NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2021

The fallout from the Carolina Hurricanes signing away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens, an update on Jake Gardiner, player milestones to watch this season and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell spoke to the media yesterday about his club successfully signing away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell (NHL Images).

Waddell said the Hurricanes weren’t surprised that the Canadiens opted not to match the one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet. He denied revenge for the Habs’ unsuccessful attempt to sign Sebastian Aho in 2019 was the motivation behind the Kotkaniemi offer. Waddell also dismissed the club’s PR staff trolling the Canadiens over the signing as merely a marketing ploy to keep their fans engaged.

The Hurricanes GM said he initially attempted to acquire Kotkaniemi via trade and decided several days later to tender an offer sheet. Waddell indicated he hasn’t had contract extension discussions with the 21-year-old forward and his agent. The earliest they can re-sign him is in January.

Asked where Kotkaniemi would play this season, Waddell indicated the 21-year-old will probably start at left wing. Although the Hurricanes now sit above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $1.5 million, they intend to place defenseman Jake Gardiner ($4.05 million cap hit) on long-term injury reserve. Waddell indicated Gardiner will undergo hip and back surgery and won’t be ready for the start of the season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Kotkaniemi also talked about his new contract with the Hurricanes. He considers it a great opportunity and felt confident his new club has trust in him. He noted the presence of fellow Finns Aho and Teuvo Teravainen and considers it an honor to play for a potential Stanley Cup contender.

Asked about his time with the Canadiens, Kotkaniemi acknowledged there were “ups and downs” but overall felt he had a good run in Montreal. However, he did say he thought his development with the Habs could’ve gone better.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The revenge angle keeps getting played up in the media but I think that’s just a small factor here. The Hurricanes were seeking a young forward who could play center or wing. They had an interest in Kotkaniemi, tried to trade for him and when that didn’t work not only went the offer-sheet route but gave the Habs a heads-up as to their intentions.

PuckPedia speculates the Hurricanes could maximize their long-term injury reserve space to the full $4.05 million of Gardiner’s cap hit by demoting two players to put them just under the cap ceiling before the start of the season. They’ll then put Gardiner on LTIR. No word yet on how long he’ll be sidelined but the 31-year-old blueliner could be sidelined for the season.

A contract extension for Kotkaniemi will be decided by his performance this season. It would cost them $6.1 million to qualify his rights but the two sides could agree to a long-term deal for a lower annual average value.

Kotkaniemi’s comments about his development in Montreal and his willingness to accept the Hurricanes offer had some observers suggesting the Canadiens must ensure that issue doesn’t recur with their other younger players. Whether the current management shares that view remains to be seen.

SI.COM: Jason Chen looks at several player milestones to watch in 2021-22. Joe Thornton has an opportunity to move into third place overall for games played, Ryan Getzlaf, Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Spezza could reach 1,000 points while Alex Ovechkin is 36 goals away from tying Jaromir Jagr for third place (766) on the all-time goal-scoring list.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Former Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski sold his Muirfield, Ohio home for $3.75 million.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 18, 2020

The Jets and Dustin Byfuglien agree to mutual contract termination, the Blue Jackets re-sign Joonas Korpisalo, neutral-site speculation and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets and Dustin Byfuglien agreed to a mutual termination of his contract. The move brings an end to the dispute between Jets management and the veteran defenseman over his injury status. It resulted in his suspension without pay for missing training camp and his subsequent season-ending ankle surgery that took place without informing management. Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff maintains the situation remains largely a private matter between the two sides but acknowledged it was emotional.

Dustin Byfuglien’s days with the Winnipeg Jets are over (Photo via NHL Images).

Byfuglien has forfeited the $14 million in actual salary remaining on his contract. He was slated to earn $8 million this season and $6 million in 2020-21. He’s not spoken publicly about the situation or his future plans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can read the entire timeline of this saga here. With Byfuglien’s contract off the books for next season, Cap Friendly indicates the Jets have over $65.9 million invested in 13 players for next season, with all of their core players signed. That should provide Cheveldayoff with some wiggle room to bolster his blueline.

