NHL Rumor Mill – December 12, 2016

by | Dec 12, 2016 | Rumors | 53 comments

St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk remains among next summer's top potential unrestricted free agents.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk remains among next summer’s top potential unrestricted free agents.

A recent update of the top NHL unrestricted free agents for 2017.

SPORTSNET: Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop topped Luke Fox’s recently updated list of the top-10 NHL unrestricted free agents for 2017. While Bishop is being challenged for the starter’s job by Andrei Vasilevskiy, Fox believes the Lightning will keep their goaltending tandem intact for another run at the Stanley Cup and then let Bishop depart via free agency. 

St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk ranks second. Fox wonders if the Blues can afford to move him during this season when he’s the club’s second-highest scorer

Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal is next at number three. Fox speculates perhaps the Coyotes could shop Hanzal as a rental player with an eye on bringing him back next summer as a free agent. He suggests the Montreal Canadiens could be a suitable trade partner. 

Montreal Canadiens right wing Alexander Radulov ranks fourth. Radulov and his agent seem open to talking contract extension. Habs GM Marc Bergevin plans to be patient. 

Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner is fifth, with Fox noting Nick Kypreos recently reporting the blueliner is seeking between $5.5-$6 million annually. Fox thinks the Caps will let this season play out and reevaluate. 

Fox doesn’t see the Capitals shopping winger T.J. Oshie (No. 6 on the list) when they still see themselves this season as Cup contender.

No.7 on the list is Joe Thornton.  Fox speculates he could receive a short-term deal to re-sign with the San Jose Sharks. 

Calgary Flames goalie Chad Johnson ranks eighth, with Fox speculating he could be re-signed between Jan. 1 and July 1. 

Coyotes defenseman Michael Stone is next at No. 9. Fox believes he could be a good trade target for clubs that don’t want to get into a bidding war for Shattenkirk. 

Rounding out the top-10 is Canadiens veteran blueliner Andrei Markov. Fox thinks he could get another short-term extension from the Habs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While folks might quibble over where some of these players are in Fox’s ranking, I have no argument with his selections. 

The Lightning could trade Bishop. Their recent slump since Fox published this list a week ago has probably increased speculation over his trade status. However, Bolts general manager Steve Yzerman isn’t one to panic. Unless he gets a real sweetheart offer, I can see him keeping Bishop.

Ditto the Blues with Shattenkirk. GM Doug Armstrong’s been reluctant to part with key UFAs in the past (see David Backes and Troy Brouwer last season). If he still feels the Blues have a shot at winning the Cup, he’ll retain Shattenkirk for the rest of this season.

Lots of speculation linking Hanzal to the Canadiens, but there’s reportedly no high-level discussions between the Habs and Coyotes about him. The Coyotes could shop Hanzal and Stone before the trade deadline. Remains to be seen if the Canadiens pursue either guy. 

As for Radulov, if he maintains his solid play throughout the remainder of this season and into the playoffs, the Habs will re-sign him. Same goes for Markov, though he’ll have to accept probably a one-year, bonus-laden deal.

I agree with Fox that the Capitals won’t move Alzner and Oshie this season. They could be crucial in the Caps pursuit of the Cup this season. Thornton’s not going anywhere, while Johnson’s playing himself into a full-time starter in Calgary. 


  1. Won’t quibble over these guys being the top UFAs but I will say the quality and depth of this years UFA is lacking compared to other years. Whole lot of “meh” there that you could quibble about being worth the contracts their sure to sign.

    • Too true Shticky though I have to say that the majority of FAs tend to get deals in excess of what they are worth.

  2. Laine with a game winner on his own goal last night, guess that’s what BigBruin was referring to when he described him as a two way player!

    • see you are starting to troll a little lately Dan. Not to pile on but who said Laine can’t score on the road.

      • Lately?? Lol

      • you want to put 18 year olds on your team you have to expect big mistakes. Unfortunately that will be on highlight reels forever but i think his many 40 + goal seasons in his career will out shine it.

  3. Shticky-last week you were pointing out how the leafs and flyer were neck and neck in the conference, and how well the leafs were doing relative to the flyers.
    Have you noticed the standings this week?

    • My comparison between the Flyers and Leafs was 2 cups in 4 decades or 4 cups in 5 decades who cares nether is worth bragging about and neither has been a dynasty in some time. But go on and tell us again about playoff appearances….(hint I don’t really care about losing in the playoffs, who came second place in the 100 meter dash or who lost in Super Bowl either.)

