NHL Rumor Mill – January 17, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – January 17, 2020

Are the Oilers eying one of the Leafs’ affordable young forwards? Are the Flames interested in Kings’ winger Tyler Toffoli? Could Wild defenseman Matt Dumba become trade bait? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TSN: Darren Dreger believes the Edmonton Oilers will keep a close eye on what happens with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He notes there’s speculation surrounding Leafs forwards Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson and maybe Alex Kerfoot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers seek secondary scoring depth. It’s assumed the Leafs would have to move one of those young forwards to bring in a skilled top-four defenseman, something I don’t believe the Oilers have enough to spare right now. The Leafs might part with Kapanen, Johnsson, or Kerfoot for someone like Darnell Nurse, but I don’t see the Oilers agreeing to that. 

Could Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba be moved before the trade deadline? (Photo via NHL Images)

Dreger also said he’s been told Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin is open for business. Part of the trade bait could include defenseman Matt Dumba.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Michael Russo also believes Guerin is open for business. He thinks rival GMs are wondering if players like Dumba or Jason Zucker are available. Russo also believes blueliner Jonas Brodin could be getting some interest from the Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, and Vegas Golden Knights.

Dumba would draw plenty of interest in the trade market, but it would be a mistake to move him. He’s a 25-year-old defenseman with the talent to become the linchpin of their blueline for years. Perhaps he’ll benefit from a coaching change instead of a trade.

Pierre LeBrun reports the Calgary Flames are hoping to add a top-six forward with a right-hand shot before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. He believes they have interest in Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli, among others.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli would fit the bill for the Flames. I expect the Kings will want at least a decent draft pick and a quality prospect or young NHL-ready player in return.

Bob McKenzie reports the Chicago Blackhawks are facing a big decision between goaltenders Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner. Both will become unrestricted free agents in July. Lehner indicated he won’t take a hometown discount and wants a lucrative long-term deal. Crawford, meanwhile, indicated he has no intention of being anyone’s backup. McKenzie wonders if GM Stan Bowman will trade one of them and which one he’ll sign.

Pierre LeBrun believes the Carolina Hurricanes could be interested in Lehner if he hits the open market in July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford was a key reason behind the Blackhawks last two Stanley Cup championships, but he’s now 35 and being outplayed by the 28-year-old Lehner, who was a Vezina Trophy finalist last season. While Bowman could still have loyalty toward Crawford, re-signing Lehner is the right move.


NBC SPORTS PHILADEPHIA/THE ATHLETIC: Jordan Hall and Charlie O’Connor reports the Flyers’ limited salary-cap space will make it difficult for GM Chuck Fletcher to become a buyer leading up to the trade deadline. The Flyers need at least another top-nine forward, preferably a center, but Cap Friendly indicates they only have around $580K in deadline cap room. Unless they can ship out a higher-price veteran, or convince a rival club to absorb half of an incoming player’s salary-cap hit, they could be forced to acquire a lower-salaried depth player or look to within their system.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several Flyers fans in recent days asked me if I think their club will make a big move by the deadline. Unless GM Chuck Fletcher can get creative or swings a dollar-in, dollar-out deal that improves his roster, I think his hands are tied by the salary cap for this season.

NHL Rumor Mill – January 16, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – January 16, 2020

Suggested defense targets for the Leafs, possible destinations for former Vegas coach Gerard Gallant, updates on the Sabres, and much more today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: Sonny Sachdeva compiled a list of seven potential trade targets for the Toronto Maple Leafs to bolster their injury-depleted defense corps. They include T.J. Brodie or Travis Hamonic of the Calgary Flames, Brenden Dillon of the San Jose Sharks, Alec Martinez of the Los Angeles Kings, Nikita Zadorov or Ian Cole of the Colorado Avalanche, and Zach Bogosian of the Buffalo Sabres.

Could Alec Martinez be a trade target for the Toronto Maple Leafs? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brodie, Hamonic, Dillon, and Martinez would be the best bests. Brodie and Hamonic were rumored to be available earlier this season, recent speculation linked Dillon to the Leafs, while the Kings are reportedly willing to entertain offers for Martinez. I’m not convinced the Avs intend to shake up their blueline, while the oft-injured Bogosian would be too risky.

