NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2021

The Rangers sign Mika Zibanejad to a lucrative contract extension, Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise officially sign with the Islanders, a large number of players hit the waiver wire, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers yesterday announced Mika Zibanejad signed an eight-year contract extension worth $68 million. The annual average value is $8.5 million. This deal will keep Zibanejad with the Rangers until he’s 36. By keeping his AAV under $9 million, it provided the Blueshirts with some cap flexibility to re-sign key players such as Adam Fox in the near future.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Post’s Larry Brooks indicated Zibanejad’s new deal is a little longer than Rangers’ management preferred. However, it was necessary to reach that $8.5 million cap hit as he likely would’ve received up to $10 million annually on the open market. As per Cap Friendly, they now have over $62 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23 with Fox, Ryan Strome, Kaapo Kakko and Alexandar Georgiev among the notables slated for new contracts next summer.

Zibanejad thrived since being traded to the Rangers in 2016, including a career-best 41 goals and 75 points in 57 games in 2019-20. He had a slow start last season following a bout of COVID-19 but finished strong with 50 points in 56 contests.

This signing should also take the Rangers out of the Jack Eichel sweepstakes. I’ll have more on that in today’s Rumor Mill. Brooks believes the only way it happens is if the Sabres retain 40-50 percent of Eichel’s $10 million AAV which isn’t going to happen.

DAILY FACEOFF: The New York Islanders officially announced the signings of Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise. They’re both on one-year, one-way contracts with an annual average value of $1.5 million. They’ll receive a base salary of $750K plus $750K in bonuses.

Frank Seravalli reported Erik Gustafsson has returned to the Chicago Blackhawks. The 29-year-old defenseman signed a one-year deal believed to be worth $800K.

Forty-three players hit the waiver wire yesterday. Vancouver Canucks defenseman Travis Hamonic and Edmonton Oilers forward Kyle Turris are the two notable names on that list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamonic was absent from the Canucks training camp and preseason for reasons related to the NHL’s vaccination protocols. Unvaccinated players face restrictions that could prevent them from participating in road games, which could also result in them being suspended without pay.

There was talk of the Canucks attempting to trade Hamonic. He’s on a two-year, $6 million contract with an eight-team no-trade clause.

THE PROVINCE: Speaking of the Canucks, they traded defenseman Olli Juolevi to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Noah Juulsen and forward Juho Lammiko.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a trade of young players who failed to pan out with their previous teams. Injuries also hampered the development of Juolevi and Juulsen. The latter is now on his third team in two seasons.

THE SCORE: Vegas Golden Knights president of hockey operations George McPhee accused player agent Allan Walsh of attempting to sabotage efforts to trade Marc-Andre Fleury by telling other clubs his client was considering retirement.

McPhee praised Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon’s handling of the situation. While acknowledging Fleury learned of his trade to the Chicago Blackhawks on social media, McPhee said they spoke with the goalie’s camp leading up to the deal. They stopped communicating with them when Walsh started telling other clubs Fleury planned to retire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to hear Walsh’s side of the story. The agent generated some controversy during the 2020 playoffs by posting an image on Twitter of Fleury with a photoshopped sword running through his back and head coach Pete DeBoer’s name on the blade. The suggestion was DeBoer stabbed his client in the back by giving Robin Lehner more playing time in the postseason. That image was removed at Fleury’s request.

SPORTSNET: New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood returned to practice yesterday after clearing all COVID-19 protocols. He’d received an inconclusive COVID test on Thursday. He said he “still has some things to do” before deciding one way or the other on getting vaccinated, “but I’m probably going to be getting the shot in the next couple of weeks.” He’s the only unvaccinated member of the Devils.

TSN: Speaking of the Devils, they signed forward Jimmy Vesey to a one-year, $800K contract.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette indicated captain Alex Ovechkin is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. He doesn’t consider it serious, suggesting the 36-year-old winger could be in the lineup for their season opener on Wednesday against the New York Rangers.

THE DENVER POST: The Avalanche signed defenseman Jack Johnson to a one-year, $750K contract.

SPORTSNET: Ottawa Senators forward Austin Watson is expected to be sidelined roughly four weeks with an injured ankle.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Mark Friedman was fined $1,812.50 for spearing Columbus Blue Jackets forward Sean Kuraly during Saturday’s preseason game.

Former NHL forward Frans Nielsen signed with DEL club Eisbaren Berlin. The 37-year-old center tallied 473 points in 925 career NHL games with the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 15, 2021

Connor McDavid calls for consistency from on-ice officials, the Blues bring back Tyler Bozak, the Red Wings re-sign Givani Smith, Jimmy Vesey among three players signing PTOs with the Devils, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman reports Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is calling for more consistency from the NHL’s on-ice officials. He acknowledged they face a difficult job but wants to see an improvement in the consistency of calls from game to game and throughout the game from period to period.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

Oilers general manager Ken Holland agrees with McDavid. “My case to the league is: A foul is a foul,” he said. “If the same guy is able to draw three or four penalties, so be it.” McDavid drew 29 penalties last season but none during the Oilers’ first-round series against the Winnipeg Jets.

