NHL Rumor Mill – April 29, 2021

by | Apr 29, 2021 | Rumors | 19 comments

In today’s NHL rumor mill: the Flames face some big offseason decisions, it might be time for the Sharks to consider trading Timo Meier or Kevin Labanc and Nikita Zadorov’s uncertain future with the Blackhawks.

TSN: Salim Valji examined the seven-year tenure of Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving and the big decisions he faces in the offseason. He pointed out the perception of the Flames as a flawed team has grown, suggesting it’ll take more than a handful of transactions to turn this disappointing club into a perennial Stanley Cup contender.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Winger Johnny Gaudreau’s no-trade clause kicks in after this season and he’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Team captain Mark Giordano could be exposed in the expansion draft. Under-performing winger Matthew Tkachuk will be a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights requiring a $9 million qualifying offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving took responsibility for the Flames’ discouraging performance this season but that’s cold comfort for their fans. There could be growing calls for a new GM but Valji points out Treliving has two years remaining on his contract.

Gaudreau’s future could be Treliving’s biggest decision. The 27-year-old winger is a whipping boy for the Flames’ woes as his production has declined over the last two years. He could be their best trade chip but interested parties will want to know if Gaudreau will sign a contract extension before committing to a trade. He’d have more value if he’s under contract beyond next season.

Exposing Giordano in the expansion draft is a calculated risk. The Seattle Kraken could select him but could prefer another option given his age (37) and UFA eligibility next summer.

Tkachuk disappointed this season but the Flames could be reluctant to part ways with the pesky 23-year-old winger. He’d attract plenty of interest in the trade market but some teams will balk at that hefty qualifying offer.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz points out it’s not just the San Jose Sharks’ veterans who are playing poorly of late but also their younger players. Most concerning is Timo Meier (24) and Kevin Labanc (25) aren’t performing to the level expected of players with their contracts.

Kurz wonders if it might be time to trade one or both but that won’t be easy. While they lack no-trade protection, Labanc has a $4.725 million cap hit for the next three seasons while Meier’s is $6 million annually for the next two.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Their trade value at this point would also be affected by their play this season. Factor in those cap hits and getting a worthwhile return for either guy this summer seems unlikely.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope suggested the Blackhawks’ signing physical defenseman Riley Stillman to a three-year contract extension casts more doubt over Nikita Zadorov’s future in Chicago. He speculates Zadorov’s RFA rights could be traded in the offseason.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman listened to offers for Zadorov at the trade deadline but set a high asking price. He might have to lower it to move the blueliner this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stillman’s $1.35 million annual average value and age (23) makes him a younger, more affordable option for the Blackhawks than the 26-year-old Zadorov, who’ll cost $3.2 million to qualify his rights. He’s also got arbitration rights this summer, making him perhaps more difficult to move this summer.


  1. Have not seen much of the Blackhawks this year, has Zadorov been that bad? Similar question on Meier?

    • Zadorov is a 5th or 6th defenseman – based on that, he’ not worth what he is paid.

    • Redmonsters, I remember watching that 2015 draft when Meier went 9th overall to SJ. I had seen quite a bit of him in games against the Gatineau Olympiques when he played for Halifax in the Q and was hoping he’d somehow fall to Ottawa’s spot at # 18. Instead, we got Chabot – whew!!

  2. Seems like we have been having the same conversation about the Flames for years. Stuck in purgatory.

  3. With the exception of Evander Kane, the entire Sharks roster has underperformed.

    • I love Nikita Zadorov, 25, he can skate, he is nasty and physical, he moves the puck well. He would fit so well with my Pittsburgh Penguins.

      Look he was terrific in Colorado but they are loaded on defense….not sure what is happening in Chicago with him.

      This kid can play and Pittsburgh is the place. Whether it is second pairing with John Marino or third pairing with Codi Ceci.

      Look the Penguins make a habit out of making players better…Jeff Carter has thrived in Pittsburgh, Codi Ceci has also done well in Pittsbugh, so has Kapanen and if not for that foot injury he would have 15 goals…

      if he is indeed a fifth defenseman and i think he is better he is a plus for the Penguins…we need some grit, jam, and sandpaper…

      Blackhawks must lower the price….

  4. Flames will continue to crash & burn if Treliving keeps making the decisions …

    setting a high asking price on Zadorov was delusional … doesn’t play mean enough for his size and can’t move the puck …

    the Sharks should really explore getting rid of Erik Karlsson … he is a liability on defense and his best offensive days are behind him, never the same since the Cooke achilles slice … Sharks are in no man’s land …

    • Agree with you completely Ed on Karlsson. After his first stint with the Sharks before the big signing, I was convinced Sharks had made a mistake trading for him. Was surprised Wilson went all out for him. At his cap hit, and given current conditions, no one is going to bite on him. Best move would to try and trade Burns while he has value because they won’t be able to get rid of Vlasic either.

  5. The Flames would be well on their way to solving their problems if they could figure out why Sam Bennett, who was minus-14 in 38 games with them, is plus-10 in 7 games since being traded to the Panthers, and has almost doubled his total points in those 7 games. Perhaps, transactions will only increase the team’s woes, rather than remedying them. Certainly, they can’t all be pinned on Treliving.

    • How many coaches has the Flames had since trev took over?

      That the problem, no stability behind the bench.

    • That would be because he has centered Huberdeau in Florida on the 2nd line, while in Calgary he played various positions with a rotating cast of replacement level players.

      • SCJ, yep.
        And he is taking advantage of it.

  6. Trev should go big and trade Monohan & Johny G for Eichel & Mittlestadt and call it a day.

    Both teams start over

    Eichel & Tkachuk
    Lindhom & Backlund
    fill in bottom 6

    Monohan & Johny G
    fill in bottom 6

    Buff gets a #1 line
    CGY no whipping boy to cry over

    • Buffalo is not going to make that trade, especially with Middlestadt coming around.

    • Calgary lines up with Philly for the makings of a trade in the offseason. Johnny Hockey finally goes home, monahan hell even Girodano might have a role on the Flyers D.
      Fletcher can offer up Patrick, Gostisbehere and Voracek plus ………. I can see the grounds of a potential trade there.

    • This is a silly proposal.
      Eichel is worth more than two guys who look to be out of the league soon unless they straighten up.
      I’m stunned that anyone would seriously propose it.

  7. “but some teams will balk at that hefty qualifying offer.” any arm chair GMs consider themselves the some who won’t balk at qualifying him at $9M? If he doesn’t get qualified he walks as a UFA right? And usually if qualified at the minimum it’s usually a bad sign for things to come.

    • As much as I’d like to see the Tkachuks united, there’s NO way I want to see Dorion have to qualify him at $9 mil in order to keep him – should he acquire him in a trade. I like him – but NOT at &9 mil per. Heck, if Treviling qualifies him at that cap hit he’s just asking for cap problems.

  8. Treviling not locking him up to a long term deal is the biggest mistake and now he is going to be in rock and hard place with Tkachuk. He is not $9 Million dollar player and am sure he knows it.