The Flames could seek a skilled, affordable forward like Kaspari Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson for Brodie or Hamonic. That could also be the rebuilding Kings’ asking price for Martinez. I believe Dillon could be had for a draft pick and a prospect.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton lists the Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, and the Seattle expansion franchise as potential destinations for former Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant, who was fired yesterday along with long-time assistant coach Mike Kelly.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen includes the Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, and Winnipeg Jets among his list of possible suitors.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan wonders if Gallant will be reunited with former Red Wings teammate and long-time friend Steve Yzerman in Detroit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-respected “players’ coach” who won the Jack Adams Award guiding the then-expansion Golden Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, Gallant won’t be unemployed for long. The Wings seem like the best fit, as Yzerman could prefer bringing in his own man after inheriting coach Jeff Blashill. With the Wings’ rebuild stalled, a shakeup behind the bench could be necessary.

The Wild could be ready for a coaching change if they miss the playoffs. The Devils have shown some improvement under interim bench boss Alain Nasreddine, but probably not enough to ensure he keeps the job. I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle general manager Ron Francis checks to see if Gallant would like to coach another expansion franchise.

Most of the other candidates will be determined by how those clubs finish this season. I don’t think the Avs will part ways with Jared Bednar, who’s done a fine job helping to mold that club into a perennial playoff club. The Flames could stick with interim coach Geoff Ward. Paul Maurice deserves credit for juggling the Jets’ depleted blueline, though a strong performance by goalie Connor Hellebuyck is the biggest factor there. The Blackhawks could stay the course with Jeremy Colliton if they reach the postseason. The Stars are doing well under Rick Bowness so there’s no certainty he’ll be replaced this summer.


WGR 550: In a recent interview, Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill said he wants to make trades that will add to his roster. He denied that he’s waiting for the trade deadline to make moves. “We’re open to trying to find something that can certainly add to our group, but it hasn’t materialized. We’ll continue to look at it, and there’s no use to saying that we’re close on a trade or this and that. Until it actually happens and we announce something, it’s just talk.”

THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski said the Sabres are stuck salary-cap wise for this season. However, they’ll have $33 million in projected salary-cap space next season and would be best served waiting until the summer to make significant trades. Lysowski also said Botterill currently refuses to trade defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Brandon Montour.

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Yerdon recently explored the limited trade scenarios for Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian. One would be a money-in, money-out deal, or attempting to swap him for another club’s unhappy player. Otherwise, the Sabres could be faced with either a mutual contract termination or he finishes the season in Buffalo and departs in the summer as a free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres have featured prominently for months in the rumor mill. They’ve already made a couple of deals, shipping Marco Scandella to Montreal for a draft pick and flipping that pick to Calgary for Michael Frolik. However, they’ve yet to make the big move that brings them a much-need scorer.

The fact Botterill cannot find a suitable deal suggests rival clubs are attempting to exploit the Sabres’ desperate plight this season. It could also indicate there’s no interest in the players Botterill is shopping.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported there’s been at least one legitimate offer for New Jersey Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen, with more expected to come. Devils captain Andy Greene said he hasn’t discussed his future with management. Winger Wayne Simmonds would prefer to stay with the Devils. The trio is due to become unrestricted free agents in July.

Friedman also wonders what the Devils will do with veterans who have term remaining on their contracts, such as Kyle Palmieri and Blake Coleman. He always assumes New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello wants Travis Zajac.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect Vatanen will be moved before the trade deadline. There could be a market for Greene or Simmonds, but I wouldn’t be surprised if both are still with the Devils after the 3 pm ET deadline on Feb. 24. Palmieri has come up a lot in recent rumors, most of which link him to the Boston Bruins.

Friedman expects the Golden Knights will continue their search for a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ve been linked to the Devils’ Sami Vatanen. They could also kick the tires on Los Angeles Kings blueliner Alec Martinez. Given their limited cap space, it’ll have to be a dollar-for-dollar deal or they’ll have to make a salary-dumping move to clear sufficient cap room.

Friedman also repeated his previous report suggesting San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson isn’t interested in blowing up his roster core. Friedman expects interest in defenseman Brenden Dillon and winger Melker Karlsson, and wonders if there’s a market for goalie Aaron Dell. He also anticipates Wilson will be aggressive this summer.

