NHL Rumor Mill – June 2, 2018

by | Jun 2, 2018 | Rumors | 51 comments

Latest on Phil Kessel, Max Pacioretty, John Tavares, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, John Carlson and more in your NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford poured some cold water on the recent trade speculation regarding Penguins winger Phil Kessel, calling it something that had been blown out of proportion. “I don’t know where this story started. It’s unfortunate,” said Rutherford. He downplayed talk of Kessel being unhappy over not playing as often this season with Evgeni Malkin, claiming it’s inaccurate to suggest that it’s an issue with the team.

“I don’t feel that we have to trade Phil Kessel,” said Rutherford, who also dismissed the notion that any one player was solely to blame for the Penguins inability to win a third straight Stanley Cup. LeBrun believes Rutherford isn’t aiming to move Kessel but he can’t prevent teams (such as the Los Angeles Kings) from making inquiries.

TSN: During the latest “Insider Trading” segment, LeBrun’s colleague Bob McKenzie said speculation of the Penguins trading Phil Kessel has taken on a life of it own in recent days. McKenzie feels a trade is possible but not guaranteed. They’ll listen  on Kessel for an offer they like but it’s not a foregone conclusion he’ll be traded. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I was wondering how long it would take Rutherford to address the recent Kessel speculation. I concur with LeBrun and McKenzie that Kessel could be moved for the right offer but it’s not a certainty he’ll get traded. It could take a package offer involving a good, affordable young player as the centerpiece of the deal to pry him away from the Penguins.

There’s been some speculation suggesting the Arizona Coyotes should offer up forward Max Domi and the fifth-overall pick in this year’s draft for Kessel. Craig Morgan of Arizona Sports considers that rumor “laughable,” claiming the Coyotes won’t part with that pick unless they get a “ridiculous” offer.

I don’t doubt there are teams making inquiries about Kessel, but I’m not sure the Kings could swing it. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $70 million invested in 20 players for next season with all their key players under contract. Should the cap reach $80 million for next season, the Kings would have sufficient cap space to take on Kessel’s $6.8-million cap hit and flesh out the rest of their roster with affordable signings, but they would obviously have to move a salaried player in the deal to make it work.

Such a move could cost them a young forward such as Tyler Toffoli or Tanner Pearson. With over $39 million tied up in six players (Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Dion Phaneuf, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick), taking on another high-salaried star might not be the wisest course of action. 

The Montreal Canadiens have reportedly held preliminary contract talks with Max Pacioretty’s agent (Photo via NHL Images).


TSN: Trade speculation has dogged Montreal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty since before this year’s trade deadline, but Darren Dreger reports there has been preliminary discussions between Pacioretty agent, Pat Brisson, and Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin regarding a possible contract extension.  Pacioretty is eligible next July to become an unrestricted free agent. Dreger isn’t saying a deal will get done but they’re at least consider it.

Pierre LeBrun chimes in saying there could be mutual interest of a reunion between the Montreal Canadiens and former Habs center Tomas Plekanec.

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Prior to Dreger’s report, Chris Nichols cited Elliotte Friedman telling Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 that he still believes Pacioretty could be traded this summer. Friedman thinks Pacioretty would be willing to go to a club like the Florida Panthers but it would have to be for the right deal. He thinks the Canadiens’ asking price before the trade deadline involved center Vincent Trocheck, which the Panthers didn’t want to do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out here. Pacioretty was quite adamant during his season-ending interview of his preference to stay in Montreal. These preliminary discussions could lay the groundwork for a new deal, though his asking price could also set the stage for his departure. Bergevin may have already explored the trade market on Pacioretty, didn’t find any suitable offers and could instead attempt to retain his captain. 


TSN: Darren Dreger reports New York Islanders president of hockey operations Lou Lamoriello and Pat Brisson, the agent for Islanders captain John Tavares, have been in “basically daily communication”. It’s believed the Isles made an eight-year offer. There’s also speculation perhaps the Isles could be a destination for winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who played for Lamoriello when he was GM of the New Jersey Devils, provided Tavares can be re-signed.  It’s believed Kovalchuk wants a two- or three-year deal at “$6-plus million”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s easy to scoff at the notion of Kovalchuk getting that kind of deal, but with the salary cap expected to hit around $80 million this summer, I think there will be a few teams willing to pay him that much. 

