NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2017

by | Jul 27, 2017 | Rumors | 63 comments

Trade speculation persists about Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak.

More “Bozak to Rangers” speculation plus updates on Ryan Spooner & Will Butcher in your NHL rumor mill. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports there’s “zero evidence” Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak is in play for the New York Rangers or that the Blueshirts intend to buy out defenseman Marc Staal. But if Bozak ($4.2 million salary cap hit) were in play, Brooks believes buying out Staal would free up sufficient salary cap space for the Rangers to acquire the Leafs center, perhaps by packaging defenseman Nick Holden with a draft pick. If the Rangers buy out Staal, the deadline for doing so is today. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks believes the Rangers need depth at center after trading away Derek Stepan to Arizona last month. Earlier this month, he suggested the Blueshirts look into acquiring Bozak, who’s a year away from unrestricted free agency. The Leafs could use some experienced depth on their blueline but it doesn’t appear they have any interest in Holden or in peddling Bozak. 

CSNNE.COM: Ryan Spooner avoided salary arbitration yesterday by signing a one-year contract with the Boston Bruins. However, Joe Haggerty feels this is the 25-year-old forward’s last chance to “show some growth as a player” if he hopes to remain with the Bruins beyond 2017-18. If he doesn’t, it’s only a matter of time until he becomes trade bait. His $2.825 million cap hit should be easy to move. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Since last fall, trade speculation has dogged Spooner. This coming season could be a make-or-break one for him. While his cap hit is affordable, poor performance could hurt his trade value. 

NBC SPORTS: Jame O’Brien took note of 2017 Hobey Baker Award-winning defenseman Will Butcher’s decision not to sign with the Colorado Avalanche, making him eligible on Aug. 15 for unrestricted free agency. He expects Butcher, like Jimmy Vesey last summer, will attract considerable interest. He points out bloggers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks are already making the case for their clubs to pursue Butcher. 

NJ.COM: Chris Ryan believes it’ll make sense for the New Jersey Devils to pursue Butcher, noting they’re in the same situation with college center Alex Kerfoot. He points out the Devils need help on defense and GM Ray Shero intends to be active this summer in improving his roster. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Vesey last summer, Butcher isn’t doing this to get a better contract but to have a choice in where he gets to play. So far, there’s no indication on preferred destinations for the Madison, Wisconsin native.

If he wants to play close to home, the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, St. Louis Blues, Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs could be options. That’s just speculation on my part. I’m sure we’ll learn more as Aug. 15 approaches. 



  1. “His $2.825 million cap hit should be easy to move” – so says Joe Haggerty of Ryan Spooner AFTER saying “this is the 25-year-old forward’s last chance to “show some growth as a player” if he hopes to remain with the Bruins beyond 2017-18. If he doesn’t, it’s only a matter of time until he becomes trade bait.”

    Now that’s a classic contradiction. In other words, if he flops again and shows no desired development in Boston they’ll have no trouble finding some dummy to take on the $3 mil cap hit of a C spinning his wheels.


    • I know, I know – if he’s dealt at the trade deadline who ever gets him will only be paying out the balance of that 1-tear contract. But even so, if it reaches the stage where the Bruins feel he is useless and decide to get rid of him, why would anyone else think he’s suddenly going to blossom into a serviceable player in their roster?

      • Maybe he just needs a “change of scenery” ? It’s the default answer . It has worked wonders for Yakupov.

      • Spooner is definitely on his last legs in the NHL he doesn’t play in his own end,doesn’t go n the corners plays a soft perimeter game. If he doesn’t turn it around this yr he will be joining pirri in Europe

      • Changes of scenery can work.

        Im not sure if any of you ever struggled in your careers. But early in mine i had my fair share of struggles. It can get to the point where you are thinking to much about past incedents and thinkong to hard while completing a current task on preventing asl similar incident from occuring that you end up causing youreslf to make a mistake.

