NHL Rumor Mill – April 24, 2018

by | Apr 24, 2018 | Rumors | 54 comments

Latest on the Columbus Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues in your NHL rumor mill.


ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan lists re-signing Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky and Zach Werenski to contract extensions, restocking the defense and acquiring scoring depth as the offeseason keys for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Panarin, Bobrovsky and Werenski all have a year remaining on their respective contract, with Panarin and Bobrovsky eligible for unrestricted free agency in July 2019.

Could Columbus Blue Jackets winger Boone Jenner become a trade candidate this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

While the Blue Jackets have a solid top defense pairing in Werenski and Seth Jones, there’s uncertainty elsewhere on the blueline, with Jack Johnson and Ian Cole both due for UFA status this summer and Ryan Murray a restricted free agent. A decision will have to be made about RFA winger Boone Jenner, whose production slipped over the past two seasons. Pending UFA winger likely won’t be back unless it’s a bargain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Jackets have over $61 million invested in 19 players. That’s more than enough to re-sign or replace this year’s notable free agents such as Vanek, Cole, Johnson, Jenner and Murray. However, GM Jarmo Kekalainen must be careful not to tie up too much cap space beyond next summer. That’s when the big raises expected for Panarin, Bobrovsky and Werenski will kick in. 

Vanek was useful down the stretch but he was eventually demoted to the fourth line in the series against the Capitals. I doubt he’ll be back. As Kaplan observed, Kekalainen could be reluctant to invest too much in Johnson. Murphy and Cole could be affordable re-signings. As for Jenner, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Kekalainen quietly gauging his value on the trade market. 


THE BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl recently examined the Sabres options if they decide to pass on re-signing RFA goaltender Robin Lehner in favor of promoting Linus Ullmark as their starter. Vogl believes Sabres general manager Jason Botterill “hardly made it sound like a contract was coming” for Lehner.

Options via unrestricted free agency include St. Louis’ Carter Hutton, Boston’s Anton Khudobin, Colorado’s Jonathan Bernier, Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen, Florida’s Harri Sateri, the New York Islanders’ Jaroslav Halak,  Winnipeg’s Michael Hutchinson and Carolina’s Cam Ward, It doesn’t appear as though the Sabres intend on re-signing Chad Johnson.

Vogl wonders if Toronto’s Garrett Sparks might be available via trade. He also notes the Vancouver Canucks crease could get crowded with Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilson under contract beyond this season and Thatcher Demko knocking on the door. He considers it highly unlikely the Canucks part with Demko.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. The Sabres could shop him before the June draft. If Ullmark is to be their starter, there are some pretty good veteran backup options to draw upon in this summer’s free agent market. The best of the bunch is Hutton but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blues re-sign him before July 1. 


THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Jeremy Rutherford dismissed one reader’s suggestion of the St. Louis Blues shipping goatender Jake Allen to the Philadelphia Flyers for Brian Elliott. He also considers the notion of acquiring center Ryan Getzlaf from the Anaheim Ducks more of a long shot than signing New York Islanders center John Tavares via free agency. He believes it’s wishful thinking to assume the Ducks will trade Getzlaf.

Rutherford doesn’t see the Blues shipping defenseman Colton Parayko to the Edmonton Oilers for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, pointing out it would create a big hole on their blueline. Ha addressed the possibility of bringing back center Paul Stastny via free agency, believing the only way this makes sense for the Blues is if they’re adding someone else and if Stastny comes on the cheap.

He also thinks free agent Ilya Kovalchuk could give the Blues what they need: “a guy who can finish.” That could also be a longshot.  

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues GM Doug Armstrong already confirmed Allen will return as the starting goaltender next season. I agree with Rutherford’s take on Parayko. I don’t see Stastny returning. Kovalchuk’s priority appears to be the Rangers but if he’s available it’s worth looking into if the contract is right. 



  1. First off, it’s Ryan Murray, not Murphy. That said, I don’t see Johnson being offered a contract since Cole is younger, better and cheaper. Jenner is a question mark since, though his offense has slacked off, he is a strong contributor in other ways.

  2. Cole could look at 3.5 – 4.5 mil. Per

    • Agreed & on at least a 3-year deal somewhere.

