NHL Rumor Mill – September 19, 2019

Dustin Byfuglien’s uncertain future is generating questions over how the Jets will deal with his potential absence. Check out the latest speculation plus updates on Patrik Laine, Justin Faulk, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.


WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen reports talk of Dustin Byfuglien pondering retirement would explain his current leave of absence from the Jets. If the 34-year-old rearguard hangs up his skates, Friesen feels it would further deplete a blueline already weakened by the departures of Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers, and Ben Chiarot.

Speculation that Dustin Byfuglien might retire has some pundits wondering how the Winnipeg Jets will replace him (Photo via NHL Images).

Friesen suggests the Jets could get some salary-cap relief out of this. If Byfuglien retires, the remaining two years ($7.6 million annual average value) of his contract comes off the club’s salary-cap payroll. If he drags his feet on a decision, the club could suspend him and save daily increments against the cap. Either move would free up cap dollars that could be put toward re-signing wingers Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor.

TSN’S Pierre LeBrun took to Twitter speculating over whether the Jets might look into acquiring Carolina’s Justin Faulk or Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen depending on what happens with Byfuglien. He believes the Jets aren’t on Faulk’s 15-team “no-trade” list. LeBrun’s colleague Shawn Simpson wonders if that would lead to the Jets shopping Laine for a top-four defenseman.

TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie and Yvon Pedneault discussed the possibility of the Montreal Canadiens taking advantage of the Jets’ precarious situation on defense. Pedneault believes Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin should look into acquiring Laine. If promising Habs blueliner Cale Fleury proves he can play at the NHL level, perhaps they can use Jeff Petry as part of the return for Laine. Pedneault also noted Max Domi’s name has been circulating all summer in the rumor mill but doubts the Canadiens will part with him.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre also weighed in on the report of Byfuglien mulling his future. While acknowledging the possibility of a trade to replace the big blueliner, McIntyre believes it would be depleting another area to fill a need. With Laine and Connor still unsigned, they don’t have a surplus of talent to work with.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bob McKenzie broke the story yesterday that Byfuglien was taking some time to consider his future. He also took pains to point out he wasn’t saying “Big Buff” would retire or not return to the Jets.

Friesen described Byfuglien as a guy “who’d love to skip training camp and jump straight into the regular season.” If so, this could all be much ado about nothing.

If Byfuglien is seriously considering retirement, Jets management will be forced to look at possible replacements. Faulk and Ristolainen have frequently appeared in recent trade speculation and could be reasonable options to take Byfuglien’s place. If the Canadiens seriously want Laine, it’ll take much more than Jeff Petry to get the deal done.


THE SCORE: Appearing on Vancouver’s Sportsnet 650, agent Mike Liut said clients Patrik Laine and Mikko Rantanen aren’t on the verge of signing new contracts with their respective teams. He said there have been no surprises in discussions with the Jets and Colorado Avalanche. He also suggested Rantanen and Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner are “probably the two closest comparables in terms of how they play the game.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner recently inked a six-year contract worth over $10.8 million annually with the Leafs. Liut seems to be angling for a similar deal for Rantanen with the Avalanche.


Appearing on Vancouver’s Sportsnet 650 (Stick tap to James @account4hockey), Elliotte Friedman said to keep an eye out for trades by the Carolina Hurricanes, Calgary Flames, and Vancouver Canucks. The Flames and Canucks are trying to clear cap space from the bottom of their roster.

The Hurricanes are interested in Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka provided they can do other things (trade Justin Faulk). The Stars are shopping Honka for a pick, while the Canadiens are offering a player.

Friedman also seemed to imply a trade that would’ve sent Faulk from the Hurricanes to the Anaheim Ducks is dead, likely because the blueliner couldn’t get the contract extension he wanted from the Ducks.

THE ATHLETIC’s J.D. Burke tweeted the Canucks could be trying to find suitors for Brandon Sutter and Tim Schaller. He also wouldn’t be surprised if Jake Virtanen’s name is out there.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Hurricanes signing Fredrik Claesson earlier this week, they might not be looking at Honka anymore. If they are they’ll have to move Faulk or someone else to make room. Cap Friendly indicates they already have nine blueliners under contract, though two of them (Claesson and Gustav Forsling) are on two-way deals. Trevor van Riemsdyk is still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and might not be ready for the start of the season.

The Flames have over $6.3 million in salary-cap space and must re-sign power forward Matthew Tkachuk. It could cost over $7 million to get him under contract. Winger Michael Frolik ($4.3 million salary-cap hit) has popped up several times this year in the rumor mill as a trade candidate.

Sutter has a 15-team “no-trade” list and an annual cap hit of $4.375 million through 2020-21. The Canucks could find it easier moving Schaller or Virtanen, though the latter did himself no favors by reportedly flunking his training camp physical.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2019

The latest on Dustin Byfuglien, Artemi Panarin, Matthew Tkachuk, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Bob McKenzie yesterday reported Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is believed to be pondering his future during his current leave of absence from the club. There’s no timetable as to a decision or a return to the roster. Neither Byfuglien or his agent responded to a request for an interview. McKenzie’s colleague Darren Dreger said the Jets are giving the blueliner as much time and space as he needs to contemplate his future.

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is reportedly mulling his future (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This report came as a shock for Jets fans still reeling from the club’s ongoing inability to get forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor under contract and last June’s trade of rearguard Jacob Trouba to the New York Rangers. Byfuglien, 34, missed 40 games last season to two ankle injuries, a concussion, and an upper-body injury.