He also said the Anaheim Ducks are willing to use their cap space to help a cap-strapped rival, provided they’re willing to part with young assets.

Golden Knights Fire Gallant, Hired DeBoer as Head Coach

Golden Knights Fire Gallant, Hired DeBoer as Head Coach

The Vegas Golden Knights fired head coach Gerard Gallant, replacing him with former San Jose Sharks bench boss Peter DeBoer. Assistant coach Mike Kelly was also relieved of his duties.

The Vegas Golden Knight fire head coach Gerard Gallant (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move comes as a big surprise. Gallant becomes the seventh head coach to lose his job this season. That includes DeBoer, who was fired a month ago by the Sharks. Considering the Golden Knights already had Gallant’s replacement already lined up, management obviously had this move  planned for a while. 

The official statement from the Golden Knights claims this decision was necessary for the club to achieve its full potential. They’ve have struggled of late, mired in a four-game losing streak and slumping just outside the last wild-card berth in the Western Conference. Nevertheless, they’re only three points behind the Arizona Coyotes (57 points) for first place in the tight Pacific standings.

Gallant was selected to coach the Pacific Division at the upcoming 2020 NHL All-Star Game. He won the Jack Adams Award guiding then-expansion Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final in 2018, and a third-place finish in the Pacific Division last season. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports the Golden Knights and Gallant were talking contract extension earlier in the season.

Recent reaction on social media suggests this move was made as a shot across the bow at the Golden Knights players. Given how much they’ve invested in the roster, ownership and the front office expect this team to be a Cup contender. Perhaps Gallant lost the room, or maybe he’s paying the price for some recent shaky goaltending and a defense lacking a true blueline stud.

Given Gallant’s solid coaching credentials, he shouldn’t remain unemployed for long. Detroit and Montreal are already being mentioned as possible destinations by some on the Twittersphere, though his inability to speak French could make the latter an unlikely destination as a head coach.

DeBoer guided the Sharks to the 2016 Cup Final and the New Jersey Devils to the 2012 Final. He guided the Sharks to two seven-game series victories over the Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche before falling to the St. Louis Blues in last spring’s playoffs. It’ll be interesting to see if he can get his new club back among the Cup contenders.

NHL Rumor Mill – January 15, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – January 15, 2020

Latest on the Leafs, Canadiens and Red Wings, plus updates on Chris Kreider, Braden Holtby, and P.K. Subban in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TSN: With Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin sidelined, Bob McKenzie reports the Toronto Maple Leafs are getting calls from clubs hoping to take advantage of the situation. He also suspects the Leafs are making their inquiries on the front.

Would the Toronto Maple Leafs part with winger Kasperi Kapanen for a defenseman with a comparable contract? (Photo via NHL Images)

McKenzie believes the idea of trading for a defenseman isn’t entirely out of the question. Replacing Rielly and Muzzin on the left side of their blueline is their short-term need, but their long-term need is on the right side. He wonders if the Leafs would be prepared to part with an affordable young forward like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson or Alex Kerfoot for a defenseman with a similar contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs must also find a reliable backup goaltender for overworked starter Frederik Andersen. Complicating efforts is their limited salary-cap space. Addressing either issue will take a dollar-for-dollar deal.

There are fans and pundits in Montreal calling upon the struggling Canadiens to trade Carey Price and Shea Weber. However, Pierre LeBrun reports Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he has no intention of moving either guy at the trade deadline. As the roster gets younger, Bergevin feels Price and Weber provide invaluable leadership.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once upon a time, Bergevin also said he had no plans to trade P.K. Subban and we know how that turned out. He could consider moving Price or Weber if a sweetheart offer were presented to him. Nevertheless, I don’t see him trading Price or Weber anytime soon. If such a move were to take place, it would be in the offseason when teams have more cap space and a willingness to spend.

LeBrun also reports the status of Chris Kreider remains front and center in the rumor mill. The New York Rangers winger is due to become an unrestricted free agent in July. There could still be contract negotiations between the two sides, but it’s believed Kreider will be moved before the Feb. 24 trade deadline, with the Blueshirts perhaps absorbing up to half of his $4.625-million contract. LeBrun speculates the St. Louis Blues or Boston Bruins could come calling.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Rangers pick up that much of Kreider’s cap hit, they could seek an extra draft pick or prospect as part of the return. Kreider also carries an 11-team no-trade list. It’s believed Canadian teams aren’t on his list.

