NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2021

by | May 19, 2021 | Rumors | 12 comments

Could the Coyotes trade Phil Kessel or Oliver Ekman-Larsson this summer? Could the Flyers pursue Jack Eichel? What’s the latest on the Stars and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen was asked if the Arizona Coyotes could trade Phil Kessel now that Rick Tocchet is no longer their head coach. He believes the Coyotes would’ve done that whether Tocchet remained behind the bench or not. The fact he isn’t their coach anymore suggests they want to build around their younger players and could seek a younger coach to grow with them.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

Kessel is 33 and is a year away from unrestricted free agent status. If he stays, he could become a rental option for a contending team at the 2022 trade deadline. Trading him could fetch the Coyotes some much-needed draft picks, though he won’t bring in a first-rounder.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan also believes Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong could shop Kessel, speculating the winger could be open to that option. He’s due a $5 million signing bonus on July 1, after which he’s only due $1 million for the remainder of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes could try moving Kessel before July 1 but interested parties will prefer waiting until after then. He’s coming off a solid bounce-back performance and could be a good fit with a contender seeking experienced scoring depth on the wing.

Kessel still carries an eight-team no-trade list. He has a no-movement clause but that’s to ensure he cannot be demoted to the minors or left exposed in the expansion draft.

Morgan was also asked if the Coyotes could attempt to shop Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He’s not sure yet if their captain will expand his no-trade list but knowing the front office wants to move him can’t be a comforting thought. They would have to take back a big salary as Ekman-Larsson is due to earn $10.5 million annually in real salary over the next three years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never, but moving Ekman-Larsson could be more difficult than it was last fall when the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks explored that possibility. His performance has declined over the past three seasons. If a swap of expensive contracts isn’t possible, the Coyotes could be forced to absorb part of his cap hit or attempt to get a third team involved in order to find a creative way to make it work.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun believes the Philadelphia Flyers could be busy during the offseason following their disappointing performance this season. He thinks GM Chuck Fletcher is determined to make this offseason count.

LeBrun can see the Flyers looking into Jack Eichel’s situation with the Buffalo Sabres. He also thinks they could reach out to the Nashville Predators to inquire again about Mattias Ekholm or Ryan Ellis. They could also have interest in Seth Jones if the Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t able to sign the blueliner to a contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun believes the Flyers have the young pieces necessary to make a big trade. For me, the sticking point is their cap space.

Cap Friendly shows them with over $69 million invested in 17 players. That’s not much room to take on a high-salaried star such as Eichel unless they’re willing to offer up a young player like Travis Konecny ($5.5 million AAV) or Ivan Provorov ($6.75 million) as part of the package. The other option is finding someone to take an expensive veteran such as Jakub Voracek ($8.25 million AAV) or James van Riemsdyk ($7.14 million) off their hands.

I’m not suggesting such moves are impossible. As we’ve seen in recent years, general managers can find creative ways to move players with hefty contracts. Finding a trade partner will to do so, however, is the hard part.

Predators GM David Poile would probably prefer someone taking expensive underachievers like Ryan Johansen or Matt Duchene off his hands rather than move Ekholm or Ellis. Jones will attract plenty of interest if he doesn’t sign an extension this summer but Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen indicated he’ll still keep him for next season.


THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks recently reported Stars GM Jim Nill didn’t dismiss the idea of adding another scoring forward. He feels his club has the cap space to make that move if the right player can be found.

DeFranks estimates the Stars could have between $4 million and $5 million to work with after re-signing key players such as Miro Heiskanen. They could also have more room if the Seattle Kraken select goalie Anton Khudobin in the expansion draft. He wondered if that would be enough to bring in someone like Mike Hoffman, Blake Coleman or Alex Wennberg.

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell believes the recent rumors suggesting the Oilers could be close to signing Adam Larsson to a new contract could signal the end of Tyson Barrie’s tenure in Edmonton.

Re-signing Larsson, the presence of Ethan Bear and the potential elevation of Evan Bouchard next season would give the Oilers a shutdown defenseman and two right-side puck-passers for under $7 million combined.


  1. Makes no sense for anybody to trade for Eichel until he shows his neck can stand up to the rigors of NHL play.

    Let the Sabres assume the risk and be certain hes fully recovered before giving up players and picks.

