Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 29, 2021

by | Aug 29, 2021 | Rumors | 42 comments

Could the Canadiens target the Sabres Jack Eichel or the Coyotes’ Christian Dvorak if they don’t match Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s offer sheet? Which centers could the Penguins target if the need arises this season? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek discussed the Carolina Hurricanes signing Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet on Saturday. Friedman said the Hurricanes had discussed the possibility of a trade for Kotkaniemi with the Canadiens but couldn’t work out a deal. He thinks the Hurricanes informed the Canadiens of their intention to sign Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet, probably within 24 hours of doing so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The initial reports of Kotkaniemi’s offer sheet took most observers by surprise. Some suggested Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was caught off-guard, chiding him for not signing Kotkaniemi when he had the chance to avoid this situation.

Based on Friedman’s reporting, that doesn’t appear to be the case. The Habs GM still didn’t seem fully convinced Kotkaniemi was fully prepared for second-line center duty. He was using his leverage to attempt to sign the youngster to a two-year bridge deal worth around $2.5 million annually.

Bergevin also had plenty of advance warning of Carolina’s interest in Kotkaniemi. While the Hurricanes’ PR team played up the revenge angle on Twitter to great amusement on social media, that seems to be merely a secondary factor. Why engage in trade talks if they intended to do the offer sheet all along? And why inform the Habs of their plan and provide Bergevin an opportunity to get Kotkaniemi under contract?

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels speculates Bergevin could target Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak. The Habs GM will have some extra draft capital with the first- and third-round picks he’d get from the Hurricanes as compensation. The Coyotes showed a willingness over the past month to collect as many high-end picks as possible.

Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak (NHL Images).

Dvorak, 25, would be a good fit. The 6-foot, 200-pound two-way center has averaged a half-point per game and carries a cost-effect annual cap hit of $4.45 million over the next four seasons.

Engels also wonders if Bergevin could use those picks as part of a package deal for Jack Eichel. They’d have to live with the risk of the 24-year-old center becoming the first player to have an artificial disc-replacement procedure before he played his first game with them. Bergevin could also attempt the offer-sheet route with Elias Pettersson but doubts he’ll target the Vancouver Canucks center.

TVA SPORTS: Yvon Pedneault also thinks Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin will be working the phones to find a suitable, affordable replacement. He speculates he’ll target teams that have to reduce payroll before the start of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin has seven days to match the Hurricanes offer for Kotkaniemi. If he has no intention of matching he’s already calling around looking to package those compensatory picks for a replacement or an upgrade.

Dvorak reportedly drew considerable interest around the league but Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could be reluctant to move him. Maybe he’d be swayed if Bergevin offered up a first and a third. PuckPedia shows the Habs currently have two picks in the third, fourth and seventh rounds of next year’s draft. Bergevin could include one or two of those along with the compensation from the Hurricanes or add a prospect or two to sweeten the pot.

Much has been made of Bergevin’s cozy relationship with Eichel’s new agent, Pat Brisson. However, the Sabres are still reportedly seeking four assets comparable to first-round picks. Unless that asking price is lowered, I don’t see the Habs getting into the bidding for the Sabres captain.

Bergevin could attempt to sign Pettersson to an offer sheet but I don’t think the young Canuck is interested. As Engels points out, the expensive price to do so would be difficult to squeeze within the Canadiens’ salary-cap limits.


PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski recently examined four possible rental centers for the Penguins if Evgeni Malkin should be sidelined by knee surgery longer than expected. That could create a problem with the Penguins lacking depth at center beyond their top four. The club was also wracked with injuries last season plus Malkin and Jeff Carter are unrestricted free agents next summer.

The first is San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl. Kingerski speculates he could be had for a similar cost the Carolina Hurricanes paid for Vincent Trocheck, which was two bottom-six forwards and a promising prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming the Sharks intend to move Hertl or he intends to test the market. There could be mutual interest in working out an extension. If the Sharks do shop him I suspect they’ll seek a better return than what the Florida Panthers got for Trocheck.

Other options include Columbus’ Max Domi, Dallas’ Joe Pavelski if the Stars are out of playoff contention by the trade deadline, or swapping defenseman Marcus Pettersson’s bad contract for the Minnesota Wild’s Victor Rask.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kingerski acknowledged Domi is sidelined by shoulder surgery until December. He also pointed out the Blue Jackets’ own lack of depth at center. Pavelski has a three-team trade list and could prefer staying out west.


  1. Habs stuck with Droiun(M-NTC) or they could of swapped him for a Dvorak or similar

    How were they going to sign KK at all even without the offersheet?

