NHL Rumor Mill – November 25, 2017

by | Nov 25, 2017 | Rumors | 50 comments

Latest on the Sabres and Penguins in your NHL rumor mill. 

WHAT WILL THE STRUGGLING SABRES DO?

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Bob McKenzie’s Friday appearance on Edmonton’s TSN 1260 discussing the Buffalo Sabres’ struggles under new general manager Jason Botterill and head coach Phil Housley. Noting the recent trade speculation regarding supposed core player Sam Reinhart, McKenzie believes the Sabres have to decide between now and either the Feb. 26 trade deadline or next summer if young Reinhart is someone to build around or a trade chip that can bring in pieces to help their rebuilding process. 

As for left wing and pending UFA Evander Kane, McKenzie feels the 26-year-old could still fit into the Sabres’ plans to build around younger talent. However, he still feels it’s more likely Kane could be traded.  That’s an opinion also shared by Elliottee Friedman, who told Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 Kane will likely be dealt. Friedman sees Kane as a fit with the Los Angeles Kings, Columbus Blue Jackets or possibly the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Amy Moritz reports struggling Sabres veteran winger Matt Moulson’s been a frequent healthy scratch this season. He’s in the fourth season of a five-year, $25-million contract. Moulson’s heard speculation suggesting the Sabres should demote him, buy him out or trade him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While I don’t completely dismiss the possibility of the Sabres re-signing Kane, I agree with McKenzie and Friedman that he’ll likely be dealt by the trade deadline. His trade value is high right now and he could fetch a couple of pieces to help the Sabres, especially on their blueline.

The Kings are slumping right now after a hot start and there was talk they could shop Alec Martinez or Jake Muzzin for a scorer. Both are signed beyond this season and lack no-trade protection. Either guy could provide the Sabres defense with a welcome shot of experience and leadership. The Jackets are more in the market for a center. But if they can’t land a decent scoring center, perhaps they might consider adding a left wing and leave captain Nick Foligno at center for the remainder of the season. The Lightning are deep at left wing and their biggest need right now seems to be a checking-line right wing and perhaps another experienced defenseman.

Reinhart has some trade value and there’s talk some teams are inquiring into his trade status. If the Sabres intend to move Kane, I think they’ll stick with Reinhart for the remainder of this season and see how things go. They could wait and see if he might attract more interest in the offseason. He’s a restricted free agent next summer without arbitration rights, so the Sabres aren’t under any pressure to move him. They could ink Reinhart to a two-year bridge deal and see if he improves next season. 

As for Moulson, unless the Sabres are willing to take back a toxic contract they won’t find any takers for the fading 34-year-old winger. If they want to buy him out they’ll have to wait until next June to do so unless they can find a loophole in the CBA to do so. They could demote him but they won’t get much cap relief for doing so. 

SHOULD THE PENGUINS PURSUE BOZAK?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin reports the current absence of Evgeni Malkin serves to highlight the fact the Pittsburgh Penguins still need depth at center this season. Malkin is currently listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Larkin notes in the recent past the Pens had the depth at center to offset Malkin’s absences but that’s not the case this season. He feels Toronto Maple Leafs center (and former Phil Kessel linemate) Tyler Bozak would be a perfect fit as their third-line center. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins only have around $1.6 million in cap space right now. With Bozak carrying a $4.2-million cap hit, they’ll have to move salary either in that proposed swap with the Leafs or in another deal. With James van Riemsdyk facing an uncertain future in Toronto, the Leafs could ask the Pens for Conor Sheary in return. Or maybe they try to land a defenseman and ask for Olli Maatta or Brian Dumoulin.

Of course, the Pens won’t part with those guys for a pending UFA. But if they were to inquire about Bozak, you’ve gotta think the Leafs would try to squeeze them for a player who can help them now and beyond this season. 

