NHL Rumor Mill – March 9, 2018

by | Mar 9, 2018 | Rumors | 31 comments

Update on the Carolina Hurricanes plus the latest on Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Ilya Kovalchuk in your NHL rumor mill.

Uncertainty over Carolina Hurricanes management could prompt rival GMs to target young players such as Noah Hanifin (Photo via NHL Images)


TSN: Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger weighed in on the potential candidates for the now-vacant position of Carolina Hurricanes general manager. LeBrun believes we could hear “some of the usual candidates” over the next couple of weeks, listing ” Julien BriseBois in Tampa Bay, Paul Fenton in Nashville, Laurence Gilman – the former Canucks assistant GM, Dave Nonis, Tom Fitzgerald, Ryan Martin” to name a few.

Dreger said it sounds like having an analytics background could prove helpful for potential candidates. He suggested that could bring Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas into the equation, though there’s some who believe he could become the Leafs next general manager.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts”, Elliotte Friedman reported Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon revealed his club looked at adding to their roster in February but it didn’t go well. He and then-GM Ron Francis decided the cost “in terms of Carolina’s best young players/prospects, was too great.” Friedman feels the fact the Hurricanes can’t make immediate moves is probably a good thing. He thinks Dundon’s desire to make an impactful move could be exploited by rival general managers.

THE ATHLETIC: Arpon Basu sees the drama unfolding in Carolina as a unique opportunity for the Montreal Canadiens. He believes the Hurricanes have two things the Canadiens’ desperately need in “a young, promising centre that is on the verge of reaching the NHL in 19-year-old Martin Necas” and “a wealth of depth in young defencemen, starting with 21-year-old Noah Hanifin and, to a lesser extent, Jake Bean.”

With Ron Francis out of the picture, Basu suggests the Habs pursue a deal for Hanifin, perhaps by offering up left wing Max Pacioretty. If the Habs want to make a bigger splash by getting a better haul from the Hurricanes, he proposes offering up goaltender Carey Price, though he acknowledges Price’s upcoming expensive new contract and no-movement clause are significant stumbling blocks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay we’ll probably see more speculation in the coming weeks over possible deals involving the Hurricanes by rivals hoping to take advantage of their current management situation. The earliest anything could take place is  likely in the days leading up to the 2018 NHL Draft (June 22-23). Before the Hurricanes get into wheeling and dealing, they must find a suitable replacement for Francis. Once we know who that is, we’ll have a better idea of what moves they could make. 


SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports money alone won’t be the determining factor in the free-agent plans of Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He’s due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019, but the 26-year-old blueliner insists he’s happy playing for the Coyotes. “It’s just money. It’s not going to make you happier,” said Ekman-Larsson. “It might make your life a little bit easier but it’s not going to make you happier. I feel if you’re around good people, that’s what makes you happy. I feel like I have that here. This is where I want to be.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, Ekman-Larsson has a year remaining on his six-year, $33-million contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $5.5 million. In actual salary, he’s earning $6.5 million this season and will earn $7 million in 2018-19. I don’t think he’s worried about how much he’ll get on his next deal. The Coyotes could offer up to $8.5-million annually on a front-loaded deal. If he tests the open market, he could get much more than that. As MacIntyre indicates, Ekman-Larsson’s future could come down to how comfortable he feels in Arizona, as well as his confidence in the club’s direction under GM John Chayka. 


TSN: Pierre LeBrun speculates it’s possible former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk could sign this summer with the New York Rangers. He believes the Rangers had showed some mild interest in a sign-and-trade deal last summer for Kovalchuk with the New Jersey Devils, who still held the winger’s rights. He’s heard the Rangers could revisit that interest in signing the winger when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and play him on a line with recently acquired Vladislav Namestnikov.  “Yeah the Rangers are rebuilding but they still have to sell tickets so that’s a possibility,” said LeBrun.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to hear what the New York scribes think of this. Adding the soon-to-be 35-year-old Kovalchuk, who last played in the NHL in 2013, would be an odd move. It was understandable a year ago, when the Rangers still saw themselves as a potential Cup contender. Not so now when they’re in rebuild mode.

With all due respect to LeBrun, I don’t think the Rangers need Kovalchuk to help them sell tickets. Most of their fans have bought into the rebuilding process. I don’t rule out the possibility they could bring in a veteran or two, but I think they’d prefer those who can be part of the club’s future for more than a season or two. 



  1. Kovalchuk can teach the young Ranger players…how to be selfish. NYR should not bring him into the fold.
    As far as Russians there are lots of teams with fellow countrymen the Caps for one.
    I was a fan when in Atlanta not so much now and could care less.

    • I agree that Kovalchuk is not a fit on NYR right now; if he wants to play in NY the Islanders might be a better fit.