    • Hi ds

      Drouin can be traded to 28 teams (his Partial NTC only allows him to block 3 teams)

      It’s possible Arz is one of the three though; I’ve no idea re his actual 3 blocked teams

      Re KK… IF , big IF, the were hung ho on the $2.5 M …. the balance of LTIRwouldcover it

      • Can’t use LTIR as a cushion in the off-season. Kicks in on opening night.

        Habs can only be 10% over cap in off-season.

  2. Lyle, how would Montreal manage to add Eichel’s cap hit and stay under the cap?
    Can’t see how the math works.

    • ds: They’re placing Shea Weber on LTIR, that frees up enough to re-sign Kotkaniemi if there was no offer sheet. Their plan was a two-year, $2.5 million per season deal.

      BCLeafFan: It would be difficult, for sure. They would get sufficient space to do so with Weber on LTIR plus shipping out another salaried player or two in the deal. Regardless, I doubt Bergevin will pursue Eichel. A player like Dvorak seems a more reasonable target.

      • Thanks Lyle
        I keep looking at Habs cap page and keeps confusing me how much space they had left

      • Lyle, I understand if Montreal match they couldnt trade KK for a year. However what if,after talking to other teams, MB cuts a deal with Treliving where he trades the rights to KK to Calgary for lets say Monahan & then Treliving decides to match the offer sheet or take the picks & parlay them in a package for Eichel? Does MB even have that option in the next week window period here? Just curious.

      • Kotkaniemi cannot be traded after signing that offer sheet. Technically, his rights now belong to the Hurricanes unless the Canadiens match the offer.

  3. you muck with the bull , you get the horns
    good for Carolina

    • Yeah right, paying a 3rd liner 6.1 million, good for them …

    • This is a pretty slick move. Slot Kotkaniemi in at the 2C slot. If he doesn’t work out, you’ve got a vet like Stepan (not great but good) to fill in and its only a one-year commitment @$6.1. Of course its a big risk, but the upside could be really good.

      • agree, Wingnut. The only risk is a hit to CAR’s salary cap this year – and they are (more or less) in good shape.

        If KK ends up not improving enough, he goes to UFA without any long-term Cap impacts.

        I put minimal value on a (likely) late 1st. You make the trade for a young established player vs. a pick every time.

        KK certainly has more upside compared to any UFAs currently available.

  4. To me I view the offer sheet as a weapon to be used against other teams to put them in cap jail.
    GM’s could use the process against their rivals NOT to get a player but to screw up their salary structure.
    Case in point the Flames could Offer sheet Pettersson at 10.2 million for 6 years. Benning has said in no uncertain terms he would match but 10.2 would really put Vancouver in a jam for the next couple of years.

    The fall out would be retribution.

    This process could become very counter intuitive from what it was designed to accomplish.

    • Except by doing so, you are risking putting your team in cap hell, not to mention the compensation you would have to give up based on that $10M offer sheet range, should that team decide not to match. I don’t believe teams do offer sheets with the main goal being the current team match.

    • I think you need to look at it from a player perspective as well, why would Pettersson sign an OS from Calgary? The only teams I could see him accepting OS from and that could fit cap wise are La and NYR

      • Hey Kent,

        I only used it as an example. Very doubtful it would ever happen.

  5. Firstly, Lyle: Excellent summary in this blog and the other one today. Can’t think of a thing you left unaddressed.

    Re offer sheet from the Habs for Pettersson: the guy has lots of talent but he is broom stick thin and won’t stand up to playoff hockey. Not trying to disrespect they guy but look at pictures of him in street clothes. Then there is the cost.

    Re Eichel: wasn’t worth four first rounders yesterday and isn’t today. The Habs are better off looking for a trade that won’t cost them unduly. It might be that they can’t do so by training camp and it might cost them a legitimate shot at a playoff spot but better to acquire a center worth having for several years than overpay for this year.

    Silver lining is that now there will some interesting rumours for the next while that are not exclusively about Eichel.

    • Lyle, I agree with LJ. Excellent work in both blogs today, as usual.

      If Bergevin is not convinced that Kotkaniemi is ready to be the #2 center, that serves as a further indictment of the GM. If that’s the case, why let Danault walk? And why not make a move earlier for a center who can be #2? Without question, Kotkaniemi is more ready to be the #2 center than anyone else currently on the roster. If he’s not good enough, why didn’t Bergevin get someone who is?

      Further to this, the Habs have now had the #3 overall choice twice in Bergevin’s time as GM. Both times, they chose their supposed center of the future. If Kotkaniemi leaves, it would mean that neither of them came close to living up to the expectation and both are out of the organization. I realize that Kotkaniemi is still only 21, but he will be entering his 4th NHL season. If at this point, he is still not ready to be #2 center, what does that say about Bergevin picking him at #3 and about the way the Habs develop young and handle players? Add the fact that they picked up Jonathan Drouin, who had been a #3 pick a few years earlier, at a time when his star was on the rise. And he has since regressed. If Bergevin ever has the #3 pick again, he’s best off trading down.

