NHL Rumor Mill – May 22, 2019

The Sharks have several decisions to make this summer, plus the latest on Jacob Trouba, Kevin Hayes, and Ryan Callahan in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE SHARKS?

ESPN.COM: Figuring out the futures of Erik Karlsson, Joe Thornton, and Joe Pavelski are among Greg Wyshynski and Chris Peters’ keys to the San Jose Sharks offseason. Karlsson, Thornton, and Pavelski are due to become unrestricted free agents this summer. It’s expected Pavelski, 34, and the 39-year-old Thornton will be re-signed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Thornton will get another one-year, bonus-laden deal from the Sharks. Pavelski will be re-signed, perhaps to a two- or three-year deal with an annual cap hit similar to his current $6 million. 

Will the San Jose Sharks re-sign Erik Karlsson? (Photo via NHL Images)

Karlsson’s status is less certain. He managed 45 points in 53 regular-season games and 16 points in 19 postseason contests. However, he was hampered by nagging groin injuries. It’s believed he enjoys living and playing in San Jose but there’s speculation he could return east via free agency. Earlier this season, there was talk the Sharks wanted to re-sign him to an eight-year deal. That chatter cooled off by February.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Had Karlsson had a healthy season the Sharks probably would’ve re-signed him by now. They could still do so but his recent injury history is cause for concern.

The Sharks won’t be the only team leery of investing big money in Karlsson over a lengthy period. A year ago, it was believed he sought a deal similar to Drew Doughty’s eight-year, $88-million deal with the Los Angeles Kings. I doubt he’ll get that now. 

The Sharks could also invest in a reliable backup for starting goaltender Martin Jones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After struggling at times throughout the regular season, Jones redeemed himself with a solid postseason performance. As Wyshynski and Peters point out, Jones is signed through 2024 so he’ll be back next season. Coach Pete DeBoer lost confidence in backup Aaron Dell this season. 

LATEST JETS SPECULATION

WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe ponder Jacob Trouba’s future with the Winnipeg Jets. The 25-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA status.

Wiebe points out players of Trouba’s caliber tend to get traded in June. He also notes the Jets lack a first-round pick in next month’s draft, suggesting that could create some excitement leading up to the opening round.

If the Jets decide to move Trouba, perhaps they’ll consider a sign-and-trade agreement with another club, as that would improve the return. They could attempt to move him on his own or package him in a larger deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will consider all his options. He’d probably love to re-sign Trouba but that depends upon the blueliner’s asking price and if he sees his future in Winnipeg.

As Wiebe observes, Cheveldayoff won’t trade Trouba for just anything. He’ll want a good return, one that could include a first-round pick in this year’s draft.

A sign-and-trade scenario would be best. Cheveldayoff has plenty of time to work that out between now and the draft weekend. The Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, and New York Rangers are among the clubs linked to Trouba in the rumor mill. 

 

TSN: cites a report by The Athletic’s Joe Smith noting Ryan Callahan believes his days are numbered with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 34-year-old winger has a year left on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $5.8 million. With the Lightning facing a cap crunch, Callahan could become a cost-cutting trade candidate.

Smith believes they’ll have to sweeten the pot by including a draft pick or prospect. Callahan’s agent hasn’t discussed his client’s future with Lightning management but he said the winger will submit his 15-team trade list. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith also listed the New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, and New York Rangers as possible trade candidates. Those clubs have plenty of salary-cap space and could use some veteran leadership. If any of them are on Callahan’s list, maybe one of them will go for it if they get a suitable sweetener in the deal. 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 21, 2019

Latest on the Predators and Hurricanes plus seven teams in need of a goaltender in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

COULD THE PREDATORS PURSUE DUCHENE?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun believes Nashville Predators general manager David Poile could make changes to his roster this summer. Poile was disappointed by his club’s early departure from the 2019 playoffs. He doesn’t intend to blow things up but won’t be inactive this summer.

Speculation continues to link Matt Duchene to the Nashville Predators (Photo via NHL Images)

LeBrun notes there’s renewed speculation suggesting Poile might pursue Columbus Blue Jackets center Matt Duchene via free agency. Poile had a previous interest in the 28-year-old center and people around Duchene feel he’d be interested in playing for the Predators. 