As for Byfuglien, there’s already speculation over potential destinations if he continues his NHL career. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets re-signed Joonas Korpisalo to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $2.8 million. The 25-year-old goaltender will earn $2.2 million in actual salary next season and $3.4 million in 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a reasonable contract for Korpisalo, who’s coming off a one-year, $1.125-million deal. Given the uncertainty over next season’s salary cap, it’s probably a wise decision on his part to take that deal now, rather than risk a lower payday. He’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

Fellow Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins is also a restricted free agent at season’s end, but The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline believes he’ll get a similar deal. Portzline noted there was speculation suggesting the Jackets made Merzlikins a three-year offer, but the netminder denied that report last month.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues re-signed MacKenzie MacEachern to a two-year, one-way contract worth $900K per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues GM Doug Armstrong isn’t wasting time getting some business done during the pandemic shutdown. The MacEachern contract is the third deal he’s signed in as many days, inking Sammy Blais on Wednesday and Marco Scandella on Thursday. The Blues now have over $79.4 million tied up in 20 players, with defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn to re-sign.

SPORTSNET: New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu admitted he’s had discussions with the NHL about staging neutral-site games in Manchester if the league returns to action in a reduced capacity this summer. “There is truth to that,” he said. “I have had discussions about that. Don’t know whether it’s going to happen, but we are talking about it.”

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell and his wife bought approximately 500 lunches for local sanitation workers in recognition of their efforts during this pandemic.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 13, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 13, 2019

The Panthers will retire Roberto Luongo’s number, the Hurricanes re-sign Don Waddell, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Roberto Luongo will become the first player in Florida Panthers history to have his number retired. The ceremony will be held on March 7, 2020, before a game against the Montreal Canadiens.

The Florida Panthers will retire Roberto Luongo’s number during a ceremony in March 2020 (Photo via NHL Images).

Luongo retired in June after 20 NHL seasons. He “ranks second in NHL history in games played by a goaltender (1,044), third in wins (489) and ninth in shutouts (77). He is one of only three goaltenders in NHL history to have played in 1,000 games.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A worthy honor for future Hall-of-Famer Luongo, who spent over half of his career with the Panthers. He’s their franchise leader for goalies in games played (572), wins (230), and shutouts (38).

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes yesterday signed general manager and team president Don Waddell to a three-year contract extension. Waddell recently raised eyebrows by interviewing with the Minnesota Wild for their vacant GM role.

Waddell also said unrestricted free agent winger Justin Williams remains undecided over his plans.

THE ATHLETIC: With Waddell out of the running for the Wild GM job, the front-runners appear to be “former Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall, current Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin and current New Jersey assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald.”

The Wild are also reportedly interested in speaking with Columbus Blue Jackets associate GM Bill Zito and New York Rangers assistant GM Chris Drury. So far, they haven’t been granted permission to speak with either man.

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Juuso Valimaki could be sidelined six-to-nine months after suffering “suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee while off-season training in Nokia.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Valimaki was expected to become a third-pairing regular on the Flames blueline this season. His absence is already raising speculation over how the Flames will address this situation. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

THE SCORE: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Ceci and his common-law partner Jamie Thompson are being sued by a dinner-party guest who suffered second- and third-degree burns on May 2018. Thompson “tried to refill a burner on an outdoor tabletop fireplace and accidentally ignited Engel with flaming liquid fuel.”

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes will be donating $20,000 to the Arizona Bobcats youth hockey team after a trailer containing their equipment was stolen on Sunday.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 8, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 8, 2019

The latest on Auston Matthews, Dylan Larkin, Zach Werenski, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock yesterday indicated he expects centers John Tavares and Auston Matthews to average around 19 minutes of ice time per game this season. Babcock received criticism for not playing Matthews more during their Game 7 loss to the Boston Bruins in the opening round of the 2019 playoffs.

Auston Matthews could see a slight increase in his ice time with the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Juggling the ice time of two superstar centers is a problem every NHL coach wants to have. In Toronto, of course, every decision by Babcock is questioned by millions of armchair coaches. Because it’s the dog days of the off-season when there’s little real hockey news to report, Matthews’ ice time for the coming season is headline news.

