NHL Rumor Mill – January 20, 2020

by | Jan 20, 2020 | Rumors | 70 comments

Should the Canadiens re-sign Ilya Kovalchuk? Will the Leafs shop for a defenseman? Could Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich become available? What’s the latest on the Red Wings? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


MONTREAL GAZETTE: Jack Todd believes the Canadiens should re-sign Ilya Kovalchuk, who’s tallied eight points in as many games since joining the club on a one-year, $700K contract earlier this month. Todd feels the 36-year-old winger could continue playing at a high level for the next two seasons. While acknowledging there’s risk in re-signing Kovalchuk, Todd feels it’s pointless to trade him for a draft pick when the Habs are already well-stocked in promising young players.

TVA SPORTS: Pat Brisson, Kovalchuk’s agent, said it’s too early to talk about a new contract for his client. He said Kovalchuk is very happy playing in Montreal.

Will the Canadiens re-sign or trade Ilya Kovalchuk? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand the excitement some Montreal observers are feeling about Kovalchuk’s performance thus far. If he continues playing well, regardless of where the Habs are in the standings, perhaps general manager Marc Bergevin will consider re-signing him. However, he could also receive a tempting offer from a rival club before the trade deadline.

As we saw with Andrei Markov and Alexander Radulov, Bergevin has shown reluctance to re-sign 30-something stars. If he decides to keep Kovalchuk, he doesn’t have to lock him up to an expensive long-term deal. Given the winger’s age, he could make it a one-year, bonus-laden contract. Of course, that depends on how much interest there is in Kovalchuk heading into this summer’s free-agent market. 


TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has to have a defenseman of some caliber in his sights, even if Rasmus Sandin proves himself as an NHL regular. Acquiring a blueliner would also have to make sense for the cap-strapped Leafs.

Rental players include New Jersey’s Sami Vatanen, San Jose’s Brenden Dillon, and Chicago’s Erik Gustafsson. However, Dubas has shown he’s willing to add a player who’s not on an expiring contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  If Dubas pursues a blueliner, it’ll likely be a dollar-in, dollar-out deal. There’s a growing sense it’ll cost the Leafs a good, young forward like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alexander Kerfoot to bring in a decent top-four defenseman.

The Leafs have been linked to Dillon. The Athletic’s Michael Russo wondered if they’d have any interest in Minnesota’s Jonas Brodin, who’s signed through 2020-21 with an AAV of over $4.1 million.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks observed Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich hasn’t generated much offense of late. He’s managed just one goal and three assists in his last 13 games, and two goals and four assists over the last 23 contests.

Brooks speculates Buchnevich “is certainly to be a topic of conversation in the executive suite as Feb. 24 approaches,” regardless of where the Rangers sit in the standings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks pointed out Buchnevich has battled flu-like symptoms for the past week, but that doesn’t account for the decline in his production since late November. The 24-year-old winger tallied 21 goals and 38 points in 64 games last season and 43 points as a sophomore in 2017-18.

Buchnevich is signed through 2020-21 with an affordable $3.25-million annual average salary. He would attract interest if the Blueshirts shop him at the trade deadline.


DETROIT FREE PRESS: In a recent mailbag segment, Helene St. James was asked what Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman will do at the Feb. 24 trade deadline. She notes Yzerman’s intention to add more picks to the eight he already holds in the 2020 NHL Draft but could be hard-pressed doing so. Struggling pending UFAs such as Mike Green, Trevor Daley, and Jimmy Howard will have limited value in the trade market

Andreas Athanasiou scored 30 goals last season, but the decline in his production this season has tarnished his trade value. St. James feels it’s pointless to move the 25-year-old Athanasiou unless the return boosts the rebuild. The Pittsburgh Penguins might consider him after losing Jake Guentzel to shoulder surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Athanasiou is probably Yzerman’s best trade chip. I don’t see him shopping a young core player like Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Anthony Mantha, or Filip Hronek, and Robby Fabbri has fit in well after being acquired from St. Louis earlier in the season.


  1. “Todd feels it’s pointless to trade him for a draft pick when the Habs are already well-stocked in promising young players.”
    Lol… 10th place in conference needs all the picks they can get.
    It’s a brutal roster in Montreal.
    Sorry dont see a light in their tunnel.

    please stop reporting on his dribble.