      Columbus will resign Murray he should get a good raise on a 1-year bridge deal, his UFA status is coming fast but hard to lock him in long term based on his injury history. Murray is a solid developing young Dman that has had injury issues his entire career. He with Jones, Werenski, Savard he forms Columbus’s top 4 with Nutivarra locked into a starting role at either #5 or 6 having just been extended for 4 years at a cap hit of 2.7, solid value.

      Not sure Columbus can afford to pay their #5 Dman even if needed as insurance for Murray’s injury concerns that much money. Maybe. None of Columbus’s other D in the system look ready to advance as yet but anyone could surprise come camp.

    • That’s what Johnson is making, plus Cole isn’t paying off a bankruptcy. Last rumor, here, was that Johnson was looking for $6mill/year. He’s just not worth it, but Cole is worth up to $4.5.

      • Buyer beware. He will get that much… and speaking as a fan of what cole brought the pens, he might fall far short depending on years

  3. Nugent Hopkins isn’t going anywhere . Unless a gm offers up a Parayko , I don’t see that happening anytime soon . Nuges value to the oilers is greater than any offer I see coming to Pete but IF such an offer were on the table , have to listen

    • If not , he can fill in short term in case of injury up the middle and looked great on mcdavids wing , and helps him both offensively and defensively and can step in to take draws . I hope he stays, that 6 million is more than reasonable if he is filling top line , top pp , Pk and insurance down the middle roles .

    • With the cap rising to 80 to 82 mil, Edm has no concerns about retaining RNH at least for 1 if not 2 more years & if the cap keeps increasing as long as they wish.

      Coming out of the next lockout, HRR is rising substantially as what’s included will be increased & the paid TV space the NHL purchased from NBC will have been bid on by numerous national carriers & that revenue stream increased exponentially.

    • They can’t be considering trading RNH now. I would have argued that trading him a couple of years ago instead of Hall made sense, but now a team that is thin up front can’t give up one of their more versatile forwards, especially considering that they really shouldn’t be up against the cap too much with the current projections.

      Edmonton needs to be patient and systematic. I think trading Lucic to a team that felt they were pushed around is a start. Salary would need to be retained, but he would be appealing at a lower price. Start looking at teams with Wingers that haven’t fit for whatever reason, but aren’t high cost. Kick tires on Galchenyuk, or look for players looking for an opportunity like Leivo. Focus on speedier depth. They have their big weapons up front, if they can ramp up the team speed so they can attack in waves, it will make a massive difference.

      Finally, I think the one thing they should look to spend on is a puck mover from the back end. Weather it’s John Carlsson in free agency, or maybe someone else becomes available as a part of Karlsson/Dougthy Domino effect.

      Edmonton wasn’t as bad last year as things looked, but they were never as good as the expectations they received either. Building up some team speed, and maybe adding a puck mover should have them in the mix for the playoffs.

  4. Columbus won’t bring back Johnson nor Cole, they may wish to bring Cole back but if rumours are true he is demanding too much money. If B. Smith can get 4.35 on a 4-year deal someone will probably be stupid enough to give Cole similar money but I don’t believe it will be Columbus.

    • With cap going up that’s gonna be the going rate for a bottom 6 guy who can jump up to the top 4 for stretches reasonably well. I wouldn’t want to pay him that either but he’ll get his

      • Bottom pairing. My b.

      • I agree someone will pay it & it will be to have him play in the 4/5 hole. A team that has a young developing Dman not ready for the 4 slot but to help shelter his minutes 7 role. Columbus isn’t that team.

      • I don’t see any team paying their #6 Dman 4 mil a year. That role falls to a younger Dman getting sheltered minutes or a veteran on his last legs. I can’t think of 1 team that pays that for a starting #6 Dman. At the trade deadline a team may take on a player who makes that much to play as a #6 but to commit that much money to a #6 Dman right out of the gate isn’t viable in this cap world.

        By TOI/GP for regular Dman.

