NHL Rumor Mill – December 20, 2018

by | Dec 20, 2018 | Rumors | 38 comments

The holiday trade freeze is in effect but that doesn’t stop the NHL rumor mill. Check out the latest on the Rangers and Maple Leafs.


NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien examines possible moves by the New York Rangers leading up to this season’s February trade deadline. Players on expiring contracts, such as Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes, could attract interest from postseason contenders. O’Brien also doesn’t rule out the possibility of the Rangers bringing back Zuccarello as a free agent this summer on a short-term deal. He also suggests the Blueshirts could retain some of their salary (especially Hayes’) to facilitate a deal to a cap-strapped contender.

New York Rangers forward Kevin Hayes remains the subject of trade speculation this season (Photo via NHL Images)

Rangers forwards Chris Kreider and Vladislav Namestnikov are signed through 2019-20 but O’Brien believes they could be attractive to playoff-contending teams. He also brought up the possibility of moving goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, though he admits that’s a far-fetched scenario.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks doesn’t want to see the Rangers deviate from their rebuilding process that began last February by making deals simply to reach the playoffs this season. However, he also doesn’t want them to go into “starting all over” mode. He thinks they shouldn’t move Hayes unless his contract demands become unrealistic or an interested club offers up a young, first-pairing defenseman. “Both of these hypotheticals are unlikely.”

Brooks’ colleague Brett Cyrgalis notes Namestnikov’s improved play in recent weeks has improved his trade value but he’s also become valuable to the Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Assuming the Rangers go into sell mode in February, Zuccarello and Hayes are the most likely trade candidates. Hayes is on pace for a career-best 65-point performance and will attract lots of interest in the trade market. The longer he remains unsigned as the deadline approaches the more likely he’ll get shopped.

Kreider or Namestnikov could be moved but there’s less pressure to trade them. General manager Jeff Gorton will be patient with those two. As for Lundqvist, he has a full no-movement clause. As long as he wants to remain a Ranger, he’s not going anywhere. 


TSN: Craig Button suggests the Toronto Maple Leafs use their nearly $6 million in cap space this season to improve their Stanley Cup chances this season.

If they seek a defenseman, Button proposes Vancouver’s Alex Edler, Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall, and New Jersey’s Ben Lovejoy. Edler has a big shot and can skate big minutes. Leafs coach Mike Babcock knows Kronwall from his coaching days with the Red Wings. Lovejoy has Stanley Cup experience.

Button also suggests Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds, Carolina’s Michael Ferland, and Los Angeles’ Trevor Lewis as options who could bring additional grit to the Leafs forward lines. Simmonds and Ferland can also contribute offensively.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be surprised if Leafs GM Kyle Dubas doesn’t bring in a rental player or two as short-term fixes for his current roster weaknesses. Perhaps he’ll consider one of Button’s suggestions. Edler has a no-trade clause and could be unwilling to waive it. Kronwall has a modified no-trade clause and there’s talk he’ll retire as a Red Wing. Simmonds seems to have slow a step following offseason pelvic surgery. Ferland recently returned from a concussion. Lovejoy and Lewis also have injury histories. 



  1. I’d think the Rangers would be targeting winger prospects as returns.
    Perhaps young roster ready wingers. The Jets and Leafs have some nice ones.
    Maybe Skjei or Shattenkirk can be moved too. But that’s me dreaming. I’m not fan of either.

    • Shattenkirk is a shell of his former self and he was never a true top pairing D. A team looking for powerplay help maybe … but Tony D is a better target for that than Shatty. I think Rangers hang onto Pionk but their right side D has 3 players of the same skillset

      • Ds. Agree and disagree. Coming off knee surgery, he’s been playing himself back up to previous level. Unfortunately, should injury derailed him. He should be back in early January and hopefully can build value towards deadline. I agree he’d be more valuable to a team looking for that type. With Pionk and DeAngeli, Shatty isn’t a fit with rebuild. Rangers need a big right D man. I mentioned yesterday, I’ve seen rumors on a Blues page that he’d be welcome back there. It’s been observed that they’ve gone downhill since his trade. Either way, Shatty and Smith should both be moved ASAP . Then Zuc. If they can do that, then maybe you keep Hayes, as long as it’s not an unreasonable contract. I don’t see him getting over 5 years and 6 mil.

