NHL Rumor Mill – January 16, 2021

by | Jan 16, 2021 | Rumors | 35 comments

Could the Canadiens acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois? Could the Panthers move Aleksander Barkov? Would they shop Keith Yandle to the Bruins? What’s the latest on the Oilers’ goaltending? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: Eric Engels believes the Montreal Canadiens’ rumored pursuit of Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois could be a complex and risky endeavor.

Can the Montreal Canadiens afford to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Columbus Blue Jackets? (NHL Images)

He believes Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen would want Nick Suzuki and something else in return. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin could counter with Jesperi Kotkaniemi as the centerpiece of a package with a top prospect also included.

In order to take on Dubois’ $5 million annual average value, the Canadiens would have to send a roster player earning more than $3 million (such as Paul Byron) to the Jackets.

Engels suggests it’s possible Bergevin could part with Kotkaniemi. However, he’s not sure the Habs GM would also want to include one of his top prospects in the deal. Bergevin could also be outbid by the Winnipeg Jets, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators or Anaheim Ducks.

The restrictions on travel between Canada and the United States also complicates things. Engels suggests the Canadiens would be without Dubois for 14 days while he completes mandatory self-quarantine before he could join them. They’d also be without the player or players they’d give up in the deal during that period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquiring Dubois would be a tempting option for the Canadiens, but that deal will be expensive. I don’t see Bergevin parting with Suzuki. Kotkaniemi is possible but he’s got plenty of promising upside. Giving up a prospect such as Cole Caufield, Kaiden Guhle or Mattias Norlinder could also be tough to swallow.

Even if Bergevin is willing to part with Kotkaniemi and one of his best prospects, making the dollars fit would be difficult. Byron is a former 20-goal scorer but the 31-year-old last hit that mark in 2017-18 and he’s been waylaid by injuries over the last two seasons. The Jackets could also be reluctant to take on a winger who turns 32 in April with two years remaining on his contract.

Bergevin could try to offer up another roster player but he doesn’t have many to spare that would suit the Jackets. Tomas Tatar is a free agent this summer while depth forwards like Joel Armia and Artturi Lehkonen each earn less than $3 million annually. The Jackets won’t take Jonathan Drouin’s $5.5 million AAV.

Kekalainen is reportedly being patient with Dubois’ situation. Bergevin might be wise to follow the same tactic and see how this season plays out. Perhaps they could revisit this in the offseason. Then again, there might not be any need for the Canadiens to make this deal if Suzuki and Kotkaniemi blossom into stars this season.


FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports Panthers GM Bill Zito told captain Aleksander Barkov there’s no truth to trade rumors suggesting he might be available. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported Thursday that Barkov was drawing interest from rival general managers. The report was based on whether the 25-year-old center would re-sign with the Panthers this summer, and if not, would they consider trading him.

“Bill talked to me right away, he told me they aren’t true,” said Barkov. “So it’s all good and I am concentrating on the start of the season. Thank you for mentioning this is my first time being mentioned in trade rumors.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt there were some general managers calling Zito to find out what changes he had in store for the Panthers this season and if Barkov might be part of them. It should be pointed out that Seravalli noted in his report that Zito intends to re-sign his captain.

Maybe that becomes a problem if the Panthers fail to improve this season. For now, I don’t see Barkov going anywhere.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites sources claiming if and when Zito asks Keith Yandle to waive his no-movement clause, he will do it for the Bruins. Murphy feels the main question is whether the Bruins would want the 34-year-old defenseman and his $6.35 million AAV through 2022-23.

Murphy cites reports indicating Bruins GM Don Sweeney spoke to Zito about what it would take to acquire Yandle but nothing came of it. He feels the Bruins seem determined to stick with their youth movement on defense and wouldn’t want to risk exposing Brandon Carlo or Matt Grzelcyk to this summer’s expansion draft if they acquired Yandle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay Yandle’s cap hit was a key reason why those rumored talks didn’t go far. If the Bruins remain interested in bringing Yandle back to his home state it might be best to do so after the expansion draft, and only if the Panthers agree to pick up part of his cap hit.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes the Oilers’ goaltending situation has gone from bad to worse this week. First, they lost Anton Forsberg to Carolina via waivers on Tuesday. On Friday, Mike Smith was placed on long-term injury reserve, taking him out of the lineup for at least 10 games.