Bob McKenzie reports Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is reportedly sitting on an eight-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $8.25 million. If he doesn’t want to accept that, McKenzie believes the Coyotes will review their options, including going down the trade route. Ekman-Larsson is due to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Coyotes aren’t willing to pay more for Ekman-Larsson, other clubs are certainly be willing to do so. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the two sides get a deal done in the coming weeks. Ekman-Larsson has said he’d keen to stay in Arizona and the Coyotes certainly want to keep him. 

Pierre LeBrun suggested the Vegas Golden Knights could get into the bidding for Washington Capitals’ pending UFA defenseman John Carlson. LeBrun stressed Carlson’s priority is to re-sign with the Capitals, but he might price himself out of Washington with a rumored eight-year, $8-million ask.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $66 million tied up in 19 players for next season and Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Jay Beagle, Michal Kempny and Philipp Grubauer up for new contracts this summer, paying $8-million annually for Carlson will take a big bite out of their remaining cap space. A buyout of Brooks Orpik’s contract would free up an additional $3 million to put toward these signings. 

LeBrun also reports the Nashville Predators have made re-signing defenseman Ryan Ellis their top priority this offseason. Like Ekman-Larsson, he’s due to become a UFA next July. A big raise is coming for Ellis.


NHL.COM: Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland recently said he’s open to trading his first-round selection (sixth overall) in this year’s NHL Draft. The Wings also hold the 30th or 31st overall pick acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights as part of the Tomas Tatar trade. The Wings are looking for a center or a defenseman, They could also use the pick they got from the Golden Knights and one of their two second-round picks (33rd and 36th overall) as trade bait to perhaps move up in the draft order.  Holland also reportedly met with the agents for pending free agents Mike Green, Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou during the recent draft combine in Buffalo.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James recently answered some questions from Red Wings fans. She suggested forward Gustav Nyquist could become a trade candidate by next season’s trade deadline. He will be in the final year of his contract and is eligible for UFA status next summer.



  1. No one manipulates the media better than Rutherford. While it is very possible that they have no interest in trading Kessel, stating it as such forces teams to make better offers. Jimmy was probably getting lowballed by teams thinking he HAS to dump Phil.

    How ironic would it be to have the Islanders hire Lou away from the Leafs in order to have a better chance of resigning Tavares only to have JT sign with Toronto?

    • Pens better figure out how they are going to replace Kessel’s production before they consider moving him. I’d look at moving Letang before Kessel, especially if they could get a young defenseman as part of the package for Letang.

      • 4TH HANSON BROTHER…Agreed i would move that human turnover traffic cone letang first…

    • I DON’T THINK kESSEL is being traded…Look 92 points a career high and if playing with Malkin on the second line is what he needs f***king do it.. Brassard can center Sheary and Hagelin…


      • Pens won the Cup last year with Letang, they have already proven they could win without him. I didn’t play very well in the playoffs either.

        Clone a younger Letang, sure – maybe not the current version.

      • That’s why, if there are issues between Sullivan and Kessel they should just sit down and work them out. Maybe get the captain involved. Better than trading a scorer in his prime with tread left on his tires.

    • JT will not sign with Toronto! Time to wake up from your dream now. Toronto has cap issues and needs their money to sign their players….can’t afford JT.

  2. “I concur with LeBrun and McKenzie that Kessel could be moved for the right offer but it’s not a certainty he’ll get traded.”

    In other words, Kessel is just like very other player in the league not named Crosby, Malkin, McDavid, etc. Who would have guessed!

    Honestly, what passes for “analysis” in sportswriting is absolutely pathetic.

    “It could take a package offer involving a good, affordable young player as the centerpiece of the deal to pry him away from the Penguins.”

    No, it will take a package that will make them a better team NEXT YEAR.

    • Only thing pathetic on these pages lately have been your posts.

      • Really is that necessary!

      • Me or him/her above?

      • I think it’s funny how transparent it is that there’s a guy who changes his name all the time and just trolls different people. There are times I leave this site alone and don’t even read it for months at a time when I comment start getting too toxic, the core group of posters here seem like good guys though and quite enjoyable to read most days.

      • Wait. Noitall is a troll?

        A repeat troll?

        Is it schticky?

      • No, I think it’s Pierre Maguire…

    • Lyle is nice enough to put up a new page promptly every day for free. Take your complaints and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine. Nobody likes you.

  3. Leafs don’t need Tavares unless they move Mathews or Marner for a quality D man. Toronto scores enough goals they just have trouble keeping them out of their own net. I think it will be a fun offseason for them lots of decisions to make with their UFA,s and possible moves.

