NHL Rumor Mill – May 8, 2018

by | May 8, 2018 | Rumors | 28 comments

Latest on the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins plus updates on Joe Thornton and Nail Yakupov in your NHL rumor mill.


ESPN.COM: In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ playoff elimination by the Washington Capitals, Emily Kaplan considers bolstering their blueline depth to be their offseason priority. With the salary cap going up, she feels they have enough space to add a reliable second- or third-pairing defenseman, perhaps by signing a middle-tier free agent. She speculates little-used defenseman Matt Hunwick could become a buyout candidate.

Kaplan also notes it’s reasonable to assume restricted free agents Riley Sheahan, Dominik Simon, Tom Kuhnhackl, Bryan Rust and Jamie Oleksiak will be re-signed “if the money is fair.” Their most notable UFA is Carter Rowney. The Penguins lack a first- and fourth-round pick in this year’s draft. Kaplan suggests perhaps dangling “some of their NHL-ready or almost-NHL-ready talent as trade bait”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins won’t have to do much tweaking for next season. They’ll remain a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Still, they should do something to improve their blueline, especially considering the high number of odd-man rushes they gave up this season.

Cap Friendly indicates they have over $70 million invested in 17 players. Should the cap reach $80 million they might have sufficient room to re-sign their free-agents but not enough to bring in a mid-tier defenseman without shedding some salary first. Buying out Hunwick would free up an additional $1.7 million next season. 

Should the Boston Bruins shop Torey Krug for a defenseman who could better suit their needs? (Photo via NHL Images)


THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes the Boston Bruins’ offseason priority is addressing their left-side defense and it could prove costly to fill. He suggested shopping defenseman Torey Krug to a team that could use his puck-moving skills for a left-shot blueliner who could better serve the Bruins’  defensive needs. He noted the Edmonton Oilers have Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse but the Bruins might have to package Krug with additional assets to land either guy.

Shinzawa also suggests the Bruins re-sign backup Anton Khudobin, who’s due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Anders Bjork, Ryan Donato and Danton Heinen could be in the mix to fill the second-line right-wing role as UFA Rick Nash won’t be back. They could also use a third-line center and perhaps a third-line right wing if David Backes isn’t up to the role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $65 million committed to 17 players and all their core players under contract next season, the Bruins have sufficient cap space to re-sign their remaining free agents and have sufficient space to pursue a left-side defenseman via free agency or trade. 

Free-agent options could include Columbus’ Jack Johnson, Dallas’ Dan Hamhuis, New Jersey’s John Moore and the New York Islanders’ Calvin de Haan. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney could instead decide to go the trade route. 

Moving Krug would certainly be a bold move. While the Oilers could use an offensive rearguard with his skills, I’m not sure if there’s a deal to be had between the two clubs. For that matter, we don’t know if Bruins GM Don Sweeney would even consider trading Krug. 


THE MERCURY NEWS: Paul Gackle wonders if this season was center Joe Thornton’s last with the San Jose Sharks. He noted the Sharks played well during Thornton’s ongoing recovery from a knee injury. He believes GM Doug Wilson can retain Thornton without compromising the the strides the roster made in the veteran’s absence, provided the latter is willing to accept a reduced role, perhaps dropping him to the third line.

Complicating things could be other possible offseason moves, such as perhaps pursuing Islanders center John Tavares via free agency, possibly re-signing pending UFA Evander Kane and re-upping RFAs such as Tomas Hertl and Chris Tierney. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: How much Thornton wants to re-sign with the Sharks will also be a factor. He could accept a one-year, bonus-laden deal but it’ll have to be for much less than his $8 million cap hit for this season. 

TSN: cites a report from BSN Denver’s Adrian Dater asking agent Igor Larionov if Colorado Avalanche winger Nail Yakupov if he was heading back to the KHL. “He’s a grown man, and he will decide what’s best for him,” Yakupov’s agent, Igor Larionov, told Dater.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yakupov is a restricted free agent and unlikely to get a qualifying offer from the Avalanche. Having flamed out with the Avs and the Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues, it’s doubtful he’ll get a contract offer from another NHL club. 



  1. hard to imagine that someone wouldn’t sign Yakupov. He played last year for 875K. 24 years old and for that money is he any worse than any other journeyman player at that price? Once you get over the expectations that come with being a number one overall pick? Guessing he has some serious personality issues.

    • Same goes for Nash. Boston gave up a lot at deadline. They knew what they where getting. He’s not a 40 goal scorer. He’s a good 2 way player that can kill penalties, play in front of net on PP and should score at least 20 goals if healthy. They might be disappointed right now, but don’t automatically assume they won’t re-sign him for the right price. He plays both sides and is still a decent 2nd or 3rd liner.

