NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 7, 2021

The Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov expected to miss the start of the season, Wild owner discusses his club’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Sharks prepare to start the season without Evander Kane, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports an undisclosed injury could sideline New York Islanders starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov for the upcoming start of the season. It’s uncertain if Varlamov’s condition is tied to a nagging knee injury that hampered him during the 2021 playoffs. His absence would mean Ilya Sorokin becomes the Isles’ start with Cory Schneider as his backup. 

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Varlamov wouldn’t be the only noteworthy starter expected to miss the start of this season. Montreal’s Carey Price will also reportedly remain sidelined when the schedule begins next week. Speaking of the Canadiens…

TSN: Habs defenseman Joel Edmundson will be sidelined two-to-three weeks with an undisclosed injury. He’s been day-to-day since training camp opened.

NHL.COM: Bad news for Los Angeles Kings’ Quinton Byfield as the 19-year-old center was diagnosed with a fractured left ankle suffered during Tuesday’s preseason loss to the Arizona Coyotes. He’s been placed on injured reserve and sidelined indefinitely.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An unfortunate setback for Byfield. Selected second overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, he was hoping to garner a full-time roster spot with the Kings this season.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto will miss tonight’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. He could have a concussion after suffering the injury during Monday’s game against the Calgary Flames.

THE SCORE: New York Rangers enforcer Ryan Reaves is day-to-day with an injured left leg after his skate was clipped by New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban as they went into the corner chasing a loose puck. Reaves had to be helped off the ice.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

THE ATHLETIC: Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold told Michael Russo he supported general manager Bill Guerin’s decision to buy out winger Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter this summer. However, he expressed no regrets about signing the duo to their 13-year contracts back in 2012.

It totally changed our franchise,” said Leipold. “We went from not selling any tickets and having a future that looked bleak to overnight being a sellout team for the next five, six years.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The additions of Parise and Suter didn’t translate into a Stanley Cup for the Wild but Leipold’s right about how much they improved the franchise. Before they joined the Wild, the club reached the playoffs just four times in 11 seasons. With Parise and Suter in the lineup, they qualified for the postseason eight times in nine seasons.

THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner said his club is preparing to start the season without Evander Kane in the lineup. The 30-year-old winger has been out of the lineup while under investigation by the league regarding allegations of spousal abuse and using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 19, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 19, 2021

Check out the latest on the Flames, Oilers and Senators in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently reported Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving scoured the trade market this summer but couldn’t find many options to shake up his roster core. Treliving pointed out the difficulty in finding a trade partner to make a deal that made sense.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Francis noted few Flames drew much interest in the offseason trade market. Johnny Gaudreau’s struggles over the past two seasons hurt his trade value, as did the hip injury that affected Sean Monahan’s performance last season. Several other Flames, including Matthew Tkachuk, also played poorly.

Outside of signing Blake Coleman, it was difficult for the Flames to attract notable free agents. Francis cited “the dated arena, winter weather, high taxes, the team’s lack of playoff success, the scrutiny in a Canadian market and a coach (Darryl Sutter) who scares some players off.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving drew considerable criticism for what was perceived as his lack of effort to make significant changes. He didn’t make any excuses but it’s apparent some of those issues raised by Francis hampered Treliving’s offseason plans. It’s worth pointing out, however, the Flames had little difficulty landing Jacob Markstrom, who was last summer’s top free-agent goaltender.

Gaudreau is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July and could become a trade candidate if he and the Flames fail to reach an agreement on a contract extension. A bounce-back campaign could draw interest from other clubs at the March trade deadline.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples points out the Oilers will have difficulty re-signing Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi next summer if both play well this season. The club will have limited salary-cap space for the foreseeable future with the flat cap and the big contracts of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman.

It’s hard to imagine the Oilers having enough cap space to re-sign Yamamoto and Puljujarvi. They could try to move out Zack Kassian and his $3.2 million cap hit but maybe they can’t. Staples expects they’ll have to choose one or the other.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have over $74.5 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23 according to Cap Friendly. They’ll need to find a suitable goaltender to share the duties with Mike Smith as Mikko Koskinen and Alex Stalock probably won’t be re-signed.

