NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 8, 2021

Bruins name Patrice Bergeron their new captain, Corey Crawford remains absent from training camp, the Devils bring back Sami Vatanen, an update on Kasperi Kapanen and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins named Patrice Bergeron as their new captain yesterday. He takes over from Zdeno Chara, who signed last month with the Washington Capitals.

Patrice Bergeron is the new captain of the Boston Bruins (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron was the natural choice to succeed Chara. He’s spent his entire 16-year NHL career with the Bruins and is among the greatest players in franchise history.

ELITE SPORTS NEW YORK: Corey Crawford has yet to suit up for practice with the New Jersey Devils. He missed every on-ice practice/scrimmages for maintenance days and personal days. The 36-year-old goaltender signed a two-year, $7.8 million contract with the Devils last fall.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford has had well-documented issues related to head trauma during his final seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks. That could explain his absence thus far.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Speaking of the Devils, they signed free-agent defenseman Sami Vatanen to a one-year, $2 million contract. Vatanen spent the past three seasons with the Devils until traded to the Carolina Hurricanes at the 2020 NHL trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vatanen will bring back some much-needed experience to the Devils’ defense corps. He’s taking a big pay cut from the $4.875 million annual average value of his previous contract. The 29-year-old blueliner will hope for a better payday this summer with the Devils or another club via the unrestricted free agent market.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen is expected to be granted a visa today and fly to Pittsburgh from Finland on Saturday. Because of his immigration issues, he’ll miss the Penguins’ season-opener on Wednesday as he’ll have to self-quarantine for seven days upon his arrival in the United States per league rules.

CAP FRIENDLY: indicates the Colorado Avalanche placed defenseman Josh Anderson on unconditional waivers for the purpose of contract termination. He was set to enter the final season of his entry-level contract.

OTTAWA SUN: The province of Ontario has officially given the green light to the Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs to play their home games in their own arenas for the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That leaves Manitoba to grant approval to the Jets to stage their home games in Winnipeg. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly recently indicated that the province is expected to give its blessing soon.

TSN: The Montreal Canadiens will still be allowed to play their home games at the Bell Centre despite a curfew that went into effect on Wednesday for the province of Quebec.

NHL.COM: The league released its detailed arena restart health and safety protocols for the upcoming season.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning named Dave Randorf as their new play-by-play announcer. He has over 30 years of broadcasting experience, including the past six seasons with Sportsnet.

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes have entered into a partnership agreement with the Nashville Predators to share AHL affiliation with the Chicago Wolves.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 3, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 3, 2021

Are the Bruins interested in Pierre-Luc Dubois? Could the Islanders revisit their interest in Zach Parise? Are the Lightning looking at free-agent defenseman Sami Vatanen? Find out in the first NHL Sunday Rumor Roundup of 2021.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites an NHL source claiming the Bruins have looked into what it might cost to acquire Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old Dubois signed a two-year contract with the Jackets last week amid rumors he’d still prefer a trade.

Are the Boston Bruins interested in Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois? (NHL Images)

The source told Murphy the Bruins interest was merely exploratory at this point. There are no details as to what the Jackets’ asking price would be. Murphy feels Dubois, who can play center or wing, would provide the Bruins with much-needed secondary scoring and would become a successor to aging second-line center David Krejci.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication the Blue Jackets are looking into moving Dubois but I daresay he’ll be a hot topic in the early-season rumor mill. If the Jackets were to shop the young center they’ll likely want a center of at least equal value in return. They were among the NHL’s lowest-scoring clubs last season with depth at center a nagging issue.

I don’t see the Jackets trading away Dubois without getting a scoring forward (preferably a center) in return. They could seek a package of picks and prospects for Dubois that they could flip to another club for a first- or second-line center (assuming Max Domi could slide into the first-line spot), but that sounds easier said than done right now. The Bruins lack sufficient assets in available roster players or young assets to land Dubois.

If the Jackets decide to move Dubois it could be during the offseason when interested teams would have more cap space. However, the flattened salary cap for 2021-22 means that the market could be limited.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple recently examined the New York Islanders’ options for replacing departed center Derick Brassard. Among them was perhaps revisiting their interest in Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise.

Staple said there’s no indication the Isles were looking at renewing their trade-deadline interest in Parise. However, the recent retirement of Johnny Boychuk freed up his $6 million annual average value, making it possible to swing that trade now. Acquiring Parise would mean taking on the remaining five years (at $7.54 million annually) of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple isn’t saying the Isles will revisit the potential Parise trade but they have the cap wiggle room to do so if they wanted to. While anything’s possible, the drastic economic changes brought on by COVID-19 since last year’s trade deadline probably killed off any lingering chance of the Isles acquiring Parise.

 










Jets, Blackhawks and Bruins Prominent in Year-End NHL Rumor Roundup

Jets, Blackhawks and Bruins Prominent in Year-End NHL Rumor Roundup

 










NHL Rumor Mill – December 31, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 31, 2020

How will the Bruins replace Zdeno Chara? Are any moves coming for the Penguins before the season opens? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HOW WILL THE BRUINS REPLACE CHARA?

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa reports the Boston Bruins could go with one of the younger defensemen within their system to fill the gap on their blueline left by the departure of Zdeno Chara. The former Bruins captain yesterday signed a one-year deal with the Capitals.

The Boston Bruins are said to be interested in free-agent defenseman Sami Vatanen (NHL Images).

The Bruins have three young left-shot defensemen in Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon and Urha Vaakanainen. Shinzawa observes they’ve played a combined 44 NHL games. He also noted team president Cam Neely last week indicating the Bruins were studying the trade market for help on defense, something they’re liable to keep doing as cap-strapped clubs seek to shed salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins could also look to free agency for affordable options. Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy cited sources saying they’re interested in Sami Vatanen and Karl Alzner, while his colleague Joe Haggerty recently reported they’re looking at Ben Hutton.