LeBrun also weighed in on how Nicklas Backstrom’s new contract could affect Braden Holtby’s future with the Washington Capitals. The Capitals goalie will become a UFA on July 1. Both sides agreed to wait until the end of the season to discuss a contract. LeBrun feels it’ll either be a short-term contract or Holtby goes to market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said he’d have to get creative to find sufficient salary-cap space to re-sign Holtby. The veteran goalie’s ongoing struggles and the promising play of backup Ilya Samsonov could affect those negotiations.

MacLellan must ensure he has sufficient long-term cap room to re-sign Samsonov, Alex Ovechkin, and Jakub Vrana at the end of 2020-21. Even if Holtby agreed to a short-term hometown discount (and that’s not going to happen), the Capitals GM would have to shed salary to make room for him and leave enough long-term cap space for the others.


NHL.COM: P.K. Subban said he’s not asking the New Jersey Devils to trade him. The 30-year-old defenseman was acquired by the Devils last summer and has two years remaining on his contract. He said he’s never requested a trade and remains focused on helping the Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even if Subban asked to be traded, the decline in his performance over the past two years and his hefty $9-million annual average value would make him a tough sell. I’m not saying there wouldn’t be a market for him, but the Devils wouldn’t get a significant return and would probably have to pick up a healthy chunk of his annual salary-cap hit.


DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James recently reports Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman doesn’t intend to be passive as the trade deadline approaches. “I’m looking for ways to build for the future and trying to acquire draft picks or prospects or young players that can come into the organization sooner or later.”

St. James expects the rebuilding Wings to be active at the trade deadline. However, the players they’d like to move (Jimmy Howard, Trevor Daley, Mike Green, and Frans Nielsen) have struggled this season and likely won’t yield much on the trade market.

Capitals Re-sign Nicklas Backstrom

Capitals Re-sign Nicklas Backstrom

The Washington Capitals re-signed Nicklas Backstrom to a five-year, $46-million contract extension. The 32-year-old center was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The annual average value is $9.2 million.

Washington Capitals re-sign Nicklas Backstrom to a five-year contract extension (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt anyone’s surprised the Capitals decided to keep Backstrom in the fold. Like Alex Ovechkin, he’s a key part of their roster core and leadership group. He’s also the second longest-serving active member of their roster next to Ovechkin. He’s their all-time assist leader (668) and a model of consistency, reaching or exceeding 65 points in 10 of the last 12 seasons. With 35 points in 39 games, he could do it again this season.

According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the contract breakdown is as follows: “$6 million signing bonus and $6 million salary in 2020-21, $5 million signing bonus and $5 million salary in 2021-22, $3 million signing bonus and $3 million salary in 2022-23, $5 million signing bonus and $5 million salary in 2023-24 and $6 million signing bonus and a $2 million salary in 2024-25. In total, he will be paid $25 million in signing bonuses.”

Backstrom’s getting a nice pay raise over his current $6.7 million annual average value. Some will argue the Capitals are spending too much for too long on an aging asset. There is some risk involved, but with the Capitals still considered a Stanley Cup contender, it’s one management felt willing to take. If he can maintain a reasonably productive pace through most of that period, it could prove worthwhile.

This signing raises questions over how much it’ll cost the Capitals to keep Ovechkin, whose current deal expires at the end of 2020-21. He’s averaged over $9.5 million annually and remains among the league’s elite scorers. If he remains a Richard Trophy contender, It could cost over $10 million annually to keep Ovie in Washington.

With over $71 million invested in 16 players following Backstrom’s signing, the Capitals won’t have much salary-cap room to re-sign long-time starting goaltender Braden Holtby. Assuming the cap rises to $84 million, they’ll have around $13 million left with Holtby and Radko Gudas as their remaining UFAs. Unless Holtby’s willing to accept a hometown discount, this is probably his final season with the Capitals.

