NHL One-Year Wonders: Central Division
The Wild hire Bill Guerin as their new general manager, the Senators re-sign Colin White, the Islanders sign Derick Brassard and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild yesterday named Bill Guerin as their new general manager. Guerin spent 18 seasons as an NHL player and the past decade as an executive with the Pittsburgh Penguins, including the past five years as assistant GM.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild hope Guerin, a proven winner as a player and in management, can right the ship and change the culture after they missed the playoffs last season. He didn’t waste any time getting started, re-signing forward Joel Eriksson Ek to a two-year, $2.975-million contract.
Guerin must also re-sign restricted free agent winger Kevin Fiala. He must decide if defenseman Jared Spurgeon still has a future with the Wild as he enters the final season of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: White is considered a core player for the rebuilding Senators. The 22-year-old played 23 games between 2016-17 and 2017-18. Last season was his first full NHL campaign and he didn’t disappointed, tallying 41 points in 71 games to finish fifth among NHL rookies.
A swift, versatile two-way forward, White should prove worthy of his new contract over the next six years. Given his upside, this deal could turn into a bargain for the Sens.
NEW YORK POST: The New York Islanders yesterday signed center Derick Brassard to a one-year, $1.2-million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for recent speculation claiming Brassard was on the verge of joining the Edmonton Oilers. The Isles hope the 31-year-old will provide some much-needed depth at center on their bottom-six.
MILE HIGH HOCKEY: (stick tap to Shawn Lamba) cites a report out of Finland indicating Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen “is set to travel to Hamar, Norway next week to begin training with Storhamar of the GET league.” Rantanen reportedly intends to keep his options open if a new contract with the Avalanche isn’t in place when training camp opens next month. Meanwhile, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston believes a new contract with the Avs isn’t far off.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The site reports Rantanen is believed seeking an annual average value in the range of $10 million. There’s also speculation he could get a four-year deal worth around $9 million per season. We’ll find out soon enough when Rantanen is signed and for how much for how long.
TSN: cites The Columbus Dispatch’s Brian Hedger reporting Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski seeks a three-year contract with an annual salary-cap hit around $5 million.
Hedger also said he’s heard Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Ivan Provorov’s camp has asked for $10 million per season, likely on a long-term contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Werenski probably thinks he’s not going to get more than Seth Jones’ $5.4 million AAV as Jones is a better all-around rearguard. As for Provorov, I’ll be stunned if the Flyers pay him $10 million annually. He’s a talented defenseman yet to reach his full potential but he’s not worth that much.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes are still awaiting word from winger Justin Williams if he’ll return for another season. GM Don Waddell said he doesn’t want to set a deadline for Williams to reach a decision but noted time is getting short. Williams, meanwhile, is visiting family in Northern Ontario and has “nothing to report.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wouldn’t surprise me if Williams makes his decision following the Labor Day weekend.
TSN: Former Washington Capitals winger Dmitrij Jaskin is expected to sign with the KHL’s Moscow Dynamo.
SPORTING NEWS: Mark Pavelich, a member of the 1980 USA “Miracle on Ice” team and a former NHL player, was arrested Monday for reportedly attacking a neighbor with a metal pole following a fishing trip.
The charges include “second- and third-degree assault, possession of an illegal shotgun and possessing a gun with a scratched off serial number.” Pavelich was ordered by a Minnesota judge to undergo a mental evaluation before standing trial.
Predators name Roman Josi as captain, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators named defenseman Roman Josi as their new captain. He takes over from Mike Fisher, who announced his retirement during the offseason. The 27-year-old becomes the second Swiss-born captain in NHL history.
CSNPHILLY.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers are experimenting with long-time center Claude Giroux by moving him to left wing during practice on Tuesday.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin will donate $500,000 of his own money over the next ten years to a new local hospital with the goal of helping to raise another $5 million over the next decade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Canadiens fans took to comparing Drouin’s donation to the $10 million pledge by former Habs star P.K. Subban to a children’s hospital. Former NHL defenseman Mike Commodore has the perfect response to those critics. “Folks…let’s not compare Drouin + PK donations/pledge to raise. Who cares. Both are nice gestures 2 great causes. That’s all that matters.”
NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils center Brian Boyle has been diagnosed with “Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, a rare but treatable form of cancer.” The condition is treated with oral medication and Boyle said he intends to play through his treatement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Boyle in his recovery from this disease.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester suffered a fractured left ankle and will be re-evaluated in three weeks. Meanwhile, forward Zach Sanford will undergo surgery for a dislocated left shoulder and will be sidelined five-to-six months.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Tyler Myers hopes to return to form after missing most of 2016-17 to a groin injury and his young son suffering a stroke. Both have since recovered and are doing well.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Colin White is “devastated’ after suffering a broken left wrist that will sideline him six-to-eight weeks. White was hoping to crack the Sens roster this season.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks analyst and former NHL player Ed Olczyk will undergo six months of chemotherapy. He recently underwent surgery for colon cancer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Olcyzk makes a complete recovery and returns to his broadcast duties soon.
TSN: The NHL has begun cracking down on slashing and faceoff infractions.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crackdowns on “tapping” slashes is long overdue. However, it remains to be seen how effective it will be. Ditto for the effort to speed up faceoffs, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock and Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand have already expressed their displeasure. I daresay other players and coaches will voice their criticism in the coming days.
THE PROVINCE: The growing Chinese market could be a bonanza for the NHL. The Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks face off against each other in two exhibition games this week in Shanghai and Beijing.
ARIZONA SPORTS: A look at the high cost of maintaining a hockey facility in a desert environment.
An update on Jakob Chychrun, latest professional tryout offers & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes general manager John Chayka said defenseman Jakob Chychrun’s knee injury is “definitely not season-ending.” Chychrun suffered the injury during offseason training and is rehabbing in Philadelphia. Chayka doesn’t expect the blueliner to be ready for the Coyotes season opener on Oct. 5.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chayka didn’t say how long Chychrun could be sidelined. He could seek an affordable short-term replacement for the young blueliner from within his system, or via trade or free agency.
NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens invited former Colorado Avalanche defenseman Eric Gelina to training camp on a professional tryout offer.
Former Florida Panthers forward Brandon Pirri is back with the club on a professional tryout offer. He played parts of three seasons (2013-14 to 2015-16) with the Panthers.
Former Ottawa Senators defenseman Jared Cowen has joined the Avalanche on a tryout basis. He missed all of last season rehabbing from hip surgery.
The Vancouver Canucks signed forward Ryan White to a PTO. He split last season between the Arizona Coyotes and Minnesota Wild.
NBC SPORTS: The Calgary Flames gave former New York Rangers enforcer Tanner Glass a professional tryout offer.
THE ATHLETIC: Forward David Booth is expected to get a PTO from the Detroit Red Wings. He spent last season in the KHL.
TSN: Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment agreed to a 20-year, $800-million sponsorship agreement with Scotiabank to rename the Air Canada Centre.
Penguins take control in Eastern Conference Final, plus updates on the Ducks and Predators in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin and Carter Rowney each collected three assists and Matt Murray turned in a 25-save shutout as the Pittsburgh Penguins crushed the Ottawa Senators 7-0 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. The series returns to Ottawa for Game 6 with the Penguins hold a 3-2 series lead.
The Penguins were skating without injured forward Patric Hornqvist and defenseman Justin Schultz but winger Bryan Rust returned to the lineup. Senators defensemen Erik Karlsson and Cody Ceci and center Derick Brassard left the game with injuries but are expected to play in Game 6.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This lopsided victory by the Penguins was reminiscent of the Senators 5-1 win back in Game 3, when they took a 2-1 series lead and seemingly had the battered Pens on the ropes. But in the last two games, the Penguins reminded everyone why they’re the defending Stanley Cup champions. They’ve adjusted to the Senators’ defensive system while drawing upon their roster depth to overcome a rash of injuries.
THE TENNESSEAN: With the Nashville Predators holding a 3-2 lead over the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Final, their fans anticipate watching franchise history in Game 6. With a win tonight, the Predators would advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Ducks will be playing Game 6 without forwards Rickard Rakell and Patrick Eaves (lower-body injuries), while goaltender John Gibson (lower body) remains questionable.
STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues owner Tom Stillman gave a vote of confidence to general manager Doug Armstrong. While Armstrong has a year remaining on his contract, Stillman said he still feels he’s the right man for the job.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: A source says Ulf Samuelsson is the top candidate for the vacant job of assistant coach.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Former Blackhawks defenseman Bill White has died at age 77. White played 10 seasons in the NHL, seven with the Hawks. He was also a member of Team Canada in the historic 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to White’s family and friends.
TSN: Sweden downed Canada 2-1 in a shootout to win the gold medal in the 2017 World Championships. Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander was named tournament MVP.