McDavid and Holland are members of the NHL’s competition committee. In July, the committee reviewed 30 incidents of cross-checking, an infraction considered an area of concern by league general managers before the committee convened.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman publicly defended his on-ice officials during last season’s playoffs, calling them “the best officials in any sport” despite criticism by fans and pundits. Given the inconsistency we’ve seen over the years, I wouldn’t hold out much hope of any improvement.

My guess is we’ll see what we always see. Early-season games will be called more closely than those later in the season. The quality of officiating will deteriorate over the course of the playoffs.

There will be questionable fouls that could affect how the rest of a game is called.  Blatant attempts to injure will sometimes result in puzzling supplemental discipline or none at all. A bad call or missed call will be offset by another at some point in the game. Wash, rinse, repeat.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues have brought back center Tyler Bozak. The 35-year-old unrestricted free agent was signed to a one-year, $750K contract.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings re-signed forward Givani Smith to a two-year contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates it’s a one-way deal worth $750K per season.

TSN: Jimmy Vesey is among three players joining New Jersey Devils training camp on professional tryout offers. Joining him are Mark Jankowski and Tyler Wotherspoon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vesey was a well-touted prospect who signed with the New York Rangers as a college free agent in 2016. However, he bounced from the Rangers to the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks since 2019.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres fans will require proof of vaccination to attend the club’s home games this season.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruins forward Fred Stanfield passed away at age 77. He played 14 seasons in the NHL, six of those with the Bruins (1967-68 to 1972-73), winning two Stanley Cups. Along with Phil Esposito and Ken Hodge, Stanfield was part of the return the Bruins received in a 1967 trade with the Chicago Blackhawks that turned the club into a champion.

In 914 career games with the Bruins, Blackhawks, Minnesota North Stars and Buffalo Sabres, Stanfield tallied 211 goals and 616 points, along with 56 points in 106 playoff contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Stanfield’s family, friends and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 18, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s action features a record-tying performance by Mika Zibanejad and three-point performances from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, plus the latest on Anders Lee, Robin Lehner, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Mika Zibanejad tied an NHL record with six points in the second period as his New York Rangers crushed the Philadelphia Flyers 9-0. Zibanejad had a natural hat trick and collected three assists. Teammate Pavel Buchnevich enjoyed a four-point performance (including two goals) during that period. Alexandar Georgiev picked up the shutout with 26 saves. The loss leaves the Flyers (31 points) three points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (NHL Images).

The Rangers also accomplished this feat with their entire coaching staff missing the game due to COVID-19 protocols. Hartford Wolf Pack head coach Kris Knoblach, associate coach Gord Murphy and assistant general manager Chris Drury were behind the bench for this game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hey, maybe the Rangers should stick with those replacements even if the current coaching staff is cleared to return. Don’t change the luck, right? (Insert winky face emoji here).

Edmonton Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each had three points in a 7-3 drubbing of the Calgary Flames, handing the latter their first defeat under new head coach Darryl Sutter. Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie collected four helpers. The Oilers remain in third place in the Scotia North Division with 38 points while the Flames (31 points) are three points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 56 points in 32 games, McDavid sits seven points ahead of Draisaitl in the scoring race. Chicago’s Patrick Kane is third with 42 points. If McDavid remains healthy, he’s assured of winning the Art Ross Trophy.

Speaking of the Canadiens (34 points), they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Winnipeg Jets on an overtime goal by Nikolaj Ehlers. The Habs overcame a 3-1 deficit to force the extra frame on third-period goals by Brendan Gallagher and Tyler Toffoli. Kyle Connor scored twice and Pierre-Luc Dubois had three assists for the Jets (38 points) as they maintained their hold on second place in the North Division, two points back of the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are 0-5 in overtime and 0-3 in shootouts this season.

A four-goal third period rallied the Vegas Golden Knights over the San Jose Sharks 5-4 for their fourth straight victory. Shea Theodore had a goal and two assists for Vegas while Evander Kane replied for the Sharks with a goal and two helpers. With 41 points, the Golden Knights sit in first place in the Honda West Division with a four-point lead over the Minnesota Wild.

The Los Angeles Kings rode a three-goal first period to a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist as the Kings (30 points) moved to within three points of the fourth-place Blues in the West Division. The Blues have dropped five straight contests.