    • Sign Tavares. Trade Nylander for a D. Slot Kapanen into Nylander’s spot.

      Nylander would look pretty good next to Gaudreau and Monahan. A Nylander for Hamilton swap makes a lot of sense on paper.

      Hyman Matthews Kapanen
      Komorov Tavares Marner

      Pretty good top 6 (without Kadri or Brown in it, as well) plus the right shot D they need.

      Not saying it will happen but I don’t think Tavares signing with the Leafs is as unlikely as people think just because Stamkos didn’t do it.

    • Tavaras wants $10-11M over 7-8 years. If you get Johnny T, will the Leafs really need Mathews in the #2 center spot AND will they be able to afford both once his contract comes up?

      I do not disagree with getting Tavaras, but both he and Mathews will take alot of the cap moving forward. So will the quality defenseman the Leafs need.

      Maybe move Mathews to the desert for OEL? That would work for both teams.

      • I don’t think they sign him and then trade Matthews making their franchise player that much older and closing their window significantly. If they trade Nylander it will remove a large upcoming contract. I don’t think they trade Marner, he’s arguably the best player on the team at the moment.

      • I’d like to see Marner hit the gym – he’s good, but he would be alot better at 190# vs his current 176#.

      • Marner could put on some weight, but he’s one of those little guys that just seems to know where things are on the ice, he doesn’t seem to get hit very often but he is always in the middle of things. I really like him. I think he played better than Matthews last season.

      • I like Marner a lot, but the bruins chipped him a lot in playoffs this year.

    • Tavares is terrific…. I don’t think he stays in Long Island if he really wants to win….Whether Lou Lamrillio is now there or a new building coming..

      I think San Jose or Vegas would be an ideal fit…
      If he goes to San Jose with a rested and healthy Joe Thorton, Evander Kane now signed, Brett Burns Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski that teams dangerous.

  4. Montreal needs to start somewhere with rebuilding. If they keep Pacioretty then they’re keeping most of the team, which means same story again.

    Detroit would be stupid to trade 6th overall.

  5. Pacioretty for Trocheck?! Trocheck is already a better player and on a fantastic contract for Florida for four more years. I’d gut laugh and hang up the phone on that offer.

    • nothing freidman says should be taken seriously he dreams up all these scenarios there always way out in left field

      • He certainly has started to get more speculative, sensational in his comments. For me he & Dreger have moved from reputable to sensationalists.

    • I agree fully. Not a chance Flo is moving Trocheck. The best is still to come. He had a stellar year with no wingers. Next season he should hopefully have someone to play with.

    • Pacioretty for kessel

  6. CAROLINA – Kessel, Jarry, Sheary, 5th round pick for Skinner, Faulk, 2nd round pick.

    MINNESOTA – Kessel, Sheary, Hunwick, 5th round pick for Niederreiter, Rumba, Ennis, 3rd round pick.

    ARIZONA – Kessel, Sheary, Kuhnackl for Domi, Chychrun, 3rd round pick.

    DALLAS – Kessel, Sheary for Radulov, Johns.

    • *Dumba

      • Is this spinner Spencer speece…psu

    • Spinner…Your Minnesota proposal is interesting might work for both. Dumba fits in to the penguins top 4 defense.. we get younger with Niederreiter and I love Ennis speed…but Ennis would make 5 centers make they move Sheahan???

      Minnesota gets a premier goal scoring winger in Kessel, a solid 3rd line younger winger, and if in the right fit a capable bottom pairing dman in HUNWICH…..he just fell apart in Pittsburgh



      • Interesting to speculate the Wild would trade Ennis after just one season. Good kid, has great speed. But it’s hard to play in the NHL, even today’s game at 160#. He’s missed some time in the league due to injury.

        Like Marner – could use a little time in the gym.

  7. PK makes $9m Ryan Ellis makes $2.5 how much will Ellis want on his next contract $8m per at 8yrs?
    Nashville has some great deals on D; Ekholm has 4yrs left at $3.75 that has to be one of the best value contracts in the NHL. Josi 2yrs at $4m
    Nashville is paying a combined $9.75 for Josi, Ellis and Ekholm, that is some serious value. Then they all look at their teammate PK who makes .75m less then the three of them combined.

