NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 17, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 17, 2022

The Flyers reportedly hire John Tortorella as head coach, the Predators are on the verge of being sold, the salary cap range for 2022-23 is set, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Sam Carchidi reports a source claims the Flyers have hired John Tortorella as their new head coach with the official announcement expected Friday.

Philadelphia Flyers reportedly hire John Tortorella as their new head coach (NHL.com).

ESPN’s Kevin Weekes reports Tortorella’s new contract is expected to be in the range of four years at $4 million per season. That means the Flyers will be paying $9 million on coaches for next season as they still owe former coach Alain Vigneault $5 million for ’22-’23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tortorella has a reputation as a demanding coach who preaches an aggressive defensive style. He also has a long history of success in almost every NHL city he’s coached in.

Tortorella guided the Tampa Bay Lightning to their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2003-04, winning his first Jack Adams Award this season. He coached the New York Rangers to the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals and the Columbus Blue Jackets to their first-ever playoff series win in 2019 by sweeping the Lighting in the opening round. Tortorella won his second Adams Award with the Blue Jackets in 2016-17.

The Flyers, however, will be a challenge for Tortorella. While his hiring fits into management’s goal of “aggressive retooling” of its roster, there are questions about their scoring punch and their blueline depth. Signing him a four-year deal suggests they’re willing to give him the time he needs to reverse the Flyers’ on-ice fortunes.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators are nearing an agreement to sell the franchise to former Tennessee governor Bill Haslam. He’s expected to become the majority owner for an unspecified period of time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what changes, if any, Haslam could have in store for the Predators. One thing is certain: he won’t be moving the club out of Nashville.

NHL.COM: The NHL and NHLPA confirmed the salary cap limits for 2022-23. The upper limit will rise by $1 million to $82.5 million while the lower limit is set at $61 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: League commissioner Gary Bettman announced earlier this week that the upper limit will continue to rise by $1 million increments for at least the next two seasons. If hockey-related revenue continues to improve over that period, the increases will become more robust by 2024-25.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli believes it’s likely the San Jose Sharks and Evander Kane will reach some sort of settlement regarding the latter’s grievance over his contract termination. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly suggested an arbitrator might not be available to hear the case until after the NHL free-agency period begins on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane would still be allowed to sign with another NHL team if his case hasn’t been heard by July 13. However, the arbiter’s subsequent ruling could complicate things for both sides.

Seravalli suggests the arbiter could rule that the Sharks terminated Kane’s contract without cause. That would mean the winger would be reinstated with the Sharks and any contract he signed with another club would be voided. Kane would get the remainder of his original contract back but he’d have to return to the Sharks, which neither side wants at this stage.

THE DENVER POST: Valeri Nichushkin turned into the best bargain signing ever made by Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic. Inked to a one-year, $850K contract in 2019-20 after being bought out by the Dallas Stars, the two-way winger has gone on to become an invaluable member of the Avalanche’s march to the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nichushkin’s performance in 2019-20 earned him a two-year extension worth $2.5 million annually. This season has been a career year for the 27-year-old winger, tallying 25 goals and 52 points in 62 games during the regular season and six goals and 11 points in 15 postseason games thus far.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning aren’t panicking over their overtime loss to the Avalanche in the opening game of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final. They’re 1-3 in Game 1 in this postseason and 11-3 in every other game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be important for the Lightning to win Game 2 on Saturday and return home for Games 3 and 4 with this series tied. While they overcame being down 2-0 against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals, they could find it more difficult surmounting a similar deficit against the talented, swift-skatingAvalanche.

WINNIPEG SUN: Barry Trotz is set to meet again with the Jets for more discussions regarding the club’s vacant head coaching position.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That doesn’t mean it’s a certainty Trotz will sign with the Jets but it is a promising step in that direction.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers have signed Sammy Blais to a one-year, $1.525 million contract extension. The 26-year-old winger was slated to become a restricted free agent on July 13. He missed most of this season following a knee injury suffered in November.

