NHL Rumor Mill – July 10, 2019

Update on Jake Gardiner, three teams that should go the offer-sheet route, and the latest Sabres speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

LATEST ON JAKE GARDINER

NBC SPORTS: Former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner topped Scott Billeck’s list of five potential value unrestricted free agents. Wingers Justin Williams, Michael Ferland, Ryan Dzingel, and Patrick Maroon completed the list. 

Former Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner remains available in the UFA market (Photo via NHL Images).

Reports indicate Gardiner is seeking $7 million per season. Billeck suggests the 28-year-old rearguard is pricing himself out of range of cap-strapped teams (like the Winnipeg Jets) that could benefit from his services. He suggests the New Jersey Devils make a pitch. He and the recent acquisition of P.K. Subban would make the Devils’ blueline more formidable. 

YAHOO SPORTS: Justin Cuthbert wonders if the cooling UFA market might make it possible for the Leafs to bring back Gardiner at a reduced rate. It’s assumed the blueliner could accept less than market value to return to Toronto. Given the ongoing uncertainty over Mitch Marner’s new contract, Cuthbert feels the Leafs would have to shed salary via trade to sign Gardiner to a less-expensive contract. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are teams, like the Devils, with sufficient cap space to sign Gardiner. Those who could use him, however, could be hoping to get him for much less than $7-million annually.

As for returning to the Leafs, I don’t see how that’s possible right now. General manager Kyle Dubas has done a fine job this summer making moves to bolster his roster and free up salary-cap room. The Marner situation, however, could make signing Gardiner a bridge too far. 

THREE TEAMS THAT SHOULD GO THE OFFER-SHEET ROUTE

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman suggests the Colorado Avalanche, New Jersey Devils, and Carolina Hurricanes should attempt to sign a top restricted free agent to an offer sheet. He points out the Avalanche and Devils have the cap space to sign Toronto’s Mitch Marner to an offer worth an annual average value of $12 million.

The addition of Marner could push the Avalanche into Stanley Cup contender status. Bringing Marner to the Devils could convince Taylor Hall to stay in New Jersey. Given their respective depth in young talent, the two clubs could afford to part with four first-round picks as compensation to the Leafs. 

Wegman admits there’s a low possibility of the Hurricanes signing a player to an offer sheet after matching one for Sebastian Aho from the Montreal Canadiens. However, he points out they have sufficient cap payroll room to target someone like Washington’s Jakub Vrana. They also have depth in draft picks to part with second- and third-round picks as compensation. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting suggestions by Wegman, though it remains to be seen if those three clubs will go that route. While Sakic signed an offer sheet as a player, he reportedly isn’t a fan of them as a general manager.

Sakic’s in an enviable cap position and could prefer not tying up too much of his long-term cap space. He also has to re-sign RFA Mikko Rantanen, who could cost over $9 million annually.

Cap Friendly indicates the Devils have over $20-million in cap room. However, they’re trying to re-sign Hall to a long-term deal. Nico Hischier will need a new contract next summer. GM Ray Shero likely wants to ensure he’s got sufficient room for both.

As for the Hurricanes, I don’t see them doing an offer sheet. But if they did, the Canadiens would be their likely target. That move could be two or three years down the road when one of the Habs younger players, like Max Domi and Jersperi Kotkaniemi, become RFAs. 

MORE MOVES AHEAD FOR THE SABRES?

THE BUFFALO NEWS: After shipping Alexander Nylander to Chicago for defenseman Henri Jokiharju, Lance Lysowski speculates the Sabres might not be done in the trade market. He points out the Sabres have around $6.6-million in salary-cap space and need scoring help. “With the free-agent market mostly picked over, the Sabres could theoretically trade from their defense corps to add a top-six forward, specifically a second-line center.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen is a frequent topic of trade chatter this off-season. This latest move should stoke that speculation. 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 9, 2019

The latest on Mitch Marner and Jesse Puljujarvi in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

MORE MARNER OFFER SHEET SPECULATION

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell believes we could be waiting a while for a rival club to sign Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner to an offer sheet. He said there are, or have been, teams that were/are serious about making an offer to the 22-year-old Marner. He also feels two teams already made offers, with the winger rejecting them because he didn’t like the destinations. 