If Poile pursues Duchene, LeBrun believes he’ll have to shed salary first. That’s led to rumor suggesting defenseman P.K. Subban ($9 million annual average value) could be traded, but that’s not a certainty. LeBrun also suggests other players could also become cost-cutting candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Predators have over $75.8 million invested in 21 players for 2019-20. All their core players are under contract for next season.

Duchene could command up to $9 million annually on a long-term deal. Assuming an $83 million cap hit, the Predators can’t afford him unless they shed salary. Only Pekka Rinne has no-trade/no-movement protection. As LeBrun observes, that gives Poile plenty of candidates for a cost-cutting deal.

The Predators GM also has a history of making bold trades. Instead of going the UFA route, perhaps he’ll try a hockey trade targeting a club with depth at center. 

UPDATE ON THE HURRICANES

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Luke DeCock reports on possible offseason moves by the Carolina Hurricanes. With goaltenders Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney slated to become UFAs this summer, he believes they should explore going in a different direction from Mrazek. He doubts they’ll re-sign pending UFA winger Micheal Ferland, who managed just one goal after the trade deadline.

DeCock feels the Hurricanes still have “a desperate need for another center.” He’s not sure if promising Martin Necas is ready for that role yet. Defenseman Justin Faulk has a year left on his contract. DeCock thinks this is the year the Hurricanes must decide if they’ll re-sign or trade him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The pickings are slim for goaltending upgrades via free agency. Unless GM Don Waddell can sign Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky or the Islanders’ Robin Lehner, he might have to stick with his current tandem. It was reported in January that Ferland sought a deal comparable to the six-year, $31-million contract of Washington’s Tom Wilson. He’s not getting that from the Canes or anyone else.

Necas, 20, struggled to crack the Hurricanes lineup. However, he tallied 52 points in 64 games this season with the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate in Charlotte. Still, it remains to be seen if he’s ready for prime time. The Canes have over $54.2 million committed to 14 players. If owner Tom Dundon is willing to spend toward the cap, they’ll have plenty of cap space to pursue a center.

Since the summer of 2017, Faulk was frequently the subject of trade speculation. If Waddell is unable to reach agreement on a contract extension, perhaps he’ll put Faulk on the trade block this summer for a center.  

SEVEN TEAMS THAT COULD USE A GOALTENDER

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox listed the Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers, and New York Islanders as clubs that could use a goaltender for next season. 

Fox suggests Petr Mrazek could be lured elsewhere via free agency, putting the Hurricanes in need of a new starter. With Sergei Bobrovsky expected to depart via free agency, the Blue Jackets will need a replacement. The Oilers need to bring in someone to support Mikko Koskinen, while the Blackhawks need a backup for Corey Crawford.

If the Flames don’t bring back Mike Smith, they’ll need someone to help share the workload with David Rittich. The Flyers need someone to support promising Carter Hart. The Islanders could need a replacement for Robin Lehner if he departs via free agency. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes could retain Mrazek if there’s no suitable replacement via trade or free agency. The Jackets have little choice but to find a replacement for Bobrovsky. The Oilers and Blackhawks will be shopping for experienced backups.

I can see the Flames bringing back Smith for one more year. The Flyers acquired Cam Talbot to supposedly mentor Hart but maybe they’ll consider other options. I expect the Isles will re-sign Lehner. 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2019

Latest Erik Karlsson speculation, possible free-agent targets for the Avalanche, and seven clubs that could threaten an offer sheet in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

LATEST KARLSSON SPECULATION

SPORTSNET 960: Chris Johnston last week suggested San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson could be “this year’s John Tavares”. In other words, he could garner as much attention in this year’s free-agent market as Tavares did a year ago. Johnston doubts Karlsson will re-sign with the Sharks, though he might fall in love with the area and wish to stay. 

Could Erik Karlsson’s injury history hurt his free-agent value this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

Johnston suggests the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning as potential suitors. The latter, however, must shed considerable salary to fit him under their cap. Before this season, it was assumed Karlsson would get a deal comparable to Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings. The blueliner’s recent injury history, however, could affect his value. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson’s health prompted Frank Seravalli to rank him second among this season’s UFA class, behind Columbus’ Artemi Panarin.