Given the high number of back-to-back games the Oilers face in this shortened season, Staples wonders what GM Ken Holland will do. “Overpay? Patiently wait for some goalie to pop up on the waiver wire?”

Staples noted some Oilers’ observers are suggesting a trade for someone like Arizona’s Antti Raanta or Toronto’s Michael Hutchinson. Others suggest signing UFA Jimmy Howard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers were taking a risk bringing back the 38-year-old Smith for another season. If anything happens to Mikko Koskinen they will be well and truly screwed. There simply aren’t many palatable options available right now. Holland might not have much choice but to be patient and hope a decent netminder becomes available soon.


  1. I don’t see Kotkaniemi blossoming into a star … I know he’s very young but if Bergy can get Dubois with Kotkaniemi as the centerpiece then he should do it … and PLD would be worth the 14 day wait. The Habs would be set down the middle for years. If Dubois wants a major market then I don’t see Winnipeg, Ottawa or Anaheim as big players.

    Lastly, Mario better put the handcuffs on GM Jim Rutherford and tell him that the Pens first round pick is off limits … it could very well be the #1 overall.

    • It does depend on how Dubois views a bigger market. Perhaps the attention of a Canadian market will surfice. Maybe it is to insure a big payday. Which would mean probably not Ottawa or winnipeg.

      • Don’t think it totally matters where PLD wants to go as he doesn’t have a no trade deal

    • I think it would be a mistake to trade Kotkaniemi. I would rather part with Danault and Tatar + a 2nd rounder.

      • I would be surprised if Kekalainen would accept 2 pending UFAs as a return

      • Good idea. You could probably get a decent 3rd line winger for that deal.

      • I think Spector has it right: in a short season with many games in a short season a 14 day waiting period to get Dubois would hurt.

        If the trade took place on Jan 20 the Habs would be without Dubois for 8 games – 15% of their games. Plus they would be without whatever other roster player goes to CLB.

        And this doesn’t factor any injuries the Habs line up might get during this stretch — or any other; nor the adjustment period Dubois has to new line mates.

        KK may not end up being better than Dubois but he will, I believe, come close enough to justify holding onto.

      • But Those players would not be enough for the deal. Would you take that deal for Suzuki

      • That package is not getting you PLD. It’s gotta start with Suzuki or Kotkaniemi or there’s no deal.
        If I were to guess i’d say Kotkaniemi and Guhle with Tatar might get it done .

    • Thought you were a pens follower? Pens 1st is minnys. And also is kapenen.

      Unless you were talking 2022 pick?

  2. Big trouble in Edmonton even if you can pick up a goalie he will have to sit for 2 weeks so better hope Kos does not get injured or test positive for Covid

    • Barkov rumors made no sense. He has 2 years left on bargain deal (5.9m per) GM said he wasn’t trading him. Why would Seravalli even go there? Might as well start throwing Zibinejad’s name out there too. Same situation.
      As for Yandle, I said the other day. To Flyers for Ghost. Florida retains 1m per. Yandle probably the better player, but older. Both have 3 years left on current deals.

    • Ya, they waived Forsberg to protect Lagesson instead.
      Now Smith hurt.
      Koskinen Vallankamous

  3. Flyers and Penguins both looked like they were skating on sand last night. Little flow or tempo to the game.

    Pittsburghs is a world of trouble with that defence and goaltending. Ceci scratched after one game. Letang was -4, brutal display.

    • This comment belongs in today’s morning coffee headlines, Ron.

  4. It’s amazing having so many tenders rumoured to be on the move during the off season and Edmonton ends up needing one a season’s start.

  5. Why wouldn’t Holland sign Howard. Maybe he knows him too well or he wants a lot of dough . One or the other

    I would take Byron, Kotkaniemi Phoeling and a pick for Dubois

    Yandle will move when D around the league start getting banged up. Might not even take 50% retention. A bunch of crap to break the 4th longest Ironman streak

    • Danault , Colefield and Bryon
      2nd or 3rd draft pick

  6. Andersen and Bogo for Larsen and Smith.

    • Who won the Leafs-Sens game last night. I missed it.


