NHL Rumor Mill – December 29, 2018

by | Dec 29, 2018 | Rumors | 37 comments

Reaction to Stars CEO’s harsh criticism of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, an update on Artemi Panarin, and the latest Rangers speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Tom Cowlishaw reports Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites’ calculated, expletive-laden attack on Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on Friday “feels a lot like the end.” In his years of covering Dallas sports, he said he’s never heard anything like it, suggesting it could also be a shot at the local media for not giving the Stars as much attention and coverage as the other local sports teams. 

Harsh comments by Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites aimed at captain Jamie Benn and linemate Tyler Seguin raised eyebrows around the NHL (Photo via NHL Images)

Cowlishaw is curious over how Benn and Seguin will react to Lites’ scathing public critique of their efforts. He also wondered if they were “even remotely tradable while having subpar seasons after being decimated by their own management?” Cowlishaw went on to note both will make nearly $10 million per season starting in 2019-20 when Seguin’s new contract kicks in. 

NBC SPORTS: Rather than aiming his ire at the Stars’ two best players, Adam Gretz believes Lites should instead focus on the poor job management has done surrounding the pair with quality players. While Benn and Seguin are well-paid and their production has slipped a bit this season, they’re still producing more than most of the league and more than anybody else on the Stars.

Gretz points out the supporting cast is highlighted by a young John Klingberg on defense and aging center Jason Spezza. He noted Alexander Radulov’s strong numbers but he’s put most of those up skating on the Benn-Seguin line. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While everyone is awaiting the reactions of Benn and Seguin, it won’t be surprising if some pundits begin musing over the possibility of one or both asking to be traded or if the Stars are willing to field offers for either guy. Right now, I don’t believe either scenario is imminent.

Lites’ remarks (which apparently had the blessing of owner Tom Gaglardi) seem to be meant simply to light a fire under his two best players. And perhaps Benn and Seguin will take it as such.

 However, if the Stars miss the playoffs or exit from the opening round, ownership could engage in a serious re-evaluation of management and the roster. That might also include the futures of Benn and Seguin, who could also decide to assess their place with the organization.  


TSN: Agent Dan Milstein, who represents Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin, said the pair will meet during the All-Star break next month to discuss Panarin’s future. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. 

“We’re going to talk about, obviously, the team itself, the prospects of the future,” Milstein said. “He’s extremely competitive, he wants to help the team to win. We’re going to be looking at rosters, looking at teams, looking at the possibilities and the future role that he may have on the team and he’ll basically make a decision.” He added Panarin likes it in Columbus and the franchise has treated his client well. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen will be interested in hearing from the Panarin camp by late-January. Some observers have suggested Panarin could be traded by the Feb. 25, 2019 deadline if he’s unwilling to commit to a new contract by then. I maintain they won’t move him as long as they remain in playoff contention and will continue trying to sign him in the offseason.


THE ATHLETIC: Speaking of Panarin, Rick Carpiniello believes the New York Rangers could be quite interested in the Jackets winger if he tests the open market on July 1. He suspects they’ll be “all-in, with plenty of cap space and a willingness to go long-term to get it done. Such a signing would/should speed up the rebuild, especially if some of the top prospects arrive in 2019-20, and if more are collected via trades and/or free agency.”

Carpiniello also doubts the Rangers will pay what could be a six-year deal worth $6.25-million annually to re-sign pending UFA center Kevin Hayes. He expects Hayes, Mats Zuccarello, and possibly others could be moved by the trade deadline, giving the Rangers all the cap space they need to pursue Panarin in July. He also wondered if the Jackets would be interested in Hayes as a rental player. 

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: cites NHL insider Pierre LeBrun’s appearance on Toronto’s TSN 1050 on Friday discussing possible moves by the Rangers. While long-term starting goalie and franchise player Henrik Lundqvist might be feeling some frustration this season, LeBrun doubts he’ll be going anywhere, speculating management will give him assurances of being an “intriguing team” during the offseason because of their cap space and the possibility of signing someone like Artemi Panarin via free agency. He also suggested Erik Karlsson as an option if he doesn’t re-sign with the San Jose Sharks, citing Karlsson’s friendship with Lundqvist. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have over $59.5 million invested in 13 players for 2019-20. Assuming an $83-million salary cap for next season, they’ll have around $23 million to work with. If they part ways with Hayes and Zuccarello, they won’t have any potentially expensive core players to re-sign. If management ships out more salary, they could have sufficient room to pursue Panarin and perhaps another UFA such as Karlsson.