        Anh’s #6 Dman this season was Beauchemin 1 mil, Arz Schenn 1.25 or Connauton 1 mil, injuries to Chychurn & Hjalmarsson forced Connaughton into regular duty. Bos turned out to be Grzelcyk 858,750 partly due to injuries to McQuaid 2.75 & Miller 2.5 but these 2 rotated in & out to keep Grzelcyk in the line up as much as possible. Buf the injury to Bogosian forced the # 6 spot to Falk 650, Cal Kulak 650. Car Fleury 863,333. Chi’s #6 spot was a hodgepodge, Forsling started there 872,500, Gustafsson ended there 650,000 & we had a few players in between, Franson 1 & Kempny 900,000. Col Barberio 750, injuries also lead to Lindholm playing 48 games 717,500. Clb Nutivarra 817,500 & Dal due to Methot’s injury issues Johns 725,000 played as the #5 when Methot was injured & leading to Honka 863,333 or Oleksiak 964,688 drawing into the #6 spot until Oleksiak was moved to Pit.

        That’s a 1/3rd of the league alphabetically & not a #6 Dman anywhere close to 3.5 to 4 mil a year. Just not possible in today’s cap world.

      • Who said anything about number 6 ?

      • I thought you did.

        “With cap going up that’s gonna be the going rate for a bottom 6 guy With cap going up that’s gonna be the going rate for a bottom 6 guy”

      • A number 5 d man is still bottom pair🤔

  5. Sorry to see Fletcher get the shaft in Minnesota. I really like what he was building for them. 9 years at the helm, 6 straight playoff appearances the last 6 years, only 2 other teams have accomplished such.

    A great stable of young players, Granlund, Zucker, Niederreiter, Coyle, Brodin & Dumba, a solid prospect pool of players coming, Kunin, Greenway, Eriksson Ek, Seeler & eventually Kaprisov.

    Playing in the west come playoff time isn’t fun, 3 of those 6 playoffs loses came against Chicago, the others StL, Dal & this season Win. No shame in those losses. Those were the best teams in the NHL their respective years.

    Disappointed & wrong about Fletcher’s job security. If you can play that well for that long making your owner a ton of cash, building a perennial playoff contender, trade well & still have 1 of the best prospect pools in the NHL that’s a tough gig. Good luck to the next GM as NHL parity is getting tighter & tighter, soon we will have 32 teams & making the playoffs even harder.

    I feel this was a mistake, not shocked specifically but if this is the reward their new GM is going to have a very difficult time repeating this level of success.

    • If I’m the Islanders I’m picking up the phone, Fletcher would help that situation greatly, retain Snow but demote him to head of scouting, player development, or some such thing.

      Fletcher won’t be unemployed for long. He would be a solid candidate for Seattle. Solid track record, prior to his Minny gig he was Shero’s assistant in Pit, worked in scouting & player development for 4 years in Anh & was the assistant GM when Florida entered the league.

      This is a GM I admire & respect for his body of work, he was born into the game but has shown class & earned his respect as a solid GM.


      • I think that’s a good landing spot for him

      • Job security for GM’s is usually better than that unless the owner is a wingnut. See Arizona; several, Buffalo, now Carolina, Florida & apparently NYI. I didn’t consider Leopold a wingnut but making Fletcher the price for their playoff failure considering the facts doesn’t seem fair or logical to me.

        Again he’ll land quickly, to good a hockey executive to be unemployed long.

      • Getting rid of Murray in Buffalo was the best thing that wing nut ever did.

      • Seattle I meant

      • 4th Hanson.

        On that, we disagree. Murray told Eichel the coach was staying. That lead to the wingnut firing both him & the coach. Now you have dissension in the room between the entitled Eichel’s group & O’Reilly’s.

        Murray was only in place for just over 3 years. He was hired mid-season, Jan 9th, 2014, taking over a total mess, fired on April 20th, 2017. You can’t judge any GM on that timeline. The vast majority of his picks have yet to play in the NHL. Nylander, Asplund, Guhle, all have very bright futures. Eichel was a no-brainer anyone would have made & perhaps Reinhart was a stretch at 2 but He will be far better than he has shown & to date that draft class is still mostly cutting their teeth in the NHL & far too early to gauge the losers. Drafting 17 & 18 years old kids is far from being an exact science. Del Colle went 3, Bennett 4, Virtanen 6 & most of that draft class aren’t even NHL regulars yet. There will be some late bloomers in that group.

