NHL Rumor Mill – December 24, 2018

by | Dec 24, 2018 | Rumors | 49 comments

Latest on Jeff Skinner, the Flyers goaltending, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.


WGR 550: Brayton Wilson recently cited TSN’s Darren Dreger’s report of mutual interest between the Buffalo Sabres and winger Jeff Skinner to get a contract extension done. Acquired by the Sabres from the Carolina Hurricanes in August, the 27-year-old Skinner is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.  Dreger speculated contract talks could heat up by mid-January and certainly before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline. Skinner has a full no-trade clause in his current contract and is interested in staying in Buffalo.

The Buffalo Sabres and Jeff Skinner have a mutual interest in a contract extension (Photo via NHL Images)

Wilson’s colleague Joe DiBiase observed the Sabres have sufficient salary-cap space to re-sign Skinner, who is rumored seeking an eight-year contract worth between $9-$9.5 million annually. His current salary-cap hit is $5.725 million. With the recently-terminated contract of Patrik Berglund coming off the books, the Sabres have roughly $30 million in cap space for 2019-20. DiBiase believes re-signing Skinner won’t prevent the Sabres from making other moves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Sabres have just over $52 million invested in 14 players. Assuming an $83-million cap for 2019-20, they’ll have plenty of cap space to re-sign Skinner. Their other noteworthy free agents (Linus Ullmark, Jason Pominville, Nathan Beaulieu, Jake McCabe) should be affordable re-signings.

Skinner’s developed tremendous chemistry with center Jack Eichel on the top line. His presence has significantly improved the Sabres this season. It wouldn’t surprise me if they open the vault to keep him in the fold on a lucrative long-term deal, perhaps before the trade deadline. 


SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston weighed in on the goaltender options facing the Philadelphia Flyers. He noted colleague Nick Kypreos reported Saturday that Los Angeles Kings starter Jonathan Quick is a Flyers’ trade target. He believes they want to bring in an experienced mentor for promising Carter Hart. Despite Quick’s injury history and $5.8 million annual salary-cap hit through 2022-23, Johnston believes he “still moves the needle”. His actual salary declines “from $3.5-million to $3-million to $2.5-million in the final three seasons.”

Johnston also noted the limited options currently in the goalie market. Carolina’s Scott Darling is playing in the AHL, New Jersey’s Cory Schneider appears hampered by offseason hip surgery while Keith Kinkaid is an unrestricted free agent, and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard is also a UFA but appears keen to remain a Red Wing. Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky could test the UFA market in July but he’s also had his fair share of ups and downs this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The options aren’t that good for the Flyers. Yes, Quick’s actual salary declines in the final years of his contract and when healthy he plays well. Unfortunately, that injury history (mainly of the lower-body variety) and his age (he turns 33 in January) makes Quick a gamble.

Waiting for Bobrovsky if he hits the open market next summer could be their best bet but there’s no certainty he’ll want to return to Philadelphia. He’ll also be very expensive, costing over $10 million per season on a long-term deal. 


THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus reports Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brandon Manning isn’t seeking a trade but he’s open to one. A recent healthy scratch, he said he wouldn’t be upset over a trade after noting a recent report suggesting he and Jan Ruutu were available. Lazerus notes a source claims the Blackhawks have received little interest, suggesting the Hawks might have to absorb up to half of Manning’s salary to move him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Manning is signed through 2019-20 with an annual cap hit of $2.25 million and lacks no-trade protection. If his playing time continues to decline, the Blackhawks could try peddling him closer to the trade deadline in hopes a contender seeking experienced blueline depth becomes willing to take him off their hands. 



  1. Skinner can have 8-8.5 million, no way 9-9.5. I’d rather trade for Malkin, Tarasenko or Pat Kane if we had to pay that much.

    • I agree with you Matt – Skinner is good, but I would think $7.5M would be the max he would get from anyone.

    • Trading for any of those players will cost you plenty. Skinner hasn’t played with the same talent around him as those other guys. Look at his numbers playing with Eichel. He could hit 40 goals. He’s second in league behind Ovi. I’m not sure he’ll get 9.5 ( maybe if it’s only 5-6 years) but it’s pretty much same number people are saying Panarin will get.

    • Weren’t you just saying the other day that players 32 and over were pretty much retirement material?

      Now you’re saying you’d rather Malkin (32 with 4 years left of term) Kane (30 With 5 years left of term) or Taransenko (27 with 5 years of term ) are better ideas than Skinner?

      Aside from that, if these players were actually available, what kind of cost do you see associated with acquiring any one of them?
      How much youth are you willing to trade for one of these guys who you see in need of wheelchairs and aarp cards?

      • Oh yeah Brian Rust two more assists! I told you he would catch fire…which is all I said in the first place and I agreed we would have to add to get Muzzin..
        I said a game like a hat trick can spark a guy and it did….

        Now that the penguins are playing a lot better we may not need Muzzin (he would be nice) but more depth defenders a Jordy Benn, Jay Boumeister someone like that…. and another forward.

