NHL Rumor Mill – December 20, 2017

by | Dec 20, 2017 | Rumors | 30 comments

The holiday trade freeze is in effect but the rumors persist. Check out the latest on the Islanders, Penguins and Senators in your NHL rumor mill. 


FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites the reaction of TSN’s Darren Dreger regarding the news of the New York Islanders’ winning bid to construct a new arena at Belmont Park and its effect upon efforts to re-sign John Tavares. Dreger believes “the future of this organization in terms of their home was pretty high on the list of his (Tavares) criteria.” He feels this news “bodes well for Tavares potentially staying there long term.”

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien notes hockey analysts Jeremy Roenick and Keith Jones “feel a lot better about Tavares re-signing with the Islanders after recent developments.” He points out the chemistry between Tavares and linemates Josh Bailey and Anders Lee this season could also convince the Isles captain to stay put. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I also believe the arena news and the Isles on-ice performance this season could sway Tavares into re-signing a long-term deal. Yes, it’ll be expensive, probably eight years and over $11 million per season, but I don’t think term and salary are a sticking point for either side. 


TRIBLIVE.COM: Jason Bombulie reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said one reason he acquired defenseman Jamie Oleksiak yesterday from the Dallas Stars was the ability it gives him to make other deals. “If we were to move a defenseman going forward, I don’t get locked into having to get a defenseman back,” Rutherford said. “I have more flexibility now. If the right forward’s available, we can do it that way also.”

THE ATHLETIC: If Rutherford decides to shop a defenseman, Josh Yohe speculates it could be Ian Cole (a recent healthy scratch), Matt Hunwick or Chad Ruhwedel. The acquisition of Oleksiak give the Pens eight legitimate NHL defensemen. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the early-season addition of Riley Sheahan, the Penguins still haven’t suitably addressed last summer’s departure of third-line center Nick Bonino via free agency. They need to find a skilled two-way center with skills comparable to Bonino. That move, however, likely won’t come until perhaps mid-January at the earliest. Cole was frequently mentioned as a potential trade candidate but Rutherford might have to package him with a draft pick or prospect to find that center for his third line. 


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports it’s well documented Senators GM Pierre Dorion was working the phones over the last 10 days in search of help for his struggling roster. With the holiday trade freeze in place, Dorion can continue talking to other GMs but he won’t be able to make a move until the freeze ends on Dec. 28 at 12:01 AM ET. However, he could wait until January to see where his club sits in the standings by that point before making a move.

It’s believed if Dorion makes a move he’ll want to bring in younger talent. “There’s interest in several of the club’s top players including winger Mike Hoffman, defenceman Cody Ceci, centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau and centre Derick Brassard,” said Garrioch. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Senators don’t show any significant improvement over the next couple of weeks it could be time to go into sell mode. Most of the recent buzz suggests Hoffman could attract the most interest in the trade market. 



  1. nothing major Lyle change Isle to penguins, In the Athletic heading.

    • Fixed, thanks Caper! 🙂

  2. Interesting note of the Standings as of this morning, every team that holds a playoff spot is on the + side of goals for goals against and every team on the outside is on the – side. Go figure if you score more then you allow you have a better chance of getting in.

    • And you something Caper that’s how simple this game is. It’s gotten too analytical. You score more and you win!

      • It is a good way to see what teams are more of a fringe team. Looking back at last year, Ottawa had the worst differential of any team to make the playoffs, so maybe they shouldn’t have been a lock to get back in like a lot of people had them.

        I like what analytics has added to hockey in terms of information to spend some time with as a fan, but as with anything new, the adoption period usually has people either flatly against it, as if it’s just a fad, and people that go too far with it, and think it’s the only thing that matters.

        In the end, it is what it is, additional information we can use to explain what is happening in a game statistically, help us quantify the value of players who don’t show up on the score sheet in as many traditional ways, and sometimes even as an indicator of teams that are really really good, or teams that are just running a little hot. Like anything, they can be used to tell part of the story, they aren’t the end all be all, but they do fill in some gaps.

      • Like Peter Loubardias on Calgary’s FAN960 always used to say in his slightly dramatic way, “well Peter, if you can’t score, it’s going to be difficult to win hockey games!”

    • Go figure.

  3. Sens are looking to get younger talent by trading Hoffman (28), JG (25) and ceci (23)? That makes no sense to me.
    Sure Brassard can go, but at 30 he isn’t quite a fossil either

    • I agree trading Hoffman or Ceci makes no sense to me either, for any reason actually.

  4. True enough Danny, but again if you score more you win! It’s the most telling stat of all. I will concede that it is definitely an indicator of players who don’t always show up on the score sheet.

    In that regard, it has made the “intangible” part of hockey more tangible. But I for one understand that part of the game as I have watched for a lifetime. If others need it then so be it. Right?

    • You are right, sometimes it’s just telling us things we should instinctively know, but it does allow for perspective, and can help you watch the game differently.

