NHL Rumor Mill – February 11, 2021

by | Feb 11, 2021 | Rumors | 28 comments

Are the Predators and Bruins interested in Canucks forwards Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette? What’s the latest on the Senators and Blue Jackets. Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports it sounds like the Nashville Predators are among the teams interested in Vancouver Canucks winger Adam Gaudette. He also indicated the Boston Bruins were among the clubs checking out Canucks winger Jake Virtanen but he doesn’t know where that stands. He also said the San Jose Sharks had an interest in Virtanen during the offseason.

Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Vancouver Province’s Patrick Johnston recently reported the Canucks have been trying to move either (or perhaps both) Virtanen and Gaudette. However, sources say interest in the pair is “lukewarm at best.” He suggested Gaudette’s lower salary-cap hit makes him “somewhat more appealing” than Virtanen.

Johnston doubted either player would fetch much of a return that provides immediate help for the struggling Canucks. Any player they acquire from an American club would be unavailable for two-to-three weeks due to quarantine restrictions. Gaudette, meanwhile, claims he’s unconcerned about the trade speculation.

Speaking of the Predators, Friedman noted forward Nick Cousins was a healthy scratch from their 6-1 loss earlier this week to Tampa Bay. Cousins has had a rough start in Nashville and Friedman believes there would be interest from other clubs depending on what the Predators do.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Cousins for Gaudette? Discuss…

Friedman reports the Ottawa Senators were looking to ease their crowded blueline once Erik Brannstrom got up to speed. He felt Mike Reilly was the most likely to move but that may have changed now that Brannstrom is sidelined. He also claims they’re trying to move center Derek Stepan closer to his family in Arizona.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Ian Mendes commented on Senators general manager Pierre Dorion’s remarks about Stepan during his appearance yesterday on TSN 1200. Dorion said the center hasn’t requested a trade to be close to his family. However, Mendes also pointed out Dorion, when asked point-blank about Stepan’s status, merely replied he’s a member of the team.

Mendes feels there might be a team interested in Stepan’s services. However, he doesn’t expect the Senators would get much back in return. My guess is a draft pick or prospect.

Friedman said the sudden retirement this week of Mikko Koivu has the Columbus Blue Jackets considering all options at center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will include trades and waivers. Hey, Nick Cousins is a versatile two-way forward who can play center or wing. Hmmm…


  1. Re Stepan, as I opined yesterday I think Dorion will do his level best to get him as close to Phoenix as possible even if it means taking a lot less back in return that he unwisely gave up to get him. Meanwhile, unlike Anisomov, Coburn and Paquette, Stepan is at least still in the line-up and in the last two games against Edmonton, played around 15 minutes in both.

    Those other 3, I think, are done in Ottawa anyway. If they can’t move them they’ll all go through waivers following which they can play out the season in the AHL.

    One player I’m surprised hasn’t made his way into a game yet is Alex Formenton, he of the blazing speed. I haven’t heard anything about why – didn’t impress at training camp? In the coach’s dog-house? Too crowded at his position? Waiver concerns with him or whoever he replaces? I assume he’s at least on the taxi squad.

    • Good to see you back George.

    • Welcome back George…enjoy the diversion writing and thinking hockey is in the Great White North

      You probably remember I have been a big Dorian fan thinking he would do better in Montreal than Bergevin…. I still think this….I have sneaky suspicion that Montreal fan hopes got ahead of the team’s reality.

      This moves made by Dorian recently confused me as he moved away from young players and did not get enough back when supposedly helping other teams who had cap problems. He or his owner seemed to have lost patience.

      Do you have any ideas why he made those moves…like the 4 names you mentioned.

      • may give my thoughts on why Dorion brought in vets. You say yes, well thank you.

        Two thoughts come to mind

        First Dorion and Smith stating they want the prospects all to earn a spot. To feel the achievement of making it through hard work and their own merits rather than gifted rolls. Play well enough to earn it rather than play well enough not to lose it.

        2nd. Covid restrictions. The difficulty of trading across border. The unknown about whether teams will have to place players on covid isolation or if a players will contract the virus resulting in them not being able to play. To help fill out the taxi squad and protect against young players who may need to pass through waivers if called up and sent back.

