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.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 1, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 1, 2019

The Canadiens and Flames rally for overtime victories plus the latest on Dustin Byfuglien, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAMES RECAPS

NHL.COM: Max Domi’s overtime goal gave the Montreal Canadiens a 5-4 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. The Habs overcame a 4-2 deficit on goals by Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher to force the extra frame. Domi and Tatar each had a goal and an assist. Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty collected an assist against his former club for his 500th career NHL point. Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi missed the game as he’s listed as day-to-day with a groin injury.

The Calgary Flames overcame 2-0, 4-1, and 5-4 deficits to burn the Nashville Predators 6-5 on a between-the-legs overtime goal by Matthew Tkachuk, who also tallied the game-tying goal. Tkachuk and Sean Monahan finished with three points apiece. Predators winger Auston Watson celebrated his new three-year, $4.5-million contract extension with a four-point performance. Teammate Calle Jarnkrok also tallied twice.

HEADLINES

TSN: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien could require up to four months to recover from recent ankle surgery. His agent is in discussions with the NHL Players Association as they review his case. it could have financial complications if it’s determined he injured his ankle playing hockey.

Dustin Byfuglien’s ankle surgery raises more questions over his future with the Winnipeg Jets (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byfuglien is on a leave of absence mulling his future and was suspended without pay for salary-cap purposes. He underwent this surgery in his home state of Minnesota without informing the team.

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff shed little light on the situation, raising speculation of a difference of opinion between the player and the organization over the status of his injured ankle. The silence from both sides only generates more questions over the future of Byfuglien’s playing career. For the time being, it seems increasingly likely he won’t be back with the Jets this season.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets got more bad news as center Mark Letestu has been sidelined by a heart virus (myocarditis) for six months. Winger Patrik Laine remains sidelined with a minor lower-body injury. Center Bryan Little left practice yesterday with an undisclosed injury and could miss tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Letestu is expected to make a full recovery but he’ll miss the remainder of the regular season.

THE SCORE: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin has hired a lawyer to investigate how his name became associated with a Russian virtual reality start-up that reportedly lost millions of dollars. The report claimed Malkin invested $4 million into the company, which used his name to attract other investors. He denied investing in the company.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Speaking of the Penguins, they’ve assigned Sam Lafferty to their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

CBS SPORTS: Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. Buffalo Sabres winger Jimmy Vesey (lower body) has been upgraded from week-to-week to day-to-day. San Jose Sharks center Dylan Gambrell is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings forward Tyler Toffoli was a healthy scratch during Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli is an unrestricted free agent in July. It’ll be interesting to see how he responds to this move.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks have recalled defenseman Adam Boqvist.

The Charlotte Checkers have released Jamie McGinn from his professional tryout offer.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 26, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 26, 2019

Game recaps, the Penguins trade Erik Gudbranson to the Ducks, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals overcame a 5-1 deficit to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 6-5 on a shootout goal by Nicklas Backstrom. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Michal Kempny each scored twice for the Capitals. Tim Schaller tallied two goals while Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat each collected two assists for the Canucks.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored twice to rally the Washington Capitals to a 6-5 win over the Vancouver Canucks (Photo via NHL Images).

​SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals gave the young Canucks an invaluable lesson. Never sit on a big lead against a talented veteran club.

Third-period goals by Barrett Hayton and Clayton Keller lifted the Arizona Coyotes to a 5-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Jason Demers collected three assists while Nick Schmaltz and Oliver Ekman-Larsson each had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes, who’ve won six of their last eight contests. Devils rookie Jack Hughes scored a goal and set up two others. Devils defenseman Will Butcher returned from injured reserve while Connor Carrick (upper body) was placed on IR.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After a shaky start the Coyotes are playing well of late. Their once-sputtering offense has significantly improved in recent games.

Speaking of surging teams, the New York Islanders picked up their sixth consecutive victory by doubling up the Ottawa Senators 4-2. Nick Leddy scored twice, including on a penalty shot, and collected an assist. Tyler Ennis tallied twice for the Senators.

Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 10 games with two assists in a 6-1 thumping of the Vegas Golden Knights. Former Golden Knights forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare collected three points while Nazem Kadri and Matt Calvert each scored twice for the Avs. Golden Knights starter Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled after giving up four goals on 26 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wasn’t Fleury’s fault. He had little defensive support in this contest.

Buffalo Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark posted a 41-save performance to shut out the Detroit Red Wings 2-0. Sam Reinhart and Jake McCabe were the goal scorers. The Wings have dropped seven straight games. Sabres winger Jimmy Vesey and defenseman Marco Scandella were ruled out for this game. Both will be evaluated when the club returns to Buffalo. Wings forward Luke Glendening (upper body) will be sidelined two-to-four weeks.

The Toronto Maple Leafs downed the San Jose Sharks 4-1, spoiling former Leafs winger Patrick Marleau’s return to Toronto. Mitch Marner and Ilya Mikheyev each collected two points while Marleau was held scoreless.

HEADLINES

TRIBLIVE.COM/ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday traded defenseman Erik Gudbranson to the Anaheim Ducks for minor-league forward Andreas Martinsen and a seventh-round pick in 2021. The Penguins also placed blueliner Zach Trotman on waivers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gudbranson was linked to the Ducks in the rumor mill following their failed attempt last month to acquire Justin Faulk. He’ll bring size, toughness and a much-needed right-handed shot to the Ducks blueline. The move is not linked to Josh Manson’s recent injury.

The Penguins, meanwhile, free up invaluable salary-cap space by shedding Gudbranson’s $4 million cap hit. They’ll need that room when sidelined forwards Evgeni Malkin, Alex Galchenyuk, and Bryan Rust return to the lineup.

CBS SPORTS: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (upper body) will miss the club’s next two games. Winger Sammy Blais is listed as day-to-day with an injured thumb.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk returned to practice yesterday showing no ill-efect from a collision in his crease during Tuesday’s contest against the Edmonton Oilers. Dubnyk was shaken up and forced to leave the game. 

TSN: Former Carolina Hurricanes winger Justin Williams has quietly resumed skating but still hasn’t reached a decision regarding his playing career. An unrestricted free agent, Williams is taking some time away from the game to consider his future.

CBS SPORTS: Calgary Flames forward Austin Czarnik is sidelined with a lower-body injury.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets forward Mason Appleton is listed as week-to-week after breaking his foot in a pickup football game

YARDBARKER: Former Washington Capitals playoff hero Devante Smith-Pelly could be signing with KHL team Kunlun Red Star.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers prospect Vitali Kravtsov is returning to the KHL.