      • Nyr4life… Brian Rust is playing well which is all I said to you in the first place and that he is a talented young forward…

        But I guess paying 35 year old Kovalchuk $6 million per is more your speed or lack of speed in the Kings case…glad the kings won two in a row…

      • Rust is playing well on a line with Crosby and Guenzel….. put him on a line with 27-28 first line centers in the league and he’s hot garbage!

        He’s 26, and hasn’t topped 40 points yet! If LA were to start a rebuilding process…. they’re not starting with that piece of hot 💩!

        Stop acting like this guy is what LA needs please !
        When he’s hot trash again in 10-15 games …. you’ll be yammering on about how great he was for this stretch! The same way you did last year with Hagelins January!

        Bottom line , 1 goal the first 30+ games still equals hot garbage! Stop acting like this guy has any significant value outside Pittsburgh’s 1st line! He doesn’t !

      • And no, I’d have no interest in Kovalchuk whatsoever. However, that doesn’t mean I’ll take on a 26 year old that is a career 3rd liner or worse outside of playing with Crosby!

        And certainly not at the expense of a top 4 dman!

      • Also, we don’t need a daily update on that superstar Rust! See me in May-June when he puts up 60 points or better…. and can do so on any other team!

        You calling him “red hot” after ONE game he scored a hat trick is still as ridiculous as it sounds!

      • I always say don’t sign most forwards to long deals over age 30 but there are two exceptions, Malkin and Patrick Kane…Skinner I much rather have him for only 5-6 years even if it cost more money. Winnipeg was insane to sign Blake Wheeler until he’s 38-39 for that money and TJ Oshie won’t. E good when he’s 40

      • Malkin is a guy I would worry about more than any player that age. He has literally never even come close to a full season in a decade!

        How will that translate into his mid to late 30s?
        He still produces at a high level. But what good does that do long term if he averages 60 games a year?

        This is NOT a guy I want for the next 5 years! Or 2 1/2 Malkin years.

    • 9-9.5 million is going rate
      i think you pay for production and jeff skinner loves it here.
      i much rather pay skinner than what maple leafs payed out to nylander,nylander is good but alot to prove yet.at least skinner has produced for two teams and is a scoring machine as of now.

      • James. Totally agree. He’s going to end up with monster numbers this year. He’s already proven to be a good fit. If you’re not willing to pay one of your top performers an extra 3 mil, then you’re not serious about winning in future

      • Nyr4life..no one wants you for the next 5 years either..happy holidays..rust will end up with 15 goals and if you put him with kopitsr he might score 20….and yes if the kings rebuild he would fit….you need some talent even if rebuilding…rust is a solid just admit it.kings are aging kovalchuk carter brown

      • So Rust would do better with Kopitar than he’s currently doing with Crosby?

        Now we’re just throwing logic and reality out the window I guess?

    • Skinner is a 25 goal scorer that is over achieving in his contract year, has concussion history, and really is worth no more than he’s making now, of course though the sabres will pay him much more than that and we will be talking but out in less than 3 years.

      • Skinner has had 3-30 goal seasons so far, most of time playing with no one any good.

      • I cheer for Jeff Skinner – he’s a Markham boy – and I hope he stays healthy and has a great career but, like others, he has the concussion issue hanging over him. Sidney Crosby seems to have moved past it, here’s hoping Skinner does the same.

      • Nyr4life…you just dont get it do you..he would reach 15 to 20 goal potential with kopitar…if the kings rebuild a 26 year old forward would help kings are unloading we take muzzin we add a pick..everyone’s happy

      • I don’t think you get it. Muzzin is one of the easier assets LA can move at the moment. If they’re thinking rebuild, they certainly aren’t starting with a 26 year old 3rd liner!

        Kopitar is playing with Iafallo, who’s younger and also 2.5 million cheaper per year.

        Let’s stop pretending Rust would have the same or better success with Kopitar than he would Crosby. Beyond ridiculous pipe dreams!

        It went from Rust for Muzzin, to Rust wouldn’t be enough, to “Rust is on fire they can keep Muzzin” back to Rust and a pick for Muzzin.lmao!

        Which clearly shows us a couple of things . 1 , you obviously value Muzzin more than Rust. 2 you are obviously confused and can’t keep the same thoughts together for more than a few days.

      • When was his last concussion???

      • Only 40 NHL players have played more games than Skinner during Skinner’s career. Since the 2015-2016 season Skinner has played 280 of 283 games. Some fans seem to think that Crosby is past his concussion issues but Skinner is not. Skinner has played 90 more games than Crosby since 2010. When you consider that throughout Skinner’s career in Carolina he was by far the most targeted player on the team it’s hard to think of him as frail. At what point does Skinner lose the injury prone tag?