      • Unless you’re Seattle and the idiot coach send in a PASSING play from the 1 yard line with time running down and, perhaps, THE top fullback in the NFL in your backfield!

      • This is funny. You pointed out that the leafs were only 4 points behind Philly with 2 games in hand.
        When the leafs lose its part of the plan..when they win…they are going to be a playoff team.

      • What? lol No I don’t think the Leafs are a playoff team and have said it repeatedly, now if it was about you and your never ending complaining about how terrible the Leafs are and have been I may have said look they are only 2 points back with games in hand ya I admit that sounds like something I’d say, but saying the Leafs are going to make the playoffs? Nope not me. I don’t live under a rock and realize rebuilding teams are likely not making the playoffs in a couple seasons…
        I admit (most Leaf fans do aswell) the Leafs are not good and haven’t been in sometime. Guys like you are my favourite go around thumping their chest saying how great their team is and compares them to a team like the Leafs as some sort of example or some indication of their worth and value…it’s hilarious really, that you think this bothers the majority of Leaf fans. Go thump your chest somewhere else. You’re not impressing me, and I couldnt careless about an overzealous Flyer fan thinks lol.

      • It is funny Scott everyone knows there isn’t a fan that even if they don’t win the cup they really enjoy watching their team in the playoffs! Lol

      • I go to Sens games I go to Habs games I enjoy watching them live I don’t need to see them playing the Leafs. Do you stop watching the playoffs or not enjoy it when your Habs are eliminated? I watch lots of hockey that’s not the Leafs doesn’t really bother me that they don’t make the playoffs it does bother me they haven’t won a cup in sometime. It’s called being a hockey fan. lol

      • George O, on the Seattle play call it is more complicated than just a bad play call.
        26 seconds left 2nd down from the 1. One timeout left.
        Seattle scored at a higher rate throwing from that situation than running during the season.
        With more time left you pound it 3 times and your in, but with only 1 timeout you are then predictable to pass on the next 2 plays.
        The reason pass plays work in that situation is the defense sells out to stop the run.
        Kearse missed his rub on Butler, Wilson could have read the play and threw it to the camera men. Locket could have been more aggressive on his route and protect the ball.
        Bottom line, like a soccer goalie on a penalty kick, Butler guessed right.
        Great play by a rookie who paid attention to film and reacted.
        Having said all that I give to my best player, Lynch, and put the game in his hands.
        But I understand the thought process by Carroll.

      • We will be having thissame conversation in 5 years. Leaf still not in the playoffs and Shticky says “We are re-building and its all part of the plan”

      • I think Shticky you have to try to ignore the guys who can’t see hockey past the team they cheer for. I’m a die hard flames fan but watching Toronto play win or lose is exciting not only to watch but to also see what the future holds for them. It seems a lot of these guys who cheer for teams in the east only come on this site to bash other teams in the east with out actually knowing the truth or having an intelligent thought regarding hockey.

      • lol ya Hockey83 sometimes that’s what it looks like.

      • Scott some ppl just can’t take the rose colored glasses off

  4. I don’t know if you can frame a guys career around one play. I mean even when Mathews scored 4 in his first game, he ended up being responsible for the game losing goal against. Even the mighty Weber / Josi pairing were parted like the Red Sea in the playoffs twice last year… Once by a guy not so skilled…. It happens.

    • I was joking. He’s going to be a great sniper, I don’t doubt it. I do doubt he’s already a great two way player which was the nonsense BigBruin was passing off as an observation recently. The stats over his short season to date suggest he is what we and the scouts thought he was, an offense machine, although obviously his production has way outperformed to date.

      • I never said he was gonna be a great 2 way defender I said he was doing better than Matthews right now! Where do you come up this stuff

    • @NYR4life
      “I don’t know if you can frame a guys career around one play. ”
      see Smith, Steve

      • Bit of a different situation for Steve Smith. it was game 7 in the playoffs. He was in control of the puck and shot it right off the back of his goalie’s pads and in from behind the net. Calgary had no business winning 3 games in that series let alone a 4th. The fact that the goal was scored early on in the third and Edmonton being a team at the time that could score at will…the likes of which the nhl has never seen or will ever see again more than likely was not only on Steve Smith.

        What happened with Laine last night was just a puck bouncing the wrong way off a stick in a regular season game…big deal. happens on a nightly basis.

