NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 23, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 23, 2020

Latest return-to-play news plus updates on Max Domi, Nikita Zadorov, Jesse Puljujarvi and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox suggests hockey could return to normal by next September with coronavirus vaccines on the way. The NHL, meanwhile, is attempting to stage a shortened 2020-21 season with empty arenas, an all-Canadian division, a canceled All-Star break and playoffs that could finish in mid-July.

Talk of starting the season on Jan. 1 appears increasingly unlikely with each passing day. The pandemic is hitting rates in some American states not seen elsewhere in the world. Meanwhile, the all-Canadian division could hit a snag with rising COVID-19 rates in the provinces with NHL clubs.

Setting aside the entire season, however, doesn’t make sense for the league from a business standpoint. Return-to-play negotiations hit a snag last week over the league’s request for additional escrow and salary deferral from the players.

THE PROVINCE: An NHL player agent told Ben Kuzma the players hold the leverage in return-to-play negotiations because league commissioner Gary Bettman “has to preserve the integrity of the game and they have to play a season – whatever it looks like.” Failure to do so, according to the agent, would hurt the league’s brand.

If it was a just a clear deferral, I think players individually would look at that, if they had the flexibility,” added the agent. “But players are in different situations. If a guy is on a long-term deal, would it make sense for him to defer some money this year? That’s a voluntary decision and it might be able to work, but the players and league have to agree on it.

And part of the problem with deferred income is that in the U.S., it’s not guaranteed. So, if an owner wants to declare bankruptcy, the first thing a court is going to throw away is unsecured debt. And if you secure it, you add tax to that particular year.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL and NHLPA are running out of time to reach an agreement on a return-to-play plan for Jan. 1. The quickest way to that route would be the league backing off on their requests for increased escrow and salary deferral rates, but I don’t see Bettman and the team owners doing that. The players have dug in their heels. If the league does the same, the entire 2020-21 season will be in jeopardy.

ESPN.COM: In a recent interview with Greg Wyshynski, Max Domi addressed his recent trade from the Montreal Canadiens to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He pointed to his and the Canadiens’ struggles last season as factors that led to the deal, but he expressed no ill will toward his former club.

Domi’s looking forward to playing for the Blue Jackets as he feels they’re a team that’s ready to win. “They’re the hardest team to play against in the league. I can tell you that first-hand.”

THE ATHLETIC: Nikita Zadorov is looking forward to a larger role and more responsibilities with the Chicago Blackhawks after being largely a third-pair defenseman with the Colorado Avalanche. Zadorov was traded last month to the Blackhawks.

SPORTSNET: Jesse Puljujarvi’s improvement in Finland bodes well for his return this season to the Edmonton Oilers. He spent all of last season with the Oilers over a contract dispute.

TORONTO SUN: Defenseman Mikko Lehtonen terminated his contract last week with KHL club Jokerit Helsinki and is heading to Toronto to join the Maple Leafs. The 26-year-old defenseman signed a one-year, entry-level deal with the Leafs in May and was loaned to Jokerit in August.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Florida Panthers have officially partnered with the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits.










NHL Trade Roundup: Reviewing the Deals Last Week

NHL Trade Roundup: Reviewing the Deals Last Week

 










Blackhawks Trade Saad to Avs for Zadorov, Leafs Trade Johnsson to Devils

Blackhawks Trade Saad to Avs for Zadorov, Leafs Trade Johnsson to Devils

NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis reports the Blackhawks traded winger Brandon Saad and defenseman Dennis Gilbert to the Colorado Avalanche for defensemen Nikita Zadorov and Anton Lindholm.

Chicago Blackhawks trade Brandon Saad to the Colorado Avalanche (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: The Blackhawks are also retaining $1 million of Saad $6 million salary-cap hit for 2020-21.

This move should take the Avalanche out of the bidding for unrestricted free agent left wing Taylor Hall. Saad, 26, will skate on left wing on the Avs’ second line. He’s a former two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Blackhawks who tallied 20-plus goals in five of the last six seasons, including 21 in 58 games last season. Saad is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Gilbert, 23, is a physical defenseman who split last season between the Blackhawks and their AHL affiliate. He’s in the third year of his entry-level deal at a more affordable $925k, far cheaper than what it would’ve cost the Avs to re-sign Zadorov, a restricted free agent coming off a one-year, $3.2-million contract. Whether he’ll earn a full-time role with the Avs remains to be seen.