    • Regardless of your opinion of Brooks, he is a member of the NHL media. The purpose of the Rumors section is to report and comment on trade and free-agent speculation from the NHL media.

      In other words, no, I won’t stop linking to Brooks’ column.

      • And that’s the Tooth, the Whole Tooth, and nothing but the Tooth

      • Exactly Lyle! I’m not a fan of Brooks. Usually don’t agree with his opinions, but, he’s a long time beat writer and has access to info that others don’t.

      • Lol. Well said.

    • I can’t stand Brooks. But suggesting trading Buchnevich is far from the worst thing a beat writer is suggested. Hell its probably not even the worst from Brooks this week!

      I don’t get this particular outrage?

    • I agree Tooth that Todd is wrong about the picks but not the rest of your post. I think all teams should want to accumulate as many picks as they can without gutting their current rosters. Every pick a team gets is a player that the other 30 team do not get. The pick is an asset that can be used as ‘currency’ to build your team, get as much as you can. The Habs are done this year, plan for next. When the teams ahead of them make up their games in hand, the Habs will be out of the playoff race by at least ten points.

    • umm … that would be drivel … dribble is a basketball term … and like him or not, at least he has balls and isn’t afraid of asking questions that aren’t considered to be softballs …

  2. Interesting, even before reading Brooks comments I thought Buchnevich could be a player shopped. Many teams looking for secondary scoring and I think he’s the type of player that could benefit from a change. Seems to always be banging heads with coach Quinn. Everyone focuses on Kreider and the rfa’s whose contracts are running out but Buch is a guy who could be part of deal to unload Anderson or Gorgiev.

    • Agreed that Buch could be shopped. He is way too streaky with his effort. Time he is extremely noticeable (though not scoring) and other time he is a ghost. I just do not see a team itching to get him.

      Probably best to ride out the contract and move him to the 3rd line with Kakko & Chytl. Move Howden back to 4th center.

      and work on trading a goalie and pick to shore up the top 6 rw spot

  3. Nah, montreal has a few good upcoming prospects. They dont need a draft pick, they need a goal scorer. As old as kovalchuk is, he’s big name that excites the fans. If the montreal roster was healthy, with the addition of kovalchuk, they’d have a team that could do really well. I dont know if its Staley cup material, but they could definitely contend for it. It just doesn’t look like that’ll be the case this season. On the other hand, if the team was healthy and doing well like the beginning of the season, they probably would’ve never picked up kovalchuk. As a habs fan, I like the roster they have now if everyone was healthy. I just dont know where kovy fits in when everyone comes back. Great teacher, one of the all time best players in the league, bergevin was right when he said it was a no risk pick up.

    • he has been a great addition during the recent stretch of games. I hope it continues. But draft pick that might be received in trade for him could go towards trading for another, more suitable, long – term acquisition.

    • And how exactly did Bergevin’s reluctance to sign Markov and Radulov work out for the Habs?
      If Kovalchuk is playing well in mid February and they can get at least a 2nd rounder for him, do it. If they can’t do better than a 3rd, might as well hold onto him and see if they can sign him. While 3rd rounders are good to have, they usually don’t amount to anything,

      • Quick Note if I remember correctly.. Radulov was offered a contract, I believe it was the same $$/term as the one he accepted but he chose Dallas..

        and honestly why not get as many draft picks (lottery tickets) as you can, you never know and if he likes Montreal, Bergevin could still re-sign him over the summer as an FA *knowing this is less likely for a player to want to come back to, certainly an option if he really loved it there

      • If players do really love a team and the team is doing bad the best thing to do is get traded and then resign with team that now has additional assets. Maybe get a cup while you’re at it.

    • montreal is definitely “staley cup” material lmao
      just not stanley cup lol

    • devo —you whipped it good lol–80s are the best

    • He was a no risk pickup, but signing him to an extension is high risk if it costs more than the league minimum.
      This is a guy who packed it in in LA and then pouted when they decided to bench him because the believed they were better without him.
      In LA he was a veteran earning a high salary. Generally you expect those guys to lead when the going gets tough not whine and pout. So they made the right call and benched him, then cut bait.
      IMO Kovalchuk is about Kovalchuk and this little spurt of giving a crap is about Kovalchuk.
      Get what you can for him and think of the return as found money. This is a classic example of recency bias that we all have.
      When somebody shows you what they are, believe them the first time.