        I believe if not for the shortened Covid restricted season. These moves probably would not of taken place

    • George , glad to see you back. Re Formenton , he is back in Belleville. Stuzle, Tkachuk, Nick Paul &or Connor Brown are ahead of him on the left side depth chart so I am thinking they want to give him a chance to develop in the AHL playing more than 8-10 minutes a game or sitting every other game.
      Several off season signings are not panning out, I would add Josh Brown and Galchenyuk to your list.

    • It seems that the readers have spoken, George. Those who ponder hockey are happy to hear from you. The worms won’t be that lucky for several decades.

  2. Cousins was a nice TD add for VGK last year . Could be a similar depth move this year. Not an every game player

    I would have a discussion regarding Formenton and Bennett. I think a case of you can’t bake a cake with all eggs.
    Batherson is better and Studzel has to play.Other peers like Kyrou with Blues are on the verge of breakout. Some team will benefit if they can pry him in a deal

  3. George nice to have you back a nice guy with a great hockey mind hope things find you well. Bruins don’t need Virtanen not even a little bit.

  4. Bennett would be great if they place hom on the second line
    Dont leave him on the fourth

    Also the trade for Murray was not the best choice if you review Murrays stats he isnt a 60 game goalie hes more a 35 to 45 game goalie but once your in the playoffs thats when the tough Murray shows up

  5. Thanks for the well wishes guys. Appreciate it. Re the questions about why Dorion went down that road with all the vets brought in, Jeff sums it up pretty well in that the attitude was, he and Smith wanted the kids to “earn” their spots rather than have them handed to them on a silver platter. That philosophy went south in a hurry and now the kids are playing more or less by default.

    So, why Stepan? Good question with no easy answer … but I’ll try. 🙂

    No one saw him as the answer at C – certainly not on the first line, but he is a respected veteran with a reputation for being a good dressing-room presence who would help with the youngsters at that position such as Norris and, eventually, Stutzle. What they did not calculate was the effect on his game focus by being wrenched away from his wife and newborn child … in the middle of a deadly pandemic . Did they know when the trade was being finalized that his wife was expecting any day or was that seen as none of their business? Whatever the case, it’s clearly not a great situation that cost them a 2nd round pick (one originally belonging to Columbus by the way – not their own). Hopefully, as I’ve said, Dorion can find him a new home closer to Phoenix even if he’ll get back less than he gave up.

    As for Coburn and Paquette, who came here along with Tampa’s 2nd pick, the Lightning needed cap relief to sign their key RFAs and so that was the price they paid for the contracts of Gaborik ($4,875,000) and Anders Nilsson ($2,600,000) – both of whom will be UFAs at season’s end. Meanwhile, although Coburn’s cap hit is $1,700,000, according to CapFriendly he’s only costing Ottawa $625,000 at the moment, while Paquette’s is $1,650,000. Both are also UFAs at season’s end. In their case it was probably a case of “let’s see how they fit in and would Coburn be an adequate replacement for Hainsey’s experience. Short answer – no. I will repeat, however, what I said yesterday – Ottawa has experienced a huge personnel turnover from last season’s roster with 7 of the 12 F and half the 6 main D and that can do nothing for team cohesion – especially with a short camp and no exhibition games.

    Galchenyuk was nothing more than a cheap look at whether, like Duclair had done, he would be able to develop some consistency in his game. So far no. And speaking of Duclair, he apparently turned down a 3-year $3 mil per deal acting as his own agent. Now he’s in Florida on a 1-year $1.7 mil show-me deal (a $50,000 raise!) and so far he’s not showing them much with 10gp 0g 6a.

    Josh Brown has, frankly, been the biggest disappointment in many ways. I really thought he would be able to help stabilize the D but he’s struggled. Again, is this the result of still trying to find cohesion in a different system with players with whom he’s unfamiliar? We’ll see.

    • Dorion gaffed when he did not re-sign Boro imo

      • Yeah, that one puzzled me too Fergy … to a certain degree anyway.

