NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2020

by | Jan 23, 2020 | Rumors | 54 comments

Check out the latest on the Wild, Penguins, Leafs, Blackhawks and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports the Pittsburgh Penguins remain interested in Jason Zucker. However, they must find a way to make his contract ($5.5 million annually for the next three seasons) work. He also has a 10-team no-trade clause. Russo believes Zucker’s hometown Vegas Golden Knights are on his “yes list.”

The Pittsburgh Penguins are reportedly still interested in acquiring Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker (Photo via NHL Images).

Russo also speculates defenseman Jonas Brodin (signed through 2020-21, $4.16-million annual average value) would be attractive to clubs seeking a top-four defenseman. Those would include Carolina, Toronto, Florida, and Vegas. The Hurricanes have serious interest, but Russo wonders if Dougie Hamilton’s recent injury could make them change course.

The Wild also possesses an attractive right-shot blueliner in Matt Dumba. His production and defensive play have declined this season. There’s a risk in trading him, as the 25-year-old could regain his form. His poor play this season could also affect his trade value.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also reports the Penguins continue to pursue Zucker. However, the Wild aren’t ready to concede anything just yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Wild fail to climb back into the playoff chase by mid-February, first-year general manager Bill Guerin will become a seller. He won’t just ship out guys like Zucker, Brodin or Dumba for pennies on the dollar, but if he gets a solid offer for one them, I believe he’ll pull the trigger. There are others he could shop, but those three offer the best chance for a return that helps the Wild now and over the long term.

The Penguins made a failed attempt to land Zucker last spring. What could work in the Wild’s favor this time is Guerin joined them last summer from the Penguins’ front office. He’s well aware of Pittsburgh’s best young players and prospects. You can bet a couple of those could be in the asking price.

And no, I don’t see Mikko Koivu waiving his no-movement clause. Eric Staal could be moved if a team that’s not on his 10-team no-trade list comes calling, but I think Guerin would approach Staal to get his blessing.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said there’s a sense around the league the only way the Toronto Maple Leafs move winger Kasperi Kapanen is in a big deal that makes them significantly better. He also thinks the Leafs have been asked about pending UFA defensemen Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, and Jake Muzzin.

Friedman doesn’t see the Leafs becoming sellers, so the only way something happens there is is they want to give one of their younger blueliners more permanent minutes. It also sounds like there are some contract discussions between the Leafs and Muzzin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Kapanen won’t be used as trade bait for a backup goalie like the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev. If the 23-year-old winger can fetch them a reasonably priced top-four defenseman, preferably one with term remaining on his contract, I believe GM Kyle Dubas will take that deal.

No surprise they want to keep Muzzin. He’s their best defensive blueliner. With over $68 million invested in 12 players, they have sufficient room to re-sign Muzzin, but it won’t leave much space to fill out the rest of the roster unless they shed salary.


Nothing’s happening with the Chicago Blackhawks as long as they remain in the playoff chase. Should that change before the trade deadline, Friedman wonders if Florida Panthers head coach (and former Blackhawks bench boss) Joel Quenneville would ask to approach Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith on the virtues of playing in southeast Florida.

Speaking of the Blackhawks, goaltender Robin Lehner still wants to be paid fairly for his services. The pending unrestricted free agent wouldn’t say for sure if a long-term deal is a priority, but Friedman feels he won’t take a lesser annual average salary to get a longer-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with Friedman that the Blackhawks won’t become sellers if they remain in the postseason hunt. If they do test the trade market, I still don’t see Keith or Lehner going anywhere. Keith has a full no-movement clause and there’s no hint that he wants out. Lehner, meanwhile, is out-playing long-time Hawks starter Corey Crawford. I think Chicago GM Stan Bowman intends to re-sign Lehner.

New Jersey Devils forward Travis Zajac wants to stay put. His agent claims something was offered to his client earlier this season, but he was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause at that time. His camp will see about the future after the season. Friedman guesses the offer came from the New York Islanders,

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zajac has a year remaining on his contract worth $5.75 million. He’s spent his entire 14-season NHL career with the Devils. Maybe he’ll consider a trade during the off-season if the right club come calling.


  1. Trying to figure out, as the league heads into the All-Star break, who’s still in the playoff hunt (with reasonable prospects of getting there considering factors like key injuries, offense & defense capabilities/problems) isn’t made any easier by the whacky schedule.

