NHL Rumor Mill – July 14, 2017

by | Jul 14, 2017 | Rumors | 23 comments

The Matt Duchene trade rumor mill grinds on.

Latest on Matt Duchene, Phil Kessel, Jordan Staal and more in your NHL rumor mill. 

SPORTSNET: In his latest “30 Thoughts” column, Elliott Friedman reports one thing several NHL executives agree on is offer sheets are coming this summer. With the depth among next summer’s unrestricted free agents already shrinking, one of them believes the offer sheet is the best option to quickly improve a team. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s certainly some tempting targets among this summer’s restricted free agents, such as Nashville’s Ryan Johansen, Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl and Boston’s David Pastrnak. However, those clubs already served notice they’ll match any offer. Just because a player can receive an offer sheet doesn’t mean they’re wiling to sign one. Meanwhile, several other notable RFAs, such as Tampa Bay’s Ondrej Palat, St. Louis’ Colton Parayko and Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson, filed for arbitration and are ineligible to receive offer sheets. 

It’s possible Matt Duchene, a frequent subject of trade speculation since the middle of last season, could start next season with the Colorado Avalanche. However, Friedman isn’t ruling out the possibility of a trade later this summer. While the Avalanche are receiving criticism for their handling of this situation, he feels they have to win this trade after the Ryan O’Reilly trade didn’t work out for them. Duchene has two seasons left on his contract, which is a problem for some clubs, such as the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Friedman feels the Avalanche still want to trade Duchene, who needs a fresh start elsewhere. He believes shipping him to a team where he could be the number two center, such as the New York Islanders or Los Angeles Kings, would be a good fit for the 26-year-old center. He thinks there’s a chance he would share the No. 1 center duties with Alex Wennberg if he were dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He also feels the Pittsburgh Penguins are on the fringe of this.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman isn’t saying the Islanders and Kings are pursuing Duchene. He’s merely suggesting he could be a good fit with those clubs. While Duchene could certainly be a good fit with the Isles, Kings or Penguins, the Avs high asking price likely ensures he won’t land with those clubs before 2017-18. 

In a recent live chat with his readers, The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline expressed doubt over Duchene potentially landing with the Blue Jackets. Though he admits that could change, he doesn’t get the sense that Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is actively searching for a first-line center. 

Friedman believes there is something to the suggestion by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ron Cook that the Penguins could look into trading Phil Kessel. He notes the difficulty in moving Kessel’s $6.8 million cap hit (the Toronto Maple Leafs carry the rest), which the Pens would likely have to pick up part of in order for a deal to take place. Still, he thinks the Penguins may have investigated the possibility. Saying it was merely conjecture on his part, Friedman suggested the Arizona Coyotes (where former Pens assistant coach Rick Tocchet is now the head coach) as a destination for Kessel. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In an interview yesterday with a Pittsburgh sports radio station, Rutherford dismissed the notion of trading Kessel. “He’s an important part. I don’t want to sit here and say that a certain player’s not going to get traded at some point in his career. I mean, Phil already did. But that’s not something that I foresee happening right now.” 

Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill could be laying the groundwork for a move that eases a potential roster/salary cap jam.

Friedman recently speculated about a swap between the LA Kings and Ottawa Senators involving Kings forward Dustin Brown and Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf “because the money is almost even”. However, he thinks they were discussing Marian Gaborik, rather than Brown. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaborik is even worse from the Senators point of view. Though he carries a lesser annual cap hit ($4.875 million through 2020-21) than Brown, the 35-year-old winger is often hampered by injury and his last best season (41 goals, 76 points) came in 2011-12 with the New York Rangers. They’re better off sticking with Phaneuf. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Jonathan Bombulie reports a trade for a third-line center to replace the departed Nick Bonino remains on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ summer agenda. GM Jim Rutherford doesn’t expect the acquisition to be costly to their salary cap payroll. He projects they’ll have around $2 million in cap space after re-signing RFAs Brian Dumoulin and Conor Sheary.

To Rutherford’s knowledge, Carolina Hurricanes center (and former Penguin) Jordan Staal isn’t available. Bombulie also observes Colorado’s Matt Duchene  carries a $6 million annual cap hit and Toronto’s Tyler Bozak $4.2 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hey, maybe Rutherford can trade Kessel to Carolina for Staal. I’m kidding, of course. But as Bombulie observes, if Rutherford wants someone like Staal, Duchene or Bozak, he’ll have to part with significant cap space to free up sufficient room. Sounds like Rutherford’s in the market for more affordable options. No idea yet who he’s targeting as all the recent speculation is upon those bigger names. 



