NHL Rumor Mill – January 3, 2022

by | Jan 3, 2022 | Rumors | 23 comments

Should the Islanders trade Semyon Varlamov? Is there any help in the trade market for the Oilers? How can the Golden Knights shed salary for Jack Eichel’s return next month? Check out the details in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner ponders the possibility of the New York Islanders putting Semyon Varlamov on the trade block. It hasn’t been the season the Isles or Varlamov envisioned. The club is well out of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference while the 33-year-old goaltender is struggling to regain his form being sidelined through training camp and the opening month of the season.

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (NHL Images).

Varlamov has a year remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit and a 16-team no-trade clause. Despite his struggles this season, he was among the league’s best goalies in 2020-21 with a 2.04 goals-against average, a .929 save percentage and a league-leading seven shutouts.

Moving Varlamov could free up some much-needed cap space for next season. They could then seek a more cost-effective backup for starter Ilya Sorokin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello could start quietly gauging Varlamov’s value in the trade market if his club hasn’t gained ground in the standings by March. It will also depend on whether Varlamov’s performance has improved by then.

Lamoriello could wait until the offseason to make that move. Then again, he could keep his tandem intact for next season provided Varlamov has no issue backing up Sorokin.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: With the Oilers winning just three of their last 12 games, Jim Matheson explored the trade market for help if replacing head coach Dave Tippett isn’t an option.

Matheson feels the Oilers need another top-six forward but there currently aren’t many available. Most teams have little cap space or they’re offering struggling players like Chicago’s Dylan Strome or San Jose’s Evander Kane, who has a myriad of issues. Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk could help but it would cost $4.85 million to qualify his rights this summer.

The Oilers also don’t have many tradeable assets. Matheson suggested maybe winger Kailer Yamamoto, prospect Xavier Bourgault or their 2022 first-round pick. He considers Dylan Holloway a non-starter because they don’t have many blue-chip prospects in their farm system.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers also need a reliable starting goaltender and perhaps a physical shutdown defenseman. Nevertheless, Matheson’s right about their limited possible trade assets. It also doesn’t help that obvious sellers (hello there, Arizona Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens) aren’t in any hurry to swing deals.

THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger is the latest to examine options for the Vegas Golden Knights to shed salary ahead of Jack Eichel’s return from neck surgery next month.

One is trading a $5 million forward like Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith or Evgenii Dadonov plus backup goalie Laurent Brossoit. Others include shopping Shea Theodore, William Karlsson or Alec Martinez.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Marchessault, Theodore, Karlsson or Martinez going anywhere. Granger considers moving Theodore highly unlikely but an option nonetheless because he’d fetch the best return. It could come down to Dadonov or Smith with the latter the more likely trade candidate given his UFA status this summer.


  1. Jesse Puljujarvi 10 goals in 30 games on pace for 33 goals; earning $1.175 and a RFA at season end will certainly be in a significant raise next season if he continues on his current pace.

  2. Don’t expect the Knights to make any moves for cap relief. They have all the cap space required for Eichels return using LTIR. Pacioretty will be shifted to LTIR along with Martinez giving Vegas all the cap space required plus allows them to add a cheap player just before trade deadline day.
    Pacioretty will make a miraculous recovery just in time for the playoffs where Vegas could have a payroll of well over 90 million.
    Seems like more and more teams will be taking advantage of this cap loop hole moving forward.

    The athletic employs the best of the best when it comes to reporters but I am very disappointed with Granger not reporting the facts just for a nice headline story for eyeballs to click on.

    • Hi Flamefan

      Your numbers and idea are completely sound, IF (big IF); they can keep Patches and or Martinez on LTIR through end of season

      I’m not sure re Martinez injury; but Patches had wrist surgery (like Sid)

      Taking Sid as benchmark for time (surgery to return) and even bumping by 50% more…. Patches back before end of season

      IMHO…. best move is to send Dando packing (and whatever “penalty” /“bonus” that is required)

      As at now per Cap friendly Knights showing $91.8 M (23 on Roster and 5 IR&LTIR…. Total of 28 Cap hits)… this includes Eichel

      That’s 5 Cap hits that will not be counted in a few weeks; they’ll send down 5 players if need be… only 23 can be “above the line”….. 5 @ league min (that’s worst case)….. now in around $86.8 M…. Dando out , replaced by League min player…. Then Knights only dealing with about a $1M problem (over Cap)…. That’s if all of the higher cap hit players on LTIR ; return before Year end

      Then… Just one player (earning $1.2 M or more) on LTIR for rest of season after TDL…. and no Cap issue)

      It would not have to be 1 player for the 8 weeks… over-lapping LTIRs through end of season …. would suffice

      A risk for sure, but odds in favour…. Has to start with moving Dando

      • Hey Pengy

        The brief research I did on Patches injury all pointed to him being ready for the playoffs. As mentioned Vegas will take advantage of the cap loop hole much the same way Tampa did last year and keep him on LTIR so they can stay cap compliant through out the regular season. They will use the logic that they probably don’t need him to make the playoffs but will need him for their quest of the cup.

      • Thanks Flamefan

        I’m sure that might be a “plan” / “ hope” by Knights; but I’d think the league will have close scrutiny on that LTIR; after being massively criticized last year (Kuch)

  3. Living in Calgary I get to see a lot of Oiler games. I personally think the Oilers over paid for RNH. He is part of the problem not the solution for the Oilers.

    I would like to hear Oiler fans opinion on RNH?