    • Ron, what exactly are the rigors of the NHL on a players neck? Besides carrying that big head. Eichel is 24 years old. I don’t see this as a career ending injury. Pretty sure any team trading for Eichel will have benefit of full medical prognosis before giving up the ranch.

  2. I wonder if the Oilers might look at acquiring Kessel if they are unable to resign Nuge.

    • I would prefer a Coleman type guy vs Kessel KevJam.
      I also think Holloway gets a look. Word is the kid looks ready.
      Plus Benson – kind of now or never with him.

      Nuge ain’t perfect, but he is a good fit with the Oil, I just don’t know what he is worth in this flat cap era? You know he could make more if he tested the market. Not many quality C’s available as a UFA’s.

      • Coleman is interesting. I didn’t realise he was a UFA.
        I think it would be more beneficial for Holloway to start next season in the AHL. That seems to be what Halland likes to do with the young draftees.
        This coming up season is the time for Benson to prove himself. IMO the 3rd and 4th line LW position is wide open. Especially if Neal is bought out this offseason.
        I really like Nuge he is a great team first guy, but I just don’t want to see a contract longer than 4 years. I’m with you on that I just don’t know what his worth is. I think $6.5 million is fair, but I really don’t know. Seeing that top 6 wingers is where the Oilers are thin at is another reason why it would be hard to see Nuge walk.

      • Wouldn’t mind seeing the Oil put the Nuge, Draisaitl, Yamamoto line back together for a spin.
        They killed it last year and yet Tippet hasn’t used it at all this year which is weird.

      • He has used it a few times late in the season ray and they appear to be starting game 1 together as well with kahun up with mcdavid and jp. I think that is the optimal top 6 , happy to see Kassian up and running to and in for shore , I like what shore has done all year as a depth grinder but prefer Kassian and his style and presence , koeekoek is also in for jones , don’t love that one , but Tippett always leans to the veterans in the big games , has since he arrived in Edmonton with smith , Neal chiasson , Russell at times and now koeekoek

  3. Vancouver Canucks bringing Jim Benning back. Great news for Canuck fans, on to year 8 of Bungling Jimmys 5 year masterplan.

    Im not a Canucks fan but those that are certainly deserve better than another year of Dim Jim throwing 2nd line money at 4th line grunts.

    There are some very good pieces in Vancouver. Pettersson, Hughes (tho he is absolutely brutal defensively), Boeser, Horvat, Demko and Hoglander was a pleasant surprise.

    Bennings inability to complete the roster screams incompetence. Beagle, Roussel, Edler, Myers and Eriksson among others are grossly overpaid for what they bring to the table.

    Vancouver needs to resign Hughes and Pettersson which will require massive salary increases at the expense of roster depth.

    No playoffs this season, no playoffs in 5 of 6 seasons yet Jimbo retains his position.

    I suppose the only way Aqualini will notice or care is when the fans stay away in droves from paying to watch the Eddie Munster Vancouver sh*tshow enter year 8.

    No fans this year, and no full houses for the foreseeable future either.

    Benning needs to go, and take Travis Green with him.

    Vancouver Canucks, what a joke.

    • Don’t disagree that VCR is in a tough spot Ron, but I don’t think it all falls on Benning.
      The reason is what happened with Linden and when he left. The way I understand it, he wanted to stay the course with the rebuild and not start adding vets in the UFA market to accelerate the timeline. Didn’t think it was sustainable yet.
      Linden reported to ownership, not Benning.
      I think Benning is simply executing ownerships “Master Plan”. Start competing for the playoffs. The reason was dip in attendance and ticket sales.
      I don’t live in VCR and don’t know if fans only show up when they win.
      His business his call I guess, but Linden may have been right all along.

      They have a little space this year, and a whack next off season so all is not lost.

  4. To BOS: Kessel ($1.5 mil held)

    To ARZ: DeBrusk & pick

    To BOS: OEL

    To ARZ: Coyle & Grezlyk

    • I could really see Kessel playing in Dallas next season if they can work out the cap math. Dallas is pretty solid and if Kessel can pot 30 on the 2nd line the Stars could be dangerous.

      • Pretty nice idea! … Dallas probably considers this season an aberration and will try and go for it again while they have the Benn/Seguin/Radulov/Pavelski veteran core.