Dylan Larkin believes he’s ready to take on the captaincy of the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings played without a captain last season after Henrik Zetterberg was placed on long-term injured reserve.

“A letter is a letter, but being a captain of a franchise like the Detroit Red Wings would mean a lot to me. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I still get to play for the Detroit Red Wings and I get to play in the NHL and I’m going to try to play my best.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Larkin would make a fine captain for the Wings. The final decision rests with Wings general manager Steve Yzerman.

NHL.COM: Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen remains optimistic defenseman Zach Werenski will be re-signed before training camp opens next month. Werenski, 21, is among several notable restricted free agents around the league who remain unsigned. Kekalainen believes the agents for Werenski and the others are playing a waiting game to see who signs first.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s still early August and neither side is in a rush to get these deals done. Once the calendar flips to September and the start of training camps approach, I anticipate a flurry of signings.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov wants to play a final season in the NHL and reach a milestone 1,000 games, preferably with the Habs. Two years ago, the 40-year-old blueliner signed a two-year deal with the KHL’s Ak Bars Kazan after failing to reach an agreement with the Canadiens. He spent his entire NHL career in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens need depth on the left side of their blueline. I don’t know if Markov would be a fit at this stage of his career. Perhaps the Habs bring him to camp on a professional tryout offer if they don’t bring in another rearguard via trade or free agency.

THE SCORE: Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon said Don Waddell remains the club’s general manager. Speculation over Waddell’s future was raised earlier this week when he was reportedly interviewed by the Minnesota Wild for their vacant GM position. Waddell lacks a formal contract with the Hurricanes but Dundon insists he remains employed by the club.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2019

Update on the Wild’s GM search, the latest contract signings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: A report indicating Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell has spoken with the Minnesota Wild regarding their vacant GM position is raising eyebrows. Waddell, a finalist for GM of the Year last season, remains without a new contract with the Hurricanes. He and team owner Tom Dundon attempted to downplay the situation, but the club could be flirting with front-office dysfunction.

Minnesota Wild interview Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dundon claims he’d allow Waddell to speak with other clubs even if he was under contract, saying he wasn’t going to stop him if he could get more money elsewhere. Waddell insists it’s still business as usual for him, claiming Dundon “doesn’t believe in a lot of contracts” and telling Waddell he had a job for life.

Nevertheless, I think this is Waddell’s way of trying to leverage a new contract out of Dundon. If he does sign with the Wild, it’ll only raise more questions about Dundon’s handling of his management team.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Wild also received permission to speak to Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin.

STLTODAY.COM: An arbiter awarded St. Louis Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson a one-year, $3.1-million contract. The Blues had offered $2.3 million while Edmundson sought $4.2 million after earning $3 million last season.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators forward Rocco Grimaldi received a one-year, $1-million contract via arbitration.

NBC SPORTS: released their television schedule for the 2019-20 season.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 26, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 26, 2019

Updates on David Krejci and Vince Dunn, Don Waddell returning as Hurricanes GM and President, and the latest contract signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

Boston Bruins center David Krejci (illness) skipped practice yesterday (Photo via NHL Images).

  NBC SPORTS BOSTON: An illness sidelined Bruins center David Krejci from practice yesterday. Head coach Bruce Cassidy expects Krejci will be on the ice for today’s practice. The illness isn’t expected to keep him out of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues on Monday.

STLTODAY.COM:  Blues defenseman Vince Dunn (concussion symptoms) skated with his teammates yesterday in practice. It’s the first time he’s done so since taking a puck to the face in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. No word if he’ll play in Game 1 against the Bruins tomorrow but he was traveling with the Blues to Boston. 

THE SCORE: Despite being without a contract for next season, Don Waddell confirms he’s returning as general manager and president of the Carolina Hurricanes. He’s working out terms for a new deal with team owner Tom Dundon. In his first season as Hurricanes GM, the club reached the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and advanced to the Eastern Conference Final. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed defenseman Brett Kulak to a three-year contract extension worth $1.85-million per season. He was slated to become a restricted free agent on July 1. 

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets re-signed goaltender Laurent Brossoit to a one-year, $1.225-million contract.