Speaking of the Rangers, former Blueshirt Sean Avery was found guilty of using his scooter to hit a car that was blocking a bike lane in Manhattan in 2019. He was sentenced to time served.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 15, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 15, 2022

The latest on the Avalanche and Lightning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Golden Knights hire former Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy as their new bench boss, Ducks goalie John Gibson denies trade rumors, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar hadn’t named his starting goalie for tonight’s Game 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final. Darcy Kuemper has fully recovered from the upper-body injury that sidelined him for most of the Western Conference Finals. Backup Pavel Francouz picked up the wins in all four games in that series as the Avs swept the Edmonton Oilers.

THE DENVER POST: Avalanche center Nazem Kadri’s status for Game 1 remains uncertain. He underwent surgery on his right thumb last week and wasn’t seen skating with his teammates in practice. Kadri wasn’t available to the media because of his injury status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been suggested Kadri could return at some point in the Stanley Cup Final. Given the severity of his injury, I’ll believe it when I see it.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning coach Jon Cooper said all signs indicated Brayden Point (lower-body injury) could return to the lineup for the first time in 31 days in Game 1. However, the final decision will be made on Wednesday.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed Point will definitely be in the line for Game 2 if he doesn’t play in Game 1 tonight.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights confirmed they’ve hired former Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy as their new bench boss.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fired by the Bruins on June 6, Cassidy wasn’t unemployed for long. That’s because of his solid resume during his six seasons in Boston, guiding the Bruins to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final and winning the Presidents’ Trophy the following season, earning himself the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year for 2019-20.

The Golden Knights will be counting on Cassidy to get them back on the winning track after missing the playoffs this season for the first time in franchise history.

THE ATHLETIC: John Gibson denied a recent rumor claiming he would welcome a trade from the Anaheim Ducks. The 28-year-old goaltender said he first learned of the speculation in a call with his agent, Kurt Overhardt.

All of the rumors that I got in a call from Kurt yesterday are false because I haven’t had a conversation with anybody there, “ said Gibson. “None of that is true.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Eric Stephens suggested Gibson, who has a 10-team no-trade clause, could be traded if Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek gets a “blow-me-away” offer. That appears unlikely if the goalie wants to stay put.

NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks intend to qualify Brock Boeser’s rights, according to president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford. “No, we’re not going to let him walk,” said Rutherford. “We recognize he’s a good player. We can figure out a way to fit him in next season with him taking his qualifying offer. Everything gets tricky and difficult, but we can figure it out.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will cost the Canucks $7.5 million to qualify Boeser’s rights. With limited cap space, they’ll like have to make a cost-cutting trade or two to work it out.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: cited ESPN’s Kevin Weeks reporting the Flyers are in “late-stage negotiations” with John Tortorella regarding their head-coaching job.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As of early this morning a deal has not yet been reached. There could be an announcement coming soon. Stay tuned…

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings signed Juho “Jussi” Olkinuora to a one-year, two-way contract. The 31-year-old goaltender helped Finland win gold at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. He also backstopped them to gold at the 2022 World Championship, earning MVP honors.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins promoted Chris Pryor to assistant general manager.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars signed forward Fredrik Karlstrom to a one-year, two-way contract extension. He appeared in three games with the Stars this season.

NHL.COM: Al Morganti and Bill Clement will be honored this year by the Hockey Hall of Fame. Morganti will receive the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for excellence in hockey journalism while Clement will receive the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Morganti and Clement on winning these prestigious awards honoring their many years in their respective fields.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes are hopeful of reaching an agreement on a new arena with the city of Tempe by the end of this year.

IDNES.CZ: Czech goaltender Patrik Bartosak is under investigation by police after his father accused him of assault. He’s a former prospect of the Los Angeles Kings, selected in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stick tap to Alexander Wirdzek for the link.

TSN: Carter Hutton announced his retirement on Tuesday. The 36-year-old goaltender spent 10 seasons in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes. In 235 games, he had a record of 94 wins, 90 losses and 27 overtime losses, with a career goals-against average of 2.76, a save percentage of .908 and 13 shutouts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hutton and his family in their future endeavors.