      • shoulder injury. Not should.

      • @Slick62 I still think Shatty is a 2nd pairing D with 1st powerplay unit skills. These 2 injuries will not help him at this point in his career-maybe the STL room needs him back? 2nd round pick be fine if they take the salary. Is he any better than Pionk or ADA?

  2. Edler, Kronwall & Lovejoy??? Exactly why Button isn’t a GM anymore …

    • Who do you suggest they go after that won’t cause them to mortgage their future?

    • I think Kronwall or to a lesser extent Lovejoy both could be interesting options as rentals depending on the cost to acquire, yes the Leafs need something a little more long term and stable for D but just as added depth and a bit of a different look could be worth a look as rentals. They got the space this year and in the case of Kronwall hard guy to play against and keeps guys head on a bit of a swivel which is something the line up could use

    • You can type that again!

  3. Kevin Hayes performance has been better than I expected(thought we had seen what he is…) so I admit that and its great that he should bring in a nice pull.
    With his new contract needed I cannot see the Rangers keeping him

    Obviously Boston is logical but the Bruins overpaid the Rangers last season. Winnipeg, Colorado and Calgary could use the secondary scoring punch…

    BTW any rumblings about Rick Nash returning?

    • ds, if you are trolling Bruins fans with the Nash comment it worked.
      Unless Gorton feels guilty about fleecing Sweeney last year and trades the B’s Hayes for just a 1st, then I hope Sweeney doesn’t call him.

      • @Ray Bark not trying to troll just with Hayes making sense for the Bruins I still cant seem them over the overpayment for Nash

      • I don’t see how Nash trade has any bearing on B’s and Rags making a deal. If Boston was willing last year, they’re in same boat this year. Difference is Hayes in prime and Nash was way past prime

      • It was a weak attempt at humor DS and Slick. I would love Hayes on the B’s, as always depends on the price and methinks it will be steep.

      • Ray Hard pass on Hayes. Since Sweeney has taken over he seem to be in a love affair with local talent. Hayes is a ufa wait until then. He alone does not make the Bruins a contender.
        Sweeney did a nice job of building the cupboards but no need to be empty by acquiring guys that can immediately walk.
        I don’t want to see any ufa traded for. None, zero, nil, zilch.

      • Caper, we are back at the same place we seem have a difference of opinion on.
        Sweeney has done a decent job restocking, but other than McAvoy there are not the elite players that can form the core of a true contender. Some other good D prospects as well.
        Carlo, DeBrusk fit into that as they can play key roles. Frederic, JFK, Senyshyn, Zborl, Stunika can be regular NHL players. But I don’t see the 1C in the group and you need one to contend. A really good one.
        Bergy is. Go for it now.
        Agree lots of NHL’ers coming, just not elite.

      • Bergy wasn’t elite until he was. Boston is not a cup contender and no way does Jimmy Hayes make them a cup contender. There isn’t one single available player that makes Boston a cup contender this year. If Sweeney wants to trade prospects it better be for players with term.
        Sweeney track record of Nash, Backes, Hayes, Belesky isn’t that impressive.

      • Agree with the assessment on Sweeney’s trades Caper, but Hayes is a better acquisition than any of the players you mention.
        While I don’t for a second believe that Boston is in the same class as TB, Nash or WPG if they get Hayes, but they would have a shot.
        What I don’t see happen over the next 2-3 years is a replacement at center, and Bergy was way ahead of any of the prospects they have now at the same stage in their careers.
        They also are highly unlikely to get one drafting where they will. Is it possible? sure but highly unlikely.
        I am not sure what you are proposing they do Caper? If you just keep the status quo and add the young guys to the lineup will they be able to contend for one next year or the year after or the year after that? I don’t see it.
        If the answer is no, then in 3 years you will be worse off than you are today and pissed away opportunities to win the cup.

  4. To GMKD

    Kronwall … no thanks

    Lovejoy …. a major and expletive filled no thanks

    Edler …. will be tough to get … I don’t think it’s the answer

    I’m sticking with my repeated mantra that Leafs have an extremely low chance (to me basically impossible) of SC this year … no need to blow your brains out on costly trades now unless it’s a long term acquisition helping now and for years ( read ” Parayko-like” or “of-the-same-ilk” type of trade)

    I would have liked WW for Sanheim / Simmonds 3 weeks ago

    WW’s best trade value will come July 2nd after signing bonus is paid …. trade then for D upgrade

    GMKD …, I get your public stance re “not worried at al regarding an offer sheet”… but you best be EXTREMELY wary

    They (offer sheets) are rare for many many reasons already discussed

    This WILL be the rare occasion .