 








50 Comments

  1. yeah… tough to set up a deal with leafs pens. pens depth is in wing which is where leafs have depth too… unless the are turning around and moving jvr somewhere else as you said. sheary makes sense money-wise but it would have to be bozak + for sheary… and leafs would have to turn around and move jvr… dont see this connection until ore dominos fall closer to the deadline… hell pens might be sellers by then if they dont get their beaks out there bums

    • Careful there chrisms, Deeee all but accused me of predicting that the Pens might not make the playoffs this season, when all I did was outline their % points pace so far this year (before yesterday’s loss) and what % pace they’d need the rest of the way just to get to the expected cut-off of 95 points.

      • What was the win % needed for Pittsburgh?

      • Counting yesterday’s regulation loss to Boston, the Pens have 25 points after 24 games played – a points % of .521. Over a full season that would give them 85 points – about 10 less than needed to get to a Wild Card spot. In order to reach 95 pts this season they’d \need to up their points % the rest of the way to .604.

        Achievable? Of course. Last year they finished with 111 points – or a points % of .677 – so with that talent playing .604 the rest of the way is not out of the question. Injuries, of course, will play a huge factor as will a “down” season for any of their key players. That applies to all teams.

        As for getting back to 111 points, they’d need to play a .741 clip – so they can forget about that. They will be in a dog-fight for a Wild Card spot.

      • If not in a playoff position by American thanksgiving you have a 25% chance of getting in, these numbers have been well established.
        I see it as 75% of the teams (16) holding a playoff spot will stay there and 25% of the teams (4) will lose their. Coincidentally the last 4 years in the western conference 7 of 8 teams with a playoff spot on American thanksgiving made the playoffs.
        The reality is we are at the 20 game mark and the good teams are rising to the top, nobody see Toronto, tampa, Columbus or NJ missing the playoffs
        Last Year Us Thanksgiving in the east
        Mtl, TB, Ott Nyr, Wash, Pitt wc- CLB and NJ season end NJ and TB out and Tor and Bos in.
        The west Chi, St.l, Minn Edm, SJ, Ana WC LA and Nash. season end LA out and Cal in. That is one team less at 19% then the 4 teams representing 25%.
        My bruins were out on thanksgiving last year and this year can they pull it off again. Well on Black Friday they are back in.

      • Pens might very well not make it… and if they dont get in all talk of dynasty is mute… no dynasty until 3 in a row. always hated it when chigago was described as a dynasty… dynasties dont take every other year off… pens lose that opportunity if they dont get moving soon

      • No team has played a tougher schedule than Pittsburgh. 24 games played tied for the 2nd most in the NHL today but they have lead the league all year essentaily. Of those 24, they have played 9 at home 15 on the road. 14 of those 24 have been against teams that made the playoffs last season, another 2 played against TB.

        Now they still have to play 10 more back to backs but baring significant injuries that discrepancy starts to balance out & their record starts to improve.

        As I referenced before the season started, the standings are going to be far tighter than ever seen before & my last marker isn’t the US Thanksgiving but this year Dec 4th. The NHL has extended the season by 1 week & based on the current playoff structure in the East the threshold today to make the playoffs is 92 points so I won’t run the final #’s trying to extrapolate & make final assumptions until then.

        I don’t see Pits in a dog fight to make the playoffs when all is said & done. Are they today? Sure but it’s a scheduling issue & small sample size. They should finish in the top 3 in the Metro.

        Stabilization is happening as it always does with each passing game. In the east the only surprise for me is NJ in Pit out, I had Bos, Car & NYI battling it out for the final 2 playoff spots, Bos in, as the Atlantic is week & room for 1 of NYI or Car, I had hoped Car would make it but I don’t see that happening now; Darling has cost them to many games. The wildcard is still NJ? Can they maintain their play? It’s very possible & if they do someone is missing. I still have NJ to miss but could easily be wrong.

        The wildcards spots in either conference are a coin toss between 5 or 6 teams this year & comes down to a range of factors you could almost call luck. Scheduling issues, injuries, rookies, etc. Parity is alive & well.