Offer sheet rumors continue to dog Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (Photo via NHL Images)

Campbell suggests it might be better for interested clubs to wait. Signing Marner in July gives the Leafs too much time to make sufficient moves to match the offer. Campbell also believes Marner doesn’t wish to sign a long-term deal. He suggests either a one-year, $14-million contract or a five-year deal with an annual average value worth over $11 million could put the Leafs into a bind. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Marner situation could drag on throughout the summer. Not many teams can afford to pony up over $11 million annually. Cap Friendly indicates the Colorado Avalanche, Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, and St. Louis Blues all carry over $12 million in cap space. However, that doesn’t mean any of them will go for it.

The Avalanche must re-sign winger Mikko Rantanen, whose new contract will eat up a good chunk of their cap space. The Jets have to re-sign Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor. The Senators would probably love to snatch Marner from the Leafs but I doubt he’s interested in joining them.

Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski is due for a healthy raise. The Flyers must re-sign Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, and Scott Laughton. The Blues have several RFAs to re-sign, including goaltender Jordan Binnington. The Devils also have several RFAs to sign, such as Pavel Zacha and Will Butcher.

Perhaps one of these clubs will get creative to pitch a suitable offer sheet to Marner. Given their various cap situations and their restricted free agents, it’s unlikely any of them could pull it off. 

PULJUJARVI CAMP STILL SEEKS A TRADE

TSN: Jesse Puljujarvi faces an uncertain future with the Edmonton Oilers. His agent, Markus Lehto, said the club hiring a new general manager and a new coach hasn’t swayed the 21-year-old winger to reconsider his trade request. “Sometimes a player and a team are not a fit. This seems to be the case here. Nothing radical about it.”

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins believes Puljujarvi won’t be playing for the Oilers in 2019-20. He notes there was a recent report linking the winger to the Los Angeles Kings. Leavins doubts that transpires as former Oilers coach Todd McLellan is now the Kings’ bench boss. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers GM Ken Holland is believed listening to offers for Puljujarvi but he’ll want a decent return. That could be tough to find as the winger’s struggles with the Oilers has hurt his trade value.

Unless Holland can package Puljujarvi in a larger deal he probably won’t find many takers. If a trade isn’t possible Puljujarvi could face returning with the Oilers this season or signing with a European club.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 8, 2019

An updated list of the best remaining UFAs, the latest Sabres speculation and possible destinations for Nikita Gusev in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

UPDATED NHL UFA LISTING

THE SCORE: Center Joe Thornton, defenseman Jake Gardiner, right wing Justin Williams, and left wing Ryan Dzingel are the notable names remaining in the NHL’s unrestricted free agent market. Others include wingers Patrick Maroon and Micheal Ferland. 

Former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner is still awaiting a new contract (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The pickings are slim and will deplete throughout the summer. Thornton is expected to play one more season with the Sharks. Gardiner was reportedly hoping to return with the Toronto Maple Leafs but that no longer seems possible. Williams will either return with the Carolina Hurricanes or retire.

Dzingel enjoyed a career-best 56-point performance last season but his declining play down the stretch and the postseason is a concern. He also reportedly sought $5 million annually on a five-year contract from the Ottawa Senators before he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Maroon is believed seeking a better deal than the one-year, $1.75-millon contract he inked last summer with the St. Louis Blues. Several teams are said to be interested in Ferland but there’s no indication he’s close to a new deal.

LATEST SABRES SPECULATION

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Following the Sabres’ signing Marcus Johansson on Saturday, Lance Lysowski suggested they could trade defenseman Rasmus Ristolanen for scoring help. With over $6.6 million in salary-cap space, he points out general manager Jason Botterill has the cap flexibility to shore up the offense. 

Lysowski also listed Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris, Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov, and Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers among several suggested trade targets. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lysowski didn’t say the Sabres are pursuing those players he listed or that they’ll use Ristolanen to get one of them. Of those mentioned, Botterill won’t waste a solid trade chip like that on Turris or Anisimov. It could take Ristolanen to land Ehlers. 

The rumblings over Ristolainen’s future could persist throughout the summer but Botterill isn’t under pressure to trade the 24-year-old defenseman. If there’s no suitable deal available he’ll retain Ristolainen and see how the coming season plays out. 

DESTINATIONS FOR GUSEV

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Steven Ellis recently listed the Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, and Columbus Blue Jackets among five possible trade destinations for Vegas Golden Knights winger Nikita Gusev. The Ottawa Senators and  Edmonton Oilers round out his list. 

The Golden Knights and Gusev are said to be $2 million per season apart on a new contract. Lacking salary-cap space, the Golden Knights are reportedly listening to offers for Gusev, whose skills have been compared to those of Artemi Panarin. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things have gone quiet on the Gusev front since last week’s report claiming Vegas was shopping him. The Golden Knights could be taking their time evaluating offers before pulling the trigger. Gusev could end up going to one of Ellis’ proposed destinations or perhaps another club could jump into the bidding. 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 7, 2019

The latest on Taylor Hall, Tyson Barrie, Ryan Dzingel, and more in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup. 