    • Nashville has decent cap space next season before resigning Saros, Emelin?, Hartman and a few other not top RFA. But what gets them past Vegas and the Jets now? In 2020 their D is going to eat that Cap

  8. If Kovulchuk signing with Isles is contingent on Tavares signing, and numbers are correct, that would be 16-18 million for both players. I don’t see how adding Kovy to a team that scored the 7th most goals ,but gave up the most, makes any sense at all

    • I think if they do that then Lee and or Nelson is moved for a D man

  9. I cannot say with any certainty what Treliving will do this month, but I would be willing to bet the farm he will be active. He has cultivated strong lines of communication with the 30 GM,S in the league and is a tireless worker.
    Weather he gets back into the first round or trades for a forward or both you can count on him doing something. He is dealing from strength with defensemen and some top prospects which again are defensmen. We all know that defensemen in this league are valued with a premium over most other positions.
    3 players I think would be great for the Flames would be ROR, Mark Stone, or Kessel

    • I think Treliving is probably one of the most active GM in speaking with other GM’s. I hope for the Flames sake that he doesn’t make a trade for Kessel. Kessel wore out welcomes in TO and now Pitt, he is an odd duck who is gifted offensively but come with issues. I can’t see him fitting in with the Flames culture, the players or meshing with a tell it like it is, no holds barred coach like Peters ( remember his goalie comments in Carolina) If rumors are correct Kessel sulked because he didn’t get his way.
      Treliving made a great deal at the end of the season that the Flames wanted “hate to lose” players and over the years they have placed an emphasis on character of the players they target. Kessel has none of these qualities and I can’t see it working out here. He also has a no trade clause and I doubt after Toronto he would want to play in a Canadian market again.

      The Flames should look for and target players who have the potential to play higher in the line up than they are with their current club.

      Toronto has Kapanen playing on the 4th line (he’s a top 6 player), and Andrea Johnson who played in the playoffs but is in the AHL now. Both have speed, skill and are young. Thus there is a greated upside and low cap hit that allows the Flames more flexibility in their line up and the ability to avoid the Chicago scenario of losing players due to escalating salaries. Perhaps Hamilton for those 2 plus Toronto’s first round pick.

      Pittsburgh has Sprong (AHL) who’s ready for the NHL, perhaps Anderson for Sprong scenario.

      One look at Vegas and we see the new NHL is speed not truculence. Hopefully Treliving targets younger players not 30+ aged players whose best years are probably behind them (we don’t want a Lucic scenario in Calgary, it’s bad enough we have a Brouwer scenario playing out here)

      • What is Treliving willing to give up to get ROR? Buffalo will want wingers, preferably young, talented and cheap.

        O’Reilly will not come cheap – Sabres have no pressing need to trade him.

    • How does ROR fit in Calgary? Their top 3 C positions are filled, Monahan, Backlund & Jankowski. Calgary just signed Backlund to a 6 year extension at 5.35 to be their #2. Is he leaving to make room for ROR? Or is ROR moving back to LW like he played most of his time in Col & if so what happens with Cal’s top 2 LW’s now in Gaudreau or Tkachuk?

      • If I were the Sabres, I’d put ROR on the wing on the 2nd line with Middelstadt.

        And I do not blame O’Reilly for his statements at the end of the season. We often wish players would be honest with there assessments. Don’t blame a guy for not wanted to be part of a loser. Especially when he’s a player who plays both ends of the rink.

      • Striker, I think he would fit in well as the 2nd line center with Tkachuk and Ferland
        Line up would be
        Gaudreau Monahan Foo
        Tkachuk ROR Ferland
        Bennet backlund Frolik
        Lazar Jankowski Brouwer
        Hathaway Mangiapane

        ROR wins 60% of his faceoffs is a proven goal scorer.
        I like Backlund but I think he is more suited to the 3 rd line but like Washington in the playoffs with Ellen he can play up if required

  10. Im curious to who will be in goal for NYI this year.Lou usally starts there .

    • He might have to. But that’s a lot to ask from an ol geezer.

      • I know this would not happen (botterli) former penguin assist gm.

        Kessel letang sheary Brian rust and goalie Tristan jarry to buffalo that’s 75 goals to ur line up

        Scandella and number 1 pick Dublin and Kyle orporso to Pittsburgh

  11. I would take Tyler Johnson from Tampa for my Sabres, I’ve always liked him as a player ever since seeing him destroy the Amerks live, 5 million cap hit. Does anyone know who he played on a line with this year?

    • Why any more centers? Sabes need wingers.

      • Johnson could play wing with Jack

    • Meant team rasmuz dahlin in that blockbuster scenario