      • I don’t care about winning 3 in a row. For me dynasties are teams that dominate the league over an extended period & win cups consistently. Pittsburgh has 3 Cup victories in the last 9 years, 4 appearances in the last 10, that is a dynasty for me.

        There is no harder trophy to win in professional sports & even repeating once in today’s NHL is shocking, so many things need to fall into place perfectly to even get to the final.

        Your criteria is far greater than mine.

      • Tend to agree with Striker’s analysis about the Penguins. Take a look at the Devil’s schedule in February and March. It’s brutal!!

      • Dynasties are champions for years in a row. I don’t use the term lightly. Oil and Long Island only “recent” dynasties

      • Actually from what I read you didn’t mention the Penguins at all George. And you said who the top 8 were. And the Wings had an outside chance and the rest should start planning for next year.

      • You didn’t read far enough – I corrected it later.

    • Pens do not have many chips to move to start to plan for next season anyways. If they cannot resign Hornqvist they become even thinner.

      Anyone else to trade will not bring back much. Speedy Hagelin yields you whatt?

      • a c prospect or mid round pick at best… if their lucky

      • Penguins’ prospects include: forwards Daniel Sprong and Zachary Aston-Resse, goalies Tristan Jarry and Filip Gustavsson, defenseman Zachary Lauzon, etc.

  2. Sabres fan- I hope they trade Reinhart, he is a terrible skater. Moulson and Bogosian I hope they buy out. Kane I want them to sign him but for less term 5 years max. Forwards over age 31 usually are done these days.

  3. Watched the Bruin Penguin game Boston dominated most of the game. Pittsburgh needs help on the back end in my opinion. Boston will be a force when healthy.

    • I also believe this to be true. They’ve been playing with 7 rookies in the line up.
      Very fast club.

      • Khudobin may have saved their season. They did outplay the Pens but they have also been outplayed significantly in 2 of these last 4 wins and Khudobin stole them some points, which is exactly what they needed while they are playing the kids as they will have these peaks and valleys. Rask wasn’t giving them that. Kudos to Cassidy for going with his backup and riding the streak, he had to be tempted to throw his $7M starter back in.
        Keep doing it until Khudobin falters.

    • boston dominated the 1st period and got dominated the 2nd two…

      • I watched that game. Boston out played Pit in the 2nd as well, yes they were outscored 3 to 1 in the period but as soon as they made it 3-1 1/2 way thru the 2nd they dropped back into their shut down system working to protect a 2 goal lead but still out shot Pit 14 to 8.

  4. How is that Duchene deal looking ? 6 games -0 points and dash 8. I might also add Sens 0 for the last 5. Nashville is happy.
    I believe Kane to be maturing. If that is the case, Buffalo absolutely needs to keep him.

    • Quite frankly, it’s looking completely crappy. But there’s still; a long ways to go, although their position as of the U.S. Thanksgiving dictates that they won’t make it. The end result will define Dorion’s position as an NHL GM.

      Tonight’s game and effort against the Islanders will go a long way to defining this team – one way or another.

      • 1 game?

      • Yes. 1 game. After 5 straight losses and D lapses up the yin-yan how they play this game will define their season. I don’t need statistical tables and 3-colour charts and graphs to tell me the team psyche is very fragile. They don’t necessarily need a win tonight – but a good all-round effort IS essential. Otherwise, start planning for next year.

      • how in the hell does one meaningless regular season game define a season??? delusional

      • This “one game” follows 5 straight losses so, like it or not, how they APPROACH the game as a team is a defining moment. As for your opinion, I could not possibly care less whether or not you consider that “delusional.”

        Beside, since opinions aren’t facts who cares?

      • I was just reading your statistical tables, evaluating your 3-colour charts & graphs above, the Coles notes version from a the previous full form versions. I enjoyed all of them by the way, well researched & great logic.