      • @ hockey83. Smiths career is defined by that one play. No one remembers him for anything else. It’s unfortunate but true.
        Laines career will not be defined by this one play. He’s young and we all know very promising. Last night’s gaff was not a puck bouncing the wrong way off a stick. Not sure what he was thinking but he wired that puck in.

      • you’re wrong on both accounts Whiskey Jack

  5. Radulov will be exposed at some point, he’s always been able to score, it’s his two way play that’s come into question when he was with Nashville.

    • This isn’t the same player we saw in 2 previous stops in the NHL. Still a wing nut but much more of a complete player; well by his standards, than when he left last time. Defense isn’t his strong suit but playing a far more responsible 2 way game or at least trying to some extent.

      I should qualify I’m not a Radulov fan nor a Montreal fan for obvious reasons. No team has stung Boston come playoff time than Montreal. Ha-ha!

      • More of a complete wingnut lol

      • I can see that. Having been part of that Battle of Alberta from the beginning. There’s really none of that going on in the western conference anymore except that everyone seems to hate Vancouver…don’t know why…which is why I would love to see both Calgary and Edmonton get back to the playoffs this season so we can start hating Edmonton again otherwise it’s just fun to watch McDavid dance around everyone like they’re standing still right now. But the hate you all have for each other’s teams in the east is amazing.

    • Can’t see a universe where The habs don’t send him an extention. It’s not like they have a plethora of goal scorers. Right now it’s scoring by committee and that usually dries up.

      • Ya agreed. They took a one year chance on an offensively talented player and its panned out for them so far. I’m happy it did…Very happy to see most Canadian teams doing so much better than last years horrible showing.

  6. I’m not going to quibble, I just want to add our 8.5 million dollar backups name into the hat. I kid I kid!

    • Raanta is causing issues for me in 1 of my fantasy leagues. Lundqvist is my starter. 20 team league so no other options available really. We dress 1. Raanta eating up 10 of 30 starts, his 3 in a row this week cost me 2 wins.

      I sit 20-14-2 after 9 weeks but my back up isn’t really dress-able. Smith from Arz. Good SV% & GA but league is totally based on wins; 3 points, & shut outs; 2 points. Trading for a goalie isn’t an easy feat.

      I believe Lundqvist has struggled historically in Dec? Do I have the right month?

      • He typically struggles early on in the season, with the exception of last year when he started hot. But this is almost the exact scenario that played out a couple of years ago with Talbot. At or around the Christmas break. He’ll be okay.

      • Yeah just frustrating. He has been my starter for 5 years so I just ride it out. NYR plays 4 this week as does Arz but I role with Lundqvist. He should see at least 2 starts this week & Arz heads out on a 4 game road trip in 6 days, 1st stop in Pit; so flying across the country today, Det, Tor & Min with Pit & Det back to back starting tonight.

      • Smith does give them a chance every night doesn’t he? Great Goalie.

  7. Not sure at this point why Tampa is considered a Cup contender? Not even in a playoff spot; however, Pittsburgh certainly turned it around last year after the first half. I would trade Bishop if I were Yzerman as I think with the number of teams needing goaltending the return could be worth it. The danger to doing this though would be the ability of the trade partner to sign Bishop after this year. Tampa seems to be a good example of a team in that “damned if you do; damned if you don’t scenario”. Stamkos being out this year seems to be effecting the team more than other times when he was out.

    • This is why offseason “Power rankings ” are a joke. ESPN was polishing up the cup for Tampa in August, and had Florida ranked #2.

      • I know, and your Rangers are off to a great start! I have to admit I was a naysayer to the Rangers. I am surprised that Florida is down so low too. After the way they handled the firings I am not so sure I care them now anyway! I have to be honest regarding my Leafs as despite improvements are think we are right where I anticipated. I do think; however, this team will be heard from in the not so distant future. Ottawa looked terrible on their road trip!

    • TB has been struggling. 2-7-1 in their last 10 games. Still only 2 points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic.

      I don’t think Yzerman will do anything rash. Tons of time right this ship but odd. Their schedule & level of competition hasn’t been a significant factor just aren’t playing well.

      If Bishop is moved before the playoffs the return would have to be significant to justify doing so. TB is still a contender. Teams have these cold streaks but they had better snap out of it soon, 2-7-1 is really bad.

      Thankfully the only other team in the Atlantic playing well is Montreal. Only 4 points separate 2nd from 6th in the Atlantic so 2 playoff spots wide open at present. The wildcard spots are much further out of reach as 5 teams in the Metro are playing really well.