    • Hey FlamesFan, not an Oiler fan first, but live here now and root for them unless they play BOS.
      I think RNH is a valuable player, and his cap hit is lower than it should be because he got extra term.
      He is a mid range 2C all day, but often plays the wing because the Oil don’t have enough top 6 W’s. Good on PP and PK, takes extra d-zone starts because he is responsible.

      If Holloway can finally start playing he may end the season in EDM, and then they can move RNH to 3C to improve their 5 on 5 on the 3rd line and get some extra scoring on bottom 6.

      The OIl’s problem, all year is 5 on 5 chances against. And their tending has been below average. Smith’s first 2 games back weren’t good, but Tippet and Holland will be patient with him IMO.

      The Varlamov idea for EDM if the net struggles continue is interesting.

      IMO Nuge isn’t going anywhere because he is a good player and versatile.

      • Thanks Ray for the response.

        Question for you, if you were the GM knowing the lack of depth and lack of a front line goalie would you keep him or trade him?

      • He has a full NMC FF, so couldn’t if I wanted too. All depends on the return I suppose if you could. You could get that tender you need for sure.

        I think Holland will be patient and is thinking past just this year. Bouchard and Broberg will continue to improve to solidify the D, Holloway coming and looks to be the real deal to help up front. Koskinen and Turris $ goes away after this year, Puljujarvi gets a raise, but other than that no other big raises. Use some left over $ for a tender and move a guy like Yamamoto plus for an OK tender like Varlamov. Skinner shows promise in net too.

        I would think next 3 years vs this year as I don’t think they are ready and they have quality coming where they need it, just not in net. But who knows as goaltending is always a crap shoot with young guys.

  4. Knights…. It’s Dando they need to move….. but how long will Patches and/or Martinez be on LTIR?

    Re Oil….. might need to go all in…. Deal with one team…..

    1st, Bourgot, Laeggesson, Yamamoto, Ryan, Turris, Koski to Seattle for

    McCan, Soucy, Dreiger (who needs a change of scenery and played well last year in front of a very offensive team)….. Seattle retains $2 M overall this year to balance the Cap

    Assumes the mNTCs don’t block the trade

    Of course trades of this magnitude (# of players) are extremely rare; but Oil have to do something big IMHO , to right the ship

    They do need an up grade in goal for sure;

    The other possibility…..

    The Flower, DeHaan, Strome….. all at 50% retained ; for

    Koski, Laeggesson, Yamamoto, Ryan, Turris , 1st and Bourgot

    Are Krakken or BlackHawks likely to go for that…. No

    BlackHawks may go for

    Koski, Yamamoto, Ryan, 1st , Bourgot. for

    The Flower and Strome (both at 50% retained)

    • Koskinen can nix a trade to 15 teams. That may be all the bottom feeders…..I say it is pretty iffy if he goes, unless there is a secret deal, wink, wink. Ha ha.

      • True Johnny Z , but the list is provided before the season starts (I think some time in July)…. and BlackHawks (at that time) we’re not projected to be at the bottom of the NHL; and the list would have gone in prior to the massive focus on the Kyle Beach issue

        …. So BlackHawks might not be on his effective blocked list

  5. I think Karlsson will move. At least that is who I would be interested in. Center that can skate. You would be be buying low. I think they are good with Eichel Stephenson and Roy. Patrick for depth

    • Hi S7

      I still think the move for Knights is Dando…..

      That said….

      Wild Bill having a down year and a change of scenery just might perk his numbers

      What do Rangers offer up for him ?

      • If you’re talking Karlsson, they should give up zero. Taking on Karlsson with 5 years remaining at 5.9 per says goodbye to Strome.

        I’m not taking a guy and hoping he turns it around while pushing a guy that works out the door who works well in his role.

        If you’re talking Dandonov, not much. He seems to be slumping as well and Vegas needs to move someone. I’m not doing Vegas any favors.

        I’d sooner chase Kessel as a rental.

      • @ Pengy…Lets hope the selfish one when he comes back doesn’t destroy team structure and discipline that has worked so well in his absence.

        That was Malkin does he plays how he wants and usually lures Letang with him when on the ice together,

      • Hi B& G

        I think he’ll be hell bent on proving himself and will be a team player

        3 moves and Pens will be fine

        1) Keep Zucker on Bench every single second Sid or Gino on ice (including PP)….. preferably move him

        2) 3RD….. Sabres…. Miller (50% retained). for a third; Psyk (5th or 6th) … with the benefit that he has, is, will played/playing/play equally well at RD and RW

        3. Back-up upgrade….obviously the penultimate would be the Flower…. But Cap and acquisition cost too much. Not much out there…. Tokarski?

        Dream moves….. Zucker and O’Connor and 2nd to Chi for the Flower and DeHaan (both at 50% retained)…. however…. The ask will be a 1st not a 2nd

  6. As a rental, I can see Reilly Smith being the preference in NY. Karlsson about to turn 29 and too much term left. Even the extra year of Dadonov will probably be a deterrent. I would take a Dadonov if they threw in Nolan Patrick as a sweetener. For Kravtsov?

    • NYR needs cap space for next year and will not take a declining player with term. Daddy will have to go elsewhere…..10 team no trade list will make it very hard to move a declining player w/ term. Any team w/ cap space may very well be on his list! I say Smith gets dealt, because he is productive and can be dealt to anyone. NYR could be a player for this rental.

      • I think Koski and a 2nd and a 3rd would have been traded for Korpisalo if CBJ was on his trade list…..

      • Why would EDM add when Koskinen is the better player?

    • Absolutely Smith should be the preference (Rangers) over Karlsson, but Knights should not be moving Smith

      Knights need to pay a team something to take Dando

  7. I should have noted that that was the 1st week of the season