What Rangers GM Jeff Gorton must do, however, is avoid the mistakes of his predecessors from 15 to 20 years ago. They used free agency as their primary means of roster building and spent seven straight seasons (1997-98 to 2003-04) sitting outside the playoff picture. And that was back when there was no salary cap and the Rangers were among the league’s biggest spenders. It’s not just enough to sign the best available talent. They must also ensure that talent will be a suitable fit.

As for Hayes, he’s reportedly leaving the decision over a new contract or trade up to the Rangers. He wants to stay but he could end up on the trade block as a playoff rental near the trade deadline if a new deal cannot be reached. Hayes claims he’s not worried about it and won’t let the uncertainty affect his play. 


  1. I don’t believe NY will be using UFA’s as they did in the late 90s early 00’s.

    They seem committed to a rebuild and haven’t even sniffed the tempting “quick fix “ UFA’s or trades such as Karlsson, Tavares etc.

    Without question they will ( and already have ) face enormous pressure from the media and fan base to be competitive now. Patience and NY don’t go hand in hand, and rebuild is a filthy word in NY.

    However, falling into that trap, will basically destroy everything they’ve done to this point. Trading Miller , Mcdonagh, soon to be Hayes, Zuccarello, and possibly Shattenkirk, Mcquaid, etc. for young prospects and pics will be a complete waste of time if they’re just going to flip them for older players or lose them to signing bad contracts.

    NY should concentrate on developing all of these picks and prospects they’ve accumulated, and fill in blanks with stop gap type free agents for the next 2-3 years.

    There is no shame in a few ugly seasons. Maybe, just maybe they can pick up a top 3 pick this year and next to kickstart the rebuild!
    I won’t hold my breath for that …but….

    • NY, as a Leaf fan I understand the pressures of winning now. The Leafs went through that mentality for 50+ years. We know how well that went. The only reason they have a strong team with plenty of prospects is committment to a proper rebuild. Wish the Rangers luck in doing what you suggested.

      • Trekkie, doesn’t hurt that you had #1 overall pick in a draft that had generational talent there. Also 4th pick in the year McDavid and Eichel went 1-2. Having Mathews, Marner and signing Tavares are 3 biggest reasons you’re contenders today. Rangers havnt had the luck of picking high nor have their picks turned into elite players.Their highest pick of last 2 drafts was just sent back down to AHL. We do have more picks and prospects over last 2 drafts (and probably next) than Toronto had, so I’d say we’re probably ahead of your pace as far as rebuilding. Would help if we can finally have some luck in lottery and get Hughes!

      • 55 years and counting since NY has had a top 3 pick in the draft!

        Pretty disgusting that one of the largest markets, largest revenue generating teams, most valuable franchise in the NHL, original 6 teams has never really had a franchise player drop in their lap!

        I like what Toronto has accomplished in a short period of time since taking this direction. Exactly how you build. Draft a Mathews , Marner , Nylander and THEN add a Tavares etc. not the other way around.

        Personally, I’d prefer they find a franchise d-man and go from there…. they have a bunch of young talented forwards. One of the best goaltending prospects in the game.

        The best thing NY could do at this point is send Andersson down. He will benefit much more from playing a 1st line role in Hartford than he will playing 7 minutes a night with Cody Mcloud in the NHL.

      • Anderson is 20 years old, 7th overall pick and can’t crack top 9 on one of worst lineups. Where were Mathews, Marner and Nylander at 20? Some say he’s better off in AHL, others say he’d benefit more playing at higher level and practicing with NHL players. Chytil and Howden both playing. Hopefully works out, but I’m not high on this kid. Fact is Toronto since drafting Nylander in 2014, has made one pick in 1st round each year. Rangers have had same amount in last 2 drafts and could possibly make 2 or 3 again this year. Add to that guys like Howden that where former 1st from other teams. I don’t think Rangers plan for next year is to get in lottery again.

      • How many guys from that draft are lighting it up?

        I’ll wait for that answer…..

        Expecting the 7th overall to com in and be a Mathews , Mcdavid may be a little crazy!