        He had started to put Buffalo in a far better position & it is going off the rails again. You can’t let the hen’s rule the hen house & that’s just what Ownership has done it Buffalo. Good luck getting anyone to listen to the coach there. Bylsma held the players accountable, Eichel wasn’t used to such. Can you spell Primadonna?

        This is going to get worse, hard to imagine that’s even possible considering Buffalo has been essentially the worst team in the league for a very long time.

      • If Murray was that good he’s have a job by now. He is a scout, not a GM. Rochester was a bigger disaster than Buffalo, the new GM realizes you have to build a winner from the ground up.

        The Okposo contract will be an anchor on this franchise into my retirement, Moulson deal was a disaster. The Ottawa, Winnipeg and Colorado trades emptied good talent for very little in return. You develop young talent, you don’t use it as currency.

      • Bylsma met the same fate in Buffalo as he did in Pittsburgh.

    • I’m not sure that I’d consider 3 straight first round exits as a contender? Regardless of the opponent. Chicago is one thing, but The stars and Blues? 4 playoff wins in 3 years, is not keeping most GMs their jobs these days.

      • The Stars finished that season 1st in the west & 2nd in the league.

        The StL Blues finished that season 2nd in the west & 4th in the league.

        In those 3 appearances against Chi they won the cup in 2 of them.

        This stupid playoff bracket formula we have used since coming out of the 2012-13 lockout is a joke & a huge reason Minny hasn’t had more playoff success.

        The disparity between East & West is also a serious cause for concern, the route to the cup is easier in the east than the west although that has started to balance out over the last 3 seasons. It’s very hard to truly quantify such data due to the imbalanced schedule, impossible really.

      • Regardless of who finished where , Minnesota has got caught in this trap of one and done. All the more reason for change now and not more of the same.

        I don’t believe that Dallas did anything but play way above their level that year. And definitely see Minnesota as the all around better team. And St. Louis I’d say not much better (if any) than Minnesota as rosters go.

        9 years is an awful long time. And they can only use the bracket as an excuse for so long. 3 years, 4 wins is enough. Obviously they need change imo. Roster, ? Coach? Gm? Maybe all of the above. But you have to start somewhere. And the Wild started with the guy that makes the rest of the decisions.

        This team should be MUCH better than they show in the playoffs.

      • Chuck Fletcher brought Eric Staal to Minnesota. He did not cause the injuries to Parise and Suter. Then again, no one said life is fair. Lou Lamoriello may find that out soon as well.

      • Then again, Parise and Suter haven’t been injured every year for the last 3 years.

        I like Staal. I said here many times people were killing his career prematurely. But at the time he was still a bit of a roll of the dice. He won. thinking back, I can’t remember a trade Minnesota has made to really show they were willing to push all the chips in and go for it. As the better teams in the league usually do. Which could also be a part of the problem.

        I think this is a team stuck in 1st gear. It was time for a change or multiple changes. 3 consecutive 1st round exits was a step backwards. Injuries, playoff brackets, …… the same result.

  6. Elliott for Allen? The Flyers are overloaded with goalie’s, no chance they block Carter Hart’s path to the #1, and Allen would be way to costly of a caddy. Elliott & Neuvy will play out the final year of their deals, before Hart and possibly Sandstorm carry the load during the 2019-20 season and beyond.

    • So 18-19 is a wash then?

      • Nah, not at all. Similar production from Elliott, maybe a guy like Lehner on a 1 year deal if Buffalo doesn’t qualify him and they’d likely get in again, gain a little more playoff experience. They’ll continue to work in young players/rookies next year and I honestly think the plan is to sink up a young, talented roster with the arrival of Hart.

    • Carter Hart is 19 years old. The # of NHL starters to getting a starting gig in the NHL by 22 is exceptionally small. Most don’t become full-time undisputed starters until 26.

      Juuse Saros has been a stud in the making, he was drafted in 2013, that’s almost 5 years ago & this is his 1st season in the NHL as the undisputed back up in Nas.