Cap Friendly indicates the Sharks have over $58.2 million invested in 15 players. Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Gustav Nyquist, and Joonas Donskoi are their noteworthy unrestricted free agents. Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc are their notable restricted free agents. 

I anticipate the Sharks will re-sign Pavelski, Thornton, Meier, and Labanc. That won’t leave much for Karlsson, especially if he seeks top dollar this summer.

Karlsson’s spate of injuries dates back to 2017 when he had offseason heel surgery. This season, a nagging groin injury sidelined the 28-year-old defenseman for 29 games in the regular season. It’s also hindered his play in the Western Conference Final. If he hits the open market there will still be plenty of interest in him. However, the suitors could prefer a short-term deal for less than $11 million per season.

Maybe the Rangers kick the tires on Karlsson but their interest could be in younger, more affordable options like Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba. The Lightning had serious interest in Karlsson last summer. But with center Brayden Point in line for a big raise and over $74 million already tied up in 17 players, the Bolts lack the room for Karlsson now. 

POSSIBLE AVALANCHE FREE-AGENT TARGETS

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen noted Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic intends to be aggressive in this year’s free-agent market. Boylen lists Dallas’s Mats Zuccarello, San Jose’s Gustav Nyquist, and the Islanders’ Anders Lee as possible UFA targets. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs have over $45.9 million committed to 13 players for 2019-20. Several players, including Mikko Rantanen, Alex Kerfoot, and Nikita Zadorov, are restricted free agents due for raises this summer. After re-signing those RFAs, Sakic will still have plenty of cap space to invest in the UFA market.

Lee would be the best of the bunch but I expect he’ll re-sign with the Isles. Same for Zuccarello with the Stars. Nyquist, however, could be available.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently listed the New York Islanders, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, Arizona Coyotes, and Buffalo Sabres as seven clubs that could offer-sheet a superstar this summer. He indicates they all have plenty of salary-cap space to make such a move.

Fox noted Isles GM Lou Lamoriello is ruthless. He wondered if new Wings GM Steve Yzerman might consider an offer sheet as a means to quickly put his stamp on the team. Given the Canadiens’ difficulty in attracting top UFA talent to Montreal, Fox believes the offer sheet must be considered.

Devils GM Ray Shero could make a splash this summer after failing to do so last year. Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon is seen as a wild card. The Coyotes are in dire need of scoring punch. If the Sabres fail to re-sign Jeff Skinner they’ll need a new winger for center Jack Eichel. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello is ruthless but he’s never gone the offer-sheet route before. Given his cap space, I expect he’ll stick to the trade and UFA markets to bolster his roster. Yzerman has a reputation for bold moves but he’s also never attempted to sign a player to an offer sheet. He could take this season to evaluate the Wings roster before deciding on a major deal.

Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin doesn’t rule out using an offer sheet. However, he’s on record that you only go that way if you’re sure you’ll get the player you want. There’s no certainty Bergevin will find that player this summer. I expect Shero, Coyotes GM John Chayka, and Sabres GM Jason Botterill will also stick to trades and UFA signings.

Dundon favors aggressive moves but I’m not convinced he’s going to push GM Don Waddell to pursue a player with an offer sheet. Waddell did a good job since last summer going the trade route, bringing in Dougie Hamilton, Nino Niederreiter, and Micheal Ferland. He could stick to trades and free agency this year. 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 19, 2019

Should the Canadiens attempt to sign Mitch Marner or Kasperi Kapanen to an offer sheet? Should the Flyers pursue Nazem Kadri? Could Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky become “sign-and-trade” candidates? Check out the latest speculation in this Sunday’s NHL rumor roundup. 

COULD THE HABS OFFER SHEET MARNER OR KAPANEN?

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey suggests the Canadiens should attempt to sign Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner to an offer sheet in July. He points out the Leafs lack sufficient salary-cap space to match an expensive offer.

If successful, the compensation to the Leafs would be two first-round draft picks, plus a second and a third-round pick. Hickey feels that’s worth it for a player who’s already an established young star. Such a move would be more worthwhile than pursuing older players like Columbus’ Artemi Panarin or Matt Duchene via the unrestricted free agent market. 

