Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 14, 2019

A call for the Leafs to move Nazem Kadri this summer plus updates on the Minnesota Wild and Florida Panthers in today’s NHL rumor roundup.

SHOULD THE LEAFS TRADE KADRI?

TORONTO SUN: With center Nazem Kadri facing a suspension for another undisciplined postseason performance, Steve Simmons believes the Toronto Maple Leafs should part ways with him this summer. Kadri was ejected from Game 2 of the Leafs’ opening-round series against the Boston Bruins for cross-checking Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk. A year ago, Kadri received a three-game suspension in last year’s series against Boston and could face a longer one this time. 

Should the Leafs part ways with Nazem Kadri this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

Simmons feels Kadri’s reckless antics means the Leafs can no longer depend on him to be a central part of a contending team. Of the five penalties the Leafs took in Game 2, Kadri had four of them. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kadri could be facing a five-game suspension, which will finish him for this series and rob the Leafs of an invaluable third-line center. You can bet that won’t sit well with Leafs management and head coach Mike Babcock.

Just because a pundit calls upon the Leafs to move Kadri doesn’t mean the club shares that view. Nevertheless, this is the second year in a row Kadri’s emotion got the better of him during a playoff series. For a team that sees itself as a Cup contender, they cannot afford one of their key players to be a loose cannon in the heat of postseason competition.

It’ll be interesting to see if this incident affects Kadri’s future with the Leafs. He’s in the third season of a six-year contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $4.5 million and a 10-team no-trade list. 

LATEST ON THE WILD

STAR-TRIBUNE.COM: Sarah McLellan reports the Minnesota Wild enter the offseason with salary-cap room and a need to bolster their scoring. Assuming the cap rises to $83 million as projected, they’ll have around $18 million in salary-cap space to work with. Some of that will be invested in re-signing restricted free agents such as Ryan Donato, Joel Eriksson Ek, and Kevin Fiala. She speculates they could focus on realistic targets in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market, which includes such notable scorers as Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Jeff Skinner, Anders Lee, and Brock Nelson.

McLellan also speculates the Wild could create more salary-cap space via the trade market. Winger Jason Zucker could be a trade candidate, as he was nearly shipped to the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline in February. 

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani reports Zucker acknowledged his uncertain future with the Wild after seeing former teammates Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, and Charlie Coyle get traded. Zucker insists he wants to return with the Wild and intends to focus on improving his play this summer. However, Mizutani feels it wouldn’t be surprising if Zucker was traded to shed his $5.5 million salary-cap hit. 

McLellan also reported contract extension talks with defenseman Jared Spurgeon are an offseason priority for Wild general manager Paul Fenton. Spurgeon has a year remaining on his four-year, $20.75-million contract and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. However, he’s indicated his preference is to re-sign with the Wild. “My family loves it here,” he said. “We love it here. I want to win here, so you can just go about it the way you can and let your agent do his thing.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fenton appears intent on shaking up the Wild’s forward lines by adding younger, more affordable talent with upside. If he gets a quality offer for Zucker this summer I don’t think he’ll hesitate to move him. The 27-year-old winger would be enticing to playoff contenders seeking an experienced scoring winger. 

Cap Friendly indicates Zucker’s modified no-trade clause kicks in on July 1. If Fenton decides to shop Zucker, expect it to be around the 2019 NHL Draft weekend (June 21-22) in Vancouver.

As for Spurgeon, it’s clear Fenton values his contributions to the Wild blueline. However, he’ll turn 30 in November and currently carries an annual average value of over $5.187 million. He’ll turn 31 in the first year of his next contract and Fenton might not be keen to invest too much for too long. 

UPDATE ON THE PANTHERS

THE ATHLETIC: With the Florida Panthers signing Joel Quenneville last week as their new head coach, Eric Duhatschek noted they have around $17.55 million in projected salary-cap space to bolster their roster via trade and/or free agency. Quenneville’s hiring has some observers suggesting that could prove enticing for Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin, who had a good relationship with Quenneville during their days with the Chicago Blackhawks.

If the Panthers intend to pursue Panarin and teammate Sergei Bobrovsky via free agency, Duhatschek believes they’ll have to free up more cap space to comfortably afford the two and still leave sufficient space for other moves, like adding a skilled defenseman such as Winnipeg’s Tyler Myers. 

