NHL Rumor Mill – November 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 3, 2021

The Jack Eichel rumor mill churns on with the Calgary Flames and Vegas Golden Knights as the remaining bidders. Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ESPN: Emily Kaplan reports sources claim the Calgary Flames and Vegas Golden Knights are the sole finalists in the bidding for Jack Eichel. Both clubs are okay with the 25-year-old Buffalo Sabres center undergoing disc replacement surgery to repair the herniated disc in his neck.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Kaplan said she was told a trade could be close (“on the one-yard line”) but details are still being worked out. Sabres general manager Kevin Adams has been working hard to get this done but he’s standing firm on his asking price. The Flames and Golden Knights have yet to meet his full demands.

The timetable for Eichel’s return would see him return to the ice within six weeks of surgery but it could be up to three months before he’s ready for game play. That would take him out of joining Team USA for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Still, the recovery period is two months shorter than it would be if he underwent neck fusion.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarland noted the Sabres asking price was set months ago consisting of at least four assets not including those that would have to go the other way for salary-cap purposes. He believes the Flames would have to part with a first-round pick, a top prospect and two young roster players, preferably a forward and defenseman under 25.

Macfarland doesn’t see the Sabres being interested in Juuso Valimaki given his struggles this season. The Flames are short on wingers so they’re unlikely to part with Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Blake Coleman or Andrew Mangiapane.

Center Sean Monahan and his $6.375 million annual cap hit would have to go the other way to help offset the addition of Eichel’s $10 million cap hit. McFarland doubts the Flames will acquire Eichel unless general manager Brad Treliving feels he won’t be able to re-sign Gaudreau or if Tkachuk is biding his time as a restricted free agent.

CALGARY SUN: Kristen Anderson also weighed in on the cost for the Flames to acquire Eichel. She pointed out the Flames have just over $1 million in cap space, meaning they must shed salary in addition to perhaps parting with younger players like Valimaki, speedy winger Dillon Dube and promising prospect Jakob Pelletier as part of the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted yesterday, the salary cap is an issue for the cap-strapped Flames and Golden Knights. The Sabres have made it clear they’re not retaining any portion of Eichel’s cap hit.

Vegas has Max Pacioretty and Alex Tuch on long-term injury reserve and can use that flexibility in the short term to add Eichel. However, they must shed salary later in the season when those players return to the lineup.

The Flames, meanwhile, would have to ship out salary immediately to make the dollars fit. That will involve either a direct deal with the Sabres, a separate cost-cutting trade with another club, or a trade involving a third team acting as a third-party broker.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports the Boston Bruins likely won’t be involved in any Eichel trade. He cites a well-placed source saying the Bruins are trying to improve their roster but haven’t been involved in the Eichel trade sweepstakes for a while.

Murphy believes the Bruins lack depth in tradeable assets to tempt the Sabres. His source said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has been looking for a defenseman, specifically a top-four rearguard who can produce offense from the blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise the Bruins are out of the bidding for Eichel given the Sabres’ expensive asking price. Most observers have said for months the Bruins lack the assets to make a competitive pitch for Eichel.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 21, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 21, 2021

Henrik Lundqvist announces his retirement, the Blues to retire Chris Pronger’s number, legendary Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret to call it a career following this season, the viability of moving the Coyotes to Houston, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist officially announced his retirement yesterday after 15 seasons with the New York Rangers and four with Frolunda in Sweden before that. A heart condition has ended his playing career at age 39.

Former New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has retired (NHL Images).

Lundqvist is the sixth winningest goaltender in NHL history with a record of 459-310-96, a 2.43 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and 64 shutouts, along with 61 wins and 10 shutouts in the playoffs. The Rangers immediately retired Lundqvist’s No. 30 and will stage a retirement ceremony later this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lundqvist was one of the great goaltenders of his generation and the best in Rangers history. “King Henrik” is their all-time leader in wins, save percentage, shutouts, and game-played by a goalie (887). He’s a shoo-in for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

A First Team All-Star in 2011-12 and a Second Team All-Star the following season, Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy in 2012 and was also a four-time Vezina finalist. He backstopped the Rangers to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final and won Olympic gold for his home country of Sweden in 2006.