    Agree that you only have to match if signed and I’m extremely skeptical of MM signing one.

    AM , on the other hand, I’m not so sure of.

    I can all but guarantee an offer sheet from Arz

    Barroway should immediately fire Chayka if he doesn’t

    It’s a no brainer … Arz has nothing to lose … and everything to gain

    The threat from other GMs “pressure/old-boys code” is not there as ALL already expect them to do it

    From an economic perspective … every single penny spent in AM Sal in excess of his true player value (in production) league wide; will return at least 2-3 cents back in revenues

    $100 M for 7 years …. that should be the offer… the cost of 4 first rounders is absolutely nothing to them as they have a young core and this addition would be huge for the organization

    $100M to be treated as an absolute God anywhere in the state of Arizona and likely in other parts of the desert would be difficult to turn aside (IMO) for AM; and at the very least he can wave the offer in GMKD’s face to up the offer from Leafs

    Can Leafs match …. yes and no …. yes if they lose a load of other players and also accept then …no cup. No in reality…,

    ….$14M for AM means $11M for MM…. $7M left to sign 9 players (reminder league min this year is $650K); Gardner gone; D at that time would be Reilly; Zaitz; Dermott ; Holl.

    Still to sign: Kappy; Johnson; Lindholm ; back-up goalie

    Even if he flios Kappy for D upgrade (which I’m against unless it is a Parayko like upgrade) which will cost $4M at least … leaves $3M… so you can sign 4 more player at League min … try playing the entire year with an 18 man roster… can’t be done

    ….. So GMKD …. your complete and undivided attention better be in nailing down an extension and less on a trade deal this year that has a completely minuscule (IMO) chance of getting a cup in ’19

    Rant over

    Will be out of loop for several hours but I humbly expect to come back to a plethora of angry re-torts … be gentle …. it’s Christmas-time 🙏😀

    • Pengy. Recently saw updated odds on winning cup and Tampa and Leafs are both the favorites. So Oddsmakers don’t agree that they’ve no chance. I’ve mentioned Brendan Smith as a possibility, same as Kromwell. Familiarity with Babcock. Wouldn’t cost much in a return and chances are Rangers would be willing to retain salary. Would help playoff depth while adding much needed toughness

      • Slick62: Brendan Smith isn’t happening as he has term left on the deal and is overpaid. If Zaitsev was in the deal, maybe, but I can’t see the Rangers wanting that contract. Smith only has 2 years left on his deal with only $1M in signing bonuses (easier buyout) and Zaitsev has 5 years left with $7M of signing bonuses.

  5. Pengy Barroway is either looking for partners or will want to sell soon, here is a bit of an article on all the debt that the Coyotes have…

    The man loves hockey and was more than excited to purchase the team and became the sole owner in July 2017. He pledged a lot, including making the team a winner. The team is playing much better this season (7-7-1) but still has not made the playoffs since the 2011/12 season.

    But, the asking price ($500M) may be pretty steep for a new owner to come in and assume the debt which may be close to $300M without feeling the financial pinch.
    That would mean a new owner would be losing 40 percent on the investment. Not many millionaires who have any financial intelligence (unless it’s a tax write-off) would bite for that.

    In other words, Barroway whose business is money knows when to hold ’em and knows when to fold ’em

    ….now that being said I seriously doubt they would be looking to light another 75-100 mill on top of the 300 mill of Debt that the team already has it would make the Debt value of the team more than what the team could be sold for, if anything I could see the Yotes stripping down further as far as payroll goes…Its a business and a hedge fund guy owns it and again the team was just moved to the central why you think that is? Maybe because the NHL and Barroway both have an idea that the team likely wont be there long and it helps avoid another realignment down the road when it eventually happens…The yotes saga is coming to an end Pengy I cant see why anyone current owner or potential owner would be interested in owning something worth around 500 mill that’s carrying over 50% debt load, again who is signing the for Matthews?