      • Well said Ray, only thing I would add is the absolute ridiculousness that people are suggesting the Habs can trade him for a second rounder.

        Not a chance in hell!

      • Ray and Canadian King, if Kovalchuck is all about himself, i’m not seeing it in his Montreal uniform. He been a team player and shown to get along well with his teammates.

        He so far been a point a player in Montreal and if the Canadians are out of the playoff picture come TD i would not be thinking about keeping.

        Two reasons one he’ll have (if keeping same pace) 22gp 11g 11a 22pts and +8 (presently has played 8 games 4g 4a 8pts +3

        So we won’t sign for the league minimum he’ll take his chances in the offseason.

        Secondly it would be a mistake for Montreal to resign him, i do think he be a great pickup for a team like Boston for a Stanley Cup run.

        The cost i don’t know could it be a second, depends on his continue play, a third most definitely if he keeps this pace. Montreal best to take what ever pick and if it’s a 4th round pick, although unlikely that pick pan out we do know some do.

      • Fair enough Caper, but your comparing 8 games with Montreal versus a season and a half with LA, in which I watched him play every single game with no regard for semblance of defense or team play.

      • As for his worth, if he’s worth a second rounder than Toffoli and Kreider are going to bring a haul in for their respective teams.

        So maybe he’ll actually be able to help the King’s out afterall by driving up the price on Toffoli

      • Canadian King; Not disputing your comments, but i never under estimated what a GM will give up to get the cup.

        I don’t believe he has any barring on any other player because they don’t have his pedigree.

        The team just wants him for a Stanley Cup run and at present he is showing he can bring value. 3 months and if Kovalchuk performs well he only helps himself.

        In short he was an excellent signing by Montreal, as long as they trade him and get an asset in return; However it will be a mistake to resign him.

      • Ray, yours is the second comment I’ve read here about Kovalchuk quitting in LA.

        I understand exactly what he meant when he said he couldn’t get going playing less than 10 minutes a game. I’ve read quotes from other players, and actually talked to one, who said it is difficult to adjust to consistently reduced minutes.

        And if you find that hard to believe, remember the comments coming out of LA management, that he remained positive in LA. That would not have been said if he quit on the team.

    • He’s 36. If Bergy get’s a decent return for him at the deadline, let Kovy know and also tell him that on July 1st that you’ll offer him a 1 yr contract for the veteran minimum. If he says no, fine. But 2 yrs at 4 mill for a 36 yr old? Thanks, but no thanks. He’s got more money than God. Don’t let adrenaline blind you to the fact that he’s 36 YEARS OLD! We already have a couple of anchor contracts. No need to add a 3rd.

    • “ As old as kovalchuk is, he’s big name that excites the fans. ”

      I’d Kovalchuk is exciting Montreal fans, it may be time for a new hobby.

  4. The Leafs need to grow up. Clearly an immature group learning the ropes. You go 9-0-1 and then think you’re invincible. As a Leafs fan it is clear we need a defense man. But would it really help anything right now? A backup would make more sense and a prolonged losing streak would help to make them realize that you have to play every night. Time to start learning how to win together not play as individuals. This is coach #2 for the year so that is certainly not the answer either. Not that I am making a case for Babcock! Come back after the break and take things seriously, play for each other and let’s see what happens. These are classic pains of a young team. Time to dig out of the hole together!

    • Come the trade deadline, the Hawks could easily be closer to a playoff berth than the Leafs. If the next 4 weeks are even half as bad as the last 2, Toronto should dump players and tank so as to finish bottom 8. Won’t be difficult to achieve if Freddie has a minor injury and is out a few weeks.

      No sense giving away the 11th (or 12, 13, 14, 15) overall pick when you are guaranteed a top 10 and have some tickets for the lottery.

      • hammer, the Leafs moved their 1st rd pick to Carolina with the Marleau contract.