Best wishes to Lundqvist and his family in their future endeavors.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues announced they will retire Chris Pronger’s No. 44 on Jan. 17 before a game against the Nashville Predators. The former Blues captain is among their franchise leaders in games played (598), assists (272) and points (356).

A four-time All-Star, Pronger’s best season was 1999-2000, becoming just the second defenseman in NHL history to win the Hart Memorial Trophy and the James Norris Memorial Trophy. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.

WGR 550: Long-time Buffalo Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret will retire at the end of the 2021-22 season. This will be his 51st season behind the mike for the Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jeanneret is one of the best in the business. His iconic call of Brad May’s series-winning overtime goal against the Boston Bruins in the 1993 playoffs is among my favorites.

THE ATHLETIC: News of the Arizona Coyotes’ lease agreement with Gila River Arena ending next year prompted some observers to suggest relocating the franchise to Houston. However, Dallas Stars CEO Brad Alberts told Saad Yousef he doesn’t think that’s a possibility, saying there’s been no discussion at the league level about putting a team in that city.

Alberts said he’s heard rumors that Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta wants an NHL franchise in his city but doesn’t know for certain if he does. He acknowledged things can change but doesn’t believe the league intends to abandon Phoenix.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I said yesterday, the league will do everything it can to keep the Coyotes in Arizona. If that’s not possible, moving to a new city requires a wealthy owner with a viable NHL arena. Fertitta was keen to do so two years ago but that was before the pandemic disrupted normal life. He might not be so enthusiastic now.

TSN: The Calgary Flames avoided salary arbitration with Nikita Zadorov by signing the 26-year-old defenseman to a one-year, $3.75 million contract. They also signed blueliner Juuso Valimaki to a two-year, $3.1 million deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That leaves Philadelphia Flyers rearguard Travis Sanheim as the only player still scheduled for arbitration. His hearing is slated for Aug. 26 but he’ll probably be signed before then.










Pandemic impacting NHL Training Camp for Prized Prospects

Pandemic impacting NHL Training Camp for Prized Prospects

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2020

Details of tentative CBA extension, more details on the return-to-play plan, an update on the league’s COVID-19 testing, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

KEY DETAILS FROM TENTATIVE CBA EXTENSION

NHL.COM: The NHL and NHLPA yesterday reached an agreement in principle on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a four-year extension to the collective bargaining agreement. The extension, as well as the protocols for Phases 3 and 4 of the return-to-play plan, are subject to ratification by the league board of governors and the PA membership later this week.

NHL and NHLPA reach a tentative agreement on a four-year CBA extension (Image via NHL.com).

Among the key details of the tentative CBA extension (as per TSN):

The agreement would expire on Sept. 15, 2026. It can be extended to 2027 if the escrow debts owed to the NHL team owners for 2019-20 exceed $125 million by the end of the deal,

The salary cap will be frozen at $81.5 million for 2020-21 and remain there until league revenue returns to $4.8 billion. After that, the cap will be determined by a new formula relying on actual hockey-related revenue (HRR) from two years ago and projected HRR for the immediately prior season,

An escrow cap will be implemented, with the players paying no more than 20 percent in 2020-21, 14 to 18 percent in 2021-22, 10 percent in 2022-23, and six percent annually for the final three seasons of the deal,

The players will defer 10 percent of their salary and signing bonuses for 2020-21, which will be returned to them in equal installments over each of the final three seasons of the agreement,

All front-loaded contracts will be limited to less than 50 percent variability between the highest and lowest compensation years,

No limits on signing bonuses,

The NHL will participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympics and the 2026 Milan Olympic pending negotiations with the IOC and IIHF,

The minimum salary will be $700k in 2020-21, rising to $750K for the next three seasons, $775K for 2024-25, and $800k in 2025-26.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These points were previously reported and duly noted on this site. Nevertheless, I felt they were worth repeating now that there’s finally an MOU in place.

