NHL Rumor Mill – February 18, 2021

by | Feb 18, 2021 | Rumors | 47 comments

Check out the latest on the Bruins, Wild and Stars in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss’ belief the Bruins should make acquiring a defenseman a trade-deadline priority was among his five takeaways of the club’s performance at the quarter-point of the season.

Should the Boston Bruins pursue Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm? (NHL Images)

Goss expressed some concern about the Bruins’ scoring depth but felt they still need more experience and physicality on the blue line. He also pointed out Charlie McAvoy is the only Bruins’ rearguard with more than three points, suggesting they could use a blueliner who can generate some offense.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy took note of TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reporting Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm could be available. With Matt Grzelcyk in and out of the lineup due to injuries, Murphy wonders if Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will try to fill that second-pairing left slot with Ekholm. Murphy also noted the Bruins’ offseason interest in Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm is a solid all-around defenseman carrying an affordable $3.75 million salary-cap hit through 2021-22. He could be a good addition to the Bruins or any other NHL roster.

The Bruins have over $4 million in projected cap space so there’s room for Ekholm’s cap hit, though it would be a tight squeeze. Depending on the Predators’ asking price, the Bruins could send them a player to free up some cap room. Winger Anders Bjork ($1.6 million annual average value) often comes up in Bruins’ trade chatter. Maybe the Predators would be interested in the 24-year-old winger if they decide to get younger.


THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo was asked what it would take for the Minnesota Wild to acquire Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett or Ottawa Senators center Derek Stepan.

Russo acknowledged the Wild’s need for depth at center. Stepan’s $6 million cap hit, however, would be a concern, as would Bennett’s arbitration number this summer. The Wild have limited salary-cap space and the Flames or Senators would have to take a contract in return. Bennett’s inconsistency was also a concern for Russo.

Asked about Matt Dumba’s trade status, Russo feels the defenseman’s performance over the remainder of the season will make him more or less likely to be moved. His $6 million cap hit, his play last season and the fact that the acquiring club might have to alter their expansion draft protection list plans could make the 26-year-old blueliner difficult to move. Asked if Dumba might be a fit with the Vancouver Canucks, Russo said he got the impression the Canucks’ interest in him was nil.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As with most capped-out NHL teams, the Wild probably won’t make a major move before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. They could swing a minor deal or two if necessary provided they can make the dollars fit. Otherwise, what you see is what you get with the Wild this season. Any significant moves on their part (Dumba?) could take place in the offseason before the July expansion draft.


THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Matthew DeFranks was asked if the Dallas Stars should use Esa Lindell or John Klingberg as trade bait for draft picks and prospects to restock their system as they haven’t seemed to develop any real NHL level talent recently. DeFranks disagreed with that premise and doesn’t believe they should shop Lindell or Klingberg. If they were to move either defenseman, he felt the package would be around NHL talent with the Stars championship window currently open.

DeFranks was also asked if the Stars would be a player in this year’s trade market. If they do become active it won’t be a big move. He also pointed out center Tyler Seguin and goaltender Ben Bishop will be returning to the lineup from offseason surgeries later this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars have struggled to score and kill penalties in recent weeks. I daresay those would be the areas they would address if they decide to test the trade market.

Lindell and Klingberg are their top-pairing defense. They’re not going anywhere.


  1. I can’t believe that Wild would be interested in Stepan

    It’ll have to be 50% retained

    Dorion… offer 50% retained on Stepan; Sharks 2nd; and a prospect for Soucy…. see what Billy G says

    This Pens and Leafs fan does not want to see Ekholm on Bruins

    • Hi Pengy…

      How would you feel about Ekholm on the Leafs?

      Would you do this trade if you’re Dubas

      To NSH: Nylander
      To TOR: Ekholm, Granlund

      The dollars would be close. Granlund could play with Tavares. The balance of salary wouldn’t be so top heavy.

      Nylander is the most moveable player of the Leafs big earners.

  2. A legit good top 4 at that small cap hit would be the prize of the deadline. Gonna be multiple bidders driving up price.

  3. The Bruins need a D man the Bruins need more scoring pretty sure they are near the top of the league. Boston needs to get and stay healthy and some great goaltending which I believe both can offer and they will be fine.

  4. A cautionary tale for Bruin fans seeking a D. I’m sharing a habcentric view but it’s applicable.

    Joel Edmundson had mixed reviews on account of his struggles at Nashville on one hand and his success at St. Louis on the other hand.

    It’s about how players fit into and/or adapt to systems, which seems obvious….but it isn’t. He went from a zone system to a man on man and back to zone system with the habs and voila he’s playing great hockey.