      As to replacement, I think Eichel is a possibility, though far from a probability. Stranger things have happened. Obviously, salary will have to go back, such as Paul Byron. The Habs will not offer sheet Pettersson. The Canucks would undoubtedly match and even if they don’t, it would force the Habs into salary dumps which other teams would take advantage of. Dvorak is likely the best option. The Habs should do everything they can within reason to make it happen, because I’m not sure there’s another alternative. I don’t see either Zacha or Hertl being traded. For Dvorak, they’d need to offer up the 1st & 3rd they’d get from the Canes, plus a mid-level prospect such as Norlinder, Harris or Ylonen

      • That should be “develop and handle young players”. Sorry for the slip-up.

      • The Habs also just might statistically be the worst ever team for draft in the first round… like, they have… SO MANY MISSES! Regardless of their draft position. They have a few hits, but a lot of misses and sometimes their hits just end up playing on other teams.

    • Thanks!

    • Bergevin will take the safe route and pry Dvorak out of Arizona for that first and third and end up with something better than KK.

      No one’s taking Eichel until he shows he’s ok to play.

  6. Engels may be well informed and an experienced hockey observer. He is not a credible journalist but a modified fan boy with a vehicle to express his fandom.

    It seems this offer sheet is almost surgical in its precision. The decision seems close to me. The hidden effect. How will whatever Bergevin decides affect Suzuki next year. I suspect the Canes had this in mind. In fact, I would bet $20 on it.

    • Obd,
      I think your use of words is right on the mark!
      The offer sheet was surgical to inflict some cap pain on a rival and retribution.

      As far as Engels goes, I find most journalists default to cheerlead their home club.

    • OBD,

      Montreal will take the two picks and leave Carolina to deal with dropping a roster player to get cap compliant, deal with qualifying KK at $6.1 or releasing him as UFA next year.

      Carolina will be paying their 4th line centre $6 million next year, be it Staal or Kotkaniemi.

      Contract negotiations with RFA Martin Necas and UFA Trocheck will be interesting.

      I don’t see any surgical precision here at all just an emotional miscalculation that Montreal will match the offer.

      • Definitely emotional. Definitely not a miscalculation. Whether or not it works out for Carolina down the road, DW has no qualms about spending that money for at least one year solely for revenge. That price tag is worth it to him and maybe he gets something out of it later but he definitely got what he wanted out of it right away.


      • habfan30, Canes are putting Gardiner’s $4.05m on LTIR, So that’s the roster player who doesn’t play anyway. Kotkaniemi will thrive with his fellow fins with the Canes and the two picks will be low value as the Canes will go deep in the playoffs… Maybe Bergevin actually thinks before he throws OS to other billionaires next time, or probably not as he could be done after this turd blew up in his face…Good luck signing Suzuki!

      • Gardiner isn’t on the injured list and his chronic back didn’t stop him from playing half the games or in the playoffs.
        Being an expensive player low on the totem pole isn’t a reason to be on LTIR.

        I don’t know where Carolina will end up but losing the top D-man and goalie among others doesn’t bode well for starters.

        lol, DW couldn’t spend the money to keep Hamilton or Nedelkjovic but finds $6.1 to blow on a rental.

        Dundon, Waddell seem to be more concerned by what colour jersey to wear and their bruised egos 🙂

      • Habs fan. I mentioned a few weeks ago that Kotkaniemi could sign an offer shee. Also suggested maybe trading him to which you replied “zero interest”.You adamantly defended Kotkaniemi and now you act like it’s no big loss? It’s been reported that there were trade talks between Canes and Habs. It’s also reported that owner was driving force behind offer sheet and the trolling. His money, I guess he considers the overpayment an acquisition fee. I’m sure if he ends up in Carolina they’ll negotiate an extension that’s more inline with what he should earn. No need to give him a 6.1 QO

      • Slick62,
        You’ve said lots of things, sometimes right and sometimes wrong, hello Jack Eichel’s guaranteed signing in NY a few weeks ago.

        I don’t recall any mention of offer sheet by anybody or for an amount for KK.

        I do recall saying zero interest for a particular trade, but not who it was for, probably something Eichel related, and I have 0 interest in him till he proves himself on the ice.

        I’ll affirm that I think KK has potential to be a great player in the NHL in the future, that opinion hasn’t changed.

        He isn’t worth $6 million today, nor is he worth blowing the team’s salary structure today or next year.

        $6.1 would make him the 2nd highest paid forward on the team- no thanks.

        $6.1 makes him the 3rd highest paid player on the Hurricanes….fun fun fun to deal with.

        Carolina has to qualify him at $6.1 or he becomes a UFA and anybody can make him an offer, lol even the Habs.