      I think analytics can help with confirmation bias a little more on the defensive side of the game. Particularly, it helps with determining if Defensemen who take additional risk are making the risk worthwhile, and also just determining if defensive players are actually helping out in that regard. Also with depth forwards. We used to use so called Heavy forwards in the bottom six, because they would hit and win more puck battles. Problem is they spent way more time doing those things, and got scored on way more. Take a forward who isn’t a natural finisher, but generates a good amount of chances and spends less time in his own zone, he will typically get scored on less even if he isnt’ quite as good when in his own end.

      Scouts who say they “know” how to evaluate D men have typically proven they are quite bad at it compared to their ability to evaluate forwards, so I do think Analytics may be able to help in this regards. Not that people should blindly just pick the guy with better analytic numbers, but try and use the analytics to help them figure out what to look for. What makes Drew Doughty good defensively? It isn’t hitting or blocking shots, and it isn’t lack of giveaways or lots of takeaways. His numbers for those stats per minute of icetime are easily the worst on his team. If he wasn’t playing for a good defensive team as their #1 defensemen, would people recognize him as a very good defensive rearguard as much as they do right now? He likely wouldn’t be good enough to turn Arizona into a defensive powerhouse, so if he was their #1 D would he be regarded the same?

  5. I’m shocked at what Vegas has accomplished. Didn’t think there was any hope they could play this well. I had them dead last in the NHL. What a great story.

    Also didn’t have NJ being anywhere near this good. They have leveled out, heir playoff spot isn’t secure but credit to Shero on a great job. NJ is actually fun to watch play for the 1st time in a very long time.

    I didn’t expect Buf or Arz to improve significantly in the standings but how can these 2 teams still be this bad? I though they would both at least be more competitive.

    • Sounds like they still have some bad eggs to spoil the bunch. As per Tochett

      • A ton of youth but for me Tocchet is part of the problem.

  6. Many US telecasts show team shots under the score. I wish the Canadian telecasts would do that. What also might be helpful is showing scoring chances to differentiate between shots that are just blindly taken with no real chance of going in.

    Goals against tell me more than goals for. Teams that give up less goals tend to also give up less shots and less scoring chances.

    Just my three cents,

    Let me also conclude that someone should slap that green mouth guard off JvR’s face. It is completely unprofessional to be chewing that thing in front of cameras on regional and national telecasts but to have that ghastly sight memorialized as the 20,000th goal in franchise history is ridiculous.

    Mr. Lamouriello has a policy of haircuts and no facial hair. Perhaps he can tell van Riemsdyk to stop chewing that mouth guard.

    • I respect and admire your passion on the mouthguard topic.
      I’m indifferent, but I understand where you’re coming from.
      I hate skinny jeans.

  7. I guess a camera catching all the boys gobbing greeners and such on the bench is horrific as well? It’s a man’s sport…suck it up…No pun intended!

  8. Skinny jeans…lol. i remember it was baggy jeans!

    • I miss Umbro’s

      • Does anybody miss Zubaz , Chalk line or starter jackets? I wonder if I would still be married if I was rocking a pair of Chicago bulls striped track pants and a coat with a giant airbrushed Michael Jordan on the back…

      • I’d let my daughter twice removed Marry you!

      • My wife would be upset, especially if I married into a Penguins family. I will say though that as a Toronto fan from Hamilton when I did a road trip to Pittsburgh to watch the game the last year that Mellon was open we were treated very well even though we were wearing Toronto year. It may have been because I’m from Hamilton, which is also a steel town. Either way I had a fantastic time with the Pittsburgh fans around me, many of us were buying each other beer, much cheaper than Canada by the way… It was great. Even though Toronto was up by two, I went to buy a round of beers and when I got back Pittsburgh was up by one. Back in the Andrew Raycroft days… We stayed at the same hotel as the Toronto players, just by luck and Raycroft was behind me in line to check out, I guess the players pay their own incidentals. He was such a great goalie that I did not let him in front of us even though the bus was waiting… It was a great trip. Oh, and Darcy Tucker was in a crushed velvet purple suit with a fedora on the way to the arena. Hilarious.

  9. The only d-man JR should be shopping is Kris LeTurnover … a bag of pucks would suffice.

    • Who is Kris LeTurnover and what team does he play for?

      • It is one of those jokes that never gets old… Oh wait a second, it wasn’t funny the first time I heard it… And I’m not even a Pittsburgh fan…

    • He’d be welcome in Leafland. What colour’s his mouthguard?

      • He doesn’t use a mouth guard, he actually choose on an apple turnover while he plays… Wait, maybe that’s where that comes from…

    • Damn ed you reaLy don’t like kRIS leturnover…lol He isnt playing well striker on here thinks he is playing well! uuggghhh

      i agree with you now is the time to move him in a major deal while you still can..

  10. Nothing wrong with skinny jeans.

    • Depends who’s wearing them,