      • but they beat Canadiens!

    • 17…based on your unbiased analysis I bet a co-worker our Leaffies would go 56-0 this year. What the HE double crossed sticks happened?

      • Raging, it appears the stars are aligned for the Leafs. Andersen and Bogo have already demonstrated they need to be jettisoned from the roster and we r only 2 games in. It is also clear Thornton must be put on 4th line where he belongs. Dubas and Keefe already are aware. Lehtonen will be in soon and will finish on top pair with Muzzin and running the 2nd PP. Alot of clarity after 2 games which is good in the long run.

        The thing I dont know is Brodie. Never watched him before, but looked terrible last game. He may be on Seattle expansion next year if his play doesn’t improve drastically.

    • Take on Neal, and you got a deal!

      Hey!!!! I’m a poet!

      I hope you were kidding Wendel17

  7. Might be an overreaction, but……..

    After the 8-0 drubbing to the Avs, the Blues might need to get in the line right behind the Oilers regarding their goaltending situation. As Lyle would put it, the Binnington/Husso combo platter may have the Blues “well and truly screwed”.

    You heard it here 1st

    • Dear Pengy,

      My God, man—where are you??

      I realize that your Pens have started 0-2, but I need you to talk me “off the ledge” regarding the Blues 8-0 loss!!

      ps. you can join me “on the ledge”, if needed.
      pps. Jeff, there is even space for you.

  8. Lyle the counter to your comments, waiting to see if MTL top 2 C develop and if they don’t or worst take a step back, then the asking price changes and you lose out on the opportunity.

    Yandle to Boston…. 10yrs ago yes….. today no thanks even with 50% held. Time to play the young guys.

    • My humble idea is that, if such an EXCELLENT 2way C as PIERRE-Luc Dubois is available (please stop with the “JLD”), parting with KK, as the main piece of your offer package, certainly DOES make sense.
      If Jarmo K would accept KK, Poehling, Byron, and, say, a 1st, I’d do it in a…Montreal minute !

  9. Oh god no not Yandle refried beans! Hanifin yes but for heavens sake stay away from Yandle!

  10. The only way Yandle makes sense to Boston is if at least 2 million is retained and Moore goes the other way . I believe once traded the new team has the right to remove the NMC thus Boston will not need to save him from the Kraken draft

    • MrBruin. I believe all clauses remain for life of contract according to new CBA

  11. I love PL Dubois. He is good offensively but wise he is lack luster. My Question. Dubois has 3 yrs behind the belt where where first two were influenced by Panarin. KK has 1.5 Yrs and played with really offensively challenged Wingers. lets say go to 2 yrs in the future. PL goes for a new Contract he will command 8X8 Probably in MTL (He has this market by the beard) . KK could be stretch into bridge contracts and such and probably at a reasonable price. My Question what will be the delta in their points ? Dubois 1st year = 48 and KK yr1 =34 (Now keep in mind KK did not get the ice time that PL got) …. That is only a delta of 14 pts Let go 2 yrs in the future and PL is 75 pts player and KK is a 65Pts player ,, Is 4 Mill worth 10 pt difference ??

    • I believe the weight of consideration rests upon the idea that with Dubois the Habs are closer to “win now”. Both KK and Suzuki are still developing.

      My fan perspective is longer term, but I get the business is run in the current fiscal year.

      But I find the trade obstacles discussed above to be compelling reasons for no trade to happen. I’ll be fine with that.

  12. Holland not wanting to pay Markstrom 6×6 but 5×7 isnt looking to good…..

  13. Pass on Yandle he was good maybe five years ago but now his ability has diminished. The last thing the bruins need right now is another retread. And why In the h is Ritchie still playing ?!? the guy wouldn’t even make the third line in the east coast league Trent is completely useless! Kase can’t score wastes of 1st rounder. Sweeney has to take a stab at Dubois anything less is just patchwork.