Duhatschek suggests adding Bobrovsky means moving out either Roberto Luongo or James Reimer. If they land Panarin, they’ll be forced to part with one of their top-six forwards to make the salary cap numbers work. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers were among the top-10 in scoring this season. Panarin is a luxury they don’t need. Goaltending and defense are the problem areas that must be addressed. Should they bring in a goalie as expected, Reimer is likely the odd man out as he carries an affordable $3.4 million annual salary cap hit and lacks no-trade protection.

If they wish to go the trade route for a defenseman, Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba could be a good fit. He’s an RFA this summer with arbitration rights and a year away from UFA eligibility. Given his contentious contract negotiations with the Jets, who also have to re-sign Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine this summer, they could be willing to move Trouba. The Panthers have the depth in young assets to make a competitive pitch. 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 13, 2019

Updates on the Islanders and Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

ISLANDERS FREE AGENTS DRAWING ATTENTION

NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports Islanders pending unrestricted free agents Anders Lee, Robin Lehner, Jordan Eberle, and Brock Nelson are showing general manager Lou Lamoriello what type of players they are with their performances down the stretch and in their playoff series against Pittsburgh. Lamoriello acknowledged everyone is talking about their free agents, adding they want to keep them and will try to do so. 

Cyrgalis suggests Eberle could be playing his way off Long Island. The 28-year-old has performed very well since being reunited on center Mathew Barzal’s line, scoring five goals in his final seven regular-season contests and tallying a goal and an assist in each of the Isles two games thus far against the Penguins in their opening-round series. Should Eberle continue playing this well over the remainder of the postseason, Cyrgalis believes suitors will be lining up for his services. 

A strong playoff could boost New York Islanders winger Jordan Eberle’s UFA value (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello will face some difficult decisions regarding his “Big Four” UFAs. Cap Friendly indicates the Isles have over $47 million invested in 16 players for 2019-20, giving Lamoriello around $35 million to work with should the cap reach $83 million as projected for next season. Assuming management is willing to spend to the cap there’s plenty of room to re-sign all four. However, Lamoriello still has a reputation as a hard-nosed negotiator.

I believe Lee and Lehner are his priorities, followed by Eberle and Nelson. Much will depend upon what those players seek on their next contracts. Eberle is completing a six-year, $36-million deal and Lamoriello could be reluctant to pay him that much for that long to stay on Long Island.  

COYOTES NEED SCORING BUT WILL THEY GET SOME?

ESPN.COM: In their season-ending assessment of the Arizona Coyotes, Greg Wyshynski and Chris Peters believe boosting the scoring should be among their priorities. The limited market via free agency and the team’s economics could hamper efforts to address the issue. They suggest finding a solution via the trade market. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: Danny Shapiro reports Coyotes GM John Chayka acknowledges his club’s offense must improve next season. “We didn’t score enough goals, so we have to go through and figure out how to get more out of our own group and how to add to the group and that’s the summer plan,” Chayka said.

While management will hope a healthier lineup next season will help, Chayka didn’t rule out pursuing a scoring in the offseason. Shapiro noted Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, Jordan Eberle, and Jeff Skinner are among the notable potentially available via free agency.

THE ATHLETIC: Craig Morgan doesn’t believe Panarin is interested in signing long-term with the Coyotes. He wondered if they should or could look at Islanders UFAs like Anders Lee, Brock Nelson or Jordan Eberle, or Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner, or Panarin’s teammate Ryan Dzingel. He also wondered if Chayka would be best-served going the trade route as he has the past two years. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes already have over $73 million invested in 16 players next season. If necessary, they can deduct $5.25 million from their cap payroll by placing all-but-retired Marian Hossa on long-term injury reserve. Still, ownership could be unwilling to spend much more than they already have for 2019-20.

A healthier roster will certainly improve the Coyotes’ offense. However, Chayka should try to add another proven scorer. Duchene, Lee or Skinner would address that need but could be too expensive for the Coyotes. Dzingel, Nelson and perhaps Eberle might be more affordable but they could prefer signing with established playoff contenders.

If Chayka boosts his offense I expect he’ll make a trade. Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Nicklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Schmaltz, Alex Galchenyuk, Jason Demers, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Alex Goligoski were all Chayka acquisitions. Ditto Jakob Chychrun, as Chayka acquired the pick to select Chychrun in a trade with Detroit during the 2016 Draft.