Management will likely evaluate the roster during training camp to determine if they need to make a move. Given Neely’s remarks and the rumors they’re checking out free-agent options, it wouldn’t be surprising if they add a veteran left-side rearguard before the season opens on Jan. 13.

THE LATEST PENGUINS SPECULATION

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski recently observed the Penguins weren’t in on affordable free agents Carl Soderberg or Erik Haula to bolster their third-line center position. He wonders if GM Jim Rutherford is saving his cap space to perhaps swing an impact trade during the regular season.

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports Rutherford doesn’t intend to make any trades before the season opens on Jan. 13. “I would say it’s highly unlikely,” said the Penguins GM, adding he wants to see his club play and see what they have.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford is a proven wheeler-dealer so we shouldn’t rule out the possibility he’ll make a trade before the season begins. That probably won’t happen, however, until he gets an opportunity to evaluate his roster in training camp.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 29, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 29, 2020

Check out the recent Bruins and Canadiens speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa last week reported a league source was uncertain if the Boston Bruins would bring back Zdeno Chara for another season. The source said it feels like they’re waiting to see if anything opens up in the trade market.

Has Zdeno Chara played his final game with the Boston Bruins? (NHL Images)

Shinzawa observed the Bruins have sufficient salary-cap space to bring back Chara, but there are concerns over the 43-year-old defenseman’s performance. His days of logging over 20 minutes per game may be over. The Bruins also want to see how former first-round picks Jakub Zboril and Urho Vaakanainen could complement Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon and John Moore.

Trading for a younger left-side defenseman could be the Bruins’ preference. However, they’ll have to part with assets and try to make the acquisition fit under the cap.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss recently reported Bruins team president Cam Neely last week observed some teams were pressed for cap space and will probably have to do something. He’s sure general manager Don Sweeney is still looking at tweaking or adding to the roster over the next couple of weeks.

Goss noted Sami Vatanen, Ron Hainsey and Travis Hamonic remain available in the free-agent market. He also pointed out the Bruins’ limited prospect pool and cap space could make it difficult to address their needs via trades.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty observes there are reports suggesting the Bruins could be looking at Ben Hutton. The unrestricted free agent had 16 points and plus-minus of plus-five in 65 games last season with the Los Angeles Kings. Haggerty feels the 27-year-old blueliners could be an affordable fit if Zboril, Vaakanainen or Lauzon aren’t ready for prime time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney is catching flak from some Bruins fans for not making any moves in recent weeks. A lack of cap space and suitable options are the sticking points. Nevertheless, there are some intriguing short-term free-agent options that could be had for the right price.

As for Chara, he could return for one last hurrah with the Bruins. However, there’s a growing sense that he could sign elsewhere. His agent claimed last week he’s received inquiries from over 20 teams. The Bruins prefer Chara to play a third-pairing role but that might not be to the big blueliner’s liking.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey reports the Canadiens’ recent signings of veteran forwards Corey Perry and Michael Frolik pushed the club over the $81.5 million salary cap by $1.1 million. Some decisions will have to be made before the season starts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some players, perhaps even Perry and Frolik, could end up on the Canadiens’ taxi squad, enabling the Habs to be cap compliant when the season opens. Doing so, however, means they’ll have to pass through waivers where they could be claimed by other clubs. Some observers believe GM Marc Bergevin might not be done dealing. We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 23, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 23, 2020

Check out the latest on the Jets, Canadiens, Red Wings and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre reports the status of Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic are among the pressing matters facing the Winnipeg Jets as they prepare for the upcoming 2020-21 season.

What will the Winnipeg Jets do with winger Patrik Laine?(NHL Images)

Earlier this fall, Laine’s agent suggested a trade might be “mutually beneficial” for his client and the Jets. However, the winger remains with the Jets. He has a year remaining on his contract. McIntyre wonders if this will become a season-long distraction or if it’ll blow over quickly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That depends on whether Laine can rediscover the chemistry he had with center Paul Stastny, who was reacquired by the Jets following a two-year stint with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff doesn’t have to rush into trading Laine, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer. He can afford to wait for the right offer if he decides to shop the talented winger.

Roslovic is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract. His agent told McIntyre there’s been no progress in contract talks with the Jets. The 23-year-old forward has been the subject of trade speculation. Cheveldayoff has explored Roslovic’s trade value but hasn’t found a deal to his liking.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roslovic seems more likely to be traded than Laine right now. Cheveldayoff could have better luck finding a suitable trade partner now that the start of the season has finally been announced. The Jets could use more depth on the blue line so I wouldn’t be surprised if Cheveldayoff seeks a defenseman in return.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Montreal Canadiens might not be done dealing following a busy offseason of player movement. He cites a source claiming Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is still looking to improve his roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Canadiens with over $383K in cap space. If Bergevin is looking at improving his roster it could be a dollar-for-dollar swap or a deal in which he ships out a player for one with a more affordable cap hit.

Tomas Tatar ($4.8 million), Paul Byron ($3.4 million AAV through 2022-23) and Philip Danault ($3.083 million) have come up as potential trade candidates. Bergevin could be loath to move any of them but he does have a history of making bold moves.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said he might make another move before the season begins. The Wings have over $9 million in salary-cap space for the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent speculation linked the Wings with Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson ($5 million AAV) or Alex Killorn ($4.45 million AAV) as the Bolts look to shed salary. A report out of Europe suggested the Lightning could acquire Henrik Zetterberg’s $6.083 million cap hit. A bad back put Zetterberg on permanent long-term injury reserve since 2018.