      • True. I don’t mind this playoff format as it forces teams to try to stay atop their own division and give fair balance to a dominant division.

      • I hate this playoff format. Bracketing teams as opposed to 1 playing 8 & reseeding after each round is a joke. The best teams in the league took each other out in the 1st & 2nd rounds of the playoffs last season. Only the NHL can think this crap up.

        No other sport major professional sport has games worth different amounts of points & has their best teams play each other right out of the gate. It’s idiotic.

        I would prefer & conference cross over system where 1 plays 16 & we reseed after each round. Never going to happen but it would help balance out the travel disparity between the east & west & allow the leagues best teams to play the worst of the playoff teams. It’s good to have dreams. They just rarely occur.

      • I agree with that!!! I’d rather see the best teams in the conference finals rather than round 1. Just another idiotic move by Dr. Bettman! I just hope he brings back the glow puck next.

      • I don’t blame Bettman specifically. I’m in the minority of people who admire & respect Bettman’s role in growing the NHL. A very bright man who has positioned the NHL for unbelievable growth & significantly improved the financial fortunes for everyone involved.

        A ton of this stuff is determined by the NHL executive committee. Owners who only wish to line their pockets & Bettman’s leverage on specific issues is different. The # of votes he needs in specific situations to pass or change things.

        Look at Holland’s suggestion of trying to mimic baseball with their wildcard game. He wants to add 1 more wildcard team & then the bottom 2 wild cards teams in each conference play each other in a 1 & done for the last playoff spot.

        Sure lets also reduce the # of teams that make the playoffs like baseball then to, 6 with 1 wildcard spot in each league for a total of 8 out of 30. In baseball their 1st playoff round is also only a best of 5. 16 out of 30 already make the playoffs in the NHL. Why are we playing 82 regular season games to advance 16 teams? Again never changing a serious money grab but lets not expand or alter what is already too many playoff games, teams & a season that lasts a month to long by the time the playoffs are over.

        Hell why don’t we let everyone make the playoffs that would be exciting. Not! These aspects of the NHL irritate me as they aren’t logical. They do generate a ton of money though as does the stupid points system used. It gives a false impression of still being in the play off hunt longer than teams really are. At least based on the historical data & odds of probability.

      • I agree that Tampa is the worst best team in the league. even without Stamkos they have a bunch of talent on that team. Must be something going on there.

      • I agree with striker regarding playoff format. Best should play worst in every round.

  8. NJ minus 13 in goal differential after 28 games this season. By the end of December they should match last seasons minus 24 for the entire season. Schneider putting up pretty average #’s playing behind this group of D & forwards, .907 SV% & ZERO shutouts in 21 starts. For goalies that have started at least 13 games, 1/2 the lowest # of games any team in the NHL has played this season Schneider sits 25th in SV%!

    Brutal stretch of games facing NJ over the remainder of Dec. @StL, @Ott, @NYR, Nas, Phi, @Pit, Pit, @Was, & Was. That minus 13 is going up substantially in those 9 games. The only non playoff team in that group is Nashville & they are much better than their record shows. 7 of those 9 games are against the leagues current best. Going to be ugly.

    Currently sitting at 9th tied with TB 10th, Flo 11th & Det 12th with 30 points each. They should be firmly entrenched at 14th by the end of Dec., possibly even worse as Buffalo is 4 points back in last/16th in the east, with a game in hand & almost healthy. Eichel, Kane, Kulikov, Georges, O’Reilly, Deslauriers all back & playing as of Friday. Bogosian & Ennis still weeks away.

    • So the defence got even worse with the trade of Larsen for more offence in Hall 🙂 Not really surprised.

      • Had they not brought in Auvitu & Quincey it would be even worse.

    • When you have J. Moore on your team …. Anything is better!!! I would have traded Duclair 100 times, without Yandle coming back the other way just to get rid of him! I was literally celebrating like they won the cup that day!!!

  9. Is Markov the leading active player on the same team?

    • Certainly among D he is. 956 gp 115g 441a 536 pts. Not bad for a 6th round pick (162nd overall) in 1998.

      Among F it’s Chris Neil taken one pick ahead of Markov in 1998 – he has 1001 gp 112g 136a 248 pts – but then, he wasn’t chosen for his golden stick.

      • Also drafted in that same year of 1998 and still playing – albeit on different teams than their originals – are Mike Fisher and Mike Ribeiro (44th and 45th in Round 2), Francois Beauchemin (75th in Round 3), and Brian Gionta (82nd in Round 3).