        Borowiecki’s biggest assets were his dressing room presence and heart-and-soul, body-sacrificing play when on the ice – but let’s face it, he was never going to become a regular Top 4 D-man. And in the seasons since he became a regular in Ottawa in 2014-15 – and not counting last year’s aberration – he has missed almost 27% of the team’s games due to injuries or various sorts.

        When looking at the overall situation, Dorion likely saw a guy who, if he had given him, say, a 3-year deal to 2023/24, would have been pushing 35 playing a style that will almost assuredly lead to more missed time.

        Then he looked at his D depth and, aside from Chabot, Zaitsev, Zub, Brannstrom and Wolanin, he also sees top prospects Thompson, Sanderson and Bernard-Docker certainly vying for spots in the next 3 seasons, along with, perhaps, Tychonick and Alsing.

      • Ya, Boro seems like a useful player they could have used. Not like they are all that strong on the left side after Chabot.
        He got 2 x 2 in Nashville maybe it was Boro’s choice?

      • I don’t know the Sens like you Ontario folks Fergy, just keep an eye from afar.
        I kind of get Gudbranson as he is a legit heavy weight, which is useful with a team full of kids.
        Having lived in Edmonton for a decade and with the Oil sucking for the majority of that time because they can’t keep the puck out of their own net, I would would highly recommend the Sens draft D every year for the next while.
        Not saying RD 1 every time unless it is the best player, but definitely RD 2.
        George brings up some promising prospects, but OTT would be wise to keep getting more IMO. 2021 draft looks to have plenty quality D men in the top half of the first RD.

  6. could have been his choice Ray after getting dick’d around especially after Dorion stated he wanted Boro to be a Sen for life. Both he and his wife and their families are from Kanata , he also has deep roots in the community. Not sure where the breakdown was but I could have seen a 2 year playing contract offer with the promise of a job either working for the organization in Ottawa or Belleville when he retired. I cannot see him playing more than another 2 years , his body has taken a beating.
    Instead Dorion let’s him walk and brings in Brown , @ 1.2 cap , 3 years younger , same type of player but not as effective. Gudbranson , @ 4 mil cap and 3 million salary, local lad, ok player but bottom pairing IMO and and a past expiry Coburn @ 1.6 salary. Swing and a miss

  7. Ottawa needs to stay the course. Play the kids and let the chips fall where they may.
    This is a lost season anyway.

    To my mind it’s the perfect time to do it. There is little pressure from fans and even die hards like George seem to be “disinterested”.

    Dorian has had some swings and misses, but overall he has set this team on the right path.

    He has lots of picks and will probably draft in the top 3 this year.

    George, I value your opinion.

    What say you?

  8. I think Dorion is one the best GMs in the league considering that he’s doing the job with one hand behind his back.

    Needing to stick as close as possible to the cap floor and dress the minimum number of players explains low end low cost veterans.

    The Tampa deal feels like a favour to be returned later on somehow.

    He’s quietly been been drafting and has a stockpile of young prospects.

    He’ll have a great young team for a few years till Melnyk forces another sell off.

    • Habfan30 – what sell-off are you referring to? Stone, Duchene and Karlsson turned down better offers so Dorion did what he had to do. And, in retrospect – and with the sole exception of Stone – I say thank God.

  9. Fully agree nevinsrip. Little to no point in giving ice time the rest of the way to the likes of Anisimov, Paquette, Coburn – let the kids take over and learn on the job. Josh Brown I wouldn’t totally give up on while Stepan needs to be moved for humanitarian reasons.

    As for the 2021 draft, they don’t have a bunch of top round picks like last year but they do have at least 1 in each round. Here they need to be careful because their AHL and ECHL farms are full of prospects with more to come like Sanderson, Bernard-Docker, Tychonich, Pinto, Ridley Grieg, Järventie, Kleven, Sokolov, Meriläinen, Engstrand, Daoust, Reinhardt and others yet to turn pro and sign, so they have to keep any eye on the player limit.