A shootout goal by Adam Gaudette gave the Vancouver Canucks a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Thatcher Demko made 30 saves for the win. The Senators overcame a 2-0 deficit to force overtime and the shootout but goalie Joey Daccord left the game in the third period with an apparent injury to his left knee. The Canucks (32 points) are one point behind the Canadiens in the North Division. Earlier in the day, they claimed forward Jimmy Vesey off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs while the Senators claimed goalie Anton Forsberg from the Jets.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The New York Islanders announced captain Anders Lee is sidelined for the remainder of the season as he undergoes surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles also placed Lee on long-term injury reserve, meaning they can use his $7 million cap hit to bring in a player or two by the April 12 trade deadline.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Sidelined Stars Tyler Seguin and Ben Bishop still aren’t close to practicing with their teammates. Seguin underwent hip surgery on Nov. 2 while Bishop had knee surgery on Oct. 21. It’s expected they could return by mid-April.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That won’t be in time to save the Stars’ season. With 25 points in 25 games, they’re eight points behind the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Central Division. They hold five games in hand on the Blackhawks but they must start stringing some wins together soon.

SPORTSNET: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner revealed he suffered a concussion that kept him out of the lineup since the second week of February. He chose to disclose the injury to combat baseless rumors that his absence was linked to the mental health issues he revealed back in September 2018.

I said this many times before, without going on a rant, the stigma around mental health is insane,” said Lehner. He spoke about the difficulty it creates for people struggling to make progress with those issues. “I think I should get the benefit of the doubt because I’ve been honest with it. If I had those issues again, which are not happening, I would be honest about it.”

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Carson Soucy received a one-game suspension by the league for a high hit on Arizona Coyotes forward Conor Garland.










Leafs hope that added experience will lead to NHL playoff success

Leafs hope that added experience will lead to NHL playoff success

 










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 Rumor Mill – June 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 5, 2020

Should the Oilers re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Which notable players should the Sabres retain? Check out the latest in today’s rumor mill.

SHOULD THE OILERS RE-SIGN NUGENT-HOPKINS ASAP?

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Allan Mitchell called upon the Edmonton Oilers to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins once this season is over. The 27-year-old forward is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

Should the Edmonton Oilers attempt to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the off-season (Photo via NHL Images).

Mitchell cited Nugent-Hopkins’ improved offensive game skating on the wing alongside Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto. A big offensive performance next season could make re-signing him more difficult. He suggested inking Nugent-Hopkins to a six-year, $45-million extension, which would equate to an annual average value of $7.5 million.

Mitchell believes the idea of moving Nugent-Hopkins at next season’s trade deadline is noxious to Oilers’ fans. He feels the Oilers will never get full value back by moving him as a playoff rental. He thinks there’s no one in the Oilers’ system to adequately replace the versatile forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nugent-Hopkins frequently surfaced in trade rumors over the previous two seasons. His solid play this season and the Oilers’ improvement in the standings silenced that chatter for the most part. However, he could resurface in next season’s rumor mill he’s still unsigned as the trade deadline approaches.

As Mitchell observes, the salary cap will determine what the Oilers can afford to re-sign Nugent-Hopkins. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $48 million invested in nine players for 2021-22.

Some of that cap room will be taken up this year by re-signing or replacing such notables as Mike Smith, Ethan Bear, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Ennis, and Riley Sheahan. Yamamoto, Alex Chiasson, Adam Larsson, and Kris Russell will be among those due for new contracts in 2021.

Assuming the salary cap remains at $81.5 million for 2021-22, there should be enough to accommodate a $7.5 million AAV for Nugent-Hopkins. His performance next season will also be a determining factor.

LATEST ON THE SABRES

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski and Mike Harrington weighed in on which notable players the Sabres should retain.

They were split on Rasmus Ristolainen, as Lysowski pointed to the regression in the blueliner’s play. Moving him could fetch some scoring help and free up cap room to sign a free-agent rearguard like Winnipeg’s Dylan DeMelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen often comes up as a Sabres’ trade candidate. However, general manager Jason Botterill and head coach Ralph Krueger indicated last week they still consider the 25-year-old defenseman among their core players. If so, that suggests Ristolainen won’t be shopped.

Both believe Brandon Montour should be traded. The 26-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent and they feel there’s no room for his style of play in Krueger’s system. He could bring the Sabres a second- or third-line forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres have depth on the blueline but need more on their forward lines. If Ristolainen isn’t shopped, Montour could become the likely candidate. He’s a year away from UFA eligibility and has arbitration rights this year. Ristolainen, on the other hand, is under contract through 2021-22.

They also split on Jimmy Vesey, with Harrington believing he’s not the scoring winger he was projected to become.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m with Harrington on this one. A highly-touted college player, Vesey’s struggled in the NHL.

Both believe the Sabres should re-sign UFA winger Wayne Simmonds to a one-year deal, part ways with UFAs Zemgus Girgensons, Michael Frolik, and Vladimir Sobotka, and attempt to trade goalie Carter Hutton.