Moving Kassian in a cost-cutting deal isn’t impossible but it won’t be easy. Holland might have to include a sweetener (draft pick or prospect) to get someone to take the full value of his remaining contract. That will also depend upon his performance this season.

They will also likely put Oscar Klefbom ($4.167 million) on long-term injury reserve if he’s unable to return from the shoulder surgery sidelining him for the coming season. They could also attempt to move him to a team seeking an LTIR player for cap relief. Still, that might not be enough to keep Yamamoto and Puljujarvi.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators center Logan Brown asked to be traded and changed agents in hopes of getting a deal. However, the club has insisted it’s not going to just give him away. With no value in the trade market, Brown signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Senators. He could get picked up by another club off waivers.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2021

Jack Eichel to travel to Buffalo for Sabres’ pre-training camp medical, Vladimir Tarasenko expected on Blues’ opening-day roster, Zdeno Chara signs with the Islanders, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: cites an Associated Press report indicating Jack Eichel is expected to travel to Buffalo for the Sabres’ pre-training camp medicals on Wednesday. The 24-year-old center has been sidelined since March with a herniated disk in his neck.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Treatment of the injury has created an impasse between Eichel and the Sabres’ front office. He prefers artificial disk replacement while management is against that procedure because it’s never been done on an NHL player before.

If Eichel fails his medical, the Sabres have the option of placing him on injured reserve or long-term injury reserve as his condition is hockey-related. They’ve been trying to trade him this summer but haven’t found any takers yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be surprised if Eichel passes his medical. If he fails as expected it will prevent the awkward situation of having an unhappy player in camp while management is trying to trade him. However, this won’t be the end of the saga. There’s no indication which procedure Eichel will undergo let alone when it will take place.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues general manager Doug Armstrong believes there’s a good chance Vladimir Tarasenko will be on the club’s opening-day roster. The 29-year-old winger requested a trade early in the offseason because he was reportedly unhappy over how the club’s medical staff handled his surgically repaired right shoulder.

Armstrong said he spoke with Tarasenko about his trade status and the winger understands the situation. He mentioned the flattened salary cap and the limited amount of playing time Tarasenko saw over the last two years as a result of his shoulder surgeries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The best opportunity to move Tarasenko was before the free-agent market opened on July 28. There weren’t many teams with the cap space to take on his $7.5 million annual salary cap hit once the dust settled from the usual frenzy of free-agent signings.

A trade could still materialize before the start of the season but a move around the March trade deadline seems more likely. Interested parties would prefer letting Tarasenko burn off most of this season’s cap hit while taking the time to evaluate his performance.

NEW YORK POST: Zdeno Chara’s NHL career has come full circle as he signed a one-year contract with the New York Islanders. Financial terms weren’t disclosed but it’s presumably a plus-35 deal with bonuses.

Chara began his big-league career with the Islanders in 1997-98, spending four seasons with them until traded to the Ottawa Senators in 2001.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 44-year-old Chara will become the first player in NHL history to go 20-plus years between games with one franchise.

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers signed restricted free agent winger Kailer Yamamoto to a one-year, $1.175 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Very affordable signing by the cap-strapped Oilers but Yamamoto will be in line for a more lucrative deal next summer if he has a good performance this season. We’ll take a look at the implications in today’s Sunday rumor roundup.

SPORTSNET: The Ottawa Senators signed center Logan Brown to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 12, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 12, 2021

What could the Sabres do if Jack Eichel isn’t traded? What’s the latest on the Blues and Vladimir Tarasenko? What kind of contract could Kailer Yamamoto get from the Oilers? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl examined what the Buffalo Sabres might do if Jack Eichel isn’t traded before the start of the season.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Asked by a reader if Eichel would be placed on long-term injury reserve, Vogl points out the Sabres aren’t near the upper limit of the salary cap. Eichel would simply go on injured reserve and his $10 million annual average value would still count against their cap payroll.

Vogl projects they’re at $48.1 million (including Cody Hodgson’s buyout) without Eichel and restricted free agent defenseman Rasmus Dahlin in the lineup. That puts them $12.1 million under the cap’s lower limit.

If Eichel isn’t traded and goes on IR, his cap hit puts the Sabres within $2.1 million of the lower limit. A new contract for Dahlin would make them cap-compliant.