      • Ray, it’s lottery-protected – so maybe they knew something about this season, If they finish in the lottery, Carolina gets their 1st rounder in 2021

      • Well played Leafs!

    • Leafs play pond hockey…. and it will only be exposed more once the playoffs start….

      assuming the Leafs make it….

  5. Steve I agree. I am not sure if this is the same as “grow up” but they need to learn professionalism and to respect for the fans who for the most part pay hard earned money to go. Some as a once in a lifetime taking children as I did with my daughters 45 years ago. I would have been angry with that display Saturday.

    That effort thrown up Saturday night especially by Marner was disrespectful and far too careless. They do need some teaching by coaches and senior management maybe even the Players Association about professionalism.

    This is hardly the 6 team league of my youth which needed to change. But some of the changes in attitude seem to me be the pendulum swinging too far in the opposite direction as it does in life.

    Keefe’s word “immature”was good but there is more to this and it is more important than some may think.

    • oldblue, Another aspect that comes into play is the salary structure. Only one other team has their top 8 earning about the same as the Leafs core. Why should the 15 at the bottom of the pay grid work their butts off when those at the to are coasting?

      Too much money too early. Unless a GM is absolutely 100% convinced about a player’s character and work ethic (zero doubts), don’t throw free agent lottery money at a 22 year old player coming out of an entry level contract.

      • “Why should the 15 at the bottom of the pay grid work their butts off when those at the to are coasting?”

        So they can be next in getting big raises when their own contracts come due?

    • Grow up? You mean like maybe not terrorizing women with your pants down a la Austin Matthews?

      Keefe lets them skate around willynilly without any regard to defence at all.

      Found it incredible that Leaf “fans” gave the Bronx cheer to Anderson Saturday night. Without him the Leafs would be battling for lottery positioning, not a playoff spot.

      Growing up should start with Dubas and Keefe, make the players play responsible two way hockey or have the testicular fortitude to bench them. Ice Capades season is almost over. What the hell are the Leafs going to do when the mens hockey tournament begins?

      • Exactly my point Ron Jull. They don’t deserve to be bailed out by a spectacular trade from their manager. They need to play mens hockey as you state.

    • Something else that seems odd is that although Tavares maybe the appointed captain, it all revolves around Matthews and he only seems to care about his numbers. so therein lies a problem. Matthews is always explaining to the press why they lost; not Tavares So is the captain of that team?

  6. I think Pengy is going to take a day off as JJ scored a SH goal to tie the game last night…………

    • Hi Dov

      JJ scored 2 goals yesterday!!!!

      One for each team

      The one on Murray wasn’t a deflection…. he put it right between Murr’s pads from pass coming in front…. a “bueaty” if your a Bruins fan

      Setting aside his “two” goals; he was once again brutal; absolutely horrific

      This was the 12th game in row in which Pens goalies had a higher save percentage with him OFF the ice

      Last night Murray was 919 Sv% overall

      JJ on ice 833
      JJ off the ice 960

      remove his two goals and Pens win 3-2

      Murray save percentage after removing both JJ goals:

      JJ on ice 909
      JJ off the ice …. still 960

      For whatever reason …. Sully and Jimbo blind to this but when Dumo returns …. JJ forced back down to bottom pairing where he should get no more than 12 mins a game (last night he had 24:10….. which is 24:10 too much)

      Just Dumo in and JJ to third pairing ; should mean close to an average of 1 less GA a game

      I’d still persue another depth LD on top of the Fwd they are seeking to replace Guentzel

      BTW …. Riikola had a sub-par game last night ; but was still leaps and bounds better than JJ

      In the last dozen games ; over-all; Riikola has been Pens best D-Man (Tanger has been brought down tremendously by being forced to play with JJ) but the sad thing is that once Dumo returns; Sully will continue the brain fart and play JJ over Riikola …. it’s mind-boggling 😡😡😡😡

  7. Well TML Fans: Actual Scotiabank TML fans living in Toronto. This is 4 U. Remember A few years ago, when you had enough and booed, wore paper bags over your heads and threw player jerseys onto the ice in disgust? It brought about change didn’t it Well, imagine being in the $40 million dollar club and getting hit in the head with your own jersey while sitting on the bench doing squat to help your team.; and all on national TV. Love to hear the Hughson / Simpson feedback on that event.