    For example, since the Islanders became the last team to reach the half-way point a couple of weeks back (41 games), Vegas is now 11 games into the 2nd half while Nashville is just 6. Six teams (Boston, Winnipeg, Arizona,Columbus, Chicago and Detroit) are at 10, while 6 more (TB, Dallas, NYR, Ottawa, Anaheim, NJ) are at 7.

    • IMO in the east Buffalo, Montreal, and NYR are in tough to make the playoffs. Not impossible, but they would need to go on a long hot streak to make it. Montreal are the team that is in tough mainly because they only have 19 ROW’s. Ottawa, NJ, and Detroit are out of the race.
      In the west LA, Anaheim, and San Jose (to the delight of Sens fans) are out of the race. Still alive are Chicago, Winnipeg, Minnesota, and Nashville.
      Nashville are 6 points out, but have 5 games in hand on Vegas. Their big hurtle is that there are 4 teams between them and the last wild card spot.

      • Can’t disagree with that observation KevJam.

        But that western conference promises some serious dogfights to come with just 6 pts separating 10 teams from Dallas (58 pts) to Nashville (51 pts) with latter holding from 3 to 5 games in hand on 6 above them. Their season-long inconsistency could be their undoing however, combined with an obvious compressed schedule involving more back-to-back compared to those above them.

        Here are the records of those teams since reaching the half-way point and just on the surface it would appear Dallas and Winnipeg may have hit their brick walls, along with the Wild

        GP W L O/SO PTS GF GA
        Edm 8 6 1 1 13 37 24
        Cgy 9 6 3 0 12 24 25
        Chi 10 6 4 0 12 37 29
        Ari 10 5 4 1 11 31 31
        Veg 11 5 5 1 11 36 37
        Van 8 5 3 0 10 23 25
        Min 9 4 4 1 9 30 29
        Dal 7 4 3 0 8 14 17
        Nas 6 3 2 1 7 14 17
        Wpg 10 3 6 1 7 24 34

      • By way of comparison, if we count out Buffalo, Montreal and NYR, the eastern conference sees the same 6 pts separating 7 teams from NYI (63 pts) to Toronto (57 pts) and here they have all played roughly the same number of games since the half-way mark (TB has played the fewest – 7 – and has1 or 2 games in hand on the rest).

        Here are the records of those teams since reaching the half-way point with which I also show the records of the 3 teams that figure to be in tough to make a playoff spot – so far, anyway , they’re hanging in there:

        GP W L O/SO PTS GF GA
        Fla 8 7 1 0 14 31 23
        Pha 9 5 3 1 11 27 27
        Car 9 5 3 1 11 20 16
        TB 7 5 2 0 10 28 12
        Buf 8 5 3 0 10 24 21
        Clb 8 4 2 2 10 28 21
        Mtl 9 4 4 1 9 23 24
        NYR 7 4 3 0 8 25 21
        Tor 8 3 3 2 8 30 33
        NYI 8 3 3 2 8 27 27

      • Hi George

        In the West; I’d be gob-smacked if any of StL ; Col or VGKs (yes I’m including them) miss

        I sayVGKs won’t miss just because they have the fundamentals in team make-up now and have buckets of assets if need be; to fix anything at TDL

        No way does any of the California Troika get in and I’m seriously doubting Wild as at now

        So 8 teams vying for 5 slots IMHO:

        In no particular order:

        Ed, Van, Cgy, Arz; Nsh; Chi; Winn ; Dal

        I think I’d be dreaming to believe all 4 Western Canadian teams make the playoffs


        To me ; I’d be gob-smacked if one of Bolts; Bruins; Caps ; Pens don’t make it

        NJ; Wings; Sens …. forggeddaboudit

        I’m skeptical on Rangers, Habs; Sabres

        Thus leaving 6 teams vying for 4 spots:

        In no particular order

        Leafs; Panthers; Isles; Jackets; Canes; Flyers

        Of those; I’m thinking Isles probably have a better shot than the rest

        As a Leafs fan ; of course I’ll be upset if they miss this year’s playoffs (a possibility however small) but I won’t be devastated… window starts next year

        I’d be much more upset if a trade this year (in year) is made that flips current roster players or low rounds pick(s) for rentals…. nothing done this year; IMHO; gets them to ECF let alone SC (and then winning).., all moves should be with true window (‘21-‘24) in mind