  1. These Kessel reports are truly a sign of a slow summer. There might be merit to thinking of trading him in a year or two, as he’s getting past his peak years. But for now, he’s been a huge part of two straight cup wins and is still very productive.

    The Tocchet relationship is overblown. It makes a nice story for Tocchet, but Phil will be fine without him.

    • Course what value does he have in trade in two years? Besides the 4 cup rings that is

      • Ha-ha! They may well. They are certainly as strong a contender as any team in the league. I hated the Rutherford signing but had to eat crow & apologize several times for slagging him. What he has tweaked to build this forming dynasty is amazing.

      • I was very skeptical of him too, especially at first. The Neal/Hornqvist trade was a head scratcher but it worked out great. Most, not all but most of his moves have been gold so far.

      • If GMJR found a trade that brought in a third line center that was more a 2b center and upgraded the d depth nicely the pens should explre trading phil… they have the depth in wings to do so. but keeping him will be good to. bunch of bologna about nothing with the bench stuff…. anyone see Kuny laughing his ass off at the malkin/kessel exchange? Just high compete guys loosing control for a minute.

  2. Would be nice if the Rangers could get Duchene to replace the recently departed Stephan. I just don’t know what the Rangers could offer up.

  3. Lyle, Ryan Johansen plays for Nashville. Sorry I don’t mean to knit pick.

    • No problem. Fixed.

  4. Had Dallas bought out Lehtonen as well as Niemi & brought in a cheap back up their cap issues would be solved. I don’t see a solution currently to Dallas’s cap issue unless they pay someone to take Lehtonen or possibly Spezza; hard to move that contract as well. Every other player that might be available other than Rousell makes under 2 mil per & in most cases is a very young developing player.

    I wouldn’t think they are trading any of the 20 mil they just brought in with Radulov, Hanzal, Methot & Bishop. Benn, Seguin & Klingberg aren’t going anywhere so who else does that leave that trading free’s up any significant cap space? Hamhuis?

    Dallas didn’t have any players select salary arbitration or take any player to arbitration so no 2nd buyout window for them. As currently constructed they don’t even have room to resign Olesiak & every other player has to be waived to be sent down. I’m sure Flynn or Cracknell will be waived eventually, when Dallas’s 23 man roster has to be submiotted but that opens up very little wiggle room.

  5. Kessel must simply have said no a little to meanly to Cook or Madden when they asked for an interview. There is no basis in reality for the trade rumors that they are spewing. It stinks of sad personal agendas. They are saying that coaches/management are angry about Kessel’s lack of offense, sighting his 23 goals, but consistently ignore his 70 points. They are saying that coaches/management are angry about Kessel’s low shot totals, but consistently ignore that he was 2nd on the team in the regular season, 1st on the team in the playoffs. You know who is not saying anything about being actually upset with Kessel? ANY of the coaches, ANY of the management, anybody actually involved with the team or anyone that doesn’t have some ax to grind.

    • Madden is a dofus i grew up with that guy….

  6. If Ottawa trades Phaneuf to LA for Brown or Gaborik without a very signficant kicker (ex. Toffoli, and that ain’t happening), Dorion should be fired on the spot. Phaneuf is overpaid by $1.5M-$2M, but is still a very productive 2-3 defenceman. His contract has four years left and the money decreases towards the end, so it isn’t a disaster by any means. Brown and Gaborik are anchors that are near impossible to get rid of other than through buy out.

    Lombardi completely screwed LA with the Kopitar, Brown and Gaborik contracts. They may lose Doughty because of it because that could be one of the worst teams in the league in the next few years WITH Doughty, let alone if he is traded/leaves via UFA (can’t see that happening as LA could use Doughty to get rid of Brown or Gaborik).

    • Quit being so dramatic, LA isn’t losing Doughty for cap reasons. After signing all there RFAs, they will have $4-5 mill left to spend on whatever they want. Plus if they need to they will just buyout Gaborik or Brown, most likely Gaborik in 2 years when Doughty is a ufa.

    • As for Phaneuf, there is no fit at all. Send don’t want those two snd LA doesn’t want Phaneuf at $7 mill.

