Days until start of 2021-22 NHL Season: 36 days
BEST-ON-BEST: The NHL and NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) have reached an agreement with the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) that will allow NHL players to participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Players will return for the first time since the 2014 games in Sochi when Canada defeated Sweden to win its ninth gold medal in men’s hockey.
STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM: Drake Batherson put pen to paper on a six-year, $4.975 million average annual value (AAV) contract with the Ottawa Senators. The 23-year-old forward tallied 17 goals and 17 assists in 53 games last season.
SIGNED THE CZECH: Detroit retained the services of defenseman Filip Hronek, signing him to a three-year, $4.4 million AAV deal. The 2016 second-round pick led the Red Wings in points during the 2020-21 season, recording 26 in 56 games.
GOING FULL KACHINA: For the first time in their 25-year history, the Arizona Coyotes will feature the entire Kachina logo at center ice.
OFFER DENIED: Montreal Canadiens’ general manager Marc Bergevin announced that the team would not match the Carolina Hurricanes’ one-year, $6.1 million offer to Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The 21-year-old forward will collect his $20 for signing with the Hurricanes, while the Canadiens received a first- and third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft in compensation.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Shortly after the Canadiens decided against matching Kotkaniemi’s offer sheet, they traded for Christian Dvorak of the Coyotes in exchange for a 2022 first-round and 2024 second-round pick. During the 2020-21 regular season, Dvorak scored 17 goals and 31 points in 56 games.
WILD AF-FAIR: The Minnesota Wild revealed their 2022 NHL Winter Classic jersey at the Minnesota State Fair. The Wild will don their retro-style jerseys when they take on the St. Louis Blues at Target Field on Jan. 1, 2022.
BACK…UNDER THE CAP: Carolina general manager Don Waddell announced that defenseman Jake Gardiner is unlikely to play this season. Gardiner, who is set to have both back and hip surgery, is headed to long-term injured reserve (LTIR).
Kotkaniemi vs Dvorak – By the Numbers
Amidst an otherwise quiet stretch of the offseason, the Montreal Canadiens and GM Marc Bergevin had themselves a busy Saturday. Immediately after announcing that they would not, in fact, be matching the Carolina Hurricanes’ one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet for Jesperi Kotkaniemi, they quickly pivoted by acquiring Christian Dvorak from the Arizona Coyotes for draft picks.
It wasn’t the first choice for the Habs’ front office, who surely would’ve liked to keep the 21-year-old, albeit not at a $6.1 million cap hit. But maybe things didn’t turn out so bad for the Stanley Cup Final runner-up? Let’s break it down:
$1.65: That is the amount of cap space, in millions, that Montreal will save by paying Dvorak this season rather than Kotkaniemi. For a club facing a cap crunch (at least until it frees up space by putting Shea Weber on LTIR), those savings aren’t insignificant.
12: The advantage, in goals, that Dvorak held over Kotkaniemi last season (17-5). Of course, Carolina’s offer sheet was borne primarily out of
spite intrigue over the Finn’s youth and potential. Let’s not forget, though, that Dvorak is hardly a greybeard at 25 and may, indeed, still be getting better.
1: The round differential of the picks that the Canadiens have coming in and out after these transactions. While adding Dvorak came at the cost of a 2022 conditional first-round and 2024 second-round pick, losing Kotkaniemi also meant being compensated with the Hurricanes’ own 2022 first- and third-round selections. All that to say, if you’re a Canadiens fan, it’s fair to look at Kotkaniemi for Dvorak as a straight-up trade.
Over the next couple of weeks, players and their families are heading to their hockey cities and settling in before the chaos of the 2021-22 season begins. Let’s check in with some of them from the holiday weekend…
A Shark in Warmer Water
Jumbo Joe, who will always be remembered as a Shark, decided to take his talents to warmer waters. Thornton signed a one-year deal with the Florida Panthers and recently touched down in the Sunshine State. His family received a warm Florida welcome led by the Panthers’ mascot, Stanley C. Panther, as the 42-year-old will be entering his 24th season in the NHL.
Horsin’ Around in Nashville
The Josi family is back in Nashville. They took their son to Angel Heart Farm, which is a non-profit that uses equine therapy for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses. Ellie Josi helped spread the farm’s message and shared adorable photos of their son, Luca, enjoying a pony ride.
A Sabre Smile
After all the drama surrounding the Sabres, it is nice to see a smiling face in a Buffalo logo. Newly acquired defenseman Will Butcher was photographed in a practice jersey with his newborn baby rocking a road white. Butcher was traded from the New Jersey Devils to the Sabres on July 28.
MSk8 Debate 💬
Over the past week, the Wild dropped teasers of their Winter Classic jersey, and on Saturday, they unveiled the uniform for the Jan. 1 matchup against the Blues. The design gives a special nod to the St. Paul Saints look from the 1930s. Let’s see what our Morning Skate crew thinks of the look.
BF: Sorry, but nope. Nods to history and local geography are cool and all, but ugly is still ugly nonetheless. The old-timey look here is deliberate, but a lot of those styles stayed in the past for a reason. The red chest stripe does nothing for me and maybe I’m just not a Minnesotan, but “MPLS.” seems like quite the reach to get to Minneapolis, no? Not to be the Simon Cowell of the group, but 2.5 out of 10 for me.
KF: It definitely was not love at first sight, that’s for sure. I appreciate the detail that was put into the design, but I do not understand the stripe at the top of the jersey. Overall, it’s not my favorite, so I’ll give it a solid 6.5 out of 10.
AM: It is a jersey that will make you do a double-take, for better or worse. The horizontal stripe is distracting and the canvas brown elbow pads just don’t do it for me. I appreciate the nod to the St. Paul Saints combined with the current Wild color scheme. Overall, the retro-style jersey will look great in a Winter Classic game, so it’s a 7 out of 10 for me.
KK: I’m prefacing this by stating the Wild had the BEST reverse retro jerseys last season. North Stars’ colors with the Wild logo—chef’s kiss! However, they slightly miss the mark with this Winter Classic jersey. I love this design—with both twin cities being represented and the homage to the State of Hockey with the varsity lettering—but that top stripe needs to be moved up and the captain’s letter dropped. I give this an 8.25; when it’s all put together (pants, gloves, coaches’ varsity jackets, and goalie gear), it’s going to have the effect of watching a Herb Brooks game at the U.
VERDICT: That leaves a final score of 6.1! Agree or disagree? Sound off on Twitter using #MSk8Debate