NHL Rumor Mill – June 15, 2019

The latest on Jacob Trouba, Jared Spurgeon, James Reimer, and Garret Sparks plus an update on the Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe expects the status of Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba to be sorted out by next weekend’s NHL Draft in Vancouver. If Trouba’s traded, a potential return for the Jets will be affected by whether he’s open to signing a contract extension with the club that acquires him. Left winger Nikolaj Ehlers has come up in trade rumors but Wiebe believes it’ll take a significant offer to pry him away from the Jets. Depending on Trouba’s status, center Mathieu Perreault could become a cost-cutting trade candidate. 

THE ATHLETIC: Craig Custance pointed out rumors have linked Trouba, a Detroit-area native, to the Red Wings. They have plenty of salary-cap flexibility but general manager Steve Yzerman could be reluctant to part with assets for a player a year away from UFA status.

Decision day fast approaching for Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba (Photo via NHL Images).

Custance suggested the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers as possibilities because Trouba’s fiancee is attending medical school in Florida. He also considered the Philadelphia Flyers as a potential destination. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s growing speculation Trouba will be traded before the end of next weekend’s draft. I also wouldn’t rule out the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, and New York Rangers as possible landing spots. I agree that where he could end up depends on whether he’ll sign a contract extension.

I have my doubts the Jets will part with Ehlers, though they might go for it if someone offered up a suitable replacement for Trouba. 


SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston cites player agent J.P. Barry saying he expects to speak with the Vancouver Canucks regarding clients Jake Gardiner and Tyler Myers when free agency opens on July 1. Canucks GM Jim Benning’s made no secret he’s in the market for a top-four defenseman. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wouldn’t be at all surprising if Benning pursues Gardiner and Myers. The UFA interview period begins the day following the draft (June 23). The Canucks GM will likely be keen to speak with those two. 


TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani reports Minnesota Wild GM Paul Fenton said he has every intention of re-signing Jared Spurgeon. The 29-year-old defenseman is a year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Fenton dismissed recent speculation suggesting Spurgeon could be traded this summer. “There’s not a plan to trade Jared Spurgeon, as has been kind of rumored. This guy is a great piece, a great leader, a great person, a great family guy. We want to have him back, and we’re going to work on doing that.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mizutani indicates this doesn’t mean a contract extension is imminent. Nevertheless, there appears a mutual willingness to work out a new deal. Spurgeon’s on a four-year, $20.75-million contract and will seek a significant raise. 



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 15, 2019

The NHL buyout period begins today, Islanders re-sign Jordan Eberle, a list of Bruins injuries and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

The NHL buyout period begins today and runs to 5 PM ET on June 30. 

NEW YORK POST: The New York Islanders re-signed right wing Jordan Eberle to a five-year, $27.5-million contract extension. Eberle, 29, was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. 

The New York Islanders re-signed winger Jordan Eberle (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eberle took a cut in pay from his expiring six-year, $36-million deal to stay with the Islanders. This was a surprise most observers didn’t expect him to be re-signed. At the very least, he was considered a lower priority than captain Anders Lee and Vezina Trophy finalist Robin Lehner.

Eberle may have accepted a pay cut but that contract term seems too long. It’ll be a worthwhile signing If he performs over the next five years at the same level he did down the stretch and in the postseason. Otherwise, it could become a salary-cap headache in the coming years. 

Newsday’s Mark Herrman believes Eberle’s decision to stay was “a sign of faith in general manager Lou Lamoriello, coach Barry Trotz and the future at Belmont Park.”  The winger and his family enjoy living and playing on Long Island. The future construction of a new arena at Belmont Park provides stability for the Islanders. That could become a factor in the Isles’ efforts to retain and attract quality talent. 

NHL.COM: A lengthy list of Boston Bruins players were nursing injuries during the Stanley Cup Final. Captain Zdeno Chara’s jaw was fractured in several places requiring plates, screws, and wires to repair. He’s looking at five-to-six weeks of recovery.

Brad Marchand played through groin, abdominal and wrist injuries. Patrice Bergeron played through a groin injury. David Pastrnak took a blow to his surgically repaired thumb.

Noel Acciari suffered a fractured sternum in the second round. Defenseman John Moore played 10 games despite fracturing his humerus on March 25. Blueliner Kevan Miller suffered a twice-fractured kneecap. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I remain amazed over how professional hockey players continue playing despite serious injuries that would sideline athletes in other sports. 

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Washington Capitals are still trying to re-sign pending UFA winger Carl Hagelin. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes re-signed defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin to a one-year contract. Cap Friendly indicates it’s a two-way contract worth $925K at the NHL level. 

SPORTSNET: The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed blueline Cameron Gaunce to a one-year, two-way deal worth $700K 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed defenseman Gustav Olofsson to a one-year, two-way contract. 

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Former Canadiens rearguard Michael Bournival announced his retirement after suffering multiple concussions during his playing career. “I’d rather stop there before it’s too late,” he said in an interview with TVA Nouvelles. 

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers have hired recently-retired winger Tanner Glass to work in their player personnel department. He spent this season playing in France and announced his retirement as an active player earlier this week.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres announced they’ve hired Mike Bales as their new goaltending coach and Don Granato as an assistant coach. Steve Smith will remain as an assistant but Davis Payne, Chris Hajt and Tom Ward were let go. 

What Will The Toronto Maple Leafs Do This Off-Season?


Niskanen to the Flyers for Gudas

The Washington Capitals traded defenseman Matt Niskanen to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Radko Gudas. The Flyers also retained 30 percent of Gudas’ $3.35-million annual cap hit. He has one year remaining on his contract. 

Washington Capitals ship defenseman Matt Niskanen to the Philadelphia Flyers (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Niskanen was rumored to be on the trade block as the Capitals sought to shed salary. Cap Friendly indicates this move reduces their current salary-cap payroll to just over $70.5 million.

Assuming next season’s cap reaches $83 million as projected, they’ll have over $12 million to re-sign several key players. Those include pending unrestricted free agent winger Brett Connolly and restricted free agents Jakub Vrana and Andre Burakovsky. The Capitals are giving up skill in Niskanen but Gudas brings an affordable measure of toughness to their blueline. 

Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher intends to use his plentiful cap room to bolster his lineup this offseason. Niskanen will provide all-around defensive skill, postseason experience, and leadership to the Flyers’ defense corps. He’s signed through 2020-21 with an annual average value of $5.75 million. The Flyers can easily afford that cap hit for the next two years as they wait for their younger blueliners to improve.

With nearly $52 million committed to 15 players, Fletcher has over $30 million to worth with. I daresay he’s not done making moves this summer. 

NHL Rumor Mill – June 14, 2019

The latest on Erik Karlsson, Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Torey Krug, and Nikita Zaitsev in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports a league source said the San Jose Sharks are discussing an eight-year contract extension with Erik Karlsson. The 29-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

The Sharks are reportedly offering Karlsson a deal comparable to the eight-year, $88-million deal Drew Doughty received last summer from the Los Angeles Kings. Karlsson has until 11:59 pm ET on June 30 to sign an eight-year deal with the Sharks. After that, he would be limited to a seven-year contract.

The San Jose Sharks are talking contract extension with Erik Karlsson (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Karlsson’ recent injury history – including surgery earlier this month to repair a groin injury – the Sharks liked what they saw from him this season. Acquired last September from the Ottawa Senators, Karlsson had 45 points in 53 regular-season games and 16 points in 19 playoff contests.

If Karlsson gets that big contract it could affect the Sharks’ efforts to re-sign captain Joe Pavelski and future Hall-of-Famer Joe Thornton. Like Karlsson, both are due to become UFAs on July 1. 


THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes deciding Torey Krug’s future is the Boston Bruins’ top off-season priority. He’s a year away from UFA eligibility and in line for a big raise over his current $5.25-million annual average value.

Re-signing Krug could cost the Bruins between $6.35 million to $8 million annually on a seven- or eight-year contract. If they consider that too expensive a risk, Shinzawa speculates they could try to trade him at the NHL Draft next weekend in Vancouver.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted yesterday, Krug surfaced in last summer’s trade-rumor mill but nothing came of it. Being a year away from UFA status, however, could affect his future with the Bruins.

Krug’s an invaluable member of their defense corps and I daresay GM Don Sweeney prefers to keep him. On the other hand, he’d be a great trade asset to land that second-line scoring winger they were lacking this season. This could be worth keeping an eye on in the coming days. 


TSN: Darren Dreger noted the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers have some interest in Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev. The 26-year-old rearguard recently requested a trade and Leafs management is attempting to accommodate him. Canucks GM Jim Benning recently said he’s in the market for a top-four blueliner.

SPORTSNET 650: Rick Dhaliwal said the Canucks haven’t made an offer for Zaitsev yet. He expects trade discussions involving the Leafs defenseman will heat up at the upcoming NHL Draft. “Oilers showing interest as well and no offer from them yet.”

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples considers the notion of the Oilers pursuing Zaitsev “wacky”. He wonders why the Oilers would want a third-pairing defenseman carrying a $4.5-million annual salary-cap hit over the next five years. Unless the Leafs are prepared to accept winger Milan Lucic in return, Staples believes acquiring Zaitsev doesn’t make sense for the Oilers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The notion of Zaitsev to Vancouver isn’t being well-received by Canucks followers. “No, thanks,” said the Vancouver Sun’s Patrick Johnson on Tuesday.

I don’t doubt there’s been some discussion by the Oilers or Canucks with the Leafs about Zaitsev. Both clubs could be trying to squeeze the Leafs into taking back a toxic contract or packaging a good young player with Zaitsev. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 14, 2019

The latest on the Stanley Cup champion Blues plus updates on Connor McDavid, Marc-Andre Fleury, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues will hold their Stanley Cup parade and celebration on Saturday, June 15. “The parade will start at noon CT at 18th and Market Street and will end at Broadway and Market Street. A rally will follow at the Gateway Arch.” The Blues won the Cup by defeating the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 of the Final on Wednesday. 

SPORTSNET: Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington can expect to see more money on his next contract. “He’s going to earn a big pay raise this summer and we’re looking forward to paying him,” said Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. Binnington is slated to become a restricted free agent on July 1. 

After backstopping the St. Louis Blues to the Stanley Cup, goalie Jordan Binnington could receive a big pay raise. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A career minor leaguer until called up at midseason, Binnington’s performance helped the Blues rise from the bottom of the standings to Stanley Cup champions. He’s got arbitration rights and is a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year. Those factors will affect his contract negotiations.

NBC SPORTS: Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final was the most-watched NHL game on record since 1994. Over 8.9 million viewers watched the Blues defeat the Bruins. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the most-watched NHL game on record in the United States. In Canada, it’s a different story. With all Canadian teams eliminated after the opening round and the Toronto Raptors on an NBA championship run, the ratings for the Stanley Cup playoffs were down this year.

THE SCORE: Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland said he expects team captain Connor McDavid to be ready for training camp in September. McDavid continues to rehab from a knee injury suffered during the Oilers’ final game of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid was spotted limping at a recent charity event, generating concern over the status of his recovery. The injury didn’t require surgery and isn’t expected to affect his off-season training.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knight goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury sold his Las Vegas home for $2.3 million. Records indicate the buyer is a strip club owner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some might seize on this sale to raise concern over Fleury’s future with the Golden Knights. However, he’s about to begin a new three-year deal. As the Golden Knights’ starting goalie and franchise player, he’s not going anywhere. 

TSN: Former NHL player Rick Nash was named a special assistant to Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Nash announced his retirement as a player in January. 

NBC SPORTS: Hall-of-Famer Eric Lindros hopes a new campaign in Ontario will help amateur athletes, parents and coaches better identify the signs and symptoms of a concussion.  Lindros’ career was cut short by repeated concussions.