The 6-foot-6, 235-pound Zadorov will bring size and physicality to the Blackhawks’ blueline. Cap Friendly reports he’s already agreed to a one-year. $3.2 million deal with the Hawks. Lindholm, 25, spent parts of the past four season between the Avs and their minor-league affiliate.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports the Toronto Maple Leafs traded forward Andreas Johnsson to the New Jersey Devils for forward Joey Anderson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman’s colleague Chris Johnston reports the Devils are acquiring Johnsson’s full $3.4 million annual average value through 2022-23. Anderson, 22, is a restricted free agent who played 52 games over the last two seasons with the Devils.

This is an obvious salary dump by the Leafs to clear cap space following yesterday’s signings of T.J. Brodie and Wayne Simmonds. The Leafs were above the $81.5 million cap by over $1 million following those signings. This will provide some additional cap space but they could need a little more to re-sign Anderson and fellow restricted free agents Travis Dermott and Ilya Mikheyev.

Johnsson will provide some much-needed depth to the Devils’ forward lines. While the 25-year-old winger was hampered by injury last season, he’s a good skater with a decent scoring touch. He tallied 20 goals and 43 points as a rookie in 2018-19.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 6, 2020

The first round of the 2020 NHL Draft begins at 7 pm ET. Check out all the latest trade speculation in today’s rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE LIGHTNING

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the Tampa Bay Lightning aim to be aggressive in the trade market to offload some salary. He’s heard only four players – Andrei Vasilevskiy, Victor Hedman, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov – are considered unavailable/untouchable. He also assumes the same goes for restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

McKenzie noted the absence of Steven Stamkos from the untouchables list. It doesn’t guarantee the Lightning captain gets traded but it’s possible, though he feels Stamkos’ health could be a factor.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the Lightning have approached Tyler Johnson’s representatives about a possible move. The 30-year-old forward has a full no-trade clause but LeBrun believes general manager Julien BriseBois and Johnson’s agent, J.P. Barry, want to work together to find an amicable solution.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Stamkos has a full no-movement clause and an $8.5 million annual cap hit through 2023-24. Throw in his injury history and I’ll be surprised if he’s traded.

Johnson could be agreeable to waiving his no-trade clause but his $5 million annual average value through 2023-24 could be hard to move. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if BriseBois got some inquiries about Johnson from a couple of clubs, thus prompting his reaching out to the forward’s agent. Whether Johnson will agree to a trade is another matter.

LATEST COYOTES SPECULATION

McKenzie also cited colleague Darren Dreger reporting sources claiming the Arizona Coyotes are shopping Taylor Hall’s rights. The 28-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9. McKenzie also wonders if the St. Louis Blues will make a final attempt to re-sign defenseman Alex Pietrangelo before Oct. 9.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports word out of Buffalo is the Sabres have interested in Nick Schmaltz. The Arizona Coyotes center has six years remaining on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $5.85 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like Hall has played his final game with the Coyotes. That’s not surprising given their limited cap space and Hall’s likely desire to play for a contender. As for Schmaltz, I don’t think the Coyotes are keen to move him but that could depend on what a team like the Sabres could be offering.

LATEST LEAFS CHATTER

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas doesn’t intend to trade goaltender Frederik Andersen. Recent speculation linked the Leafs to Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Matt Murray. Dubas spent the past several weeks assuring Andersen no deal was imminent. Meanwhile, Lance Hornby reports Dubas has made adding more grit to the Leafs lineup a priority.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersen wasn’t going anywhere unless Dubas could find a goalie of equal or greater value. It would be foolish to trade him if they can’t land someone who can carry them on a deep playoff run.

UPDATE ON JOSH ANDERSON

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun wonders if the Columbus Blue Jackets will attempt to move Josh Anderson before the first round of the draft kicks off tonight. There’s been no progress in contract talks with the restricted free agent winger. It’s assumed Anderson might fetch a first-round pick in a trade, though the Jackets would prefer landing a top-two center. LeBrun wondered if Montreal’s Max Domi might interest them.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Canadiens and Calgary Flames are among the clubs interested in Anderson. He also said the Jackets are considering offers for defenseman David Savard.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Anderson could be a trade target for the Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interested parties could ask the Blue Jackets to speak to Anderson’s agent about a new contract. They probably don’t want to have the hassle of a possible salary arbitration with a player they just acquired.

Domi-for-Anderson? Maybe a move that makes sense for two players that could benefit from a change of scenery but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a fit there for either club.