    TML has way too many rock-stars on its roster and not enough roadies to get the job done and until that changes, expect attention to detail to be somebody else’s problem other than the $40 million club

    • Couldnt agree more.

    • to SJ: Nylander & Ceci
      to TML: Burns


      • Get it done! Great trade.

      • @IHC: and now for a complete laugh as Luke Fox of Sportsnet just posted this trade proposal to San Jose for Brenden Dillion. and I quote:

        Dmytro Timashov, Egor Korshkov, Jeremy Bracco, Nic Petan, Kenny Agostino, Pontus Aberg… there’s gotta be a package deal to be formed.” Can see the chatter now !

        Dubas: “Hi Doug Wilson, we are interested in your minute eating defenceman Brendan Dillon. We are prepared to part with any 2 of these 3 guys that passed through waivers this year, or 2 of these draft pick busts or this guy that our new coach doesn’t trust enough to play more than 5 minutes a game. Also we’ll need you to pick up some salary to make it happen”

        Wilson: “Hi Kyle, this is easily the worst offer I have had for Dillon, it’s one of the worst offers I have ever had period.”

        There’s your smile of the day

      • What good is Ceci in the deal? He’s a UFA at season’s end and most of his cap hit will already have been used up by trade deadline day. Since they’re not about to make the playoffs this season anyway, why waste ice time on a player you have no intention of signing? And believe me, not many teams will be ringing up Ceci’s agent later this spring.

        So it boils down to Nylander for Burns. If I’m Wilson I do that in a heartbeat.

      • no thanks

      • @Joey That is classic lol

        I thought i have wild ones. Guess i am back to normal in comparison eh!?

      • @Joey you mean like Kovalchuk passed through waivers and then every team had a chance to sign him for free but didn`t and now he might be worth a second rd. pick in a great draft year kind of thing. Remember teams let players go through waivers not picking them and then trading for them after, it happens once in a while and there`s reasons for it. Also Timashov, Korshkov and Bracco haven`t passed through waivers. Well Bracco did but he went at midnight of the day when rosters had to be set.

  8. Too many of those negative observations of the Leafs are true….the question is what the Leafs and their Board going to do about it..

    I watch enough Leaf hockey to have a guilt crisis about it….and I think as I have written here before structural change is needed….and not the coach who seems clear and level headed….but on the ice in front of him and management above him

    On the ice in front of him they need ( it seems to me) to trade one of the following for a D man of equal value….Matthews, Marner, or Nylander…they need to go into the free agency if they have cap space and sign another significant D man

    As to management above him ( I have worked directly for Boards and been on them), the Board needs assess both Shanahan and Dubas and lay out in private some goals and objectives for both of them with a timeline…The Board may need outside resources for this but it needs to be done.

    This Leaf fans feels things are worse than they look. The contract lengths do not appear to line up with a clear ” Window” , Matthews especially. The player salary budget is skewed to offensive pond hockey players ( Does the Board really want that hockey?) They may do. It won’t win but it might what they want. In terms of effective use of salary budget look what Boston has done with their first string and back up goalie.. That is where you get bang for your buck.

    I think Dubas is a good professional in many important aspects of the job. His staying with Mikheyev for 3 days when he was injured shows care for employees I think is important. His efforts to have all aspects of the community females, LGBT, and all races employed throughout the org. chart is also important.

    But his job is to win. If he has not already presented to the Board a Plan to arrive at a better structure within two years before the Board, then the Board needs to demand one ASAP.

    The good ship Maple Leaf, well loved by every hockey fan and every Canadian, is listing.

    • I am a hockey fan but the only thing I love about the leafs is the streak. That is good for hockey.

  9. “The good ship Maple Leaf, well loved by every hockey fan and every Canadian, is listing.”

    wellll …. I do have them as my franchise team in our convoluted pool … and I can think of only one member of our pool who fits that description OBD – and not one in our pool comes from Quebec where, I’d venture to guess, most fans also don’t fall into that group 🙂

  10. Yep Leafs in a Pickle

    …. but that’s not news

    Regardless of moves this year…. the cup wont be in Toronto

    If they go 3 of 4 over next quad of games including reg time win vs. Panthers…. likely back in 3rd in Div which is the true max expectation for this year

    Lose 3 of4 including reg loss to Panthers and it’s possible Leafs miss playoffs; possible….