    • What’s the difference if they sign Hayes or not, hes not a franchise forward player or a #1 Center and most likely a second line center on any other team. Lundqvists window is gone they have no real franchise player to build around and a lot of spare parts for other teams that are getting older as it was said below, in Zuccs, McQuaid, Stall Shattenkirk and so on, is signing Hayes going to make or break them moving forward ..hardly not.
      You say give him $6.5 that’s Nylander money on a wish and a prayer as a stop gap guy until they can make a bold move and try and rebuild regardless of how unhealthy the word is in NY, its a rebuild, they have nothing to hang a hat on. If signing Hayes is the biggest move they need to make that is hardly a noteable improvement to a retool (rebuild)
      Other teams in the East are getting younger stronger faster and more creative the Rangers are in a flux of old and new.

      I would dare say that the Blue Jackets have better over all depth team than the Rangers do and they are right on the cusp anyways with Panarin so if Panarin goes to the Rangers with that core he will not severely improve that roster he will give you points but he will not drive the bus.

      If the Rangers are serious about moving forward in a positive way they should look to rebuild with young 1 A D men and work that out first from the back end out not looking for just draft picks, they need solid young D men prospects in return for the guys mentioned via trades, not every team can keep all the players they drafted 3 years ago and there are some young D men that are finishing off the Entry level deals tat will be available, they need to research those guys and go after them and accumulate those assets first, watching the world juniors will tell you that and how important it is.

      Rangers only have 2 million in cap space and only 2 UFAs and about 6 guys they want to trade and an aging goalie and no real one player that would be considered a top echelon player in the league to build around on the team or in the minors.
      Its an end to an ERA with Lundqvist and they need a rebuild.

    • I say move Shatty, McQuaid and Zuc, keep Hayes. I could live with that. It will take a few years but they did not hire a college coach to coach veterans. He is there for the youth and I believe (hope) that they will stick to the plan. Panarin at 27 is still just young enough to be a leader on this re-built Ranger team.

      • Slick, one comment about Marner, most of the Leaf brass wanted Hanafin. Mark Hunter convinced them all to take Marner. So part of the luck is having the right people influence. Agree that luck plays a role and Taveras was a very nice unexpected add and yes that stuff helps. It’s about time the Leafs had some things go their way -50+ years is way too long 🙂 G/L to your Rangers.

      • Trekkie, not criticizing, just pointing out that Rangers have actually drafted and traded for more prospects in a shorter time frame. We just havnt got a guy like Mathews. If we where to get Hughes in draft, we’d pretty much be right where you where. I can see Kravtsov making team next year and I think he’s a higher end talent. We’ll have a bunch of picks again this year if we can cash in on Zuc and Shatty. Again, back to my original comment. Let’s see where we are in summer before talking FA.

      • One could put a real reasonable argument up that hanifen would be better overall for the leafs now. With hindsight of course.

  2. I don’t see the point in discussing FA for Rangers. I think whatever they do with Hayes will be a good barometer for their plans moving forward. Trading him will signal they have no plans of competing in near future. Fans who say they can get someone of equal talent for cheaper in FA are dismissing the fact that he’s only played for Rangers and is the type of core player that is considered a leader on this young team while being in his prime. I think there is mutual interest to get a deal done. We’ll know more after Jan 1st. Zucharello is gone for sure. Should fetch return similar to Nash last season. To me, moving Shattenkirk should be a priority. As far as free agents, let’s see what roster looks like after draft. Good chance we could have as many as 3 or 4 1st round picks.

    • Zuc and Shatty have dipped in production for various reasons…not sure how many teams going to give up much for either-this 5 forward Powerplay could help Zuc. Hayes is the chip, Names could have some interest.

      The only contending team that could use Henrik is Calgary and cannot see him agreeing to that move.

      EK as a Ranger would add a 4th RD that is weak in his own zone….

      • DS… not sure where the narrative comes from that EK is weak in his own zone. Seems like any D man with offensive ability gets same label. Honestly, like I said, nothing to talk about anyways. SJ has been a team that’s shown they will give long term deals to older players. EK can’t sign 8 year deal until after trade deadline. Regardless of who may or may not be available in summer, Rangers need to decide who is part of their core moving forward. Good chance we’re picking near top of draft and trading Zuc and Shatty will help that cause. Both dealt with injuries that have hurt their numbers. I still think both will fetch at least a return similar to Nash, who wasn’t producing at a high rate either. Trading Names and Hayes when they’re in their primes certainly would bring better returns, but what is end game? Extending rebuild and stockpiling picks and prospects doesn’t guarantee you’ll be any better off 5 years from now. Trading those guys and you can pretty much assume there’s no way they go after free agents. And if you’re willing to deal Hayes, then you might as well shop Kreider too, cause he’ll be in same boat next year.