      If I am a NHL GM, I am not signing this guy to a big money contract though, and not for more than a couple of years. Hard to tell how much he has left, since he hasn’t played NHL hockey for a few years.

      • Methinks the Isles should focus on keeping the puck out of their own net and getting players that are willing to put the effort into doing that.

      • Agreed Ray.

        I didn’t say he would sign with NYI, or that they should sign him; only that they may be a better fit than NYR if he has his heart set on playing in New York.

  2. How mad would the Canadian fans be if Bergevin traded Price? He would be the guy who traded the 2 most popular Canadiens players since Roy. First Subban and then Price. I think the lynch mob would be out and would have no mercy.

    • Agreed. I talk at length about this with a Habs fan at work everyday. He wants Bergevin fired. I suggest they trade Price and get as much back as possible. At his age and given his recent injury history, they are probably better off rebuilding and looking towards the youth in their system like the Leafs have done. You should get enough of a return on Price to jump start that process. Otherwise it is another 5+ years of mediocre hockey and mediocre draft picks ahead.
      As for the Subban trade that is definitely on him good and bad – but it shouldn’t restrict him from making the right moves at this time, painful as they may be.

    • I personally wouldn’t be mad. That’s a hell of a cap hit and term and he’s not really played that good this year.

      The D in front of him didn’t help.

      Albeit they’ve played less games, their backups have almost the same stats.

      Get some good pieces, and rebuild.

  3. No coaching changes this season and one GM change, when is the last time the NL went a full season without a head coach being fired?

  4. Not sure trading Price and that contract would be that easy he is not getting any younger and injuries have been a problem.

    • Agreed. Montreal would have to take a bad contract back (ex. Zach Parise, Dustin Brown – Price is a bad fit on both these examples with LA having Quick and Minnesota having Dubnyk) to make it work.

  5. Really thoughtful comments made by OEL.
    Not sure if he’s being completely honest or not, but it doesn’t really matter.
    The fact that he said what he said is important.
    Happiness and contentment should be the end goal.
    Hes made enough already to live comfortably for the rest of his life.

    • 100% agree. Refreshing to hear from a player. (Sedins have said similar in the past, but it’s rare to hear)

  6. If Kovalchuk is the big name everyone is going to be talking about then we are looking at a pretty tame summer! The Tavares talks are far more interesting even though we all know, deep down, that he will just re-sign with NYI. Some pretty notable characters were traded at the deadline which was entertaining, but my hockey fandom is now focused on the upcoming playoffs! It will be great to see what impact Patrick Laine will have in the playoffs. Go Jets Go! Even though I am a Leafs fan. My dream final of Winnipeg versus Toronto is still a couple of years away.

    • I think San Jose is a real dark horse for Tavares. They’ll have a ton of cap space this summer and need a younger star center to replace Thornton. I agree that Tavares is most likely to stay with NYI and think there is next to no chance he signs in Montreal despite the rumours.

  7. To me, Price to the Canes is an ideal fit. Yes, Price is getting older & has injury history, but is still highly regarded. He may not get you nearly what he would have gotten two years ago, but he still has value.

    Price for Darling (also currently a terrible contract), a young D and a young forward as a starting conversation sounds good.

    Habs get a couple of necessary rebuild pieces, Canes get a goalie – the only thing they were missing this year from sitting comfortably in playoff position.

    Flame away, everyone! 🙂

    • Price will not be traded before 2019 at the extreme earliest. Lindgren needs to prove he could handle being a No 1 first. I could see Montreal trying/asking him to waive his NMC to be exposed in the expansion draft for Seattle. He would be an interesting building block for a new team who would certainly have the capspace and given a couple of years of cap growth, the contract might not seem as daunting.

      Not sure about this technicality but Lindgren was sent to the AHL on paper and recalled on emergence loan. I wonder if that means he is not technically playing games toward his NHL experience meaning he still would qualify for expansion draft exemption.

      • would you trade Price, Patches & A. Shaw to CAR for Darling, Hanafin, Roy & Necas & 1sts and 2nds spread out?

      • ihatecrosby —
        I would. I am one of the few who don’t think Patches is part of the problem, but still, you get younger & with more promise with your proposed trade. Habs will be mediocre at best until they rebuild. So I think that trade is worth a shot, for sure.

        Habsfan —
        I agree Lingren’s not ready, maybe never will be, to be a #1. But while they rebuild, Darling would be fine. If he’s good, that’s great! If he’s bad, it speeds up the draft pick part of it. But he can at least handle the load, even if not well. And it spares Lingren from getting shelled to often early in his career.

        My $0.02!

      • I would if I was Montreal, but no chance if I’m Carolina. Hanifen is on the verge of being a very good top 2 defenceman and Necas is one of the best previously drafted prospects in the NHL. Roy is a solid B to B+ prospect too. I don’t see Carolina being interested in Shaw at all or Price’s contract. If Pacioretty signed a long term extension, there could be a fit. I can’t see Carolina giving up Hanifen and Necas in the same trade though.