        Nothing comes down to 1 game unless your Boston & it’s the last game of the season & not once but twice you lose & miss the playoffs.

        As you stated repeatedly early, it’s early October, it’s mid Oct, it’s late Oct it’s early Nov, now it’s late Nov, we just passed the 1/4 pole & we have a ton of games to play.

        This game doesn’t make or break Ottawa’s season. They were in tough to make the playoffs before the season started. The loss of Methot returned Ott to only having 3 solid NHL Dman, no slight to the kids or Oduya, no additional scoring depth was added, Ott rolled the dice that these holes could be filled internally. Swing & a miss & swapping Turris out for Duchene solved nothing a lateral move.

        Unless Ott can secure help ASAP with at least 1 top 6 forward & solid #4 Dman it’s going to be a serious struggle but it doesn’t come down to 1 game in late Nov.

      • None of what I posted are analytical charts and graphs – what they are is simply a points % performance established by the day when history has shown that, being outside of a playoff position, pouts you behind a factual eight-ball. Looking at the results, it then boils down to what teams anyone thinks has the necessary talent to improve their points % to the degrees shown the rest of the way JUST to get to a 95 point mark. I made no “predictions.”

        As for tonight’s game, I will stick to my opinion that how the Sens approach the game as a team will set the pattern for the rest of the season.

      • I agree with you George. If they roll over tonight there is no saving this season. They need to start finding their game and play a solid 60.

        Though down 1-0 going into the 3rd as I type this they haven’t been bad. Their PP is so bad though why Dzingle on the PP. Just load up 1 unit and sh*t away the 2nd unit.

        Put Brassard, Stone, Hoffman, Duchene and Karlsson on the PP and toss scraps on the 2nd unit. It’s so bad now why try and balance out units with depth you don’t have.

    • He’s struggling to adapt to Boucher’s system.

      I didn’t like this deal for Ott, it was a lateral deal at best & why wasn’t Turris just signed for in Nas?

      I was at the Nas@StL game last night, Turris was invisible in that game, couldn’t believe when I looked at the box score this morning that he played almost 16 mins.

      This isn’t a great landing spot for Duchene but I’m not judging a trade after 7 games. It took Brassard a year to adapt to Boucher’s system.

      I have a strong feeling Duchene will be gone this summer if not at next seasons deadline. Ott gave up way to much to secure an asset that probably has no future in Ott.

    • It looks SOOOOOOOOO! BAD!

      I’m still hoping that all the stuff like Duchene needs time (Turris didn’t), the time off after thw Sweden trip put rust in the Sens game, Bobby Ryan has a sore finger, and any other excuse I missed is actually valid.

      All I got his hope and hockey Gods to fall back on now.

      So far it was a Brutal trade, just brutal

  5. I don’t necessarily think the Sabres would have to take back a bad contract to trade Moulson. His cap hit next year is $5m, but the actual salary is $2m plus a $1m bonus. If the Sabres find a team looking to get to the cap floor and pay the bonus, Moulson might be an option for that they team. Sabres may need to include a pick or something, but there are teams paying more for players that are not even in the league anymore.

    • No team has ever had an issue making the cap floor.

      After July 1st with a 2 mil salary I still don’t see Moulson being acquired by anyone, he will be bought out I assume almost as soon as the buy out window opens 48 hours after the cup is awarded.

      • correct and incorrect. teams arn’t picking up players JUST to get to cap floor but players that have contracts like moulsons can have value for cheaper owners when they come with a building block back… ie. datsyuk, pronger, savard etc. buff could just move him to toronto with another asset and tor could put him on the island

  6. 2016- The Pens win the Cup and even though the Conn Smythe voters didn’t notice, Kris Letang was their best player.

    2017- The Pens win the Cup with a well assembled group of 6 #2-4 defenseman and win without Letang.

    2018- Letang returns and redefines “brutal” making an obscene amount of turnovers and mental mistakes.

    That last formula isn’t going to work.