He’s got the depth in young players to draw upon as trade bait for a proven scorer. Perhaps he’ll entertain offers for his first-round pick (14th overall) in this year’s draft. 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 12, 2019

Latest Oilers speculation and an update on Sergei Bobrovsky in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

OILERS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell suggested this summer might be the last one for the Oilers to maximize defenseman Adam Larsson’s trade value. Larsson has two seasons remaining on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $4.16 million. As an example, Mitchell suggested peddling Larsson for a scoring winger and then acquire someone like Tyson Barrie from the Colorado Avalanche, who are awash in puck-moving blueliners. 

Could the Edmonton Oilers shop Adam Larsson for a scoring forward this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

Mitchell feels Larsson and center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could be trade chips because of their contract lengths, as shopping them next summer when they have a year remaining would make them rental players. The Oilers’ first-round pick (eighth overall) in this year’s draft could be in play. In addition to Larsson, Mitchell thinks blueliners like Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning, Andrej Sekera, and Kris Russell could be available depending on the ask. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Mitchell isn’t saying those players will be moved but is simply musing over which ones could become trade candidates when the new Oilers general manager takes over. Larsson, who lacks no-trade protection, could have value for clubs with plenty of scoring forward looking to bolster their defense. It might make more sense to shop him than Nugent-Hopkins, given the Oilers need for secondary scoring punch.

Mitchell’s suggestion of pursuing someone like Barrie might not be far-fetched. Barrie is a year away from UFA status and some in the Denver media feel he could be moved to make way for promising youngsters like Cale Makar in the system. That’s assuming, of course, Avs GM Joe Sakic believes Barrie to be too expensive to retain.

Nurse would certainly attract interest if the Oilers were willing to move him. However, I think Larsson would be the more likely trade candidate of the two. Still, the next Oilers GM might not be willing to move Larsson or Nurse this summer. At this stage, it’s just spitballing. 

Given the depth in promising youngsters within the Oilers’ system, it would be worthwhile to see what their first rounder in this year’s draft might fetch in the trade market. Maybe it can be packaged with a player or prospect to bring in that scorer without having to part with Larsson or Nurse. 

CAN BOBROVSKY’S FREE-AGENT VALUE IMPROVE?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun believes a strong playoff performance could improve the free-agent value of Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. There’s a lot riding on this opening-round matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning for Bobrovsky, who’s never a playoff series in his NHL career.

Bobrovsky’s expected to test this summer’s free-agent market. In talking with several “front-office types” around the league, LeBrun gets the feeling the two-time Vezina Trophy winner is already guaranteed a big payday this summer. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some general managers will balk at Bobrovsky’s lousy playoff record and inconsistent performance this season. Others, however, will gamble on him being the final piece of the playoff puzzle (hello there, Florida Panthers). He’ll get his money this summer, but backstopping the Blue Jackets to a first-round upset of the Lightning will almost certainly silence his critics. 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 11, 2019

Latest on Jeff Skinner and Rasmus Ristolainen plus updates on the Blackhawks and Panthers in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

WILL SKINNER AND RISTOLAINEN STAY WITH THE SABRES?

TSN: Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner said he won’t rush a decision regarding his future with the club. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and is coming off a career-high 40-goal performance. Skinner insists he loves living and playing in Buffalo. Contract negotiations between the two sides have been ongoing since January. On Sunday, Sabres GM Jason Botterill said there was a 100 percent chance of the Sabres re-signing the winger. 

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Yerdon examined possible Plan B options if Skinner’s depart via free agency. Of the left wingers potential available via the UFA market, Yerdon rules out Columbus’ Artemi Panarin because he wants to play in a big market, suggesting Columbus’ Ryan Dzingel and the New York Islanders’ Anders Lee as the only viable choices. Yerdon also suggested targeting cap-strapped clubs like Toronto or Winnipeg via trade or offer sheet, noting the Leafs’ Andreas Johnsson and the Jets’ Kyle Connor could be intriguing options.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports a number of teams scouting Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen since the trade deadline. Despite a difficult season, Ristolainen is 25 with a right-handed shot and will attract interest if Botterill decides to shop him this summer. 

Buffalo Sabres pending free agent Jeff Skinner isn’t rushing into a decision about his future (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think the Sabres have any choice but to pony up big bucks for Skinner. Actually, they do have a choice, they can pass on re-signing him and disappoint the fan base and rob captain Jack Eichel of the best winger he’s had in his NHL career.