      Gruabauer in Was now 26. He’s ready for a starters role. Gibson has been Anh’s undisputed starter till Andersen was moved to Tor, 25 this July & was drafted in 2011, 7 years ago & he is part of the serious exception getting to the NHL far faster than 90% of goalies. Allen was on this track as well then lost his safety net & crumbled under the pressure of the burden, he’ll be 28 this summer. Hellebuyck will be 25 in May. Demko is 22, he won’t even get the backup role for at least 1 more full season.

      The other best goalies not playing in the NHL. Samsanov Was 21 still won’t even be in the NHL next season. Sorokin NYI 23 this summer, I’m sure NYI would love to get him to the NHL now. Shesterkyn 22 not coming to NYR yet.

      Hart is years away & will need to be mentored for at least 2 then protected for at least 1. Considering the state of Philly’s G they may rush him but unlikely, He should start to see a cup of coffee in the NHL at 21, start as a back up for 2 years at 22 then assuming the starters role at or near 23.

      I think a great short-term solution is Lehner, Buf doesn’t respect what they have, the only thing that ails Lehner is Buf, another would be Grubauer in Was. Lock 1 of these guys up for 4 or 5 years & let them man the #1 role until Hart is ready, being his safety net as soon as he is.

      • True, I do think he seems to be the exception though. Is is just the desperate for goaltending Flyers fan in me?; maybe. I’ve always thought Lehner was a good goalie,I’d think the Flyers do too considering they were linked to him in trade rumours all season.

  7. As much as I would love Parayko in EDM we just can’t move RNH. When you find a player that clicks with McD, plays centre,PP, PK and very good twoway player you have to keep him.

  8. I don’t think the Leafs should even consider moving Sparks. the going rate for him will be a third round at best, for that value they should just hang onto him.

    • Moving a goalie is never appealing. Cory Schneider got one of the best returns you could possibly ask for a goalie, and he was pretty much playing at the level of a franchise net minder.

      The cap world rarely lets teams hold onto two #1’s for too long, and other GMs know it, and won’t pay. The Leafs acquired Andersen for the last pick in the 1st round of a draft, and he was a 26 year old goalie who was a #1 goalie on teams that made the playoffs. Trading a goalie with upside when you don’t really have to just seems unnecessary given the return.

  9. Dorion screwed up massively by extending Anderson last September. After waiting all summer, why not wait and see how the year goes before extending a goalie of that age during the season? BTW, this year was a disaster in large part because of Anderson’s horrible play.

    I’m not convinced Buffalo is dumb enough to not qualify Lehner, but wouldn’t Lehner look great back in Ottawa now compared to the tire fire combo of Anderson and Condon? If Ottawa could find a taker for Anderson or Condon, I’d be all over that.

    • The Islanders or Philly would both take Anderson. Philly would need to send Elliott the other way. Some may say that its a lateral move for Philly but I don’t agree, Anderson has had some form of playoff success.

    • What ailed Anderson was playing behind a brutal D. Methot’s loss was never addressed & without a solid top 4 D what you see is what you get. Just ask Price, he’s considered or was considered to not only be the best goalie in the world but 1 of the NHL’s elite players, how did he look playing behind a terrible D? As bad as Anderson.

      Thankfully Anderson won’t be making 10.5 mil next season but 4.75. His 2-year extension is simply buying time as Ott has no other goalie ready.

      No position better reflects a goalies #’s than that’s teams D & the commitment of the forwards in front of them to backcheck. Just ask Price & Anderson this season, Schenider’s & any Dallas goalie the 2 seasons prior to this year, Edm’s for years, etc..

      Again what ailed Anderson is being forced to face too many quality scoring chances. Top 5 for shots against & many high-quality shots, under Boucher the team can no longer score but worse that D can’t stop the other team from doing so. I assume Boucher will be sent packing by New Years. He’s right on schedule.

      I assume Ottawa is keeping this years 1st which means they may be giving up Jack Hughes to Col next season’s draft as I don’t see Ottawa getting better but worse & it won’t be on Anderson although his #’s will be terrible.