        Fresh starts, change the whole environment. Gives younfresh people to work with who know less of your past baggage. Gives people a relax state of mind and all9ws them to move forward and improve.

      • Jeff, I’m definitely not suggesting it never works. But it’s a term usually used by fans that can’t wait to rid themselves of a player or contract they no longer find desirable to justify some value. For every one tim it works it fails 20. Yakupov, MDZ, Erixon, Daigle, Etc. and I dare say sometimes a player in need of a change of scenery doesn’t really get any better statistically, they’re just on a better team.

    • He’s an Ottawa native, maybe he wants to go home, George.

      • LOL. I prefer to look at it from a Thomas Wolfe perspective – “you can’t go home again”

      • Jeff, a change of scenery won’t change the fact that he’s a 5′ 10″ 184 lb C who gets knocked off the puck too easily by the big Cs around the league. Maybe if he played like Marty St. Louis (5′ 8″ 176 lbs) or even J-G Pageau (5′ 10″ 180 lbs) he could succeed. But he doesn’t, nor does he show any inclination to do it. So if he refuses – or can’t – change his style in Boston what makes you think that’s going to change simply by relocating?

        Even big players soon wear out their welcome if they take a Casper Milquetoast approach to the game. A good example is Colin Greening – 6′ 2″ 212 lbs with blinding speed – but shies away from any hint of physical play. Nick Paul – 6′ 4″ 223 lbs – was headed that way too, until his last call-up and in the recent development camp where he seems to have realized how he has to play to be effective.

    • That’s exactly what I thought George. It’s funny how the seller values his product expecting the buyer to view it in the same manner.

    • Lol

  2. NY needs to just let things play out and ride Staal at least 2-3 years or move him with some added sweeteners. They don’t appear to be a team looking to win now, and Bozak sure as hell isn’t going to change that alone.

    It’s not ideal to have a 3rd pairing guy making 5.7 per. But he has been primarily used as a top 2-4 guy his entire career. How will riding him with less minutes, and easier deployments hurt? With DeAngelo, Skjei, Bereglazov and even Graves being affordable hits (until Skjei hits rfa next year) it’s not going to hurt to keep him around right now.

    One thing is for certain, he and Holden should NEVER be paired together again….. ever! They were god awful last season, and even worse in the playoffs.

    • Avalanche need NHL Dmen…I think Staal and a 3rd can get him moved for the rights to Butcher. Then Pair Butcher & Pionk on the bottom 5/6 slot.

      • The avs are in a situation where they may lose him for nothing, so that part makes a little sense. But do the Avs really want Staal? And the even bigger question…. what are the odds of Staal waiving to go there? I’d say less than likely.

    • Interesting, I’m not even a Rangers fan, hate Vigneault & I have NYR as a cup contender coming out of the East.

      • I didn’t realize you picked them to come out of the east. That changes everything! Stanley cup here we come!!!! Now all we need is a proven 1st line center, a 3rd line center …. but either way, if you picked them, I’m on board!!!

      • NYR4life.

        These are just assumptions, educated guesses, based on past results & changes. They aren’t fact nor do you need to be rude. All I’m saying is my perspective is different than yours. I like the roster, does it have some holes & issues? Sure who’s doesn’t but what has changed from last year? They lost Stepan. Big deal & that’s not meant to slight Stepan I liked him & defended him here repeatedly. The D got better, all the youth will be better & more youth is coming.

        They also have 3+ mil left in the kitty to do with as they choose. This is 1 of the most successful regular season & playoff teams over the last 7 years, why will they be worse now?

      • THN just posted the top 10 teams for games won in the NHL over the last 3 seasons, NYR sits #2 with 147. Also posted top 10 playoff game wins for the last 3 seasons as well, NYR sits 7th with 18, 1 behind Chi, 2 behind the Caps.