Vogl speculates the Sabres could put Eichel on IR and send him home to await a trade. He also points out the Sabres would have to take on salary to reach the cap floor if Eichel gets traded. If he refuses to report, he’d forfeit over $36K of his salary for each day he would be absent without permission.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As always, the clubs with an interest in acquiring Eichel are reluctant to do so while he’s still sidelined by a herniated disc in his neck. His hefty contract and the Sabres’ expensive asking price also obstruct a potential trade. Things could get very interesting if Eichel remains with the Sabres when training camp opens later this month.

If Eichel gets traded the Sabres will have to take on some salary from whichever club they send him to. Even that might not be enough, forcing them into the trade and free-agent markets to address that need.

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas was recently asked by a reader if Vladimir Tarasenko could return with the Blues rather than be traded before the start of this season. He admits it’s becoming more of a possibility as the start of the season gets close but feels the 29-year-old winger’s presence could be a distraction.

Thomas was asked about the rumors linking Tarasenko to the New York Islanders but doesn’t think a trade is possible. The Islanders are over the salary cap now and would have to clear some salary even if the Blues retained part of Tarasenko’s annual average value.

Tarasenko’s $7.5 million AAV also complicates the Blues’ salary-cap payroll. They have limited room and still have to sign restricted free agent Robert Thomas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thomas indicated the Blues could get some cap relief by placing forward Oskar Sundqvist on LTIR but he wouldn’t be there for long. Something’s got to give to free up sufficient space for Thomas, be it Tarasenko or somebody else.

Thomas’ mailbag piece came out before the Islanders announced Zach Parise’s one-year deal. They’ll get cap relief with all-but-retired Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million AAV on LTIR, but not enough to take on Tarasenko even if a significant chunk of his cap hit is retained by the Blues. Maybe if a third team became involved to further reduce what the Isles would take on but even that would be a tight squeeze.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson believes the bridge-deal negotiations between the Oilers and RFA winger Kailer Yamamoto have as much to do with the club’s limited cap space as the uncertainty over where Yamamoto fits within the roster. “Is the restricted free agent a top-six winger or a third liner?”, asked Matheson.

He doesn’t see the Oilers signing Yamamoto to a deal comparable to the six-year deals in the $30 million range recently signed by Philadelphia’s Joel Farabee or Ottawa’s Drake Batherson. Instead, it could be something similar to Colorado forward Tyson Jost’s two-year, $4 million deal.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2021

Updates on the notable remaining restricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined where things stand with the NHL’s notable restricted free agents.

Term could be a sticking point between the Vancouver Canucks and defenseman Quinn Hughes. His camp sought a deal beyond five years, perhaps comparable to contracts signed this summer by Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen and Colorado’s Cale Makar. Pat Brisson, one of Hughes’ agents, said there was no animosity as discussions continue.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

Teammate Elias Pettersson shares the same representatives as Hughes. They were considering a shorter team for the 22-year-old center. Pettersson wants assurances the Canucks are as committed to winning as he is. It could cost a combined $14 million to get both youngsters under contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks were said to be nervous about Pettersson getting an offer sheet after the Carolina Hurricanes successfully signed away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens. That’s a remote possibility given the high cost of compensation to the Canucks and salary for Pettersson.

Talks between the Minnesota Wild and winger Kirill Kaprizov continue. Speculation the 24-year-old winger could sign a one-year deal with KHL club CSKA Moscow came to nothing. The Wild hoped to sign Kaprizov to a seven or eight-year deal but the winger’s camp wanted a three-year contract to bring him up to his eligibility age for unrestricted free agent status. Wild general manager Bill Guerin is reportedly willing to consider a five-year deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent conjecture suggests the two sides could agree to a five-year contract worth around $9 million per season. Yes, that annual average value is high for a player with just one NHL season under his belt, but he won the Calder Memorial Trophy during that campaign, becoming the first Wild player to receive that honor.

Kaprizov’s also the most exciting offensive player the Wild have had since Marian Gaborik’s heyday from 2000 to 2008. They hope to build around this kid for at least the next five years. That’s why it could cost $9 million per season.

Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion described contract discussions with winger Brady Tkachuk’s representatives as positive and productive. The two sides are trying to work out a long-term deal. Tkachuk reportedly won’t travel to Ottawa for training camp until the paperwork is sorted out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk’s contract talks have garnered increased attention over the last couple of weeks. There have also been conflicting stories with Dorion saying things are going smoothly while other reports claim Tkachuk is growing frustrated it’s taking so long to get a deal done.

The Buffalo Sabres and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin began contract talks on July 21. A three-year bridge deal is possible but Fox wonders if they’ll work toward a long-term agreement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jack Eichel saga continues to overshadow Dahlin’s contract situation. There’s been no drama thus far but interest in his negotiations could increase as training camp approaches.

Fox also believes Nolan Patrick could get a bridge deal with the Vegas Golden Knights following his unhappy tenure with the Philadelphia Flyers. He was traded to the Golden Knights from the Nashville Predators as part of a three-way deal. Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers and representatives for winger Kailer Yamamoto are said to be grinding away toward a bridge deal.

St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas seeks more than the $2.8 million AAV signed by teammate Jordan Kyrou. He could miss the start of training camp if he’s not offered a suitable deal. The Blues have limited cap space and haven’t been able to unload Vladimir Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports’ Adam Gretz recently suggested Yamamoto as an offer sheet possibility. He considers the 22-year-old winger a good young forward on a team whose cap situation would make it difficult to match a modest $4.1 million offer sheet. Thomas could also be another target, though his struggles last season hurt his chances of getting one.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 4, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 4, 2021

Are the Senators getting closer to sign Brady Tkachuk? Are they still in the market for a forward? What’s the latest on the Oilers’ contract talks with Kailer Yamamoto? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators general manager Pierre Dorion confirmed contract discussions with Brady Tkachuk’s agent are continuing and progress was being made. That news comes following yesterday’s announcement of Drake Batherson’s new six-year contract.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk (NHL Images).

The expectation is they’ll get a deal in place to allow Tkachuk to attend training camp later this month. Garrioch believes the Senators want to get the 21-year-old winger signed to a long-term contract and award him the captaincy at the end of camp.

Garrioch suggests Andrei Svechnikov is a strong comparable. The young Carolina Hurricanes winger recently signed an eight-year deal worth an annual average value of $7.75 million. He also dismissed the notion of a club attempting to sign Tkachuk to an offer sheet as the Senators would simply match it.

TSN: Shawn Simpson reports via Twitter a source tells him the Tkachuk camp is getting frustrated. The winger is staying positive but can’t understand why it’s taking so long to get a deal in place. “I asked what had been offered, and it was termed that they have not received a legitimate offer from the Sens,” said Simpson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It sounds like each side has a different spin on this situation. You’ve got Dorion saying everything’s going well and what appears to be a source from Tkachuk’s side claiming otherwise.

Plenty of time remains for them to hammer out a deal before training camp. I agree with Garrioch that the Senators would match any offer for Tkachuk. They’ve got over $24 million in projected cap space.

Garrioch also reports the Senators are still trying to acquire another forward. Dorion has held talks with several teams about acquiring a high-end winger. Failing that, they’ll look to within the organization to address that issue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Internet speculation linked the Senators to San Jose Sharks winger Tomas Hertl last month. Garrioch claimed back then that there was nothing to that chatter. Maybe Dorion’s changed his mind. He has a trade history with Sharks GM Doug Wilson. Hertl, however, has a three-team trade list and the Senators might not be on it.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson wondered how much Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto will receive after the Philadelphia Flyers signed Joel Farabee to a six-year, $30 million contract. The pair have almost identical stats, with the 21-year-old Farabee tallying 59 points in 107 NHL games while the 22-year-old Yamamoto has 52 points in 105 contests.

Matheson reports the Oilers and the Yamamoto camp are still grinding away toward a bridge deal. It’ll likely be a one- or two-year contract with an annual average value in the $2 to $2.5 million range.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Matheson points out, the Oilers don’t have the cap space to sign Yamamoto to anything comparable to Farabee’s deal even if they wanted to. With Yamamoto coming off his entry-level contract his only leverage is to stage a holdout but I doubt he’s going to go that far. He’ll take the bridge deal and look toward a more lucrative contract down the road.