    How they settle on who drafts where is, however, going to be a bit controversial what with what, 4 separate divisions tantamount to 4 separate leagues where they don’t play against any of the teams from the other 3. How do they decide that finishing last in one division makes that team any more worthy of an equal chance at # 1 than the last place team in another – even if they wound up with a few more points? Who decides the relative strengths of each division? How do disrupted schedules in the U.S. divisions (and only them so far) due to Covid factor in?

    Maybe they should just open up the lottery to all teams that fail to qualify for the playoffs with equal % chances for all of them.

    It’s a real dog’s breakfast in that regard.

    • I think that the draft will be seeded by total points.
      That’s how it’s always been done and we all know how hockey is rooted in tradition.

      I think Bettman and Company view it as one NHL regardless of divisions. Their view is that you are playing NHL teams no matter where you are.

      I see Detroit, Ottawa and maybe the Coyotes as the top three seeds.

    • nevinsrip, to my point that the short camp and no exhibition games hurt the 7 non play-in teams more so than others is more or less borne out by the standings:

      Buffalo is 4 4 2 10 and last in their Division.
      NJ is 4 3 2 8 and 2nd last
      Anaheim is 5 6 3 12 and 5th out of 8 in their Division
      L.A. is 3 6 3 9 and last in their Division
      SJ is 5 5 1 11 and 7th of 8
      Ottawa is 2 11 1 5 and dead last
      Detroit is 3 9 2 8 and last in their grouping

      I don’t know how much of a factor roster changes had on those teams other than Ottawa who have virtually half their roster composed of new faces from all over the map.

    • I think I would swap in SJS or LAK in for PHO for the 3rd worst nevinsrip.
      What’s with Nashville so far? Yikes.
      Good point about the draft order George, not sure what they do.
      Kind of have to go with the same process as always. Maybe change the likely % so that the bottom 4 teams all get an equal shot at it.

  10. The Nucks trading Virtanen or Gaudette for scraps is just foolish. They are looking to shake things up, but since they are stuck with Roussel, Ericksson, Beagle, Baerstchi, and Sutter (players and contracts no one wants) The discussion is around trading players that are cap friendly in their early 20s to change things up. With the extensions coming for the Nucks top end players coming, they can’t afford to drop middle six forwards like Gaudette and Virtanen. The Nucks have to suck it up and ship out those non-producing roster players with big contracts by sacrificing draft picks or just riding out the next two years to clear the dead money. The team just has to accept that management has put them in a corner with bad contracts and they can’t play in the acquisition market. If they ship out players like Gaudette and Virtanen just for something to do, it will compound the problem.

  11. I know a lot of people who frequent the site won’t agree but I think that post Seattle expansion draft the league should apply 1 compliance buyout per team. The cap is flat , revenue is down and the majority of teams are up against the cap. I understand some feel that GM’s should have to live with their past bad signings but this would be an exception. Swing away

    • I’ll take a swing Fergy!
      I assume just for 1 year due to Covid flat cap?

      Here is my issue, teams have already given up pick(s) to move money, or bought guys out, or didn’t sign an RFA/UFA from their own team they would have liked to, etc.

      The heavy lifting has been done by many and giving a freebie to teams disadvantages the teams that already made the tough decisions to position themselves for this year and the future.

      IE – MTL may not have been able to add the guys they did if other teams were able to get a buyout that didn’t impact the cap.

      • one year deal Ray , you make fair points but much of that impacted this years rosters. I would estimate that almost every team would want a ‘get out of jail’ on at least one contract

  12. Shotgun Jake has had so many opportunities to shine this year. Yet he keeps failing and failing and failing. I love this kid, he has so much potential if he just played with his heart. He could be playing topline minutes and laugh if you will but I believe he has a 25 – 30 goal season in him. With that being said, I do not think it will be with the Nucks, I read a blog yesterday that there was interest in him and Loui, I would circle back around and look at that if I were JB.

    • BOS is mentioned as kicking the tires on him, and I hope they do as long as the ask is small from Van.
      If he is ever going to shine BOS would be as likely as anywhere as they have a good veteran culture and an opportunity with a quality C as they have 3.

      For what in return? I have no idea. Senyshyn is a top pick that hasn’t panned out but he has been a total flop so not even an option. Maybe a Kampfer, Moore or Kase in return?