  7. The concept of betting big money that a young player will rise to a higher level seems more daring than awarding an established player a contract that will pay him in his declining years for what he’s accomplished in the past, only because its effect is more immediate. When the Flyers decided that Sean Couturier would still be worth $7.75 million/yr until age 36, they took on a risk of greater consequence than the Hurricanes did with KK.

    The Hurricanes may be trend setters.

  8. Ok I’ll take the bait re c’s for Pens

    Hertl … yes please and thanks

    Re “ two bottom-six forwards and a promising prospect.”

    I’ll up that to a top 6 fwd; bottom 6 fwd; prospect; depth RD

    Zucker (who Sully is convinced is top 6 fwd)
    ZAR… very good checking line winger
    Prospect… O’Connor or Laffy
    Chad Ruwedel


  9. I don’t see why Montreal would want to match this offer. KK is not worth the money, not even close. If they do then they have to qualify him next year at 6.1 million… I highly doubt he puts in a season that’s worth half that this year. If Montreal takes the picks then you flip them get Dvorak… so now you just upgraded the position and saved some bucks in doing so. I don’t think revenge is supposed to work this way.

    • Avro, Those picks will be low value with the Canes being a contender as the first rounder will be mid twenty’s at best. Bergevin will have to cough up the Habs first as well for Dvorak? Oh man another Bergevin blunder is coming.

    • Avro–Please note that in today’s Morning Coffee Headlines, Spector writes “Friedman believes this offer sheet was made with the knowledge that Kotkaniemi’s next contract would be long term for less money.” That would make a qualifying offer moot.

  10. Was the offer sheet purely a coincidence ? To quote Tool Time ” Dont think so Tim”
    The Habs bottom six and backend is decent. Top six not so much. It might take more than both the Canes pick to land Dvorak.
    Bergevin is flashy and likes to make a splash. He just got an extra first + theirs is halfway to landing Eichel. Drouin and another roster player is a possibility

  11. Kotkaniemi should thrive in Carolina, with his fellow Fins and out of the pressure cooker that is Montreal, this is a very shrewd move.

    The guy this hurts will be Suzuki because suddenly he is “THE’’ Center in Habs universe and it’s all on him to carry the load and if he isn’t up to it the team may falter which will in ratchet the pressure up on Suzuki even more. Acquiring another center this late in the off-season will be harder than most think because most teams have already made their roster adjustments and cap space isn’t as flexible now as lt may have been earlier.

    Bergevin may have no choice but to match, yet even that has it’s consequences that may hurt more than most fans realize.

  12. Pretty salty in here today.
    Amazing how a kid goes from heir apparent #1, to a 4th liner in a couple of days, just by signing a sheet.
    I’m 100% sure the same would be said about Suzuki if he signs one next year. They’ll soon say Caufield is too small to be effective if he signs one.
    GMMB is to blame here. Sign your assets in a timely fashion and avoid this scenario altogether.
    Dundon is a cowboy. Is anyone actually surprised that he made his GM do this?
    Spite is an amazing thing. He’s not above going out of his way to pull this off with Suzuki again next season.
    As for simply trading for Dvorak. It’s really not that easy. Armstrong has to want to trade him, and now that the Habs absolutely need a couple of centers, they won’t come cheap.
    I predict they’ll be hard pressed to make the playoffs this season.

    • 2422,

      Where does KK fit among Hurricanes Centres?

      Before or behind Aho and Trocheck?
      Before or behind Captain Jordan Staal?

      That puts either Staal or Kotkaniemi as a $6 million 4th liner, not the “offer sheet”

      ‘Canes put themselves over the cap, put themselves into contract dilemma with their own RFAs and UFAs next year by making Kotkaniemi their 3rd highest paid player.

      Great move for team unity and harmony. 🙂

      I think the Hurricanes loss of Hamilton and Nedeljkovic for nothing on top of KKs contract disruption, make the playoffs questionable.

      GMMB doesn’t need or have that headache, he just collects draft picks and works the phones for an upcoming trade.

      • The Habs have been trying to trade for a #1 C for 30 years. I can’t see it happening now.

  13. Many teams are looking for that 2nd line C and have quality assets to give up for Dvorak … If Dvorak was acheivable, I think Ottawa, LA, New York ect would have already pick him up. I don’t see the Habs wading into the pool and all of a sudden snatching him, same with Hertl. If KK is on his way out, likely the Habs are going to be picking up someone they are not really all that thrilled about … like every single trade target presented as the Ottawa Senators option for a 2nd line Center!

    • The Kings and Rangers do not need a center right now. The Sens, at their stage has of development, will likely not want to part with a 1st: not sayjng Dvorak will be traded, but if he is, I think the Habs have a better shot than the teams you mentioned: