three points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Justin Williams scored two goals to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Teuvo Teravainen collected three points while Andrei Svechnikov had two assists. The slumping Jets have dropped three in a row.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Williams doesn’t look rusty after taking over half the season off. His return seems to have provided an extra spark for the Hurricanes. The Jets, meanwhile, are three points out of a Western Conference wild-card spot.

The New York Islanders doubled up the New York Rangers 4-2. Thomas Greiss made 40 saves and Josh Bailey had a goal and two assists. Isles center Mathew Barzal was benched during the third period by coach Barry Trotz for not playing within the team framework. Rangers all-star winger Artemi Panarin missed this game with an upper-body injury. He’ll be replaced at the upcoming 2020 NHL All-Star game by teammate Chris Kreider.

Third-period goals by Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci lifted the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights.

Brian Elliott had a 19-save shutout as the Philadelphia Flyers blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0. The Flyers have won four of their last five contests.

SUN-SENTINEL: The 2021 NHL All-Star Game will reportedly be hosted by the Florida Panthers.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha could miss the remainder of the season with an injured rib cage and shoulder. His last game was Dec. 21 against Toronto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 24 points in 29 games, Mantha was on his way to eclipsing last season’s 25-goal, 48-point performance in 67 games. His absence is among the reasons behind the Wings’ struggles this season.

CBS SPORTS: Nashville Predators forward Colton Sissons was assigned to their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee on a conditioning stint.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Brandon Manning received a five-game suspension by the AHL for uttering a racial slur during a recent game.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2020

More scoring milestones for Alex Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews leads the Blackhawks over the Leafs, another solid performance by Blue Jackets’ Elvis Merzlikins, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin tallied his second straight hat trick as the Washington Capitals overcame a 4-1 deficit to beat the New York Islanders 6-4. With 692 career goals, Ovechkin passed Mario Lemieux (690) for 10th on the all-time goal-scoring list and is tied for ninth place with Steve Yzerman. He’s also just the third player to score consecutive hat tricks three times, tying Wayne Gretzky for second place behind leader Joe Malone with four. Ovechkin is just two goals behind Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (36) for the league lead. Devon Toews had a goal and two assists for the Islanders.

Another milestone performance for Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin in a 6-4 win over the New York Islanders (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin just keeps passing milestones on his way to 700 career goals. He needs just three goals to pass Mark Messier (694) for eighth place and should reach seventh-place Mike Gartner’s 708 before season’s end. Toews, meanwhile, poked the bear by mimicking Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov bird-dance goal celebration.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews scored twice and set up two others to lead his club over the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-2. Hawks rookie winger Dominik Kubalik scored twice to reach 20 goals on the season, while Patrick Kane picked up his 999th career point. The loss drops the Leafs (57 points) to 10th overall in the Eastern Conference, one point out of the final wild-card spot. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, move to within five points of the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Give the Blackhawks credit, they’re not giving up on this season. The Leafs, meanwhile, are starting to look like they did before they changed coaches two months ago. Perhaps a trade is necessary to bolster the lineup or shake them up.

Elvis Merzlikins made 41 saves for his third shutout in four games backstopping the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. Cam Atkinson scored twice and collected an assist. The Jackets (58 points) hold the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Colorado Avalanche held off the St. Louis Blues 5-3, snapping the latter’s six-game win streak. Nathan MacKinnon and Andre Burakovsky each picked up a goal and an assist while Cale Makar set the Avalanche record for rookie defensemen with his 11th goal of the season.

Connor McDavid scored two goals, Riley Sheahan picked up four points and Josh Archibald three in the Edmonton Oilers’ 7-3 trouncing of the Arizona Coyotes. The Oilers have won five of their last six games. McDavid (76 points) holds a one-point lead over linemate Leon Draisaitl as the league’s leading scorer. Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta was pulled after giving up six goals in 18 shots. Meanwhile, there’s speculation the Oilers are closing in a four-year contract extension with winger Zack Kassian worth between $3.2-$3.5 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Critics will complain that’s too much money for too long for a player whose production is dependent upon his more talented linemates. Nevertheless, the Oilers consider him a faster, more affordable replacement for Milan Lucic, who was shipped to Calgary last summer. Given the steady increase in the salary cap, that projected contract isn’t that bad. However, it would push their 2020-21 salary-cap payroll to nearly $63 million invested in 13 players, with defensemen Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear in line for raises and veteran goalie Mike Smith to be re-signed or replaced.

The Vancouver Canucks sit atop the Pacific Division with 58 points following a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Tanner Pearson, Adam Gaudette, and Jake Virtanen each had two points for the Canucks, who’ve won 11 of their last 14 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks still have their work cut out for them holding a playoff berth in the tightly-contested Pacific. With each game, however, they’re looking more and more like a postseason contender.

The Montreal Canadiens kept their playoff hopes alive in a 5-4 squeaker over the Vegas Golden Knights. The Habs blew 3-0 and 4-2 leads before Ilya Kovalchuk and Tomas Tatar scored in the shootout. Nick Cousins scored twice for the Canadiens (51 points), who sit six behind the third-place Florida Panthers in the Atlantic Division. Golden Knights center Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist before losing some teeth after catching an errant stick in the mouth.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves backstopping the Florida Panthers to a 4-1 win over the lowly Detroit Red Wings. The Panthers have won four in a row but played without netminder Chris Driedger, who’s expected to miss several weeks with a groin injury. Wings center Dylan Larkin tallied his 100th career goal.

Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny scored two goals and James van Riemsdyk had three points to defeat the Los Angeles Kings 4-1. Claude Giroux chipped in the two helpers for the Flyers (58 points), who hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

The Nashville Predators edged the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Craig Smith’s third-period goal. The Sabres win streak ended at three games while captain Jack Eichel’s points streak ended at nine games.

Jason Zucker had a goal and two assists and Alex Stalock had a 27-save shutout as the Minnesota Wild thumped the Dallas Stars 7-0. With 50 points, the Wild are seven points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth. Stars defenseman Stephen Johns returned to action following a 22-month absence dealing with post-concussion symptoms.

The Ottawa Senators picked up their first victory in 10 games by dousing the Calgary Flames 5-2. Senators goaltender Marcus Hogberg kicked out 40 shots while Brady Tkachuk had a goal and an assist. Brother Matthew was held scoreless by the Sens.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins center David Krejci (upper body) is expected to miss today’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Justin Williams is expected to return to the Carolina Hurricanes lineup today against the New York Islanders.










Midseason NHL Sophomore Stock Watch for 2019-20

Midseason NHL Sophomore Stock Watch for 2019-20

 










Best of the Decade: Top 5 NHL Players

Best of the Decade: Top 5 NHL Players