CALGARY SUN: Jim “Bearcat” Murray passed away Tuesday at age 89. He was the trainer for Flames from 1980 until 1996, transitioning into retirement in a community ambassador role. Murray became one of the most popular and colorful characters in Flames’ history.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I saw Murray’s popularity in Calgary during the four years I lived there in the mid-1990s. He took part in many community and charity activities and was among the city’s most recognizable local celebrities. My condolences to his family, friends, and the Flames’ organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 12, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 12, 2022

The Lightning defeats the Rangers to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, the latest on the Flyers and Golden Knights’ search for new head coaches and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: For the third straight year, the Tampa Bay Lightning are heading to the Stanley Cup Final. Steven Stamkos scored twice and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 20 saves as the Bolts defeated the New York Rangers 2-1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals to take the series 4 games to 2. Frank Vatrano replied for the Rangers while Igor Shesterkin made 29 stops.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

The Lightning will face off against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday, June 15, in Denver.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Experience, a commitment to defensive play and their best players stepping up were keys to the Lightning winning back-to-back Stanley Cups. Those factors also enabled them to overcome a 2-0 series deficit against the Rangers.

The Bolts didn’t get rattled after dropping the first two games in New York. They effectively neutralized the Rangers’ top offensive players as the series went on, holding the Blueshirts scoreless in the final two games and limiting them to one goal in each of the final three games and just one five-on-five goal in the final four.

Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Ondrej Palat rose to the occasion over the final four games. Shesterkin was outstanding for the Rangers, but Vasilevskiy won the goaltending duel.

The Lightning will also get a boost to their roster for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Center Brayden Point is expected to be ready to rejoin the lineup after being sidelined by a lower-body injury since Game 7 of their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

THE DENVER POST: Speaking of the Avalanche, Mike Chambers agrees with Wayne Gretzky’s opinion of Cale Makar as the best defenseman since Bobby Orr. “The closest player we’ve ever seen offensively and defensively that can make an impact on the game that much – probably Bobby Orr,” Gretzky recently said on TNT. He considered Makar to be the Avalanche’s best player on the ice during the Western Conference Finals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Makar has been an impact player since his arrival with the Avalanche in the 2019 playoffs. He’s the favorite to win the Norris Trophy this season and should be a perennial candidate for that award for at least the next 10 years.

Makar is a big reason why the Avs reached this year’s Stanley Cup Final and have a legitimate shot at dethroning the Lightning. He has to be considered among the leading candidates for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

DAILY FACEOFF: Sources tell Frank Seravalli that the Philadelphia Flyers have narrowed down their list of head coaching candidates. Former bench bosses Barry Trotz and John Tortorella are believed to be among the finalists.

YARDBARKER: cited Seravalli reported the Vegas Golden Knights have zeroed in on Bruce Cassidy in their search for a new head coach. Cassidy was recently relieved of his duties as coach of the Boston Bruins.

THE SCORE: cited NJ.com’s Ryan Novozinsky reporting New Jersey Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald met recently with winger Jesper Bratt and the two sides are trying to get a deal done this summer. The 23-year-old Bratt is coming off a career-high 73-point performance. He’s slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fitzgerald indicated his intent to pursue a long-term deal with Bratt during his end-of-season interview last month. The Devils GM could seek an eight-year deal while the winger’s camp could be looking for a raise of over $7 million annually.

TSN: The NHL Board of Governors is set to meet this Thursday in New York City.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 25, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 25, 2022

The Oilers push the Flames to the brink of elimination, the Rangers tie their series with the Hurricanes, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers held off the Calgary Flames 5-3 in Game 4 of their second-round series to go up three games to one. Evander Kane and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each scored two goals, Leon Draisaitl collected three assists and Connor McDavid had two helpers. The Oilers can wrap up the series in Game 5 on Thursday in Calgary.

Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames overcame a shaky first period where they fell behind 3-0 to tie the game as Rasmus Andersson’s long shot from inside his own blueline eluded Oilers goaltender Mike Smith. However, the Oilers regained the lead on Nugent-Hopkins’ second goal late in the third and Kane put it away with an empty-netter.

It was a well-deserved win by the Oilers, taking advantage of the ongoing inconsistency of Calgary goaltender Jacob Markstrom and the defensive breakdowns by his teammates. Flames defenseman Chris Tanev returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury on May 13 against the Dallas Stars. He did his best but was favoring the shoulder throughout the game.

 

The New York Rangers tied their series with the Carolina Hurricanes at two games apiece following a 4-1 win at home in Game 4. Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin made 30 saves while teammate Andrew Copp had a goal and two assists while Adam Fox and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and an assist. The series returns to Carolina for Game 5 on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the Rangers’ best game of this series as they dominated the Hurricanes for most of this contest. The loss continues the Canes’ inability to win on the road in this postseason. They got away with it against the Boston Bruins in their first-round series but it could prove costly if the Rangers should win Game 5.

HEADLINES

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ashley Cave, wife of Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri, shared a sample of the racially charged threats her husband received through the Jazzy Kadri Instagram account. The messages target Kadri’s Lebanese-Canadian heritage and his Muslim faith. Kadri received these threats following a collision with Jordan Binnington in Game 3 of their second-round series that sidelined the St. Louis Blues goaltender for the remainder of the series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those messages were disgusting and unacceptable. Regardless of Kadri’s suspension history or whether you believe he intentionally tried to injure Binnington (which I don’t believe he did), he doesn’t deserve that hateful vitriol. No one does. Racism has no place in our society and we shouldn’t stand for it.

NHL.COM: Speaking of Kadri, Blues winger David Perron was fined $5,000.00 by the league’s department of player safety for crosschecking the Avalanche center in Game 3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perron also narrowly missed nailing Kadri with an elbow to the head after the Avs forward scored his second of three goals in that game. He and his Blues teammates need to rein in their tempers or risk losing this series.

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: The Flyers have interviewed former Columbus Blue Jacket coach John Tortorella for their vacant head coach position.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers are also set to meet with former New York Islanders bench boss Barry Trotz later this week.  










NHL Rumor Mill – May 10, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 10, 2022

Where could Barry Trotz end up after being fired as Islanders head coach? Who could the Isles hire as his replacement? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reported on the New York Islanders’ surprising decision to fire head coach Barry Trotz on Monday. He speculates Trotz’s handling of young forward Oliver Wahlstrom and the reduction in Mathew Barzal’s role and ice time may have factored into general manager Lou Lamoriello’s decision to part ways with Trotz.

Former New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz (NHL.com).

A source with knowledge of the Islanders’ dressing room pushed back against Lamoriello’s claim the decision was made without input from the players. The source said making that move after conducting the players’ exit interviews indicated the Isles GM was listening to their comments.

Kurz speculates Trotz’s physically demanding style of play in a season that started with a 13-game road trip followed by a COVID outbreak might have contributed to the club’s disappointing performance. The coach himself also pondered that possibility.

As for Trotz’s potential replacements, Kurz’s list included former NHL coaches such as Mike Babcock, Joel Quenneville, and Claude Julien, as well as current Isles assistant coach Lane Lambert.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner also weighed in on the next Islanders head coach, claiming he’s been told Lamoriello has looked into Paul Maurice and John Tortorella. He also speculated Peter DeBoer could be an option if he’s fired by the Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello gave no timetable for naming Trotz’s replacement. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be surprising if he reaches a decision before the 2022 NHL Draft in early July.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Lamoriell opts for someone with plenty of NHL experience and success, promotes Lambert, or considers an option outside the box for many observers. We probably won’t get any indication of which way the always-secretive Isles GM will go before he announces his choice.