    Karl Alzner spent a career in a man on man system and was never able to adjust to the habs zone defense and washed out.

    Pro scouting let the team down with Alzner and scored with Edmundson.

    Bruins fans have the added difficulty in viewing an avant-garde system that concentrates on quickness behind the goal line instead of net front presence.

    Which available D and/or centre fit the system?

    • ughhhh, Carolina not Nashville. sorry

  5. Then there’s this …don’t bite the messenger



    Geez toss in DeBrusk keep the 22 1st rd pick

    • Hi Joe

      I responded a polite no yesterday; and repeat again today

      The only teams I see Crosby going to (as at now I think the likelihood he retires a Penguin is extremely high) are to Avs or Habs

      • The one from yesterday was from a different site Bleacher Report this recent one is from a Boston site ….

        Anyone can get traded in the NHL even a 27 year old Wayne Douglas Gretzky

      • Unless crosby said he would only go to the bruins and tied the pens hands there is no way that is enough.

      • Thanks Joe

        Sorry I thought that was ur proposal

        A polite no to Bleacher report

        Again… high probability … Sid retires a Pen

        Only other two possibilities… Habs or Avs

    • If that trade was available Bruins would do it in a heart beat but the way mentioned Bruins would not have the cap space to do so using debrusk would help but still not enough maybe toss Kase in as well then it would work out cap wise

      • I’m thinking this is more of a offseason trade deal assuming #46 moves on then for sure Crosby fits

    • Studnicka? Malkin is reported to have said there’s breeding room for only one retired Russian racehorse on the team.

    • Hmmm, how about this trade (wake up Sweeney):

      Penguins get:

      2022 1st pick

      Bruins get:

      2022 1st pick

      • Penguins wouldn’t even pick up the phone for that!

      • You must be zonked out xD .. the best player Pittsburgh would get back in that deal would be 1/10th as good as Crosby is even now – quantity over quality is NEVER a good idea, unless you mix real quality in with the quantity. Like Forsberg going to Quebec in the Lindros deal … at least Forsberg and Lindros were relatively equal talents. How do you see Studnicka standing up versus Crosby? And an aging 1B goalie and a POTENTIAL perennial 20-25 goal scorer IF he had Crosby as his center.

        Sorry, but that’s a terrible trade proposal 🙂

    • Joe, huge Crosby fan, but as a Bruin fan i say no.

      Sure it be nice to have team Canada line of Marchand Crosby Bergeron

      33yr old Crosby with 4yrs remaining is not something Boston should be remotely interested in.

      That proposal is paying for yesterday success but will only bring tomorrow failure.

    • Actually, if Crosby’s traded anywhere, it could be to the Bruins. He’d be close to home and his good buddy Brad Marchand, a fellow Nova Scotian, would welcome him with open arms! 🙂 As well, his friendship and on-ice chemistry with Patrice Bergeron, can’t be denied. Altogether, a perfect destination for Crosby.

    • Legitimate chance Crosby follows Lemieux ONLY playing for one team , the Penguins !!

  6. After Charlie the D has no O ….Matt G will be in and out of the lineup I think it was a mistake giving the little guy that contract…. Kase is a waste as is don’t go near the boards DeBrusk …… needs a LD who can play both O&D and a scoring winger with size … shake that tree

  7. Joe are they not in first place did they not finish first last year? Boston is in great shape once Krech and Rask leave or Rask takes discount they will have plenty of cash.

    • These Bruins teams are built for the regular season when they play against bigger teams in the league they have issues

      • The bruins lost to the cup last 2 years to the eventual winners This team is very good better than most Everyone jumping on leaf and hab band wagons They are not cup contenders only pretender as of now

    • Disagree Joe. Just because they didn’t win the cup doesn’t mean they aren’t built for the playoffs.
      I dare say they have won more rounds than most teams over the last few years.
      They need to be healthy, get saves, and somebody need to beat Tampa before the B’s get them.

    • I agree with the offseason. Plenty of cash next year to keep the team a cup favorite. I don’t think Sweeney does much this year unless it is someone with term left and really makes sense. On the defense, he has to protect three, and we know McAvoy and Carlo will be protected. Who else? Zboril? Lauzon? Grezlyck? If they add Ekholm then they will need to offer Seattle something to not take one of those other three listed.

      Would Nashville take Grezlyck and a prospect for Ekholm?

      My wish list next year would be for Sweeney to either resign Rask at a team friendly 2 year deal or go after Grubauer, Mrazek or Ullmark.

      Go after Nugent-Hopkins to replace Krejci.