New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall could command $13 million per season on his next contract (Photo via NHL Images).

HOW MUCH FOR HALL?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks speculates Artemi Panarin’s new contract with the New York Rangers (seven years, $11.642 million annually) could affect how much New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall receives. The 27-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. Brooks believes the bidding for Hall could start at $13 million per season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks noted the Devils have plenty of salary-cap room for 2020-21, which they’ll need to re-sign Hall. However, that might not be enough to entice him to stay.

I believe Hall intends to see how things play out in New Jersey this season. He wants to play for a winner and will need assurances the Devils are heading in the right direction. A big improvement in their performance in 2019-20 could play a big role in determining Hall’s future.

Hall’s health will also be a factor. As Brooks points out, he’s been hampered by knee injuries twice in his three seasons with the Devils.  Another will affect his free-agent stock. 

BARRIE TO SEEK BIG BUCKS?

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie will seek a substantial raise on his next contract. Barrie, 27, is eligible next summer for UFA status. “He apparently wants an eight-year deal and around $8 million a year,” said Simmons. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs acquire Barrie last week in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche. A slick, puck-moving blueliner, he’s tallied 49-or-more points in four of the last five seasons, including a career-high 59 last season. Another 50-plus point season will push his stock higher. His current annual salary-cap hit is $5.5 million but he’s earning $6 million in actual salary this season. 

The cost of re-signing Mitch Marner this summer will affect the Leafs’ efforts to keep Barrie beyond this season. According to Cap Friendly, they already have over $55 million invested in 12 players for 2020-21.

KADRI NEARLY WENT TO THE FLAMES

Simmons also reports a deal that would’ve sent Nazem Kadri from the Leafs to the Calgary Flames was nixed by his unwillingness to waive his no-trade clause. The swap would’ve seen the Leafs receive defenseman T.J. Brodie and center Mark Jankowski.

The Leafs subsequently shipped Kadri to the Avalanche in the multi-player deal that brought them Tyson Barrie. Simmons said Flames general manager Brad Treliving wouldn’t confirm or deny the potential swap. 

UPDATE ON DZINGEL

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks notes former Columbus Blue Jackets winger Ryan Dzingel remained unsigned. He assumes the 27-year-old is “carrying some red flags on his resume”, especially since the Blue Jackets didn’t attempt to keep him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dzingel enjoyed a career season (26 goals, 30 assists, 56 points) split between the Jackets and Ottawa Senators. However, his production plummetted with the Jackets as the coaching staff lost faith in him. He appeared in nine playoff games for Columbus and was a healthy scratch from one contest.

Dzingel’s asking price could be another factor. Before getting traded, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported the winger sought a five-year, $25-million contract extension from the Senators. 

NO MORE COACH’S CORNER?

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports it hasn’t been confirmed if Don Cherry will be back on Hockey Night in Canada this season. “Rogers is cutting all over the place, which included the removal of Bob McCown on radio and television and Doug MacLean doing the same.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a trade or free-agent rumor but it’s an interesting tidbit. Cherry and his “Coach’s Corner” segment have been a first intermission fixture on HNiC since 1982. Now 85, Cherry’s age and his sometimes controversial views make him a frequent target of media criticism and social media mockery. 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 6, 2019

Offer-sheet rumors dogging Mitch Marner and Patrik Laine, plus an update on the Blackhawks, in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

IS MARNER ABOUT TO RECEIVE AN OFFER SHEET?

SPORTING NEWS: Sammi Silber cites reports suggesting Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner could soon receive an expensive offer sheet. Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s Joey Vendetta confirmed a report from The Fourth Period claiming at least one NHL clubs was “very seriously considering” tendering an offer sheet to Marner. Vendetta speculated it could be worth $12.5 million. 

YAHOO SPORTS CANADA: Kyle Cantlon cites NHL Network’s Mike Kelly speculating the New York Islanders could target Marner with an offer sheet. Cantlon also suggested the New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, and Philadelphia Flyers were among clubs with salary cap space to sign Marner to an offer sheet. 

Offer-sheet rumors swirl around Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  More than one person has pointed out the Islanders lack sufficient salary-cap space to sign Marner. Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello is the former Leafs GM. However, with over $8.6 million in cap room, he’d have to ship out a couple of salaried players to make it happen.