TVA SPORTS: suggests landing Marner would be too expensive, especially for a GM like Montreal’s Marc Bergevin who prefers building through the draft. A better option would be Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen. He’d be more affordable in terms of salary and compensation.

Could the Montreal Canadiens sign Mitch Marner to an offer sheet? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The last offer-sheet signing took place in 2013 and was quickly matched. It also takes two to tango. The player has to be willing to sign an offer sheet. For all we know, Marner and Kapanen have no interest in entertaining that notion. That’s not to suggest they won’t. However, Montreal might not be their preferred choice regardless of the salary.

Bergevin hasn’t ruled out going the offer-sheet route. However, it’s important to remember his comments on the subject back in early-March. “Just making an offer sheet for the sake of making an offer sheet, I don’t believe in that”…“You have to believe there’s a real chance you’re getting the player.’’

WILL THE FLYERS TARGET KADRI?

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi feels the Philadelphia Flyers could attempt to bolster their center depth via trade or free agency this summer.  Potential free-agent options could include Columbus’ Matt Duchene or Winnipeg’s Kevin Hayes. Carchidi proposes pursuing Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri.

Despite the decline in Kadri’s production last season and his undisciplined postseason play, Carchidi feels he’d be a good second-line addition for the Flyers. He also notes the center has three years left on his contract with an affordable $4.5 million AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs could be forced to shed Kadri’s salary to free up payroll to re-sign Marner. They won’t want to take back much salary. If the Flyers are interested, a decent draft pick and either a good prospect or promising young player might be enough to get him. Kadri would cost a lot less salary-wise than Duchene or Hayes.

SIGN-AND-TRADE PANARIN AND BOBROVSKY? 

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently pondered the possibility of the Columbus Blue Jackets signing pending UFAs Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky and then trading them. It’s a tactic that’s yet to be employed under the current collective bargaining agreement.

Under that scenario, one or both sign eight-year contracts with the Jackets before July 1, as they would be limited to seven years as UFAs. The theory is the extra year would be attractive to the player and improve their trade value.

Panarin and Bobrovsky both seem destined to depart via free agency. A sign-and-trade option could help the Jackets recoup some of the NHL draft picks they shipped out at the trade deadline to acquire players like Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Rangers and Florida Panthers could be willing to entertain that scenario. Panarin’s been linked to the Rangers by the New York media for months. The Panthers, meanwhile, are believed interested in both players.

If the Jackets already know for sure that both players aren’t coming back, it gives management plenty of time to put that type of deal together. We’ll find out in a little over a month if a sign-and-trade comes to pass for one or both players. 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 18, 2019

Reaction to TSN’s latest “trade bait” board in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

TSN: Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel, Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba, Tampa Bay’s Ryan Callahan, Minnesota’s Jason Zucker, and Nashville’s P.K. Subban are the top-five names on Frank Seravalli’s latest NHL trade bait board. 

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel tops TSN’s spring trade bait list (Photo via NHL Images)

The Penguins were swept from the opening round of the 2019 playoffs, prompting general manager Jim Rutherford to suggest big changes could be coming.  Seravalli cites friction with Penguins coach Mike Sullivan and linemate Evgeni Malkin as one reason why Kessel could be shopped this summer. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel has three years remaining on his contract with the Penguins carrying $6.8 million of his $8 million annual average value. The Toronto Maple Leafs carry the other $1.2 million. Cap Friendly indicates he has a modified no-trade clause listing eight preferred trade destinations.

Moving him won’t be easy but it’s not impossible. Rutherford reportedly fielded trade inquiries about the 32-year-old right winger last summer. I daresay he’ll be open to offers this summer. The Arizona Coyotes are rumored as a possible destination. 

Trouba is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent status. Seravalli suggests the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche as trade partners. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trouba’s contentious contract negotiation history with the Jets is fueling speculation he could be traded before July 1. He’s on a one-year, $5.5-million contract and lacks no-trade protection. Interested parties will want to speak to him about a contract extension before agreeing to a trade. 