Dzingel and Johnsson won’t replace Skinner’s 40 goals and I doubt the Isles let another captain walk away via free agency by not re-signing Lee. The Jets will likely make a salary-dumping trade to free up sufficient room for Connor and Patrik Laine. 

The Sabres haven’t been in the playoffs since 2011. The never-ending rebuild appears stalled. They got Skinner for peanuts last summer and he exceeded expectations. Yes, I know, his production dropped off over the second half of the season, but the Sabres simply cannot let him walk via free agency this summer. They’ll open the vault and I wouldn’t be surprised if they also attempt to bolster their scoring with a trade before July 1 in part to entice Skinner into staying.

As for Ristolainen, Botterill could be reluctant to move him. Nevertheless, if other clubs have serious interest in the young blueliner the Sabres GM could listen. It could take a significant offer, such as a second-line scoring forward, to convince Botterill to part with him. 

WILL BLACKHAWKS ADDRESS DEFENSE THIS SUMMER?

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Jason Lieser believes repairing the defense must be the primary concern for Blackhawks management this summer. Unless general manager Stan Bowman is willing to ride it out with his current blueline and hope for improvement, Lieser feels he’ll aggressively try to fix the problem via trades or free agency. 

Long-time Blackhawks blueliners Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are in the mid-thirties and carry long-term contracts with no-movement clauses. Lieser noted Erik Gustafsson’s offensive contributions but suggested they already get plenty of production from their forwards. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Jimmy Greenfield reports the Blackhawks must improve their penalty kill and add depth to their bottom-six forwards but there might not be major changes coming to the blueliner. He noted the no-movement clauses of Keith and Seabrook and  Gustafsson’s affordable contract and 60-point performance despite his defensive issues. He also considers Connor Murphy as their best all-around defenseman and believes Henri Jokiharju should crack the roster full-time next season, leaving just one spot available on the top-six defense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blackhawks have over $60 million invested in 15 players with all their core players under contract, giving them around $23 million to work with if the cap reached $83 million as projected. It’s the first time in years Bowman’s had that much room and he’ll make the most of it via trades or free agency this summer.

I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t bring in an experienced top-four defenseman. Bowman has to be careful not to spend too much of his long-term cap space as he’ll need it to re-sign young stars Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome next summer. 

UPDATE ON THE PANTHERS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Florida Panthers’ hiring of Joel Quenneville as head coach has stoked speculation they’re going to be major players in this summer’s free-agent market. They’ve been linked to Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given their scoring punch, Panarin could be a luxury the Panthers don’t need. Goaltending is the prime area to be addressed and they could use another skilled defenseman to round out their top four. If Bobrovsky fails to carry the Jackets past the opening round of the playoffs, one has to wonder if that might cool the Panthers’ supposed interest.  










NHL Rumor Mill – April 10, 2019

Latest on the Canadiens, Senators, and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

CANADIENS

LA PRESSE: Alexis Belanger-Champagne reports Montreal Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin doesn’t expect his difficult end to this season will result in a trade this summer. While Drouin acknowledged his late-season offensive struggles, he believes his club has a good group of players and doesn’t anticipate changing sweaters. Drouin said he understood why his playing time was reduced during a crucial game against the Carolina Hurricanes, adding he wants to help the team in any way he could.

Jonathan Drouin expects to be back with the Montreal Canadiens next season (Photo via NHL Images).

Drouin admitted being puzzled by his late-season slump. Teammates like Carey Price supported Drouin, who want to help him improve his consistency. General manager Marc Bergevin praised Drouin’s maturity and expects he’ll take another step forward next season. Drouin finished the season with 53 points. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports the Canadiens will be looking for a backup goaltender as free agent Antti Niemi won’t be back after struggling through this season. Charlie Lindgren could be an option but he didn’t have a good season with the Habs farm team in Laval. Bergevin could go shopping for a veteran backup if he feels Lindgren isn’t ready. 

Pat Hickey feels it’s unlikely Bergevin can lure free-agent talent to Montreal, citing issues such as “taxes, weather, travel and whether their wives are going to happy.” The Canadiens GM also seems reluctant to go the offer-sheet route as he’s averse to trading away first-round draft picks. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Canadiens fans were unhappy with Drouin’s performance down the stretch, and he does seem to sulk on the bench sometimes when things aren’t going his way. However, he’s 24 and still has room to improve his consistency and maturity. It certainly sounds like Bergevin isn’t giving up on Drouin so I wouldn’t expect to see the winger getting traded this summer.