      • @Slick62
        I have caught 5 Shark games this season and EK still looks 70% and his coverage is not great

        I understand the injuries on those players and the Kreider situation. I would think a peak age Kreider would yield a nice return but his Russian speaking is invaluable with Kratsov and possible hank heir on their way.
        Zuc wont get Nash pull and who wants Shatty…

        End game who knows. Rangers in 2021

    • Yeah, I don’t think Zuccarello is getting a Nash like return. Without some production and some health it will look more like a Grabner return.

      • NY4… Nash had 34 points last year in 71 games. I realize he’s a better all around player, but Zucc injury was a hamstring issue that shouldn’t be an issue going forward. He’ll still end up over 40 points and would be a great rental for a contender adding secondary scoring.

      • Zuccarello is definitely a creative guy, and plays a lot bigger than his frame. Absolutely one of my favorite rangers to watch. However, he’s been ice cold since returning. In order to hit 40 points this year, he’d have to stay healthy…. and average about a point a game.

        He’s never been a point per game guy, I can’t see him hitting 40 this year. Still has a lot of talent, and a lot left in the tank. But he’ll be a rental at the deadline. Coming off his worst statistical year.

        I said about a month ago, I have a hard time gauging his value. Didn’t think he’d get a Nash like return. But maybe a 1st and prospect. But his missed games, and slow return smells like a 2nd and a prospect to me.

  3. And I’m all good with Hayes coming back, but not at more than 6.5 for 4 years which I’m sure he’ll get more on the open market.

    He’s on pace for 20-22 goals , and around 60 points. Nearly identical to Zibanejad. I’m not all for spending for his leadership ability. Nor would I consider him a core piece. He’s about in line with Stepan and what he was to NY… which was not enough to get over the hump.

    • NYR4life and Ranger fans, do you want the Rangers to pursue Panarin as a UFA or do you see the cost and term being to much and at 27 he is to old for the rebuild?

      • Caper, as I said above, a lot will depend on what roster looks like come July. If they feel they will be looking to be a playoff team next season, then I can definitely see them signing him. All depends on how far rebuild goes. Last year there was same talk about Kovulchuk. To me biggest need is on a 1st pair right D. Currently lack a big shut down guy and nothing currently in pipeline. Defense currently one of the worse groups in league. If Hayes does get dealt, I would hope he brings back that type of player or prospect.

      • Caper,
        I like Panarin, if NY was closer to contention I’d be all about signing him. At this point, I think it would be wasteful.

        Imo, Panarin doesn’t make this team much better than what they are today. A hard pass for me.

    • I agree on Hayes. I’ve said all along if he’s looking to cash in big time, it won’t be with NY. I think he’s a good fit at right price. Just as important might be what kind of ntc he might want. As far as moving on from Stepan, I would think Hayes was part of that equation. If we where weaker down the middle then, we’d be even worse off moving forward.

  4. I realize that EK >>> Shattenkirk, but unless the Rangers can trade KS by the deadline, or at the draft, would they really want to tie up that much salary on two offensive dmen who are deficient in their own zone? and considering the other holes in their roster, especially if they let Kevin Hayes walk?

    • Dont forget ADA and Pionk on the right side
      EK to NYC makes little sense. Panarin if UFA is a no brainer

      • I’m assuming if EK and family are happy in Cal., then there’s a good chance he signs in SJ. If he did hit FA, zero chance Rangers can sign him without trading Shatty. Either way, they should be looking to deal him. This is not same team he signed with. Rangers need to give him minutes and put him back on first PP unit. Build up his value. I’m more interested in getting out of that contract than whatever return they get. He has no fit with current team.

      • DS, neither Pionk or ADA will ever be a top pair D man, but they can give you same production as Shattt for less money and at a younger age. Trade Shatty!!!

      • I’m definitely not a Deangelo fan. Never really have been. But I think Pionk could actually be a top pairing guy with the right partner and time.

        Right now he is a top pairing guy. And he doesn’t look lost out there. He’s young and paired with Marc Staal on the top line……

        I’ll leave it at that.

      • @Slick62(late…)
        Exactly…. ADA is actually harder to play against than the banged up Shatty.
        Pionk on a 2nd pairing in an ideal world is acceptable.