    It’s time to stop deferring to his veteran status and sit Letang for a game to clear his head and then bring him back to play 23 minutes a night instead of 28.

    But, the schedule thus far has been designed as a gauntlet for the Pens. So many road games, so many back to backs involving travel to a waiting rested home team, so many games against elite teams already, it’s still not time to panic.

    Ironically, the only Penguin who has been good for the entire season…Phil Kessel.
    Mr. Consistency.

    He and Murray have carried the team so far.

    • Murray!?!?

    • I agree with Chism… Murray has been anything but solid. It happens.

      currently 27th in Gaa (2.94) and 25th in save % .906 does not translate to a guy carrying his team.

      • This isn’t baseball and numbers don’t tell the story in hockey.

        After being mediocre the first week or two, Murray has been the reason they stay in games.

        Pens fans aren’t used to seeing lately what happens to a goalie when the team doesn’t bother to show up around him, he gives up goals.

        But he’s made big saves and given up few if any deflating softies.

        The forwards haven’t backchecked all season and the D men lose their structure quickly.

        Matt Murray is the absolute least of the Penguins problems.

        A lack of manufactured urgency is the biggest of them. But now the urgency is becoming real. We’ll see if they respond.

      • No. It’s not baseball. And Murray hasn’t been good of late either. Last 5 games 2-3, 15 goals against (3.0 gaa worse than his season average) save % .909 slightly higher… but you get the point?

        None of this says he’s been anything above mediocre of late or earlier… he’s not winning games . And that has nothing to do with baseball… it has to do with hockey… unless we’re going into the hypothetical of him making saves that would make it a goal worse here or there .

        He’s not carrying his weight, nevermind his team at this point. Does that last? I doubt it. But you can’t paint this as him carrying this team.

      • mg stand for Murrays granddaddy? he has been as guilty for this slide as any other player and is struggling mighty now that he doesnt have another legit starter pushing him. numbers dont tell the whole story but you have to be reaching deep into a black and gold apologist bag to say Murray has been anything but mediocre this season.

      • I ageee. I’m not kicking Murray here. But a goaltender carrying his team would increase in gaa and save % while his team is struggling to score. Murray has been the same or worse. Not better, and definitely not carrying this team.

        Overall I think he and the Pens will be fine. Every goaltender goes through this at some point. It’s just a matter of how long and when they go through it. Personally I’d prefer November over April.

    • I had asked several days ago if any of you Pit fans were concerned about Murray’s SV%. His .906 SV% for goalies with at least 10 GP; 1/2 a teams games played this season is my break point for starters, is poor so far.

      His play is causing concerns for me but I agree that much of this relates to purely what you state & said so above as well. He has played well considering all these factors but has to be far better regardless of the circumstances.

      • My biggest worry regarding Matt Murray is his lack of scoring.

        Now, Letang, Sheahan, Hagelin, Guentzel, Rust, Hunwick, Schultz, Cole…longer lists of concerns.

        Also, Ryan Reaves has done a good job in that our stars have taken much less abuse this year, but…he needs to bring more than just that. In a game like yesterday where the team is flat, he needs to go out and pummel a guy and get the team going.

      • yup the reaves affect has opened our stars up to play without fear so they can focus on scoring more… wait an minute…

    • The Pittsburgh schedule is amazing to me – Stanley Cup champions two years running and the league uses them like a rented mule.
      By the way, re”dynasties”, at this point, I’d accept a one year “dynasty.” Our first-born son has yet to witness a Leafs’ Cup – he just turned 50.

      • To put that in some sort of perspective, any Leafs fan who was 50 when they last won the Cup is now likely dead!

  7. If Botterill has any brains he needs to resign Evander Kane. He’s the best player on the team. He’s the only one with any real fire or drive on it.

    Eichel is starting to make Pierre Turgeon look like Doug Gilmour.

    • What exactly are you getting at?

    • I don’t get the reference.
      Could you please explain further?