Cap Friendly indicates the Canadiens have over $64.3 million invested in 17 players for 2019-20 with all their core players under contract. Assuming a salary cap of $83 million, Bergevin will have around $19 million to re-sign his restricted free agents and to pursue a top-four left-side defenseman, an established scoring forward and a backup goalie. I expect he’ll look into the free-agent market and could make an affordable signing or two.

To address his bigger needs, however, he’ll likely have to go the trade route, which he did with success last summer by acquiring Max Domi and Tomas Tatar. Bergevin is reluctant to part with his first-round picks but he’s got two selections in the second round and three in the fifth of this year’s draft plus two in the fourth round in 2020 to draw upon for trade bait.

SENATORS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports changes will continue this summer for the Senators. They are in the market for a new head coach. It’s expected they’ll attempt to re-sign free agents Anthony Duclair and Brian Gibbons but could part ways with Magnus Paajarvi and Oscar Lindberg.

Garrioch expects they’ll attempt to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Cody Ceci but could trade him if an agreement on a new contract cannot be reached. He also suggested using Ben Harpur as trade bait to bring in a forward.

Garrioch thinks they could backup goalie Anders Nilsson depart via free agency if he seeks more than a one-year contract. He also tweeted yesterday GM Pierre Dorion said they may add a veteran player on July 1. 

THE ATHLETIC: Chris Stevenson believes the Senators would be wise to retain veteran starting goalie Craig Anderson through the final season of his contract. He notes a couple of teams, including the Calgary Flames, had interest in Anderson at the trade deadline, but the return for aging goaltenders hasn’t been good in the trade market. Stevenson feels Anderson’s experience and affordable cap hit for next season makes him worth retaining for next season. 

Stevenson also reported contract talks between the Senators and Ceci have been positive thus far. While Senators fans pointed to Ceci’s poor advanced stats, management likes how he eats up tough minutes against top opposition. Despite the acrimony of last year’s salary arbitration hearing, Ceci wants to stay and the club wants to keep him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anderson asked to be dealt last June but his age and cap hit didn’t attract much interest. If there are clubs looking at him this summer they’ll likely only give up a low draft pick to get him. With the Senators rebuilding and lacking skilled depth between the pipes, I think they’ll keep him around for next season and test his market value leading up to the trade deadline.

As for Ceci, it certainly sounds as though he could have a long-term future in Ottawa. That isn’t going to please his critics among Sens followers but management values his experience and ability to log big minutes, which will be vital for their rebuilding blueline.

Having shed notable stars like Mark Stone and Matt Duchene, the Senators have over $45 million invested in 14 players for next season. Ceci, Duclair and Colin White are their notable free agents. Assuming it costs around $10 million to re-sign those three, they’ll still have to spend over $5 million to reach what could be a $60 million cap minimum. They won’t be going after any big-name talent but I expect they’ll attempt to bring in one or two quality veterans with leadership experience. 

FLYERS 

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: John Boruk reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher will be in the market for a second-line center, a top-four defenseman, and a backup goaltender. Fletcher considers this summer’s UFA market to be “Ok, not elite”. The top potential UFA include ” defensemen Erik Karlsson, Tyler Myers, and Anton Stralman, and forwards Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, Jeff Skinner and Kevin Hayes.” 

Fletcher also said he’s never extended an offer sheet to another club’s restricted free agent and Boruk doubts he’ll do so this summer. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who has one year left on his contract with a $5-million cap hit, would appear a likely candidate for a contract buyout. However, Fletcher said he’s not a big fan of contract buyouts. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers have over $47 million tied up in 13 players. Fletcher has more than enough to re-sign restricted free agents Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim and still have enough to make a big splash in the free agent or trade pools this summer. It’s assumed Cam Talbot will return as a backup and mentor for rookie Carter Hart. Fletcher could eye Karlsson or Duchene in the free-agent market. 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 9, 2019

Latest on Taylor Hall and Jeff Carter plus updates on the Vancouver Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

HALL: DEVILS MUST UPGRADE ROSTER

NHL.COM: Mike G. Morreale reports left wing Taylor Hall wants to see the New Jersey Devils improve their roster for next season. Hall, 27, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. “There is only so much patience you can have at this age,” he said. “The League is getting younger and Father Time is undefeated. You only have so many years left, so for me to be done halfway with my career and to only have played five playoffs games is disappointing.”