      • So… you’re a scout now? Lmao!! Stop! Games are reviewed by tape! Scouts go to look at players…. and tape. But again you, me and striker are no scout! Say what you want! But it’s a pretty ridiculous way to try and gain leverage in an argument! Period! Why do commentators sit on a box with screens? Because they’re lesser than you , I or striker!?

        Cmon man! I tried to be nice here…. but let’s all be realistic!

    • Taz: No thanks to Elliot. Been there, done that. What I meant was if they could get rid of Anderson or Condon and get Lehner back, that would be a big improvement.

      Striker: I’ve said this before, but the goalies were a way bigger issue than the defense this year for Ottawa. I watched most of their games, many live, and Anderson in particular let in one or two backbreaking, horrible goals nearly every game. You could see the team deflate in front of him and it snowballed from December onward. With good goaltending (~top 10-12 in the league), Ottawa would have challenged for a playoff spot last year. In the end, it could end up being much better depending on how the Brassard trade materializes and if they have some luck with the lottery this weekend. Dahlin or Svechnikov would make Ottawa better by themselves.

      • I’m not being a wise guy here but…. I’ll never understand “I’ve seen them live” to prove a point. I don’t believe there is a seat in any arena that makes this a valid argument. Isn’t the camera angles, use of slow motion, replay, rewind etc. on television a MUCH better option?

        I’m just saying. This is kicked around here an awful lot. And it never makes me think you seeing them live holds any advantage. If anything it’s a gross disadvantage.

      • So true

      • My statement wasn’t so much about Elliott compared to Anderson. Elliott comes cheaper with one year less on a contract. If you think Lehner is the answer then you may be a bit disappointed.
        The Sabres aren’t any worse at D than Ottawa is – and that is not taking into account that Karlsson may be traded this year; good luck getting the puck out of your zone with a sophomore as your #1D (as good as he is) and Ceci as your #2.

        Sorry, that sounds a little harsh but I’m with Striker, things aren’t pretty in Ottawa, I am a resident of the city and seeing it first hand here

      • NYR4Life: There are a lot of things you see live away from the puck that you don’t on tv. With goalies, you can pick up over committing to a play or taking a bad angle on shots better with the broader view. Tv is very focused on the puck only and you can’t always see where things are going, especially on the rush.

      • Taz: Didn’t think of the remaining contract for Elliot being only one year vs. 2 with Anderson. That changes things and could make sense. I’m not saying Lehner would have made them a cup contender, but they would have been a bubble team this year pre Brassard trade assuming Lehner’s numbers were similar to this year in Buffalo.

        Agree that things could get ugly fast if Karlsson is traded. The narrative from management isn’t very encouraging either. Things could change a lot by mid July.

      • Van, depends on where you sit. And sorry. There isn’t one person that’s going along with that….. you could only possibly sit behind a goaltender twice in game. Sorry, you’re not picking up as much live as you are through tape., slow motion, rewind etc…. it’s a useless tool to win an argument on blogs like this…..This is why u see teams use tape instead of taking on a game live to get an idea…. Sorry, I feel this is more of a quick false out to try and gain leverage in an argument.

        I’ve sat in about every area in a bunch of arenas. Center ice, behind the box, bench goaltender upper, lower…. its clearer on tv….. and replay rewind etc…..it’s not an upper hand in an argument.

      • NYR4life: Why bother sending scouts to see players live at games if you can get everything in video? I guess GM’s and scouts should just watch video, save on gas and acknowledge seeing players live was a waste of time during player evaluations the last several decades. Agree to disagree and apologize for having a different opinion, my liege.

      • Are you a scout now? Cmon man! Read comment way above! But stop! Comparing you to a scout!…… unless of course you’re using a real name , and can be verified…..stop!

      • And again….. you aren’t finding too many people that live in reality and know they’re not a scout….., but a fan who think live row 28 seat 27 is better than tv! Beyond a ridiculous way to prove any leverage! You get zero! ….

      • Where did I say I was a scout? All I said is that you can see things live that you can’t on TV. You’re the one that was the antagonist for this and many people agree with my point of view on the subject (hockey fans I’ve met in person or others on this board). I’m not sure why you’re so offended by a different opinion. Life would be pretty boring if everyone agreed on every topic.