      • It’s a tough call there. If they don’t re-sign him, it only makes what they gave up for him look even worse. If they do re-sign him and he doesn’t produce…it will be a long few seasons for him in Boston.

      • Maybe the Bruins trade Nash rights for a 4th rounder to make fans happy before the draft

    • Yes he is worse than many other journeyman players. He can’t or won’t play in a checking or physical energy role. So if he isn’t scoring what is he accomplishing that brings value? He isn’t scoring, and never has other than when he was allowed to cherry pick in his early days here in Edmonton.
      I sound like a broken record but the kid has no hockey sense. “like playing with a moth around a light bulb” was the best quote to describe it.
      By all accounts a great person who works his butt off, just isn’t a good hockey player who can’t play in any defined role that brings value to a hockey team.

    • WSH will need depth…and that team is stacked with Russians so if Beagle is not resigned perhaps they get YAK for 900K for 3 years and put him on the 3rd line with Eller…. tons pf skilled Russians there to mentor him and he fits under the Caps cap. =)

  2. The Penguins defense isn’t a bunch of scrubs they give up odd man rushes because they all pinch so much. They tried to sign an average dman last year and that’s how they got stuck with Hunwick. Their top 5 d is set as long as JO doesn’t ask for a crazy high salary. He improved a great deal over the course of the season and I am looking forward to even more next season. They do need to upgrade 3RD. Pensburgh suggested that there could be a deal to be made with Calgary who are looking for wingers and have a ton of young dmen that can’t seem to make the big squad like Rasmus Anderson or Jusso Valimaki. Anderson especially is 21, shoots right, and has enough AHL experience to make the Penguins out of camp. That makes more sense than chasing some aging free agent dman only to get let down again. There won’t be much turnover roster wise next season but if they could trade Sheary or even Rust for Anderson or a similar player they will have depth at every position.

    • their defense regressed when they traded Ian Cole.

      I bet the Pens try to re-sign him, bring more physicality to their blueline

  3. Boston should re-sign Nash on a two year bonus heavy contract this motivates him to produce and allows them to benefit from known tangibles and an easy out budget wise if it flops

  4. There is a saying that a “one is never done “
    Yak will sign somewhere unless he is offered a lot more in the K . He has been over here for a number of years “what a country! “

    If Nash will be reasonable for salary and term he should stay in Boston. Thornton same boat
    Like half their current salaries

    Letang bit the Pens . Zero plus minus but only 3pp points . That means on the ice for 8goals against and I saw a few critical ones especially last two games and the series winner WTF . They need to change him out for a little more of a defensive minded player. Still a top echelon offensive rearguard that will attract interest . This year’s Pens team was better then the previous two in my opinion except Letang was playing Full time 😁

  5. Letang is in for a rough summer in the burgh. I can think of 7.8 reasons he’ll get over it though. Oh well. Murray gave them average goaltending which should have been enough. Malkin kessel brassard being invisible killed pens.

    Let’s go vegalas! Marc-y Marc for smythe! Cement that hof nomination

  6. I don’t understand the logic of trading Krug for Klefbom, who struggled for most of this past season after being very good the year previous.
    Which Klefbom are you getting?
    Krug is what he is, a top ten D-man offensively, who struggles against the cycle and bigger forwards in his own end. He is what he is, and will continue to be that. He is great on the power play and drives offence from the back end. A valuable guy. McAvoy could become that offensive threat, but that is far from a sure thing. I disagree that the B’s would have to add in a deal to get Klefbom.
    They would definitely have to add to get Nurse. Depends on the cost I guess, but I don’t think the Oilers would do it? Nurse is just starting to come into his own and projects to be a top pairing guy. The Oil need a Krug, but they would prefer it on the right side. That’s where the hole is in their lineup. And on the wing. And in the net (at least this season).

    • I agree Ray, guess who else needs a dman like Krug….Boston, not always a fan but you laid it out perfectly of what he is, I don’t believe the bruins would or should trade him.

    • Ben Hutton and a 1st for Torey Krug?

  7. “The numbers don’t lie” Striker comment to me yesterday in regards to Nash being a playoff performer. I will agree Nash has performed in a lot of playoffs but it wasn’t a good performance. The Bruins brought Nash in to score goals and he didn’t have a lot of success with that. Here is Nash goal scoring track record for the last 6 playoffs and corresponding regular season:
    12-13 12 games 1g .08gpg 44 games 21g .47gpg
    13-14 25 games 3g .12gpg 65 games 26g .40gpg
    14-15 19 games 5g .26gpg 79 games 42g .53gpg
    15-16 05 games 2g .40gpg 60 games 15g .25gpg
    16-17 12 games 3g .25gpg 67 games 23g .34gpg
    17-18 12 games 3g .25gpg 71 games 21g .30gpg

    Numbers don’t lie

    • If you’re going off strictly goals, you’re spot on. But the guy does have 46 points in 89 playoff games.