IN OTHER RUMORS…

Pierre LeBrun reports talks between the Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets regarding Jets winger Patrik Laine seemed to cool over the weekend. The Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets could also be interested.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets are reportedly seeking a second-line center and a top-two defenseman. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said he’s considering all his options. That doesn’t mean Laine’s going to be traded. Yes, it could happen, but the asking price will be significant, perhaps too expensive for most clubs to bear.

Defenseman Alec Martinez and center Paul Stastny could become trade options for the Vegas Golden Knights. Wingers Jonathan Marchessault and Max Pacioretty have been mentioned to LeBrun but he said there’s no clear indication from his Vegas source that the Golden Knights would move either guy.

Bob McKenzie reports Henrik Lundqvist cannot formalize a new contract until Oct. 9, when he’ll officially become an unrestricted free agent. The New York Rangers last week bought out the final season of the 38-year-old goaltender’s contract. The Washington Capitals are said to be the front-runners for Lundqvist’s services.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators GM Pierre Dorion hasn’t received an offer yet that would convince him to part with the fifth-overall pick in tonight’s draft.

Garrioch also listed Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury and Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo as possible goaltending trade targets for the Senators. Free-agent options could include Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, Washington’s Braden Holtby, Chicago Corey Crawford, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, Detroit’s Jimmy Howard and Edmonton’s Mike Smith.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater reports Avalanche trade talks are heating up, though it could take until the end of the week before a deal gets done. He’s hearing Nikita Zadorov’s name coming up in trade rumors. The 25-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent. Dater claims there have been no contract discussions with the Avs. Center Tyson Jost and winger Valeri Nichushkin have also surfaced recently in the rumor mill.










NHL Offseason Lookahead – Colorado Avalanche

NHL Offseason Lookahead – Colorado Avalanche

 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 1, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 1, 2020

Which players could the Devils pursue in the off-season? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked if he saw the New Jersey Devils signing any big-name free agents or try to pull off any offer sheets in the off-season. He doesn’t see them going the offer-sheet route because they don’t have their second-round pick in 2021.

Masisak doesn’t rule out anything regarding free agent signings because we don’t know what the market will look like. If prices remain the same for a typical year, he doesn’t expect the Devils to be a factor with stars like St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo, Boston’s Torey Krug, Washington’s Braden Holtby, or Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom. He also doesn’t see them bringing back winger Taylor Hall.

Could the New Jersey Devils pursue Florida Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov via free agency? (Photo via NHL Images)

Regarding their potential UFAs in 2021, Masisak expects they’ll try to re-sign Kyle Palmieri, Nikita Gusev, and Travis Zajac.

NJ.COM: Randy Miller cites Devils TV analyst Steve Cangialosi suggesting Florida Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov could be a fit. He’s averaged 27 goals and 61 points over the past three seasons and would be reunited with former KHL teammate Nikita Gusev. Dadonov won’t be cheap, as Miller speculates Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes (seven years, $50 million) could be comparable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanging over all of this is the uncertainty over who will be the Devils general manager when the off-season finally begins. They could remove the interim label from Tom Fitzgerald, or hire a more experienced replacement.

Whoever is sitting in the GM’s chair probably won’t pursue any big-ticket talent regardless of the market. Those players cited by Masisak could prefer signing with playoff contenders. The Devils would have to overpay for their services.

That doesn’t mean the Devils won’t be active in the UFA market. With $55.2 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21 (stick tap to Cap Friendly), they have room to re-sign RFAs like Mackenzie Blackwood and Jesper Bratt and sign a UFA or two, but I expect they’ll seek affordable second-tier talent.

Masisak also recently examined the risky trade options to improve the Devils’ defense. They included Anaheim’s Cam Fowler, Boston’s Brandon Carlo, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen, and Colorado’s Nikita Zadorov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Masisak has also looked at solid blueline targets for the Devils, including Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Calgary’s T.J. Brodie, Columbus’ David Savard, Tampa Bay’s Mikhail Sergachev, and St. Louis’ Vince Dunn.

Considering the difficulty the Devils could face landing one of those rearguards, they could be forced to consider riskier options. I doubt Fowler or Carlo will be available, and Ristolainen no longer seems a trade candidate for the Sabres. Zadorov is a possibility, though it wouldn’t surprise me if the Avs decide to keep him.

That’s not to say the Devils can’t acquire any one of those players. However, the asking prices could be more than they’re willing to spend.