This summer’s moves by the New Jersey Devils could have an effect upon Taylor Hall’s future with the club (Photo via NHL Images).

Hall said he likes the culture and character in the Devils room but feels they’re still lacking talent at some positions. He added he’s enjoyed playing with the Devils and believes discussions regarding his future will happen at some point. Hall also said his rehab for a season-ending knee injury is going well and he expects to be ready for training camp in September. 

Devils general manager Ray Shero said adding more talent to his roster will be a priority this summer. He pointed out the 10 picks his club holds in this year’s NHL Draft leaves them well-positioned to address that need via trades if necessary. Shero also said he appreciated Hall’s honesty on the subject. 

NJ.COM: Chris Ryan speculates Shero could draw upon his depth in draft picks this year, including three in the second round and two in the third, as possible trade bait to bring in an NHL-ready player. Ryan also speculates the possibility of moving Hall could come into play if he’s not signed to an extension before training camp this fall. He also wonders if this is the summer when Shero makes a significant signing via the UFA market. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall’s made it quite clear that bolstering the roster is necessary if Shero hopes to re-sign him to an extension. The Devils GM must make a big move or two via the trade and/or free-agent market to show his franchise player that the club is serious about becoming a perennial playoff contender.

I expect Shero will be among this summer’s busiest general managers. The Devils have over $47 million invested in 13 players for 2019-20 with Pavel Zacha, Will Butcher, Stefan Noesen and Connor Carrick among their notable restricted free agents. They should all be affordable re-signings, giving Shero plenty of room to swing a big trade or sign a noteworthy free-agent player. 

CARTER NOT RETIRING

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Cooper reports Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter denied any talk he’s considering retirement, adding he intends to complete the three years remaining on his contract with the Kings. He also noted his lack of no-trade protection but said: “whatever happens, happens”.

Trading the 34-year-old, however, won’t get the Kings a real return. A contract buyout also won’t bring them any significant salary-cap relief over the next three years. Cooper speculates Dion Phaneuf could be a more likely buyout candidate

Lisa Dillman, meanwhile, noted the Kings’ interest in former Edmonton Oilers coach Todd McLellan but the Buffalo Sabres have emerged as a serious suitor for McLellan’s services. Dillman listed former NHL head coach Alain Vigneault, Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Todd Richards, and Dallas Stars assistant coach Todd Nelson as possible options. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Carter is determined to keep playing and if Kings GM Rob Blake simply wants to shed his salary he could try to move him for a draft pick and a prospect. However, the return Blake got for Jake Muzzin (a first-round pick, a prospect and a promising player in Carl Grundstrom) suggests he’ll want at least a decent, affordable player as part of the return.

Given Carter’s age, the remaining tenure on his contract,  and the decline in his production this season, it’s unlikely Blake will find that type of deal.

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes the Vancouver Canucks will have to spend in free agency this summer to bring in a right winger for center Bo Horvat’s line. However, there’s not much to choose from because UFAs either make too much money or are aging. He also believes the Canucks need another top-four defenseman and secondary scoring depth. 

Ed Willes noted GM Jim Benning’s recent comments about being careful with their spending and how salary-cap space can fill up fast. He believes the Canucks won’t be pursuing expensive free agent talent like Columbus’ Artemi Panarin this summer.

Willes also noted Benning’s desire to add a defenseman and thinks he’ll go the trade route, wondering what Jake Virtanen or Ben Hutton might fetch via trade. It appears their big move on the blueline will be re-signing Alexander Edler.

If Benning is inclined to seek a forward via free agency, Willes suggested Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner, Columbus’ Matt Duchene, and the New York Islanders’ Anders Lee as possible options. Down-scale targets could include Carolina’s Micheal Ferland and Columbus’ Ryan Dzingel. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have over $52 million invested in 19 players for 2019-20. New contracts for Edler and RFA Brock Boeser could total $12 million, but would still leave sufficient room to re-sign other RFAs and bring in a quality player or two. 

After overpaying for Loui Eriksson in 2016, Benning likely remains reluctant to go down that road again. Forget about Skinner, Duchene, or Lee, as they’ll be too expensive for his liking. Ferland or Dzingel might be more affordable but might not be suitable wingers on Horvat’s right side. The notable UFA right wing options include Gustav Nyquist, Mats Zuccarello, Jordan Eberle, and Wayne Simmonds.