Speaking of DeBoer, Vegas Hockey Now’s Owen Krepps wondered if he’ll join Trotz among the ranks of unemployed NHL head coaches. If so, he suggested the Golden Knights might look at Trotz as a replacement.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens suggested the Philadelphia Flyers, Seattle Kraken and Winnipeg Jets as three landing spots for Trotz.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers replaced Alain Vigneault last December with Mike Yeo on an interim basis and are in the hunt for a new full-time head coach after announcing Yeo won’t return in the role next season.

Paul Maurice stepped down as Jets head coach in December. Assistant coach Dave Lowry was named interim bench boss but, like Yeo, won’t be returning in that role next season.

Stephens feels the Kraken lacks structure under current head coach Dave Hakstol. So far, there’s no indication Seattle GM Ron Francis intends to make a coaching change but someone as well-respected as Trotz becoming available could prove tempting.

WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen believes the Jets should be in pursuit of Winnipeg native Trotz. He cited his impressive record of success with the Islanders, as well as with the Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Sam Carchidi believes Trotz would be a perfect fit to revitalize the sorry-looking Flyers if he’s interested in the challenge.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Kevin Allen suggested the Red Wings could be a landing spot for Trotz. He also indicated the Chicago Blackhawks are among the NHL teams seeking a new head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trotz won’t be out of a job for long. He’s reportedly taking a couple of weeks to rest and ponder his next move. I won’t be surprised if he’s got a new coach gig before the end of June.

It could come down to whether he’d prefer to join a retooling team (or one that needs to retool) like the Jets or looks for the challenge of joining a rebuilding squad like the Wings.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 4, 2021

Check out the latest on Evander Kane, Jonathan Toews, John Klingberg, John Tortorella and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports several of Evander Kane’s teammates don’t want the San Jose Sharks winger to return to the club next season. That strained relationship was also the reason behind the club’s attempt to trade him earlier this summer.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

One source said the frustration stemmed from Kane’s disrespect for teams rules, including being late for practices and games. He faced no consequences for those actions, which didn’t sit well with younger teammates.

TSN: Kane has taken a voluntary leave of absence from the Hockey Diversity Alliance as the league investigates recent allegations that he bet on NHL games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s troubles appear to be mounting. Earlier this year, he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy citing over $26 million in debts with $10.2 million in assets. $1.5 million of those losses were related to gambling.

The Mercury News’ Curtis Pashelka speculated Kane’s gambling issues and the friction with his teammates could force Sharks management to buy out the remainder of his contract in the second buyout window. The club is eligible to use that opportunity because goaltender Adin Hill filed for salary arbitration.

Pashelka indicates a buyout of Kane would leave a total of $13 million in deal cap space on the Sharks payroll over the next four years. That’s in conjunction with the $7.25 million over the next three years from their recent buyout of Martin Jones.

Trading Kane would be the preferred option. As Kurz points out, however, the winger’s aforementioned issues combined with his $7 million annual average value for the next four seasons and a three-team trade list could make that move impossible.

TSN: Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said the club remains without a firm timeline for Jonathan Toews’ return. However, the club remains hopeful their 33-year-old captain will be ready for the start of this season. Toews missed all of last season with chronic immune response syndrome.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars GM Jim Nill said his club has started contract extension talks with John Klingberg. The 29-year-old defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He’s earning an annual average value of $4.25 million on his current contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klingberg will get a significant raise on his next deal. I don’t see the Stars paying him more than the $8.45 million AAV they’re paying to Miro Heiskanen, who’s a better all-around defenseman. If he seeks more, this season could be his last in Dallas.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues reached an agreement with forward Jordan Kyrou on a two-year, $5.6 million contract.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed center Travis Boyd to a one-year, $750K contract.

NEW YORK POST: Former NHL coach John Tortorella is joining ESPN as a studio analyst.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tortorella worked briefly with TSN in a similar role in 2008. Like him or not, he speaks his mind and that will make for entertaining television.

WGR 550: The Rochester Americans hired former Buffalo Sabres captain Michael Peca as an assistant coach. He spent last season as a development coach with the Washington Capitals.

TORONTO SUN: John Lilley has left his role as Maple Leafs director of amateur scouting to join the New York Rangers as director of player personnel and amateur scouting.