NHL Rumor Mill – December 31, 2021

by | Dec 31, 2021 | Rumors | 27 comments

How will the Golden Knights clear salary-cap space for Jack Eichel’s return in February? Could the Canadiens trade Brendan Gallagher or Tyler Toffoli before the March trade deadline? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Evgenii Dadonov and Reilly Smith top Owen Krepps’ list of potential cost-cutting Vegas Golden Knights trade candidates to clear salary-cap space for Jack Eichel’s return to action in February.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith (NHL Images).

The Golden Knights acquired Eichel in an early-season trade from the Buffalo Sabres. He’s been on long-term injury reserve after recovering from neck surgery last fall and is expected to make his Golden Knights’ debut in late February.

Eichel carries a $10 million annual salary-cap hit. His return would put the Golden Knights over the $81.5 million salary-cap ceiling by $4.6 million.

Krepps considered Dadonov the most likely trade candidate, pointing to his lack of consistency this season. He felt the winger could be of interest to rebuilding clubs like the Ottawa Senators or Detroit Red Wings. Dadonov’s annual cap hit is $5 million through 2022-23 and he carries a modified no-trade clause.

Smith is also earning $5 million and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. That could make him a trade candidate and he could fetch a good return. However, he’s producing at a better level than Dadonov and could be worthwhile retaining for the playoffs.

Other trade candidates include Brayden McNabb and Mattias Janmark. Krepps also suggests they could get some cap relief if defenseman Alec Martinez remains on LTIR recovering from a facial injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krepps piece was published before Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty was sidelined indefinitely by wrist surgery. As NBC Sports’ James O’Brien points out, Pacioretty’s $7 million cap hit won’t totally cancel out Eichel’s $10 million but it would alleviate much of that potential salary-cap strain if the veteran winger goes on LTIR for the remainder of the season.

The Golden Knights could still be forced to move Dadonov or Smith if Pacioretty and Martinez return before Eichel’s debut or soon afterward. While Krepps believes Dadonov is the more likely trade candidate, I think it’s Smith who ends up moving despite his value to the Golden Knights.

Dadonov’s inconsistency, the extra year on his contract and his 10-team no-trade list would make him harder to move than the productive Smith, who lacks no-trade protection. I doubt the Senators are interested in bringing Dadonov back. Meanwhile, the Red Wings are jockeying for a wild-card berth and could prefer Smith over Dadonov if they’re in the market for a scoring winger.

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels made three bold predictions for the Montreal Canadiens in 2022. He doesn’t believe they’ll trade winger Brendan Gallagher before the March 21 trade deadline but felt winger Tyler Toffoli could be on the move by then.

Engels points out Gallagher is in the first year of a six-year, $39 million contract with a no-movement clause and partial no-trade clause. He considers the idea of retaining some of his salary and recouping good value in a trade to be farfetched. Engels also believes Gallagher would be of more worth to the Canadiens as their captain leading a crop of new up-and-coming players.

Toffoli, on the other hand, has an affordable $4.25 million annual cap hit and lacks no-trade protection. Despite his recent hand injury, he’s the type of player postseason contenders could be interested in as the deadline approaches.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind that Engels is merely making “bold predictions” here and isn’t citing sources indicating what the Canadiens intend to do with Gallagher and Toffoli. They still haven’t chosen a new general manager yet and we don’t know what they and Jeff Gorton (their new executive VP of hockey operations) intend to do at the trade deadline.

Nevertheless, I concur with Engels that Toffoli would be more likely to move before the trade deadline than Gallagher if the Canadiens intend to commence a full roster rebuild.


  1. I agree with Engels’ take. Gallagher should stay to lead a young team which will hopefully gel and rise together. Either one or both of Toffoli or Hoffman should be traded for picks and/or prospects.

    • I fail to see the advantage of trading proven NHL scorers on affordable contracts for picks and prospects.

      How often to picks and prospects prove to be better than proven scorers?

      What happens in the mean time?

      When healthy the Habs have a viable top 6 set of forwards. The ongoing injury to Edmunson makes the D a question mark, more so if Chiarot gets traded. They do have Romanov, Guhle will be a starter next year and Norlinder is a possibility.

      Exceedingly hard to evaluate others as injuries and covid make evaluating the line up very difficult.

      Players I would trade are Price, Byron, Armia and Drouin, but I would want some mix of roster players along with picks.

      • The only advantage for trading “proven NHL scorers” for picks/prospects is that the team will not do well, so in the “mean time” they finish lower in the standings with higher quality draft picks which hopefully nets you a better team than you have now. On paper, their top 6 forwards look very good but it does not translate to their on ice performance. So trade anyone (except the youngsters) who can get you a first round pick or a top prospect.

      • You don’t have anyone except the youngsters that are likely to fetch you that type of return

    • I wonder if Jake Allen would be made available? Oilers would probably take a run at him.

  2. In other Habs news, TVA is reporting that they plan to interview 8 people for the GM job: Mathieu Darche, Daniel Briere, Patrick Roy, Kent Hughes (player agent), Stephane Quintal, Marc Denis, Danielle Sauvageau (former women’s team player and coach) and Emilie Castonguay (player agent). Interestingly, neither Anaheim AGM Martin Madden or Dallas AGM Scott White are on the list.

    My take: Hard pass on Denis & Quintal – don’t have the background for the job. I wouldn’t hire Roy either, that could turn into a circus. Either of the women would be good candidates for a position within the organization, but not GM yet.