      I don’t understand how Boston brought him in to score goals? You clearly just pointed out that he doesn’t really score goals? Was Boston hoping some how that he’d perform above and beyond anything he’s ever done in the playoffs prior? If so, management needs to be taking the blame for this collapse rather than a guy they brought in to compliment a playoff run…. not be the solution or savior.

      Personally, I thought and still think Boston should have targeted Mcdonagh rather than Nash.
      And had they been able to pry Miller in the deal as Tampa did, it might have been Tampa on the outside looking in rather than Boston.

      • Well, after they lost Carlo at the end of the season they sure could have used Mcdonagh Nyr4life. But I think they were happy with their D and simply picked up Holden as their #8 D to replace Postma on the depth chart.
        That injury screwed up the whole rotation and put players in spots they weren’t comfortable in. McQuaid or Miller are a blood and guts kind of guys, but can’t skate and move the puck like Carlo on the 2nd pair with Krug.
        Hated the Nash trade then, more now. Spooner and Nash are totally different players, but the upgrade was minimal, if anything at all, and the cost too high. Agree with Striker that it messed with the chemistry on the 2nd line. Stand pat or pick up a Grabner or Vanek for depth at a cost of a lower pick.
        The Carlo injury is a bad one for a hockey player. Hope he recovers.

      • Agree NYR4life, I said I rather see them go after Mcdonagh if they were going after anybody on the Rangers, they also could’ve got Evander Kane at a very reasonable price. That would’ve been to solid additions.

      • Bruins could have landed Kane for Spooner and the 1st. Or JT Miller for that price. No one said it was a good deal for Boston unless Nash was 2005 Rick Nash

        This all said-the Bruins 2nd line was very good together before Nash was hurt. It instantly looked like a good move the playoff run.

      • Boston’s problem was simply. They relied to much on the top line to score. Their 2nd line has talent. Some solid players but in the end when their top line is shut down you can beat em even if Marchand and company get a few licks in.

    • I think a big problem with the trade is that they didn’t “Add” Nash, they swapped a good player for a good player, but got the older guy with no chemistry. Whatever upgrade was there was essentially lost due to lack of chemistry.

      Nash in a vacuum, is a great addition. Nash at the price paid as an upgrade over spooner is a bad trade.

    • Well, that’s 1 of 3 categories. Your missing assists & wins. I guess those to categories don’t count in your system but they do in mine & they don’t lie.

      Bos should have stayed away from Nash. As stated since the trade, I don’t like it. Not a Nash fan nor have I ever really been.

      Would have preferred Bos do nothing they brought in a ton of insurance but I like Spooner far better at this stage.

  8. Boston and Winnipeg had their most success when being physical. I don’t get why they don’t hit. Winnipeg didn’t play their game last night and it cost them. It like they know you need the first goal against Nashville very tough to play against when they have the lead, so they’re nervous to draw a penalty don’t want to give up a pp goal.
    Got to play to your strengths, Winnipeg is fast, big and physical need to play to that.
    If your going to lose at least lose playing your game and not Nashville.

    • Agree Caper. TB was more physical and aggressive than Boston. Yet Boston took the vast majority of the penalties. Which seems counter intuitive, but the B’s were chasing the puck for a lot of that series.

      • As a long-time Bruins fan, it was hard to see my team dominated physically like that. Boston really didn’t have an answer for the physical play of Callahan and Kunitz.

        I know the NHL is moving away from “heavy hockey”, but there is still value in having guys who can play that way without crossing the line and taking bad penalties.

  9. Im not a Capitals fan but I love that the Penguins are out. I was waiting for the refs to pull out the Crosby Rulebook. I was totally expecting the Capitals to get a penalty with 3 or 4 minutes left so Crosby could be the hero once more. Perhaps Sid just assumed the call was coming and simply forgot to instruct the refs when to make the call.

    Bestvpart of it was that it was Crosby giving the puck away and Letang that was caught up ice and out of position on the game winner.

    • You do realize that opponents of the Pens were some of the least penalized games in the NHL this year right? They were under the NHL average for PIM, significantly. Sorry if that doesn’t fit your ridiculous narrative.

      • RDH,

        Not about the number of penalties called but when they are called.