NHL Rumor Mill – May 26, 2018

by | May 26, 2018 | Rumors | 39 comments

Latest on Phil Kessel, Ryan Kesler, John Tavares and more in your NHL rumor mill.

A report out of Pittsburgh claims the Penguins could attempt to trade Phil Kessel this summer (Photo via NHL Images).


TRIBLIVE.COM: Tim Benz cites a report by 105.9 FM’s Mark Madden claiming the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to try to trade winger Phil Kessel this summer. “Kessel is OK with that,” said Madden, citing sources close to Kessel and the Penguins.

The winger is apparently unhappy that he wasn’t playing on Evgeni Malkin’s line full-time this season, leading to “underlying dissatisfaction” between Kessel and coach Mike Sullivan. Madden cautions “the key word is try,” citing Kessel’s $6.8-million annual cap hit through 2021-22 and his reputation for being difficult to coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel is coming off a career-best 92-point season but managed just nine points through two playoff rounds. Since the Penguins’ playoff elimination over two weeks ago, he’s been frequently mentioned as a possible trade candidate.

Previous reports suggested general manager Jim Rutherford might listen to offers but the expectation was the winger would return with the Penguins next season. This is the first report to claim Rutherford will attempt to move Kessel, as well as the winger’s apparent acceptance of the effort to trade him.

As of this writing, there’s no word from the Penguins or Kessel addressing this report. The longer this goes without a comment from either side, the greater the anticipation he could be dealt, perhaps during the NHL Draft weekend (June 22 -23) in Dallas.

If the Penguins are serious about moving Kessel, they shouldn’t have much difficulty finding interested parties, However, there will be other issues besides his salary and reputation that could make him difficult to move. Cap Friendly indicates Kessel still has a modified no-trade clause (eight-team trade list). The Penguins’ asking price could be another factor. You don’t just give away a 92-point player. 


SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reports “there’s a chance” Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler might not play next season. Kesler, who underwent offseason hip surgery last year, played just 48 games this season in obvious physical discomfort. He’s undergoing “some aggressive rehab and treatment in an effort to improve the hip area,” but if there’s no improvement, Friedman speculates the center could sit out next season and attempt to return for 2019-20. “The team and the agent are not commenting,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kesler, who turns 34 in August, is signed through 2021-22 with an annual cap hit of $6.875 million. If he does sit out next season, the Ducks could create extra cap room by placing him on long-term injured reserve at some point next season. His absence, however, will create a big gap at center that the Ducks could attempt to fill via trade or free agency.

With the New York Islanders hiring Lou Lamoriello as president of hockey operations, the club is beginning its full-court press of pending free agent John Tavares. Lamoriello met with Tavares last Wednesday. There’s no guarantee it’ll work but Tavares is “definitely listening.”

Friedman also suggests the Isles could pursue free-agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk and upgrade in goal. While there’s speculation struggling young winger Joshua Ho-Sang could be moved, Friedman isn’t so sure, pointing out how Scott Gomez and Nazem Kadri thrived under Lamoriello’s management.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m anticipating some significant moves by the Islanders throughout June aimed at convincing Tavares to re-sign with them. Lamoriello has two first-round picks and two second-round picks in this year’s draft plus some promising prospects to use as trade bait. He could also shop a roster player or two. Forward Brock Nelson’s name surfaced a couple of times this season in the rumor mill. 

Noting that Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic got eight-year contract extensions a year before their UFA eligibility, Friedman wonders if the same could be in the works for center Logan Couture this summer.

Friedman considers the Vancouver Canucks as a “stealth team” for Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin.




  1. “Kessel is coming off a career-best 92-point season but managed just nine points through two playoff rounds”

    Huh? He scores 9 points in 12 playoff games (0.75 pt/game) and you make it sound like he was a compete dud. Almost all players would be thrilled to have 0.75 pt/playoff game.

    • Kessel isn’t like most players. More was expected of him after his career-best season. He put up better numbers on a more consistent basis during the last two postseasons.

      • Kessel could score 100 goals and get criticized.

    • Playing all year and the playoffs with Crosby and Malkin on the PP certainly is not hurting Kessels numbers.

      Still not a ‘fan’ but certainly respect his skill level and come on 2 cups in a row and still difficult to coach. Sorry guys but these athletes making the kind of money that they are should be listening to the coaches as thats what they are paid for, Kessel is paid to play not coach.