      • Agreed Van. I get really skeptical of any deals with more than five players involved, picks counting as players. That said, a trade of either Price or Patches must have at least an NHL ready top 2 centre or a top 2 left side D plus a 1 st and probably another piece. I really do not think any one team will be able to land both Price and Patches in the same trade.

    • Agree, but do t be Hanifan to start

  8. funny how I always see comments here about Rangers possibly resigning Nash, but we scoff at Kovulchuk who is a year older? Rangers biggest problem last few years is lack of a proven scorer. I don’t buy the total rebuild, and with Hank only having a few good years left … Gorton stayed they discussed partial rebuild last year and yet still signed Smith and Shatty. …and no, fans aren’t going to be happy being cellar dwellers for a couple years. wouldn’t be surprised seeing Kovulchuk signing… so long as it’s no more than 2 yrs and reasonable price.

    • cody was a roster fill bc they wanted Nieves to go back and stay in the minors to get better minutes to develop. Along with Kreider being out then Buch and other injuries they needed another warm body on the 4th line. Holland came up also during that time.

    • 2 years at the bottom but doing the rebuild properly…fans will be ok with it. Fans will not be ok with stop gap fixes like Gorts did with Brendan Smith or Desharnais, etc…. We NY fans are very forgiving so long as it is done correctly. The Garden is ALWAYS full. We want a winner and if it means 2 years to build another solid contender like we did 6 years ago….. so be it.

      That being said….I would be ok with a 2 yr deal only at $4.5 per for the Sedins & Kovy …..IF and only IF…. no other youthful Ranger is clearly ready for the NHL and top 9 minutes. I do not want my talent sitting on the bottom 4th line in defensive assignments only and limited minutes in key moments. That would only curtail their development.

      No NASH though… been there. Need new voices in that room.

      all IMO

      • I don’t want Sedins. I can see Kovulchuk for 2 yrs @ 5? Guy still can shoot the puck. There’s a bunch of guys playing right now that aren’t really ready, and for now I’m ok with it. That’s why I don’t get that McLeod is still playing when we can get a look at more of the kids. And again, we don’t really need to tear it down. Core group of players are in that 24-26 year age group. No reason we can’t be trying to win. We weren’t that awful before the injuries started piling up.

      • Not really sure what doing a rebuild “right” means..They will approach upcoming season looking to put team on ice that can win… just won’t give up future assets… signing Kovulchuk won’t effect future. all Gorton has done is maximize return on a few guys on expiring contracts. Looking ahead, he dealt MacD based on fact he probably wouldn’t be looking to give long term extension. Cashed in on current value being as high as it gets. Losing Miller probably wasn’t in the plan but price of doing business. If they where in a full blown rebuild you’d see Lundquist name here same as Price.

  9. And speaking of rebuild, wtf is Cody McLeod doing on this team? He’s worse than Tanner Glass!!!

    • One way to put “butts in seats” is to drop the gloves frequently. McLeod isn’t good for much else, but he does do that well.

      • From what I’ve seen, not really. Under Vigneault, Rangers have rolled 4 lines with mostly skill players. No goons. McLeod adds nothing

  10. Ilya could probably sell a lot of jerseys or other merchandise. I’d not be shocked to see him end up on Rangers. Islanders probably will miss playoffs largely from TAvares going in the tank. So he hasn’t helped his price tag from being in decline over last stretch. I think they are like winless in 8, blowing what looked like wins over Toronto and Oilers among others. Gibson or so their young goalie has looked good in the few games played thus far.

    Islanders better off if they miss playoffs especially if Flames do too… Then they could get a few shots at lottery. Knights trading Leipsig or so cost Islanders vs. VAncouver he looked real good in that game. I miss him on VEgas didn’t really like that trade personally… Nor am I crazy about the TAtar one… Its like trading Tyler Toffoli, Pearson along with another player for him. Perason was last pick in 1st round, Tyler was a 2nd rounder. There lots of players can get in those 3 rounds especially for a building franchise. I could see if Kings made a desperate trade like that who only have a small window w/ Quick among others left.

    I’m not sold on Tavares going to Sharks or wanting to play in CAlifornia in general. I could see CArolina trading for Price before that happens ;). Sad that they got rid of Francis from GM. Think if not for Florida going on that win streak it would have let them make it for sure. CBJ made some trades which complicated matters too. I predicted Florida was still in the running especially if they won 3 games in a row… I know they won at least 6 so that pretty much put them on inside track w/ the games at hand.

  11. How’s analytics working out for the GM of Coyotes? He is king of stat geeks and still team is last place.