  2. Bob is NOT the answer for Philly. Neither is Quick. Patience is the answer. See how Hart continues to progress and just lower your expectations for the short term (if that’s possible). There are 3 more decent net minders in the mix, hope one of them buys you time. Never sign Bob for long term at 10 per year. That’ll be Bryz all over again in a few years…

    • Agree with the patience. But it all starts at the top, doesn’t it? Do something with the captain, the booger wiper first. I remember the organization rubbing his back and saying its ok, team Canada are a bunch of dum dums for not picking you, they have a problem, not you. You are a perfect little snowflake just the way you are. Here is the captaincy, go act like a clown, forget about the flyer way. Well, I’d say that kind of sookie nurturing goes against the old flyer code too. Not sure what to do there, they’re stuck with him for 3 more years anyway.

  3. I think Quick is the answer for the Flyers. Short term and elite when playing. You don’t want a player with a 10 year shelf life .
    Konecny and a prospect for Quick and a draft pick

    • No way you trade konecny for a aging quick.

    • I agree! No way on Konecny (with a capital F)!
      I’d be hesitant to pick Quick up on waivers, his future will not look like his past.

      I think you make other moves, like a veteran D-man first.
      Then start reworking the offense…

      • Yes vet d man to help 9 and 53

    • Cam Talbot

  4. If Kane got 9 mil, wouldn’t Skinner be worth same? Current contract signed 6 years ago, is a raise of 3-4 million after 6 years unrealistic? He’ll be 27 when new contract kicks in. I don’t see him getting 8 years, but could get more per year if he agrees to 6 year deal. Looking at he’s already on current roster, you’re only adding about 3-4 mil to cap. Considering cap is expected to rise 4 mil, seems like a no brainer. 34 year old Moulson and 35 year old Pominville aren’t even playing and you will gain over 10 mil in cap space when they become ufa at end of season. Somebody will pay Skinner and will be a big loss for Sabre’s. They’re finally a playoff team. Why would you take a step backwards? If anything, I’d try to move Okposo at deadline.

    • To be clear. I’m talking about Evander Kane. Not Patrick

    • I would give a team Okposo for free and a first round pick just to get rid of him, he is only bad contract Buffalo has, he is washed up at age 30, totally useless on the ice.

      • Mayt, I repeat – if this guy is so bad, why not put him on waivers and send him to the AHL?

    • Evander Kane is getting 7.5 million cap hit per year.

      • Yes and that is also where Skinner will end up, with a $7.5M average over 5-6 years.

  5. Bring back Kari Lehtonen!

  6. If Malkin was a free agent last season or this he would get 10 + on the open market. Because Kane , Malkin and Tarasenko signed before cap goes up is the only reason they don’t get more now. Scheiffle in Winnipeg is the best deal in hockey right now but if he signed today it would be for a lot more

  7. Philadelphia should call Sweeney about Rask. Still a good goalie but having a below average season. Might get him cheap considering the salary. Neuvirth and Simmonds for Rask. Money equal.

  8. 9 is fine for Skinner. He’s done a world of good for Eichel and looks like a young Phil Kessel during his Boston years with Marc Savard. Name a better money-only option. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

    Philly may want to let this Carter Hart thing play out. He looked somewhat shaky against Nashville, and clearly isn’t ready for bona fide #1, but even if they run with an a/b the rest of the year it gives him nhl level starts with no pressure to win. This season is kind of a wash, may as well develop the next class. Maybe find a decent almost-starter to play mentor. Someone like a Marty Biron near the end of his career. I don’t know if anyone like that is available this season

  9. The Sabres will need to pay Skinner. They will need to pay the usual “Buffalo premium” to do so. Either in $ or term.

    • Remember though that Buffalos owner will front load a deal with huge cash up front, 75% of money in first 3 years or less like ROR

  10. Merry Christmas everyone! Even you ny!

    • Merry Christmas guys, girls and those of you who identify as something else entirely.
      Be good to each other, and don’t drink and drive.

      • Into the closet goes edmcwoman outta the closet comes Ed McMahon!

    • Merry Christmas my favorite millennial!

    • Seems no one likes ny huh chrisms black n gold

      • And I cry myself to sleep over this every night!

  11. Skinner is having the best season of his career but it may be closer to what to expect in his next four years than his career in Carolina.

    He is now in the prime of his career, finally playing with a true number 1 center, and he is getting more ice time.

    During Skinner’s career (2010-present) only 12 players have scored more goals than Skinner and only 4 players, Stamkos, Kane, Tavares and Ovechkin have scored more even strength goals. Compare Skinner’s time on ice during his career to those players.

    Consider the linemates Skinner has had prior to this season. He never really played with a number 1 center and his best linemates may have been Ruutu and Jokinen.

    Only 40 NHL players have played more games than Skinner during Skinner’s career. Since the 2015-2016 season Skinner has played 280 of 283 games. Some fans seem to think that Crosby is past his concussion issues but Skinner is not. Skinner has played 90 more games than Crosby since 2010. When you consider that throughout Skinner’s career in Carolina he was by far the most targeted player on the team it’s hard to think of him as frail. At what point does Skinner lose the injury prone tag?

    Skinner’s reputation in Carolina for being a defensive liability restricted his playing time.
    A stat that I find amusing is that only 3 players have more takeaways than Skinner during his career, O’Reilly, Thornton and Tavares.