NHL Rumor Mill – February 11, 2022
Could Mark Stone’s injury provide cap relief for the Golden Knights? Are the Panthers still pursuing Jakob Chychrun? What’s the latest on Tyler Toffoli, Rasmus Sandin and Pavel Zacha? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
STONE INJURY COULD ALLOW GOLDEN KNIGHTS TO ACTIVATE EICHEL
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli took note of Vegas Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer saying captain Mark Stone continues to deal with a nagging injury that already cost him 29 games this season. If Stone should be sidelined until the playoffs, it could provide the club with the necessary cap relief to active Jack Eichel without having to trade a forward such as Reilly Smith or Evgenii Dadonov.
Eichel’s annual average value is $10 million while Stone’s is $9.5 million. The move would also enable them to reactivate sidelined defenseman Alec Martinez.
THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger also weighed in on the conjecture, pointing out there’s nothing certain about the Golden Knights plans, only that league sources were speculating about it. It’s uncertain whether Stone’s injury will sideline him for the remainder of the season. If he were to return to the lineup following the trade deadline and before the end of the regular season, the club wouldn’t be able to make a cost-cutting trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Call it the “Kucherov Gambit” when a team places a player on LTIR for the remainder of the season to garner cap relief only to welcome him back into the lineup for the postseason when the salary cap doesn’t count. That’s what the Tampa Bay Lightning did last season with Nikita Kucherov. Actually, it should be known as the Patrick Kane gambit, since it was the Chicago Blackhawks who set the standard in 2015 when Kane was sidelined by a broken collarbone.
It’s a form of cap circumvention but it’s also allowed under the CBA. Some general managers might grumble but they’re not about to do anything about it because they know they can also benefit from it if facing similar circumstances.
No one’s faking an injury here. Kane and Kucherov suffered legitimate injuries that took time to heal and their recoveries were monitored by the league to ensure everything was above board cap-wise. They’ll do the same for Stone and the Golden Knights if he ends up on LTIR for the remainder of the regular season.
ARE THE PANTHERS STILL INTERESTED IN CHYCHRUN?
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, George Richards was asked if the Panthers still had an interest in Jakob Chychrun. He believes they do but doubts they can meet the Arizona Coyotes’ asking price for the 23-year-old defenseman. He felt they would be fine with a rental like the Montreal Canadiens’ Ben Chiarot.
Richards also doused any talk of the Panthers part with rookie star Anton Lundell to acquire Chychrun, calling him untouchable. “Get his name out of any rumor right now – in fact, it probably shouldn’t have been brought up.” However, he doesn’t dismiss the notion of giving up goalie Spencer Knight for the Coyotes blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe it was Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek who suggested the Coyotes could ask for Lundell as part of the return. As Richards observed, they could ask for him but that doesn’t mean the Panthers will do it.
There’s no reason for the Panthers to part with Lundell as he’s already become an indispensable part of their lineup. Trading him for Chychrun would address their need for another skilled puck-moving blueliner but it would create a hole on their forward lines that could prove difficult to plug.
LATEST TIDBITS FROM TSN’S INSIDERS AND SPORTSNET’S 32 THOUGHTS
TSN: Discussing what could be next for the Edmonton Oilers following yesterday’s coaching change, Darren Dreger suggests their need for a top-four defenseman is greater than their requirement for reliable goaltending depth. He considers the addition of a right-shot blueline a priority.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I still believe addressing their goaltending is the priority. Given the limited options available or the cost of acquiring Chicago’s Marc-Andre Fleury if they’re not on his 10-team no-trade list, adding a defenseman would be the next best option. The Dallas Stars’ John Klingberg would be the best rental blueliner but the Oilers might not have sufficient assets to win a bidding war for his services.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman repeated his speculation that the Calgary Flames could be interested in Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli. He also suggested a reunion with the Los Angeles Kings, who are seeking some scoring.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli is also the type of player the Canadiens could prefer retaining for their upcoming rebuild. If he forces the issue and wants out, the Habs could seek a first-round pick and either a top prospect or good young NHL player in return.
There were rumblings the Dallas Stars may have considered a coaching change. Friedman believes they’d decided to stick with head coach Rick Bowness.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As would I. It would be premature to give up on him for a quick fix.
Despite speculation about Nick Paul’s future with the Ottawa Senators, a source told Friedman he’s pessimistic Paul would be available by the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zacha was the sixth-overall pick by the Devils in 2015. While he hasn’t blossomed into a star as hoped, he’s put up decent numbers in a secondary role.
The 24-year-old Zacha is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. The Devils could be reluctant to part with him but perhaps they’ll entertain offers if they feel he’ll be difficult to retain beyond 2023.