      • For the Leafs it will come down to how well – defensively – the group of Marincin, Ceci, Barrie, Muzzin, Dermott and Holl handles the increased forechecking that is sure to be a feature from here to the end. Looking at the table above, their gaa of just over 4:00 over the past 8 games can’t be encouraging. Compared to the others in that group it does stand out like a sore thumb. I suppose, in the end, it could boil down to a question of how many 5-4 games can they win if that keeps up. Muzzin will help settle things down, of course,

    • An interesting number to look at is each teams goals for vs. goals against. Last year every team that gave up more goals than they scored did not make the playoffs. Every team that scored more goals than they gave up made the playoffs with the exception of Montreal which was +13.
      The top 6 seeds in the Eastern conference last year were all +30 or more. The top 6 seeds in the Western Conference last year were all +19 or more.
      The last team to make it to the playoffs with more goals against than goals for was Ottawa -2, in 2016-17. It is surprising to see Calgary currently at -13.

      I think an important thing to look at is the March schedules of the bubble teams. The number of back to backs, 3 games in 4 days, cross country trips, and quality of competition down the stretch. In March every team is playing playoff hockey intensity and a lot players are playing with minor injuries that need recovery time between games.

      Take Carolina for example. their March schedule has them playing back to back 4 weekends in March. What makes it even more difficult is they will also be playing 3 games in 4 days every weekend. Carolina also plays Pittsburgh 4 times in March. If you look at Toronto’s schedule in March they have two back to backs and one stretch of 3 games in 4 days. Montreal on the other hand doesn’t have a single back to back and play with 1 or 2 days rest between every game. Both Toronto and Montreal will be able to use their number 1 Goalie for extended periods of time. The Islanders have 3 back to backs and a west coast trip that has 3 games in 4 days.

      If Carolina doesn’t get some separation from the pack in February they may not make the playoffs.

      If Carolina is going to make a trade to help replace Hamilton’s minutes they probably can’t wait until the deadline.

      • I think they’ll move on Martinez pretty quick here.
        Maybe take a stab at Dillion, but I’d doubt it.

      • Good stuff, GP, the players negotiated the bye week and the schedule in February and March is the result – at times, almost like the BCHL with three-game weekends pretty regularly.

  2. Pengy…..I like Jason Zucker but not sure why Rutherford is so fixated on him. i would rather have Pageau, Anthansiou or Saad….

    • Hi BNG

      I’m non-plussed when it comes to Zucker

      I don’t get the big interest in him…. he’s a fair player but I wouldn’t be targeting him…. 3 more@ $5.5 M…. I don’t see the value added especially in the expected amount to be given up in a trade for him

      A depth (3rd pairing) LD plus a reasonable Guentzel replacement; and Pens ; IMHO have excellent shot to get to ECF vs Bolts or Bruins; and fair shot at beating them to get to SC

      If Jimbo doesn’t address the JJ elephant and Sully plays JJ top 4D minutes in playoffs …. no move (absolutely no moves) gets them securely to ECF; no moves

      Just adding a 3LD ; and sitting JJ ; with no other moves; to me; 80 % chance of Pens in ECF (v Bruins or Bolts)

      G-Chuck is a waste…. if no takers…. waive him and at least free up another $1.08 M (annual rate) in cap

      Not sure if there is any value added when Bjug comes back

      I know you hate it; but in a heartbeat I would call Billy G and see what it might take extra (4th??; Laffy? ;??) to flip Bjug for Staal

      Setting aside age… Staal is faster; stronger; has better hands; and has way better numbers( and that’s taking into account that Staal is playing 1C and 2C most often right now with Wild); and his addition to the team would be great

      If Billy G would ever bite on (yes I’m dreaming):

      Bjug + 1st + Laffy + JJ

      For Staal + Brodin:

      …. and can get Kovy from Mont for a 3rd:

      Sid – McC – Kahun/Horny

      Geno – Rusty – Kahun/Horny/Simon

      *Staal – *Kovy – Kahun/Horny/Simon







      *Kovy and Staal…. 2nd PP unit ; and in a pinch either can slot in for emergencies; on Geno’s wing

      However, my ideal move would be with Habs:

      1st + 4th + Legare + Laffy + G-Chuck

      For Scands + Tater-Tots + Kovy

      Sid- Tater-Tots – McC

      Geno – Rusty – Kahun/Horny/Simon

      Bjug – *Kovy – Kahun/Horny/Simon







      *Kovy …. 2nd PP unit ; and in a pinch can slot in for emergencies; on Geno’s wing