      And sign either Hall, Schwartz or Lowry

  8. Ray as you know…

    2015 didn’t make the playoffs

    2016 didn’t make the playoffs

    2017 beaten by Ottawa in 1st rd

    2018 beat Leafs & lost to TB

    2019 was the good run
    beat Leafs ,Columbus & Carolina
    lost to a heavy Blues team and series wasnt that close the PP kept them in it

    2020…beat a Carolina team 4-1 & lost to a hard skating TB team 4-1

    2019 was the season when they did the most playoff damage

    so they won 5 playoff games in 6 years

    • Another way to look at it Joe is they have won 5 playoff series over the last 3 years. Or 4 over the last 2 years.
      Like I said they have won more playoff rounds than most teams over the last few years.

      • Right Ray we can twist this anyway we want to make our point …. Go Bruins

      • Exactly Joe. Go B’s!

  9. Lyle, has there been any update(s) on Jonathan Toews? It’s a mystery so far.

  10. Take a Seguin type player out of any lineup and I bet scoring goes down. Doesn’t Gurianov count as player development ?
    20 buts as a rookie and trending nicely this season.

  11. I think Stepan to Boston is viable too. Puts him back in the states so his family can come visit easier and insurance for the inevitable Bergeron/Kreijc injuries

    • With Stepan’s cap hit, that is a hard NO!

  12. Bruins generally grab a player with an extra year on their contract. It won’t be strictly a rental. No need to panic……Just like I’ve been saying since the start of the season. There’s nothing wrong with letting the youngsters play and learn from the leadership group on this team. We could stand to git rid of Bjork and Moore though.
    I’m still picking us to make it to the finals.

  13. BosBrn32, yeah, that $6 mil cap hit for Stepan is difficult to fit in for most teams. But the thing is, if Ottawa holds back, say $2 mil, or alternatively, takes back an expendable cap hit (that also becomes a UFA at season’s end). he could help a team by playing with a healthier state of mind regarding his young family. And he is also a UFA at season’s end and I don’t think even he or his agent expect to ever again see a contract calling for a cap hit anywhere near $6 mil. In a good environment and on a competitive team, he’d likely re-sign for something closer to $3 mil per.

    Would Boston take him at a $4 mil cap hit if Ottawa held back $2 mil or, conversely, what contract would they be willing to send the other way to relieve the cap load?

    • Boston doesn’t have a great option there. Most of their players on expiring contracts are core members that they will need for the playoffs.

      I’d say they could give up Kase and his $2.6M but no way Sweeney does that after giving up what he did for him last trade deadline.

      Too bad dead cap space can’t be traded…Boston has $1.5M from Backes this season.

    • Not sure where Stepan fits in BOS George. Pretty strong up the middle. I suppose on the wing, but there are less expensive options out there IMO.
      I would like to see how the B’s do with Kase playing as the guy has been hurt pretty much the whole time in BOS. Debrusk playing up to ability. The Smith add has helped the forward depth, so it might be better than it looks today 5 v 5. PP and PK are fine, all about 5v5 and depth come playoff time.

  14. Stepan (Minnesota native) and a 1st for Dumba.
    Boston needs offense on back end? How bout 4th leading scorer for dmen, A DeAngelo? Grzelcyk (played for Quinn at BU) to Rangers.
    Crosby to Rangers to reunite with best bud, Jack Johnson! To Pitt: Strome, Buchnevich and a 1st

    • 66 would never want to see 87 help a Cup win @ MSG
      Deal starts with Kakko+one of the D prospects+ at least a 1st

      • ds. No thanks. Crosby trade was to see what Pengy’s thoughts would be… really no need for him in NY as this season is going down the toilet pretty quick.

      • yeah i agree too just tossing it out

        If the Rangers were that 2nd center away makes sense to acquire a ready to go center

        I feel us Ranger fans got excited by Igor and the pre-covid run when the team was not really ready to contend

    • Bruins don’t want DeAngelo. Especially not for Griz. I honestly don’t think anyone is gonna bring him on board, Slick.
      He’s kinda like that kid from Washington. Damaged goods at this point. Maybe he can salvage a career over in the KHL. I think his NHL days are over.

  15. ds. Their play in the bubble was proof they weren’t there yet. My Gorton tried, but they definately needed an upgrade at center. Read an interesting article today that Gorton will be looking to make a move in off season. Said they made hard push for Eichel last off season and will be watching what happens if they don’t improve and Hall leaves. Rangers will have the cap space next year and could make a splash somewhere involving assets.

  16. FYI Derek Stephan was paid $3 Million signing bonus for this season before being traded to the Senators.

    His actual salary at this point would be around $2 Million and change and getting cheaper by the day.

    The Sens would be willing to pick up half or more for the right trade.

    • I agree they would be willing to pickup 50% for the right return. 50% is the limit under the CBA though.