    • You wanna buy a house for 500k that can only be sold for 250? If the answer is yes do I ever got a deal for you! a year or 2 of playoffs and another couple hundred seats sold for $25 a piece (and that’s assuming the plan worked)are not eating in to that debt load in the near future and they still would somehow have to pay others to see any real improvement. As I don’t think a back up and a roster that’s cap is made up of guys on LTIR being paid 24 million by insurance companies to get above the cap floor, unless the insurance companies would like to pick up some of Matthews new offer sheeted contract

      • And just to make it worse for Barroway, it sure doesn’t sound like the city of Phoenix or the State are going to fund another arena.
        It seems you can only put a gun to their head so many times and make false promises of returns and they tell you to take you team and F… Off.
        The problem in Arizona is that these teams have kept coming to the well; Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals and even the state university.
        Sounds they are done with it and have decided they may need to pay their teachers instead of pissing away $$ on sports team’s stadiums. The citizens have had enough.
        Go figure?
        The big question is now what?

      • I live in the Bay Area and would love to buy a house for $500k.

      • Arizonas debt is more than the franchise is worth..the owner has desperately tried to get the nhl to value the team at 500mil. Currently it is 306mil. Debt and forbes value of 290..they lost 50mil. Just last year..maybe coyotes can ask mlse for a loan

      • Pretty sure it’s a question of connect the dots Ray, Houston newer arena owner with lots of money paid 2 billion for the rockets, in state rival pretty much sell out far more than in Arizona contract in place with a regional network, tax right off against the 2 billion dollar big brother, good lease deal already has an AHL tenant…they chose the Yotes for a reason to move to the central and it’s definitely not because of location as Arizona isn’t the closest to the mountain Time zone They (the NHL and Barroway will try to squeeze for a higher price of course but its starting to shape up like a move is coming

      • Seems perfectly logical Shticky.

  6. re: Simmonds. A potential bargain. Many players “recover” from injury well enough to play, but take much longer to fully recover to top form. Simmonds has upside under this theory. As a Bolts fan, I’d rather the Leafs don’t grab him.

    • Fair enough Richard, but it can also take a full off season of training. My guess is teams will be watching to see if he is making improvements or not.

  7. Honestly believe Rangers priority is dealing 2 guys they signed in belief they where going to contend. Smith and Shattenkirk. I think there’s a good chance they keep Hayes. Zuc is gone at deadline. Same for McQuaid Throwing names like Kreider and Namestikov around doesn’t make sense unless they’re part of a deal for a guy like Parayko or Tarasenko. I don’t see a scenario where they keep trading players just to accumulate prospects and hope they pan out 5 years from now. Any deals now will be to get rid of older guys. As I said, I think there’s real interest on both sides to keep Hayes.

  8. if gm are longer able to be agree, we should have a bidding process on available player.

    • Or the player should go to the waiver wire.

      • A Sabres fan mentioned yesterday how poorly Kyle Okposo has played with little or no expectation of improvement. Why wouldn’t Buffalo put him on waivers and send his contract to the minors? In fact, why don’t more teams do this?

      • There are a couple of things, off the top of my head that might explain why.

        For one, just because a guy isn’t living up to his contract doesn’t mean he is entirely ineffective. They don’t gain any salary cap relief by demoting him, and if they aren’t a better team with whatever replacement they have they are better off playing the overpaid player.

        Secondly, with demoting there is the consideration of how that looks to future free agents. How an organization treats their players may have some effect on who will or will not sign with them.

        Just my thoughts.

      • how many times have we seen players signed to lucrative long term deals that look good for a year or 2 and then the player flames out and the contracts turn into an anchor? think of all the buyouts over the past 10 years and players today on teams who are not productive yet untradeable.
        I would like to see more GM’s go the 2-3 year deal offerings. I cringe when I see a GM signing players close to 30 yrs and older to deals in the 6,7,8, year range.

      • BUFF can offer OKPOSO to EDM for LUCIC & Pujujarvi (however ya spell it).

        BUFF gets a former 1st rd pick and can see if he clicks with Eichel. Lucic adds some toughness to their line up and Okposo gets a fresh start and perhaps will be a decentt fit with MCDavid.

      • I think the Oil would prefer to see if Puljujarvi can be a fit on McDavis’s wing. Hitch had them on the same line today in practice. Sooner or later they will give that a go for more than a period.