        Shatty was signed to be the righthand to McD. Tampa bound?!?!? ;-0

      • DS, I’d love it if Tampa had interest in Shatty. Help them win and we gain another 1st round pick. They’re set on left side with McD, Hedman and Sergachev. They have 3 guys ufa at seasons end, so there’s a need plus they’ll have the cap space. He wouldn’t need to be a star. Their window is now, and they have prospects we’d be interested in. If they had interest in Karlsson, then Shatty is a much cheaper option. Also think a return to St Louis could be an option. Plenty of talk here about them looking to shake up roster and wanting players, not prospects. Shatty plus Vesey or Buchnevich for Parayko?

      • Tampa is not taking Shattenkirk. They dodged that disaster. They have to deal with Point….. pipe dream!

        Would you take on Shattenkirk to lose Point? No!

  5. Trade Nylander for controlled d man like Muzzin and a pick. Trade for Gudas and you have a decent core of defense needed to go a long way in the playoffs. Rielly / Ozhiganov Dermott / Holl Muzzin / Gudas A total of $15 million dollars. Great mixture of skill, speed and toughness. No more Gardiner, Zaitsev, Hainsey. Total of 22 million dollars invested in defense and goalies assuming Sparks sign for $2 mill.
    That leave $61 mill to arrange the forwards.
    Line 1: Johnsson / Tavres / Marner ($24mill)
    Line 2: Panarin / Matthews / Kapanen ($24mill)
    Line 3: Martin / Hyman / Reaves ($7.5mill)
    Line 4: Moore / Lindholm / Gauthier ($3mill)

    A total of $58.5 mill invested in the forwards.

    $3.5 mill allocated for 3 reserve spots in the roster. (Lindgren / Ennis / Marancin etc.)

    This means letting go of Nylander, Kadri, Brown, Marleau a total of $19.25 mill. To bring in Pararin, Martin, Reaves total of $13.8 mill. Surely now you have toughness to go up against any team in the league without sacrificing offense. Artemi Panarin is an absolute STUD, he and Matthews will be a FORCE to be reckoned with. Just like Tavares and Marner is. A definite upgrade from Nylander/Matthews duo. Now you will see maximum potential of Auston Matthews with guy like Panarin feeding him the one timers and vice versa. For Panarin its like playing with Kane once again but with upgraded version. I really like this roster potential with Hyman’s line patrolling the ice and keeping opposition honest. A real good shut down d pairing of Muzzin and Gudas. TO will be a FORCE for the next 4 to 5 years with the core contracts all under control long term. Go Leafs Go.

  6. Slick 62…..No doubt the Leafs got lucky in Matthews being there when they choose 1 and Marner when they choose 4 or 5 th….but you have put yourself in the position where you can get lucky…

    Also think few Free Agents ‘s pay off….so far Taveres looks like he might…but in Dallas they are starting to worry about Radulov

    I am interested in the re-building process..and I think after 5 to 10 in a draft…better go for more choices as you start to invite odds of bad players being chosen….so some extra choice draft picks serve a team well…make trades with 5 year age difference even if your new younger player is not equal to the older one you trade away to get him

    Also think once a team decides on a re-build as the Rangers did in their letter to fans….go all in ….go all in quickly while you have the fans ready to accept the process

    If you accept the above premises Slick62….what would you do when if you were Rangers GM??

  7. The CEO must have been feeling the heat from the ownership in Dallas but needs to stay removed from the players. What does he know about playing ?
    That is a GM and coach’s job not his. A suit whose comments probably means very little motivation to the players. Not happy -fire somebody

  8. NY4… I’m not knocking either one, but if they’re ever going to be contenders, I don’t see Pionk as the guy who plays over 20 minutes a game against other teams best line. I don’t see anyone in pipeline filling that role. Shattenkirk wasn’t meant to be that guy either. I see both as more of a second pair, power play guys. If guys like Trouba or Parayko actually become available by trade, those would be type of “top pair” I’d look for going forward. Only a year or 2 older than Pionk. Either way, my point was really about moving Shattenkirk. Makes sense for both sides.

    • I hated the idea of trading for Shattenkirk back when he was moved out of St. Louis. And even hated the idea of signing him to any term.

      I said then, Yandle part Deux. Shattenkirk is a guy that is a Pp specialist and a 3rd pairing guy.

      I’d definitely take Parayko or Trouba over Pionk. But again, not now. What would those guys cost NY? Probably a lot of what they’ve just started building.

      In order for this rebuild to really happen, it’s going to take patience. They have 3-4 top 50 prospects at the moment. I definitely want to see them develop these guys before showing any one of them the door.

  9. it looks like team does not want anymore to do trades for the fun of doing trades.