    No matter what …. window for cup starts next year and no move out of young assets for rentals should be considered at this time

    I stick with best moves are done in July including (but not limited to)…, WW for a young/mid 20’s top 3D; with term ; at no more than $5M Cap

    That move alone ; saves Cap and strengthens the overall team (the loss of WW offense replaced by say Kappy; is more than compensated by the uptick on D)

    If Leafs start next season once again with basically 1/2 the Cap spent on 4 forwards; I cant see them winning cup in June ‘21 either

    No need to panic now

    Fingers crossed on cooler heads prevailing

    Just food for thought/discussions to my fellow Leafs fans:

    In retrospect ; now that things have developed ; would you as GM now; have taken what was apparently the final offer on the draft floor (from Arz.) for 1st over-all (Mathews): for 7th and 20th picks and OEL and Strome

    Those picks could have been Sergachev and Julian Gauthier

    So instead of $11.6 M for one of the Leagues top 3 Centres….. And likely 50-55 Goals…..

    Just over $10 M spent for a 1D; and a 3D; and 3C (with potential for maybe 2C) plus Gauthier as a prospect top 9Fwd?

    Just something to chew on

  11. Well your bang on there Caper, never underestimate a gm going for a cup run. No argument from me.

    • Relax. Leafs will be fine. Oozing talent. Dubas will get a back up to push freddie a bit and to get him rest. It’s all about how you are playing going into the playoffs not in January.

      • I’m on the agree with Wendel and Vinnie side on this one. However losing your 2 best d men will hurt any team, especially one built like the Leafs. I would still bet $$ they make the playoffs, and personally I hope it is as a wildcard as I think my B’s finish 2nd in the division again.
        Shoreorrpark said on here, at least a month ago, that perhaps the Leafs just need to mature as much of their core is really young. Sounds about as reasonable as any other theory out there as it seems pretty normal and not just in hockey. Experience is the best teacher.
        I would guess that having millions of $ in the bank may slow that process a bit.

  12. Oh boy the sky is falling again.
    Good thing for the Leafs. We wouldn’t have anything to talk about.
    Who is this John Toews , kinda came out of no where. He looks like he might become a hockey player .

  13. Kovalchuk had 7 points in his first 8 games with the Kings. Give him some time.

    • “Give him some time.”

      For what? For him to “regress” to only being a half-point-per-game player for league minimum?

      OH NOES!!!

    • Thanks, Scott, for getting us away from the Leafs problems and back to Les Canadiens. Much more enjoyable.

  14. Hey Sweeney while your trying to get tougher and add a goal scorer, how about looking into getting a shutdown Dman….

    • I hear Ron Hainsey is available

      • I can’t imagine where you heard THAT

      • Aim higher has to be someone better than what they have

    • Moore, Lindholm for DIllon??

  15. Dillon, Kreider & bring up Frederic ….let Krug walk at years end

    Hurry before window closes

    • Frederic is on a good run in Providence Joe. Points and PIMS are climbing over last couple months after a slow start. Didn’t know he was a scrapper, but I suppose that is frowned upon in US college hockey. Must be winning as he keeps doing it!
      Not a bad guy to give a shot to in the bottom 6, and give the team a boost for a trial run in the big league.
      Big boy who can skate, chip in offensively and mix it up. Curious to see what he can do in the NHL.

  16. Bruins don’t need to make a move I believe in a 7 game series they will find a way to win 4. Boston has the best line in hockey a great couple of goaltenders some awesome young D men and a great coach just be healthy that’s it they will be fine.

    • I’m with Obe.
      There’s kids in Providence that would cost less and possibly do more, in Fredric, Studnika and about 4 ripe defensemen.

      As an aside, I don’t believe anyone will trade an asset for Kovie when they all could have had him for just $.
      Maybe some fool dishes out a 4th rounder, but I’d doubt it.

  17. Anyone could have had Kovalchuk for no asset. Now he is worth a second.
    To quote the show Tool Time- I don’t think so Tim