      • where does it say he wasn’t listening to the coach? what in his play says he is difficult to coach on the ice. Sounds like Kessel took his gripes to the coaches off ice.

    • Kessel did not play up to par this playoffs but he was injured. I don’t think, especially with his great playoff runs previous, that it would be held against him too terribly much

  2. I still can’t figure out why people insist on reporting that the Hurricanes are looking to move Hanifin. He’s already a great young player and he’s not even close to his ceiling yet. I don’t see Carolina trading any of their NHL level dmen, they might move Jake Bean or Hadyn Fleury but that’s about it.

    • I think Friedman is spinning arpund in a swivel chair, laughing his ass off watching Canucks fans and media reaction over the bone he tossed out there.
      Maybe is Hanifin and his combined -74 can help Canucks backend? Certainly wouldnt trade the #7 pick to get that done. Hughes, Dobson, Boqvist and a host of others will have a better career than Hanifin will.
      Curious what the package that does get him would look like tho. Certainly wpuldnt be Horvat, Boeser, Pettersson, Juolevi or Gaudette. So whats left?
      #37? Cant see Canucks guving up on Dahlen.
      Not much left after that.

      • What a job to have. Being a sports writer and only being able to write b.s. most of the time. If I did my job and was only correct 5 percent I’d be in food line. Vancouver sports writers are brutal, they write mostly about the canuck managements mistakes according to them. Nothing more than arm chair quarterbacks.

      • Maybe if Friedman said Carolina is trading Hanafin to the canucks or anywhere else as a certainty your silly comment might make sense.

        Friedman speculates on possible outcomes using information he obtains through whiledoing his job.

        If Hanafin isnt traded nothing Friedman has said would be wrong.

        I’m thinking your missing this rational.

        Friedman doesnt wake up one day and think. “I’m going to tell everyone montreal is talking to Pittsburgh and Malkin is moving to Quebec”.

      • There so many erroneous assumptions in this statement that it invalidates itself. Congratulations. When you’re done with your crystal ball can I use it?

    • Ya Dee, not the kind of talent you see traded often. It is all speculation, but Friedman isn’t the kind of guy to print something unless he has some intel. It might be as simple as the Canucks making inquiries about Hanafin.
      Or maybe the Canes aren’t as sold on him as the rest of us. Maybe his contract demands are outrageous, or he wants out, if so they will likely move him. Who knows. Plenty of smoke though.
      As always it depends what you get back.

    • Reported one of the main reason Ron Francis was relieved of his duties is because he wouldn’t make a move. It’s widely speculated that one of the d will be moved to bring in some offense.
      There is a good chance something happens at the draft. Carolina will be making some moves.

      • Makes sense Caper, sooner or later you have to try an win now. They can deal from a position of strength on D, not unlike Nashville moving Jones.
        Tyler, I doubt Carolina is trading Hanfin for the #7 pick, it is more about now than the future. If the Canucks could get Hanafin for Juolevi or Gaudette, they would have already made the deal.

    • Dee, I am in complete agreement with you.

      Also for Francis to have traded for a defenseman last season didn’t make sense. Carolina needed Fleury to get a year of NHL experience and the rest of the young defenseman to develop and prove themselves.

      I am more concerned about Carolina’s goalie plans than trading for help on offense.

  3. “Kesler may not play next year. In completely coincidental news, the number of dirty spears in the corner is expected to go down by 50% in 2018-19.”

  4. I am not Oiler fan, but kudos to Todd McLeland for filling out his coaching staff with high-quality assistants (Viveros, Yawney, Gullitzan). All with WHL connections and connections to Todd himself.

    • Reilly like to moves as well Scott. It should be good for what ails them.
      D play and special

      • how do you know reilly likes the moves?

      • Doesn’t everybody know that?
        Get in the game Chrisms.

      • Who’s Reilly?

      • I was thinking. What moves does Reilly like to do?

      • The washing machine? The shopping cart?

      • Reilly was supposed to be Really.

      • Duh 😆

    • Great moves I agree

      • How about a move for a proof-reader?

  5. Kessel for Lucic and a 2nd round pick?

    • Pittsburgh laughs out loud!

    • Hell no lucid sucks..

      • I hate being lucid too… 🍺🍻🥂🥂🥃🍾🍹🍸🥄💉💊. All outta emojis

  6. Dang, I was out of town and didn’t tap the net for 3 days and it’s only now I’m finding out about the possible move of Kessel . I know I mentioned this several times but wanted to bring it up again before I go on. I believe Phil Kessel is a very good hockey player he’s got great talent. No questions from me as to what he has done up until now. Skill set is pritine and gifted. but I do believe the talent is absolutely at its peak now and it is the very best time to trade him. The numbers that he put up this year proves how good and talented he is . However, outside of the fact that he was injured I have watched him for between 500 and 600 games and at each and every game over the last 3 years he progressively becomes more and more wind; and each and every year he is more and more out of shape and heavier. His raw and excelled talent has been making up for the reduction in fitness and progressive weight gain. The actual skating he does on each shift gets less and less…. lots of gliding so that he can put on that fantastic 7-10 second bursts of speed. 30 teams value him very high right now; 30 teams are willing to pay him at his peak 30; teams are willing to trade ….however only eight teams will be able to trade with the Penguins. I believe there will be eight GMs very willing to tak to GMJR, and he should seriously listen to any trade offered for PK. Trading PK right now will free up cap space and/or bring in a valuable 26 or 27-year-old D that would shore up the Penguins D and push Oleksiak to 6D ……and having Oleksiak as the 6thD means Pitts is firm on D. Very impressive . PK this very moment is worth more than 6.8 M hit …. next year this time…. that value IMHO is way lower . Trade at peak GMJR. I was actually daydreaming the other day of a 3 team deal …. Buff will very very unlikely be on PKs list but my pie in the sky (read delusional) trade had PK, the D that shall not be named; and Brass going to Buff for ROR and Skands. Then GMJR flips ROR, Sheary,Rust to ‘Lina for Staal, Skinner and Haydn Fleury…. yes I’m a big dreamer and it will never happen …. except with my headphones blasting the Stones, my eyes closed, on the GO train on the way home …. those moves have very solid D (Fleury 7D) . top line Crosby, Skin, Guentz; 2nd line Malkin & the Swedes; Staal would have Sprong and a free agent winger (more cap space from above moves)…4th… Sheahan; ZAR; Simon …. a guy can dream right?

  7. Phil Kessel to AZ for Domi and a 1st


    • Interesting …. I don’t think you were listening to the Stones when you thought of that… B52s maybe?? LOL. If Arz one of the chosen 8 (which it most certainly won’t be)…. while listening to Bohemian Rhopsody … your dream inspired a new dream for me … PK + the D whose name we shall not say + Connor Sheary for OEL + Brendan Perlini

      • Oh heck for ships and giggles I’ll throw in the old Khunucklehead

      • if it looks more like
        TO AZ: Kessel/Hunwick
        TO PIT: Domi, Hjalmarsson & 1st

        it makes more sense

      • Exile on Main Street or Sticky Fingers? Wore those records out when I was a kid. The problem with getting full value for Kessel is he likely wants to go to a contender, they are usually up to or close to the cap. Means you have to take a crappy contract back or eat salary. Could be a tough deal to make as the opposing GM knows your options are limited.

  8. Ray…If Pens & GMJR are interested in moving PK …. they will find a partner to discuss…to IHC… yes ur deal makes much more sense … but I can dream… and shame on u for saying the name that shall not be named. One team for sure on PKs list is Chi …. not so very far from home town( Maddison, Wi)…. obviously Chi would want to swap Seabrook for PK…. a non starter…. GMJR should counter with PK + that which shall not be named ; for Duncan Keith and Duclair …. my dream has Chi accepting that if Pitts throws in the Khunucklehead

  9. One other team that was mentioned on TSN was FLA (as PK had at one time had FLA on is 8 team list … I’m guessing because of the sweet tax benefits)… the key pieces moving with logic would be PK and Matheson … in my dreams the balancing for full trade would throw that which should not be named going South and McGinn coming North…. can I have another Brandy sir? If Ana on list and with Kessler potentially not playing next year ….PK and that which shall not be named going West and Montour and Richie heading East… One Bourbon, one Scotch, one Beer …please and thanks Good Sir.