      Again …. key (and easiest move)…. even if they still proceed with brain fart and play JJ…. it myst be 3rd pairing and 10-11 mins max and 100 % must NOT ever play on the PK

      Press box or waive him is the penultimate …. but they remain blind to that easy option …. it’s now a month since there was a game in which JJ on the ice did NOT bring down goalie save percentage …. in ALL of those games …. save percentage for EITHER TJ or MM was substantially higher with JJ on bench vs him on the ice (and this was regardless of D partners). In all of those games (as with almost every single game this year); all teammates stats were worse when JJ was on the ice with them


      • Pengy…..I think Stahl is a very good player and I’m not against adding him. iIagree with you..
        At this point i would rather have a dependable Stahl at 3rd line center than Zucker’s big contract.

        You know Stahl will do what is necessary, he has 18 goals, and he is good defensively.

        i would have said no to Kovalchuk a few weeks ago but he has gone to Montreal played with enthusiasm and been productive. He has scored 4 goals in 9 games and 10 points..

        2nd power play unit..in Pittsburgh!!!

        J.J. well if he plays any higher than the 3rd pairing we are doomed. He and leatng together are a turnover goal waiting to happen… I can’t figure why Sully likes him so much…

      • Why would you trade all the players that got the team in 4th place in the league? And for a bunch of older players to boot. The third pairing dman when the team is healthy should be Riikola, that kid is a beast with a huge shot that can play on the PP and has no fear. The only guy I would trade is the Jackhole and that’s it. Legare is off limits period.

      • Dee & BNG

        Absolutely and fully agree…. Riikola 3LD…. I honestly honestly honestly have no idea how Sally and Jimbo can’t see that

        Riiikola way way better

        JJ out; Riikola in …. just that move …. to me…. gets them to ECF

        To get a better chance at moving past Bruins or Bolts; they need a replacement for the loss of Guentzel

        Kreider will be too expensive and for what needs to be given up; Zucker not the answer

        If Tater-Tot (who has great speed) could be gotten reasonably 👍

        They could also take a gamble (and it would be) on Wings AA…. having a brutal year but perhaps the change of scenery gets him back to 30 G pace (18/19)

    • Some lucky team will pick up Zucker for cup run, 4 playoff goals in 31 games, he’s quite a player, next Lemieux

  3. Making Zucker’s contract work won’t be a problem going forward because Galchenyuk and Schultz are gone that’s $10.4 million and Bjugstad likely to be traded that’s another $4.1 million..

    IF Murray is moved (maybe situation) that’s $3.75 million as well..

  4. The west will be like MMA down the stretch everyone is so bunched up…

  5. Kapanen and Sandin for Petry and Domi?

    • To what end where Montreal is concerned? How does taking on an unproven rookie at the NHL level for an experienced D-man with 6g 22a 28 pts make any sense for the Habs? And I don’t think Kapanen is any kind of substantial improvement over Domi.

    • No thanks. How about Kapanen and Ceci for Shea Weber. I can go for that…

    • Bergy gets fired on the spot if he pulls the trigger on that one …

  6. How about Courtnall for Kordic

    • The question Vinnie; is which Courtnal??

      Eddie Shack for Murray Oliver is the better move!!

      BTW …., I once traded an Eddie Shack card for Phil card …. I think I was in kindergarten 🤓

      • Phil Espisito Card that is

      • Shouldn’t have to ask which Courtnall

      • Vinnie

        Bruce Courtnall of course (LOL)

  7. Thoughts on the Oilers Adam Larson to the Leafs for Kapanen? Does this work straight across or sweeteners on either side? Oilers need a top 6 forward, Leafs need a physical top 4 Defenseman. Both have term left on contracts.

    • Oilers would need to retain salary or take someone else from Leafs to make $ work. But in principal I am in favour of moving kapanen or Johhnson if it brings back a top 4 d man.

      • Lol. Yes, I suppose you would be happy.

    • Then the oilers would need a top 4 d-man. not going to happen.