Callahan could be a cap casualty as the Lightning attempt to free up salary to re-sign restricted free agent Brayden Point. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Callahan, 34, has a year remaining on his contract with a $5.8-million AAV and a 16-team trade list. The Lightning will have to include a sweetener (draft pick, prospect or young player) to draw interest in Callahan. If a trade isn’t possible, Callahan could be bought out. 

Seravalli noted the Wild came close to moving Zucker at the trade deadline. He wonders if GM Paul Fenton will revisit a Zucker trade this summer. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fenton already shipped out Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, and Mikael Granlund for younger, cheaper talent. Zucker’s entering the second year of a five-year, $27.5-million contract with a modified no-trade clause that kicks in on July 1. The Flames were the team reportedly close to acquiring Zucker at the deadline. Don’t be surprised if Fenton calls them again.

Given the Predators early postseason exit, Seravalli wonders if GM David Poile might tinker with his blueline. He noted Subban no longer has no-trade protection, as that was voided after he was acquired from Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Poile said changes were coming to his roster. That’s what’s given rise to the Subban trade speculation. The Predators need more scoring punch at forward. Subban would be their best bargaining chip to address that need. I don’t see Poile moving Josi, Mattias Ekholm, or Ryan Ellis, who signed a contract extension last summer. Trading Subban would be a bold move but Poile’s has a history of making such deals. 

Calgary winger Michael Frolik, Toronto winger Connor Brown, Predators center Kyle Turris, Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, and Columbus left winger Artemi Panarin are in spots six through 10 on Seravalli’s list. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Frolik was reportedly part of that aborted deal for Zucker at the trade deadline. I don’t think the Wild would be interested in him now. Nevertheless, the Flames could shop him in a cost-cutting move. He’s got a year left on his contract with a $4.3-million AAV and a 10-team no-trade list.

Brown, 25, has one year left on his deal with a $2.1-million cap hit. The Leafs must free up salary to re-sign Mitch Marner. Brown could be a cost-cutting option.

Turris is coming off an injury-shortened season that saw him net just 23 points in 55 games. He’s also entering the second year of a six-year, $36-million contract. Unless Poile agrees to pick up a healthy chunk of his contract (something he’s never done in previous trades), I don’t see Turris going anywhere.

Shattenkirk has two years left on his deal with a $6.65-million AAV and a 10-team no-trade list.  The 30-year-old blueliner has a long injury history and his play has declined. The Rangers will either have to pick up part of that contract, take back a toxic deal, or include a significant sweetener to move him.

Panarin is headed to this summer’s UFA market. Seravalli suggests he could become a sign-and-trade candidate. He wonders if the New York Rangers might be a suitor. Failing that, the Blue Jackets could shop his rights to interested clubs for a conditional draft pick.

Calgary defenseman Travis Hamonic, Toronto blueliner Nikita Zaitsev, Penguins rearguard Olli Maatta, Vegas d-man Colin Miller, and Edmonton left wing Milan Lucic round out the rest of the list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames could try to free up some cap room to re-sign winger Matthew Tkachuk. They could also be in the market for a scoring right wing. Most of the speculation out of Calgary suggests T.J. Brodie, not Hamonic, as the likely trade candidate.

Seravalli speculates Leafs GM Kyle Dubas could try to gauge the trade market for Zaitsev. He’s got five years left on his deal worth $4.5 million per season.  I don’t see many takers for him unless the Leafs pick up part of that cap hit or include a decent draft pick or prospect.

Maatta’s come up a lot in Penguins trade speculation from Pittsburgh. He’s been in coach Mike Sullivan’s doghouse quite a bit and could benefit from a change of scenery. Maatta’s a 24-year-old puck-moving defenseman with a reasonable $4.083-million AAV through 2021-22. He also lacks no-trade protection. I can see him drawing interest in this summer’s trade market. 

The Golden Knights must shed salary to re-sign William Karlsson this summer. Miller’s been mentioned as a cost-cutting option, as well as center Cody Eakin.