      • Well let’s start with the fact that lost Stepan who if nothing else was the picture of consistency…… they also lost Lindberg. Lundqvist is coming off his worst statistical year of his career and no longer has a Raanta or Talbot around if he falters….

        Now they’re banking on Zibinajad to be a 1st line center, who I think EVERY Ottawa fan will tell you good luck pulling consistency out of him. Nowhere near a legitimate 1st line center and completely unproven to assume that role…
        We’ll move on…..
        2nd line center Hayes is not even a natural center. Coming off a pretty good year basically serving a 3rd line center last year… can he step up? Maybe…. maybe not…..
        Moving on…..
        The addition of Shattenkirk. Where does he fit? 1st pairing with Mcdonagh? Maybe, maybe not…. Maybe they had the left handed version of Shattenkirk a couple of years ago and ended up using him primarily on the 3rd pairing.

        So where does he fit? Who knows? Last year late) Skjei and Smith played pretty well together, and it’s more than likely they’ll start the season as a pair…. moving Shattenkirk where? 3rd pairing with Staal?Moving on….

        3rd line center?? Who is this person? Andersson . What are the odds AV will ride him a full year in the NHL and actually deploy him as needed? Probably not happening.
        Miller? How did that experiment work out last year…yes he actually DID play center. Ultimately move him off center back to wing. Moving on….

        Vesey and Buchnevich.. can either or both step up their game? Neither seemed to adjust very well to the nhl schedule. Buchnevich completely lacked conditioning and was in and out of the lineup all year. Fast won’t be there to start the year.

        As far as being rude…. you confuse rude with annoyed. You are an extremely annoying personality. With a constant undertone like you know better than anyone. Like fans, GMs, beat writers, the moderator of this page and so on….

        Do you ever sit back and read what you say?

        “I’ve stated numerous times x team will not trade y player ”

        “I have them finishing 3rd in the east”

        “I have him in 7 of my fantasy pools… therefore…”

        It’s almost like people should just fold any options they may have because of your opinion. Or because ” you picked them” Which like I said is beyond annoying!

        You feel the need to have say in every single conversation on this page, and truly feel your opinion should be held high. You don’t really know half as much as you think you do. You spend a lifetime reading stats and profiles and regurgitating it here, and putting your spin on it like you’re a lifetime fan of every team or “hold season tickets” .

        I once was watching NHL tonight and they were talking about a player. (Can’t remember who)One of the guys said ” I really can’t say what’s wrong with him, I haven’t seen him enough to make a judgement ” and you were the 1st person to pop in my head. My first thought was they should have phoned you in, my 2nd was Striker would be better suited saying ” I don’t know ” one in a while.

        Bottom line if you don’t like my response, don’t comment on things I talk about. It’s pretty obvious I don’t really care for your 2 cents on every subject!

      • THat was positively strikerean in length ny. He has trained you well

      • I guess I could have just said ” because I think they’ll be a worse team……” but if scoops needs a breakdown. As to why, I think it takes more than ” well I have them as 8th in the east….. because I said so”

      • Can’t be a contender without centers. Rangers are shallow at that position.

    • The only 2 players over 30 are Nash & Lundqvist, the vast majority of the roster is 26 or younger. Zibanejad, Miller, Hayes, Kredier, Vesey, Buchenevich, Fast, Puempel, Skjei & DeAngelo. With the exception of the 2 above the other veterans aren’t old. Zuccarello 29, Grabner 29, Desharnais 30, Staal 30, Smith 28 & McDonaugh 28.

      How can they possibly be getting worse? all those players under 26 should be getting better.

      • So you’re saying it seems feasible that every single player on this team will improve this year? Let me call Vegas to check out those odds on any team in any sport!

      • No not all just most will improve. Their D improved significantly. I assume Vigneault will deploy Shattenkrik on the 1st PP but with him who really knows, I would have thought Yandle would have gotten that role as well & he never really did.