    • Kapanen won’t be traded as he’s a core guy and a big part of their penalty kill. He has the same offensive upside as Nylander for half the salary. Only a top pair dman on a long term contract would get Dubas interested, and even then Kapanen is such a big part of the Leafs’ team chemistry that there would be serious concerns about moving him. The best candidates to be moved from the TOR roster are pending UFAs, Barrie, Ceci, and Muzzin….with Muzzin currently working on an extension. Johnsson could maybe be moved, Kerfoot is more likely, Timashov, Trevor Moore, but the two fringe guys most likely are AHLers Lilegrin and Bracco.

      • Doktor Dave, if Kapanen has the same offensive upside as Nylander he sure isn’t showing it. Other than Nylander’s contract dispute season he has and is producing at a much higher rate. Same age.
        You could make an argument that Kappy is a better player to keep due to salary as the Leafs would have more room to add to the blue line, but not that he will be as good offensively as Nylander.
        When he proves it he is.

      • They’d get almost squat for Lilegren and Bracco.

  8. Haggs has a article about the Bruins looking for Dman help….could’ve fooled me no team in Hockey gives up bigger leads than them, although not always on the D because they do have a few wingers that just like to play the offensive part of game ….

    • Are you referring to the Boston Bruins or the Estevan Bruins?
      I ask that cause every forward on that team is committed to being on the right side of every puck. It doesn’t always work out that way, but there’s no lack of effort.

      You’ll never get that precious time back that you wasted, reading a column by Haggs.
      Jimmy Murphy won’t enlighten you much more tbh.

      • That might be the first Estevan Bruins reference I have seen on this sight. Good hockey town.
        Go Riders! Go Sask!

      • Yep an absolute great hockey town.

        Oh and Go Riders!

      • I see the Riders are going to play a league game in July against Toronto in Nova Scotia.

    • FYI, Joe.
      Adam Mcquaid has been taking reps with the rest of the team, on a strictly unofficial basis.

      • Shite

        Was hoping fir a Pens depth D pick up of McQ if he was going to play

  9. Best buckle in for a long month of nonstop mindnumbing everybody to the Leafs trade scenarios.

    • Ron, how ’bout them Canucks?

      • Even Loui! Playing very well of late.

  10. Zucker would be a lousy fit in Pittsburgh, he doesn’t get hurt enough …

    • Ed VanImpe…i agree 100% with you Rutherford is fixated on Zucker…

      He is an OK player but not a great fit in Pittsburgh.

      I would rather have a Pageau, Saad, Anthansiou or even Eric Stahl before Zucker..

  11. Have a question for all you hockey minds where is Holtby going to end up can’t see Washington. Samsonov I believe will be next years starter.

    • Good question Obe.
      If the $$ and term are right how about Edmonton? They’re playing Smith more than Koskinen of late and he can’t have many miles left on him.
      Signing older tenders seems like risky business to me. So who knows.

    • I’ll guess Seattle.

    • OBE..I agree Samsonov has done to Holtby what Murray did to Fluery and what Jarry is currently doing to Murray.

      my best guest Holtby ends up is San Jose, Toronto or Minnesota all in need of a strong goalie..

    • I believe Holtby ends up in
      San Jose

      all need a good goalie badly

      • Nothing wrong with Andersen in Toronto. What they need is a back-up they can rely on that doesn’t cost a fortune off the cap. They couldn’t afford Holtby.

  12. Zucker 28 and is a right shot decent speed and has scored +30 . I like him on Calgary. Jankowski and Bennett and ask for Zucker and some sort of middling draft pick back .
    He is good fit on a number of teams .

    I was adamant last year that Larsson should go to the Leafs . It won’t be cheap.

  13. When I talked to him he said if Seattle would have been a year earlier he thought he would of loved to play there. Devils need a goalie but I said earlier would be nice to see him in the Oiler uniform. He would need to take a bit of a discount and if I’m Edmonton no longer than 5 years.

  14. Dee….I’m not trading all the players who got us in to 4th place overall in the EC..

    Eric Stahl wont cost much at all. 2nd next year 3rd this year..

    Don’t want Zucker he will cost too much.

    if we can get a either Pageau or Anthansiou FOR OUR NUMBER ONE PICK WHICH WILL BE LIKE 24 TH 25TH OVERALL YOU DO IT!!!


    Giving up an uncertain number one pick for a young player like Athnasiou or Pageau YOU DO IT..

    and giving up a 2 nd next year or third this year for ERIC Stahl that is hardly trading away all the players thAt got us here.

    I think you mean Pengy who is wheeling and dealing players everywhere..LOL