      No team in there right mind is throwing in any kind of kicker for Phaneuf and that contract. He is a salary dump much like Gaborik and Brown.

      • Phaneuf, right now, is one hell of a lot more important to the fortunes of the Sens than Brown and Gaborik combined are for the Kings.

      • Put another way, for what it’s costing Ottawa for the length of his contract after Toronto took a bunch of albatross deals off their hands (as Striker has pointed out on numerous occasions), his 23 minutes of ice-time in the 2nd pairing alongside Ceci while contributing 9 goals and 21 assists (30 points) is one of the MAIN reasons they came so close to the Cup finals. Compare that to the combined contributions of Brown and Gaborik (21 goals 33 assists (54 points) which only cost the Kings $10,750,000 to 2022-23 and 2020-21 respectively. Do you see Phaneuf’s game deteriorating at a faster pace over the remaining terms of his deal than the games of Brown and Gaborik?

        The Kings would be immediately improved on D with his addition – but you’re right, not if it involves either of those two coming back to Ottawa.

    • Canadian King: LA can keep Doughty, but how can they keep a semi-competitive team in a few years with Brown, Gaborik and Kopitar still on the roster at those cap hits? Doughty will get $10M+ in two years, Toffoli will get a raise on the current $4.6M in three years and Muzzin is closer to $6M than $4M in 3 years. Buyouts of Brown and Gaborik don’t help much either and they’d be better off waiting for the contracts to expire. Brown would still have a buyout cap hit of just over $3.5M in 20/21 & 21/22 and still have a few years at $1.7M. Gaborik would have a buyout cap hit of over $3M in 19/20 and 20/21 with a few years at over $1.3M. They already have Mike Richards for $1.5M the first year of Doughty’s new deal, so you’re saying they would tie-up $5M+ in buyouts, have no good prospects on cheap deals (they have a terrible farm system currently), sign Doughty to $10M+ and still have a competitive team? Unless Doughty wants to be on a bad team for the remainder of his prime or he simply loves being in LA, there is a good chance he is traded or leaves in 2 years. And no, I don’t think he’ll go to the Leafs.

      Comparing the Phaneuf contract to Brown’s and Gaborik’s shows that you hate Phaneuf and/or that you have no clue. The playoffs showed that he is still a very useful player on a very good team. He’s just overpaid by $1.5-$2M.

  7. I’m not convinced we will see any offer sheets anytime soon. The fact is by its very nature an offer sheet must be an over payment. While the over payment might be reasonable it does form a basis for a bigger salary demands in all future salary negotiation across the NHL. No wonder GMs stay away from it.

  8. Dog days Lyle. We all still love you. 😍

  9. “The Kings have done a lot of work with analytics this off-season, trying to figure out why a team that dominates possession has so much trouble scoring.”

    Maybe because a stat which counts a John Scott wrist fling that goes 20 feet wide of the net the same as a Sidney Crosby triple deke backhand shelf shot is STUPID.

  10. Article states O reilly trade didnt work for colorado? They got jt compher….he is gonna be a very good player and expecting lots out of him this next season as his first full season. Then Zadorov….if colorado had any coach that knew how to coach that defense this guy is a beast and has a heck of a point shot. If you dont like Z we will certainly keep the door open in buffalo to return….hes a sleeper. I expect Zadorov to be a top 2 defenseman in next 2 years. Colorado traded a big center that dizzy jo sakic thought he could replace with sodderberg who is junk and wasnt worth a million per season….sakic pays him 4 mil per year. Sakic just made stupid other moves and never filled o reillys spot in the lineup. The trade value they got back is just developing. Be patient I think 2017 is a turn for Colorado as long as their dizzy gm doesnt give duchesne away for junk they dont need.

  11. Didn’t they pick up Yakupov. They’re good to go

  12. I really don’t know how some writers think that a Brown or Gaborik trade for Phaneuf helps the Sens. At least Phaneuf fills a spot of need and he’s not deteriorating yet. It’s a silly trade suggestion. Brown is near 6m, a 3rd liner, and 1 extra contract year so scratch him. Gaborik at 35 is getting slower, just broke 20 points.
    However, their contracts are front loaded and if Euge wanted to squeeze the wallet like with the Brassard trade, next year both players dollars paid starts dropping. Gaborik’s gets down to 3m in the final 2 years. But, Phaneuf’s goes to 6.5 after this year then 5.5 for the last year so I see no advantage to trading Phaneuf for either those players.