        Time will tell NYR4Life. It just shocks me based on your name your so down on NYR. I’m not. 1 of the 6 best teams in the east easy, baring significant injuries.

        Lots of time to find a 4th line C if none of the available options work.

  3. Larry Brooks for some reason believes Holden is an in-demand chip…

    • Brooks is just an idiot.

      • Larry Brooks is a moron, a real Ranger fan doesn’t read or believe anything that comes out of his pie hole. I haven’t in 20 years!

    • Holden may not be in-demand chip, but at $1.6M he certainly is movable. Johnny Oduya just signed for $1M and he’s finished. People forget that Holden had a solid 60 games. By today’s standards, he’s very cheap.

  4. Recent chatter about possible buyouts (Staal etc) got me curious as to how much certain teams may have a crimp of varying degrees in their cap management by resorting to buyouts and, for 2017-18, here’s what I found (CapFriendly source):

    St. Louis – 2 players – total of $5,475,000
    Colorado – 1 player – total of $4,500,000
    Columbus – 3 players – total of $4,025,000
    Carolina – 2 players – total of $3,333,333
    Arizona – 2 players – total of $3,144,444
    Boston – 2 players – total of $2.733.334
    NY Rangers – 1 player – total of $2,611,111
    Detroit – 1 player – total of $2,566,667
    Minnesota – 1 player – total of $2,500,000
    Edmonton – 2 players – total of $2,333,333
    Nashville – 3 players – total of $2,233,334
    Toronto – 2 players – total of $2,083,333
    NJ – 2 players – total of $1,841,667
    TB – 1 player – total of $1,833,333
    Calgary – 3 players – total of $1.816.667
    Anaheim – 2 players – total of $1,712.500
    Philadelphia – 1 player – total of $1,500,000
    Dallas – 1 player – total of $1,500,000
    Winnipeg – 1 player – total of $1,458,333
    Florida – 1 player – total of $1,333.333
    LA – 1 player – total of $ 833.333
    Vancouver – 1 player – total of $ 833,333
    Buffalo – 1 player – total of $ 41,667

    Some are committed to forking over varying amounts for the next 5 years.

    Just 8 teams currently do not have buyouts on the books: Chicago, Washington, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Montreal, San Jose, NY Islanders and, of course, Las Vegas.

    • Incredibly, for next season 23 teams are forking over a total of $52,243,055 to 37 players NOT to play for them at an average per player of $1,411,975. Holy crap!

      • Loads of dough forked over to go away. I can’t believe that this actually occurs. The NHL is the only league that still has fully guaranteed contracts. Although this is 100% the owners/gms fault for paying in the first place, they are sometimes painted into a corner and need to beat rival teams to get what they feel is the best FA on the market. I personally would like to see contracts similar to the NFL where a certain amount is guaranteed. That way when you have a Mike Richards type contract (to name one of few under performing later in the contract) you can simply cut him when not performing. This should put a focus on wanting to continue to perform or risk being cut. Plus giving us much more to talk about on increased player movement.

      • I’d not play for that!

      • The NBA and MLB are also guaranteed contracts… hence all those brutal 10 year deals floating around the MLB long after the player no longer lives up to the contract…. hello there CC Sabathia and Jacoby Elsbury! I’m sure NY would love to rid themselves of those ugly deals… but they’re stuck.

      • Hey George, if you feel like it I would like to know how those teams rank from longest cap hit and the money paid out over that time.

        I ask since you already have the numbers handy. I presume anyway.

        I am curious because that would be an indicator of how good a GM or team evaluates a player, thier desperation, and the way they tend to value a player coming into or already on their roster.

        Plus, it would also give a little insight into which teams may be in for future stall out and or future decline.

        I can do it myself, but if anyone already had the numbers handy I would surely appreciate it.

        As an Avs fan, I would obviously like to keep an eye on this ongoing situation through the next few years so as to at least make me feel as if there is something tangible in the way of hope to grasp onto in the dark ages of a sad Avs nation. I, at least, can make myself feel like there is something constructive going on about our future.