Some notable new ones include:

The salary cap recapture penalty will not exceed the player’s normal salary-cap hit, but it will take longer to pay it back.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Call this the Shea Weber rule. As TSN’s Frank Seravalli explained, if Weber retired before his contract expired in 2025-26, the Nashville Predators would’ve been tagged with a cap recapture of over $24 million for that season because of the way Weber’s actual salary was structured. Now, they’ll face a cap recapture penalty of $7.86 million, but it will take them three additional seasons to pay that back.

Players on contracts expiring after 2020-21 are eligible to sign contract extensions beginning in 2021-22 three days following the ratification of the CBA extension,

Players with expiring contracts on teams not participating in the upcoming playoff tournament and those who opt-out of the tournament are eligible to sign contracts outside North America. However, those who opt-out won’t be permitted to return for the 2020-21 NHL season. Those on the non-playoff clubs that sign outside North America would be eligible to return if offered a new contract,

Prospect players can sign entry-level contracts but will not be eligible to play in the upcoming playoff tournament. They will be eligible to join their teams next season and will be considered one year closer to free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov, Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov, and New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin won’t be suiting up for their respective clubs in the playoff tournament.

NHL & NHLPA RELEASES PHASE 3 AND 4 RETURN-TO-PLAY DETAILS

NHL.COM: The league and the PA also released answers to key questions regarding the protocols for Phases 3 and 4 of their tentative return-to-play plan. As with the CBA extension, this plan is subject to ratification from the board of governors and PA membership.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several of the key points were noted in yesterday’s morning coffee headlines.

THE NATIONAL POST: Michael Traikos reports Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious diseases physician based in Mississauga, was impressed with the NHL’s 47-page protocol list, especially those covering life in the two host cities of Edmonton and Toronto. “This plan could work. It is certainly a possibility,” he said. Chakrabarti doesn’t believe there’s any danger of the players spreading COVID-19 in those host cities. Once players are in the bubble there’s no getting out, plus there’s less chance of the virus getting in and infecting the players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No system is perfect and there’s always a risk of the coronavirus breaching that bubble. Nevertheless, the odds of that happening are considerably reduced because of the strict protocols for Phase 4.

Getting to Phase 4, however, will be a challenge. While the teams participating in the tournament will be under stricter protocols in Phase 3 than they currently are, they will still be traveling to and from their homes daily and interacting with members of the public, putting them at risk of contracting the virus. Speaking of which…

NHL.COM: The league provided their latest COVID-19 testing update, indicating nine more players have tested positive during Phase 2. Of over 2,900 tests of 396 players, 23 came back positive. That’s an increase of eight positives tests from players skating in Phase 2 protocols and one positive from a player outside that protocol. Those players have been in self-isolation and are following Health Canada and CDC guidelines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Phase 3, which starts on July 13, will determine if the playoff tournament takes place. A big spike in tests over the next three weeks could postpone, delay, or cancel Phase 4.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Kevin Hayes is this season’s winner of the Gene Hart Memorial Award.

SPORTSNET: It’s unlikely Calgary Flames defenseman Juuso Valimaki will participate in the playoff tournament. He missed the entire season to a knee injury, but playing in the tournament would make him eligible for next year’s expansion draft.

TORONTO SUN: Former NHL player Eddie Shack has been in and out of hospital battling cancer for the past eight months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shack is among the most popular personalities in hockey. I met him as a kid during the 1970s when he was doing promotional work for The Pop Shoppe and he couldn’t have been nicer. Many years later, he signed a stick for me at an NHL Oldtimers Game in Calgary. Here’s hoping “The Entertainer” pulls through.