The Leafs, meanwhile, are in a vulnerable position. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $3.7 million in cap space. If necessary, they can place permanently sidelined Nathan Horton ($5.3 million) and Zach Hyman ($2.25 million) and Travis Dermott ($863K) on long-term injury reserve, but that won’t be enough to match a $12.5 million offer sheet. Whether or not a club will go for it, or if Marner will sign an offer sheet, remains to be seen. 

WILL THE CANADIENS PURSUE LAINE WITH AN OFFER SHEET?

RDS.CA: cites a report by The Fourth Period’s Dave Pagnotta claiming multiple teams, including the Montreal Canadiens, had considered pursuing Marner. He’s heard the Canadiens “may be focused” on Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine. 

TVA SPORTS: Yvon Pedneault said he’d be very surprised if the Canadiens made an offer sheet to another player. Earlier in the week, their attempt to sign Sebastian Aho was matched by the Carolina Hurricanes. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $7.4 million in cap room, the Canadiens don’t have enough to make a significant, unmatchable offer to Laine or Marner. I don’t expect them to go the offer sheet route again this summer. They took a calculated gamble with Aho. It didn’t work and so they’ve moved on, as evidenced by their signings of Ben Chiarot, Nick Cousins, and Philip Varone this week. If the Habs make more moves, it could be for more affordable additions via trade or free agency. 

UPDATE ON THE BLACKHAWKS

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Earlier this week, Ben Pope wondered if Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman will make a bold move to upgrade his forward lines. He notes Ryan Dzingel is the only “upper-tied” UFA remaining on the market. However, Bowman would have to ship out a salaried player to make room for Dzingel. Pope feels the more likely scenario is Bowman re-signing restricted free agent Brendan Perlini. 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 5, 2019

Five candidates for player-elected salary arbitration plus updates on the Rangers and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill. 

POTENTIAL SALARY-ARBITRATION CANDIDATES

THE HOCKEY NEWS: St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington and defenseman Joel Edmundson top Steven Ellis’ list of the top-five potential salary-arbitration candidates. Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich, Montreal Canadiens winger Joel Armia, and Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Donato round out his list. 

Could St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnington file for salary arbitration? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deadline for player-elected arbitration is 5 pm ET today. The NHL Players Association usually publishes the complete list soon afterward. Hopefully, it’ll be available for tomorrow’s NHL morning coffee headlines. It’ll be interesting to see if any of the players on Ellis’ list file for arbitration.

The deadline for team-elected arbitration is 5 pm ET on Saturday, July 6. The arbitration period starts on July 20 and ends on August 4. 

POSSIBLE COST-CUTTING MOVES BY THE RANGERS. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks observes the Rangers have around $8.9 million in salary-cap room. Their restricted free agents include Jacob Trouba, Tony DeAngelo, Pavel Buchnevich and Brendan Lemieux.

Looking at possible cost-cutting moves, Brooks notes buying out Kevin Shattenkirk would free up over $5.166 million this season but only over $567K in 2020-21. It would also “add $1,433,333 in dead space for both 2021-22 and 2022-23.” If they bought out Brendan Smith it ” would save $2,304,167 this year and $129,167 next year, but would add $1,145,833 in dead space for both 2021-22 and 2022-23. Smith’s NHL cap hit is $4,350,000.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers could also try trading Shattenkirk or Smith. However, they’ll likely have to include a significant sweetener, such as a good young player, a high draft pick, or a top prospect. They could also shop winger Chris Kreider. He’s a year away from unrestricted free agent status and could prove too expensive to re-sign. Kreider would garner more attention in the trade market. 

UPDATE ON THE CANUCKS

VANCOUVER SUN: Ben Kuzma observes the Canucks have just over $6.8 million in salary-cap space following their recent UFA acquisitions. Their restricted free agents include Brock Boeser, Josh Leivo, Nikolay Goldobin, Josh Teves and Brogan Rafferty. They also need to add a winger for Bo Horvat’s line.

General manager Jim Benning has attempted to move expensive, aging veteran winger Loui Erikkson but found no takers. He speculates Benning could try to move center Brandon Sutter. He has two years left on his contract with an annual average value of $4.375 million and a modified no-trade clause. 

Kuzma believes moving Sutter will be difficult. The 30-year-old has battled injuries and is no longer a second-line center. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Vancouver has just over $7 million, but it’s still not enough to re-sign everyone. They face the same problem with Sutter that the Rangers face with Shattenkirk and Smith. The Canucks will have to include a sweetener to make him enticing. That still might not be enough. Boeser’s new contract will take all of that remaining cap room.