      • Streamfisher – not entirely sure what it is you’re looking for. What I show in that list (the St. Louis gaffe excepted) is what each of those teams is paying out in buyouts for 2017-18. As I mentioned, some will continue to pay out some hefty amounts for the next 5 years, but until next season is completed, we won’t know how each team fared despite the buyouts.

        There may be a way to look BACK over, say 5 years, and calculate buyouts vis-a-vis team performance, but I’m not sure where we could find that info.

    • Sorry confused on the very 1st 1. What 2 players did StL buyout?

      • Whoops! My bad. Factored in their goalies rather than buy-outs – of which there are none. So, knock that St. Louis total off the $52 mil. Sorry, Blues fans.

      • All good George that’s just where I started. I agree with you but unfortunately it’s not changing anytime soon part of the current business model. Over pay & give to much term, as the contracts wind down buy them out. Rinse, wash & repeat.

      • Never expected anything to change – was just curious as to which teams had put buyout payments in the way of adding something significant, or even depth. St. Louis was a mistake on my part, but Colorado wasn’t with the $4,500,000 being paid to Beauchemin NOT to play for a dreadful team (on D anyway) seemingly a non-productive move.

        This after Sakic handed a 36-y-o D whose best years were far behind him, a 3-year, $13.5 million contract on July 1, 2015.

    • What I always find intriguing about this is that guaranteed contracts don’t really help the PA that much. Buyouts still account for part of the PAs portion of HRR, if the PA is getting a set portion of HRR, the guaranteed contract only really allows for that money to be spent on a player not playing, and stops it from being spent elsewhere. Also, teams would spend even more on players if contracts were easier to get out of, which would distribute the money more evenly.

      Now we get this mess where young players are great value, teams ride those contracts to balance the books, overpay veterans to fill out the roster. Then those young players need to essentially get paid for all the cheap years they gave up, and in turn get overpaid as veterans on the backs of the current young players.

      If they had a better entry level and RFA system that allowed young players to get paid more sooner, and a reasonably priced way out of bad contracts, it would actually be an overall benefit for the PA. Big long term, guaranteed contracts only real go out to the better players available, so the issue doesn’t effect the vast majority of PA members, also the best players could command max value more often, as they would also have opt out clauses in contracts if you took away guaranteed contracts.

  5. Will Butcher would look mighty fine in black and yellow and the Penguins could definitely use him. They already got ZAR it would be quite the coup to get Butcher too. It would almost make up for wasting Sundqvist and Kostin on Ryan GD Reeves.

    • Personally I like the Reaves move. For way to long Crosby has taken more abuse on the ice then any other superstar in the NHL. This is not to say that all players will stop, their cheap shot tactics, a push, slash, slap in the head after the whistle crap because the tough guys in the NHL won’t care about Reaves but for the non tough guy that knows he’s getting away with this crap, will know there is a price to pay if you want to do that crap and they will immediately stop. I know people will say “Reaves won’t be playing on Sid line.” doesn’t have to, the coach should and will wait for the time and then put Reaves out on the ice when that players gets another shift. Don’t care about the instigator rule, get scored on big deal, you’ll kill off over 80% of them. As I said I think this was a good move by Pitts.

      • I agree 100%.
        Thats the only reason he was brought in…damn fine reason too. Sid never shy’s away from heavy hockey, but this acquisition will make him feel like he has a bit more room to operate.

      • Sounds like the Colton Orr experiment. Waste a roster spot on a one-dimensional player just to be a possible “deterrent”??

      • Agreed George. Anyone here think now that the Dubinskys of the NHL are calling in sick when they play Pittsburgh?

      • Quite possibly, yes.

      • Somehow I’m not buying that.