As for Lucic, the Oilers might be able to find a taker for him if they can take back a bad contract or retain half of his $6 million AAV. Still, that seems more like wishful thinking at this point. He’s also got a full no-movement clause. He could agree to waive it but he won’t do it for just any club. 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 17, 2019

Should the Rangers try to acquire Evgeni Malkin? Could Jason Spezza return to the Senators? What’s next for the Hurricanes? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

LATEST PENGUINS SPECULATION

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wonders if the Rangers will attempt to accelerate their rebuild by pursuing Columbus’ Artemi Panarin via free agency or Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin via trade. He notes the Penguins require clearing salary-cap space and an organizational rebuild. However, he doesn’t see Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford parting with Malkin without getting a prime young asset or two in return. Brooks proposed perhaps offering “a Ryan Strome, a Jimmy Vesey, a Ryan Lindgren; a Yegor Rykov; a Pavel Buchnevich?” 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks is just spitballing here. He’s not saying the Rangers will pursue Malkin. Quite frankly, I don’t think the Penguins center will be traded. If he was, I believe Rutherford will want more than what Brooks is proposing. 

THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi recently looked at possible Penguins trade candidates. He doesn’t think much will be gained by trading Malkin, noting the center hasn’t been asked to provide a list of trade destinations. Rossi said he’s heard Penguins captain Sidney Crosby wasn’t pleased with the Malkin trade chatter. 

Rossi also said Rutherford hasn’t solicited offers for defenseman Kris Letang and right winger Phil Kessel. He acknowledged Letang’s injury history and $7.25-million annual average value hurt his trade value. There’s an expectation Rutherford will try moving Kessel, perhaps during the draft weekend or in early-July. Blueliner Justin Schultz could also become a trade candidate as he’s due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Again, it’ll take one hell of an offer to pry Malkin away from the Penguins. I also don’t see Letang going anywhere, in part because of the issues noted by Rossi. Kessel appears the most likely trade candidate, though Rutherford will want a quality return for the 32-year-old winger. As Rossi pointed out, Rutherford will seek a hockey trade, meaning a return that keeps the Penguins in Cup contention. Same goes for Schultz. 

Could Jason Spezza return to the Ottawa Senators? (Photo via NHL Images)

UPDATE ON THE STARS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza will be departing the Dallas Stars as a UFA this summer. The 36-year-old wants to continue his NHL playing career. He isn’t ruling out a possible return to the Ottawa Senators, where he spent the bulk of his career and enjoyed his best seasons.

Spezza parted the organization on good terms and still has good relationships with several people within the club. LeBrun notes Spezza won’t get another $7.5-million per season contract, but he’d accept a modest payday to continue his career in a third-line role. 

SPORTSDAY: Matthew DeFranks wonders if young defenseman Julius Honka has a future with the Stars. The 23-year-old is a restricted free agent whose career appears stalled in Dallas. DeFranks believes Honka is “young and talented enough to draw at least marginal interest from other teams.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With only $45.1 million invested in 14 players, the Senators will have to spend to reach what could be a $60 million salary-cap minimum for 2019-20. Maybe they’ll entertain bringing back Spezza on a one-year deal worth $3 million?

As for Honka, the former first-round pick (14th overall in 2014) needs to move on. He’s struggling to crack the Stars roster. Maybe a change of scenery will do him good. 

WHAT NEXT FOR THE HURRICANES?

ESPN.COM: With the Carolina Hurricanes swept from the Eastern Conference Final, Emily Kaplan and Chris Peters examined what could be in store this offseason.

Goaltenders Curtis McElhinney and Petr Mrazek are UFAs this summer but both are affordable and could return. Center Sebastian Aho is a restricted free agent. They recommend re-signing him to a deal comparable to that of Toronto’s William Nylander. 

The pair also suggest shopping a defenseman for a forward, noting Justin Faulk and Dougie Hamilton were subjects of trade speculation this season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s not much of a market for quality goaltenders this summer. The Hurricanes could have no choice but to keep their present tandem intact.

If they can get Aho signed to a long-term deal worth around $7 million annually it could prove a worthwhile move. The 21-year-old center is a rising star who led the Hurricanes in scoring in each of the last two seasons and their points lead in the 2019 playoffs.

Shopping a defenseman for a forward would be a good idea. However, the addition of Nino Niederreiter and the potential of rookie Andrei Svechnikov means there’s less urgency to make that move compared to a year ago.