    I would hire Darche as GM, Briere as AGM and find someone with a strong scouting/development background to be an AGM overseeing scouting.

    • Well thought out Howard – you should throw your hat in for GM!

  3. I doubt Detroit is in the market for a scoring winger this year. They will get Vrana back at some point, and have another waiting in the wings in the AHL in Berggren. I believe Yzerman will wait until the off season to make moves to improve, most likely for LD’s through free agency, not scoring wingers. And as far as Dadanov goes, LV would need to add a significant sweetener to get rid of him. They may be able to trade Smith and get something in return, but not to Detroit.

  4. For Knights…. Dando should be the one moved

    Lyle…. Any posited guess from media re recovery time for Patches? Sid had wrist surgery but his surgery to first game back time-frame is substantially less than balance of season (re any saving grace for Knights wrt potential Patches LTIR to avoid needing to move basically $5M in Cap …. Dando or Smith when Eichel comes on board)?

    Also what is s ETA re Martinez?

    To Habs fans…. I know you want picks/prospects for Tiffoli….

    For ships ‘n giggles ….

    What extra (in addition to O’Connor) would it take for a Tiffoli/Zucker flip?

    Make me an offer… be gentle please

    • Sorry Peggy. No chance the Habs are in on Zucker . TT will get a first and a decent prospect and bot need to take a cap dump

      • O’Connor is s fair prospect

        So a 1st and O’Connor…..

        ….. and we’ll throw in Zucker… LOL

        I am just hoping and praying

        He can’t be put with Gino or Sid (seriius drag on their output) and is already pulling Carter down

        Thanks for the parameters I f the deal

        I’ll give HexBurkie a call

      • If Toffoli was 1+ or UFA he could get a 2st. Not now though.

        He has too much term remaining which affects teams cap space in the future.

        Montreal won’t retain on that contract.

        A Toffoli trade would be more of a hockey trade with other nhl players involved and cap net is close or under $1M

    • Zucker to stay in Pittsburgh and Montreal ships a 6th round pick as an apology for blocking their number.

      • Hi CO

        and you said Zucker wouldn’t get Pens anything

        If HexBurkie offers Ruhweedel in the deal could Habs make the apology (for blocking the call) a 5th?

        If they can do that to 10 teams….. 10 5th rounders… for ten blocked calls …. Excellent idea!

        I know you and I agree on his detriment to the team…. Bug there has to be a trade out there

        No team is giving s 1st for Zucker; every team with space would take Zucker if Pens gave up 2 firsts

        There is s deal in between those twi outlandish goalposts

        I don’t think it would be unreasonable for

        Zucker (18% retained) for Hoffman as main pieces …. Net zero Cap this year and next for both teams; Habs rid extra year of Hoffman contract

        The “bonus”/“penalty” in the trade… O’Connor (very good prospect) and a 5th (or Lafferty)

    • Pengy, no timetable on a return for Pacioretty or Martinez. The last word on when Martinez could be back was “sometime after Christmas”.

      • Cheers and thanks Lyle

    • Patches getting hurt takes care of that.See him in the playoffs,the Lightning rule goes into effect.

  5. Pengy

    Maybe trade Malkin for a top ten pick in the ‘22 draft and hope Pittsburgh area born prospect Logan Cooley is still around. Would have liked to have seen more of him before the WJ’s were cancelled but he sounds like a legit building block for the future.

    • Who’s picking in the top ten that would want a rental player?

  6. Regarding Malkin, a contract would obviously have to be worked out beforehand. Buffalo might have two top 10 picks and they need a number one center to replace Eichel so they might bite.

    • Hi SJF928

      I truly believe that if Pens are at least in a bubble position (and s couple points at most out of WC spot) that they in no way approach Gino to waive and approach contenders on a deal

      Not only hoping; but I truly believed ; that Pens will be (at worst) 2 – 3 points out as at TDL

      Most likely scenario IMHO… re-up at reasonable Cap—3 years

    • Agree Pengy, can’t see a world where Malkin gets traded unless Crosby has a season ending injury and they lose 10 in a row.
      Pens have played great of late and if Malkin is healthy they have a potential playoff beast at 2C.
      They add IMO if all things are a go at TDL.

      I wouldn’t want to play them in the 1st RD, good team that should be highly motivated.

  7. Krepps must be assuming that Vegas is out of hot water with its Eichel venture, but I doubt that the Golden Knights think that’s assured. If Jack is scheduled to return to action some time in February, Vegas would have as little as three weeks before a March 21 trade deadline to determine whether he’s able to finish the season. Vegas must take care not to worsen their situation by trading guys they will need in the playoffs to accommodate a player who may not be available to them then.

    • Agree Francis

      Dando out; checks all boxes

      Takers? Cost to take him on? Are they on his list?

      • Pengy, would Vegas throw in Patrick as a sweetener. Rangers need center prospects and a RW. Maybe Dadinov would benefit from playing with his old KHL line mate, Panarin

      • Hi Slick

        Hard to imagine Knights trading Patrick

        Good idea re Dando/Panarin honeymoon 2

        Knights trade chips are two good Russian prospects in Miromanov (RD) —— very good; Dorefeyev (C); Duggan (LW); and Elvenes (I think he’s an RW)

      • @Pengy

        UFA Rust 29 $3.5 to Anaheim

        UFA Manson 30 $4.1 to Pittsburgh

        ZUcker elsewhere say Detroit who has cap space for a pick ??