      • The only thing keeping Marchand alive has been the presence of Chara and Mcquaid (when not injured).
        He gets plenty of room to be creative.
        Sid could have more room as well.
        I hate the Penguins, but i love watching Sid, so i hope the “Colton Orr” experiment works for em.

      • I disagree. Reaves will barely ever get to be on the ice with Sid to protect him, and Sid mostly plays against good players, so it’s not like he will get lots of chances for retribution or to strike fear in the other team.

        If say Ovechkin runs Sid, Reaves will not get much of a chance to get Ovechkin back. He will end up fighting Wilson, and that does nothing. If they did start playing Reaves against Ovechkin, you would be actually be rewarding Ovechkin and the caps for running Sid, as they will take that match up all day. If Reaves instigates a fight with someone, again, you give a powerplay to the other team, and again you reward them for their play.

        Sid has won 3 cups without protection, he doesn’t need it.

      • Well said Danny. That describes the Colton Orr era perfectly. Carlyle – and before that Wilson – put him out there beyond his 3-5 minutes a game for some kind of “retribution” and the opposition skated rings around him. If you dressed him as the 13th F it meant you only had 6 D dressed – and if and when one went down you were double-shifting some pretty suspect D. Reaves is one of the last of the dinosaurs of the game – good for only one thing and the effects of that are highly over-rated. He might play a bit more in Oct-Nov hockey when that type of hockey is more prevalent – but when it gets into the close-checking portions of the schedule he’ll sit or be a healthy scratch.

      • St. Louis had the second most suspensions on players for hits leveled against St. Louis players during reeves tenure there. He won’t stop 🍆

      • And it has never helped the Blues take that next step.

      • I wish you people would read the comment before you decide to read. Reaves doe not have to be on the ice to protect Sid, Malkin or Kessel. If Colton Orr had Reaves skill set he still be in the NHL not out of it. Needless to say, we will know soon enough. This was a solid and smart move. The answer to your question about Dubinsky, yes he was absolutely give second thoughts about Crosby. It just going to take one good beat down.

      • We’ve read it – and we understand the fans of a team always – or almost always – look for the silver lining in any acquisition, but this sounds more like hope than conviction. Only time will tell who’s right.

  6. Is it just me or does the Hobey Baker Award auto attach NHL signing drama now when won? What did Johnny Hockey and Eichel do to that thing?

  7. Again I will use the hockey news as a source for the grading of prospects. Butcher is not even ranked in the top 100. He will be a project defenceman in the AHL with a slight possibility of making the show. This is unlike Vesey who was a top rated prospect.

    • And himself was a 3rd rounder – 66th overall – in 2012 so hardly considered a sure-thing at the time.

  8. I see Markov is going back to Russia to play in the KHL. I doubt very much he’ll be getting the equivalent of $6 milk per there either.

  9. Guess this came out too late to make Lyle’s rumors list this morning but the Hockey Writers site has this blurb on Cody Franson:

    “There are rumors on Thursday that Cody Franson may be heading to the Chicago Blackhawks on a professional try-out (PTO). A defenseman who seems to be one of the last signed on the list of unrestricted free agents each summer, Franson seems to have made a backup plan should he not get signed by another team. This update comes in according to Jay Zawaski of 670 The Score in Chicago. Franson is coming off a two-year, $6.65 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres where he scored three goals and added 16 assists in 68 games with the Sabres last season.

    For the Hawks, they are in need of an NHL experienced blueliner who can be added to the roster on a cheap contract. If Franson is unable to find a team to take him with a guaranteed contract, he could be an ideal fit in Chicago who have only five NHL-ready defenders.”

  10. If I’m Joe Sakic I’m looking to now package Duchene with Butcher’s rights to get a deal done with someone.

  11. I would have to think with the void left by Markov, MTL is now in the Butcher sweepstakes. They need younger puck movers desperately when you consider the hits they’ve taken on the blueline this off season.

    • Butcher is NOT going to be a regular on anyone’s D for at least 2 or 3 years.