NHL Rumor Mill – January 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – January 14, 2020

Could the Avalanche attempt to acquire Henrik Lundqvist? What’s the latest on Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Craig Anderson, Alex Martinez, Kyle Palmieri, and Alex Galchenyuk? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers believes the Colorado Avalanche have a trade option in New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist if their goalie tandem of Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz fail to snap out of their midseason funk. Lundqvist, 37, is signed through 2020-21 with an annual average value of $8.5 million, but just $5.5 million in actual salary for next season.

Could the Colorado Avalanche make a pitch for New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist? (Photo via NHL Images)

Chambers believes the Avalanche have the salary-cap space and prospects/draft picks to entice Lundqvist to waive his no-movement clause for an opportunity to play for a Stanley Cup contender. With the Rangers carrying three goalies, Chambers believes they want to trade one of them. Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick could be another option, though he’s got three years remaining on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be Rangers management, not Lundqvist, who might be enticed by the Avs cap space and their draft picks/prospects. The Avs can’t make that pitch to Lundqvist.

Every report I’ve seen and hear regarding Lundqvist’s future suggests he’s not leaving New York. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but he has to be willing to accept a trade.

We don’t know if anyone is making a pitch to the Rangers, or if “King Henrik” has been approached about accepting a trade to a Cup contender. If Lundqvist is willing to accept a trade, Colorado might not be on his list of preferred destinations.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports there haven’t been any in-depth contract talks yet between Ottawa Senators management and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The 27-year-old center will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. LeBrun speculates those discussions could begin later this month. How they go will determine if Pageau hits the trade block. If he does, LeBrun lists the Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, and Boston Bruins as potential suitors.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators goaltender Craig Anderson’s performance must improve if he hopes to be moved by the Feb. 24 trade deadline. His stock has declined in recent weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t automatically assume Pageau will be traded. He’s a local boy who could be reluctant to leave the only NHL team he’s ever played for. He might want to be part of the club’s promising future. We’ll know within a month if he stays or goes.

As for Anderson, I can see a team taking a chance on him, though the Sens might have to pick up part of his $4.75-million salary-cap hit. His 10-team no-trade list could complicate things.


THE ATHLETIC: LeBrun also reports the Los Angeles Kings are open to dealing defenseman Alec Martinez, who’s signed through 2020-21 with a $4-million cap hit. The Carolina Hurricanes have internally discussed bringing a steadying presence to their blueline, but it would mean moving one of their rearguards to make room for Martinez. LeBrun also suggests the Colorado Avalanche or Winnipeg Jets as possible destinations, though the latter continues to face uncertainty over Dustin Byfuglien’s situation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Martinez would be a fine addition to a contending club’s defense corps. LeBrun cites an Eastern Conference executive suggesting the Kings could get a second-round pick and a prospect in return. He also pointed out GM Rob Blake can afford to wait until this summer to find a better return.


If the Montreal Canadiens become sellers, LeBrun believes they could be reluctant to part with defenseman Jeff Petry. He also feels they have to listen to offers for Tomas Tatar. Both players are signed through next season.

Speaking of the Habs, LeBrun suggests the Boston Bruins inquire about winger Ilya Kovalchuk if he’s still playing well in a month. The Bruins had some interest in Kovalchuk after he cut ties with the LA Kings, but weren’t ready to offer him a contract at that time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun isn’t saying the Canadiens will trade Petry or Tatar, only that they should at least listen to offers. We’ll see if GM Marc Bergevin is willing to do that. Like Blake with Martinez, Bergevin can wait until the summer if he doesn’t receive any worthwhile offers leading up to the trade deadline. As for Kovalchuk, I can see the Habs shipping him to a contender if there’s sufficient interest.

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ asking price for winger Alex Galchenyuk is believed to be either a draft pick or a bottom-six forward. He’s a UFA on July 1 with a cap hit of $4.9 million.

Before being fired, former New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero was telling teams he wasn’t interested in trading winger Kyle Palmieri. Now that Shero’s gone, it’s anyone’s guess what the future holds for Palmieri. He’s signed through next season and interested in re-signing with the Devils. LeBrun believes Palmieri would be a good fit with the Bruins.

LeBrun expects the struggling San Jose Sharks could become sellers at the trade deadline. They could dangle defenseman Brenden Dillon and forward Melker Karlsson, but they aren’t looking at blowing up the roster.