McKenzie indicated he’s not saying Byfuglien will retire or not return to the Jets. Nevertheless, the possibility of either result is generating plenty of commentary over the effect his absence could have upon the Jets’ already depleted blueline this season.

There’s also speculation over how they might try to replace Big Buff. I’ll have more this morning in the Rumors section.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Artemi Panarin left last night’s preseason game against the New Jersey Devils with a mild groin strain. Head coach David Quinn said it was a precautionary move and expects Panarin will be fine.

LONDON FREE PRESS’ Ryan Pyette tweeted Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk is skating with the OHL’s London Knights this week. Tkachuk played for the Knights in 2015-16.

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals center Lar Eller is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury and was scratched from last night’s preseason contest with the St. Louis Blues.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers yesterday signed former KHL forward Anton Burdasov to a professional tryout offer.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Golden Knights are the top-selling team on the ticket exchange website StubHub for the third straight season.

THE SCORE: Former Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall is returning to the Los Angeles Kings as a part-time advisor to their hockey operations department. Hextall was the Kings’ assistant GM from 2006 to 2013.

Jets Go From Stanley Cup Front-Runner to NHL Question Marks


NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2019

The latest on Patrik Laine, Alex Pietrangelo, Brayden Schenn, and Tristan Jarry in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TSN: Darren Dreger downplayed comments by Patrik Laine to a Finnish reporter in which he appeared to complain about not getting playing time on the Winnipeg Jets’ top line. He doesn’t think there’s much to read into the comments, adding it’s taking his remarks out of context to suggest they’re a slight against linemates Bryan Little and Nikolaj Ehlers.

Recent comments by Patrik Laine about his playing time could raise questions over his future with the Winnipeg Jets (Photo via NHL Images).

Dreger thinks Laine could return to the top line if he adds a little more power to his game. The young winger is currently mired in a contract impasse with the Jets and is now practicing with Swiss club SC Bern.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre wonders if Laine’s remarks might make his lukewarm relationship with the Jets more complicated. “Words were said. Feelings were likely hurt. And you wonder just how many episodes of this soap opera are left before what is starting to seem like an inevitable breakup occurs,” said McIntyre.

McIntyre cited Jets coach Paul Maurice defending his decision to deploy Laine on the second line last season. Captain Blake Wheeler also praised Laine’s skills. While not taking Laine to task for his comments, he noted the 21-year-old winger is still growing on and off the ice. Center Adam Lowry thinks the remarks were tied to the ongoing contract negotiations and could blow over once the winger is re-signed.

McIntyre notes he’s long maintained trading Laine would be a big mistake. He’s hopeful the winger and Jets management can quickly get on the same page to avoid another “Jacob Trouba “get me out of here” situation on their hands” in four years when Laine is eligible for unrestricted free agent status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine’s recent remarks follows those he made to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston last month when he indicated he was prepared for anything. He claimed contract talks at that point with the Jets were non-existent and expressed uncertainty over his future with the club.

Laine’s latest comments will only stoke the internet trade speculation that flared up following his August comments. The longer his contract standoff drags on, the more likely he’ll become a trade-rumor fixture.


NHL.COM: Louie Korac recently reported St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong remains hopeful of re-signing defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and center Brayden Schenn. Slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer. the pair were instrumental in the Blues’ Stanley Cup run last season.

Armstrong said contract talks would be ongoing. Both players are pleased to hear the organization hopes to retain them. They also said they’re focused on the upcoming season and won’t let their contract statuses become a distraction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This report isn’t a trade or a free-agent rumor but it’ll be worthwhile keeping an eye on Pietrangelo and Schenn during this season. If contract negotiations stall for one or both, or if the Blues struggle to shake off the dreaded “Stanley Cup hangover,” perhaps their names will surface in the rumor mill. Both popped up as trade candidates during the Blues’ awful first half of last season.

Salary-cap space will also be a factor. As per Cap Friendly, the Blues have over $59 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21. New contracts for Pietrangelo and Schenn could push that payroll to over $72 million.


TRIBLIVE.COM: Seth Rorabaugh recently reported the Pittsburgh Penguins are believed to have shopped goaltender Tristan Jarry this summer but couldn’t find a satisfactory return. He speculates Penguins GM Jim Rutherford could consider trading Jarry rather than risk losing him for nothing through waivers.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2019

Latest CBA news, updates on Patrik Laine and Mikko Rantanen, the Kings signed Ben Hutton and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: League commissioner Gary Bettman said he’s encouraged by the collective bargaining discussions with the NHL Players Association. He’s hopeful of securing labor peace beyond the 2022 expiration of the current agreement and isn’t ruling out an extension. Bettman also expressed his happiness that the players opted not to reopen the CBA, which would’ve moved up the expiration timeline to Sept. 15, 2020.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports negotiations are ongoing. If all goes well, he speculated a tentative CBA extension could be in place within the next two months. He also reports Bettman dismissed the notion that the league might lack the urgency to push ahead with CBA talks now that the players declined to exercise its early opt-out. He also waved off the idea that he’s thinking about his legacy and didn’t want another work stoppage clouding his final years as commissioner.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports sources saying the NHLPA executive leadership favored reopening the CBA but they lacked sufficient support among the membership to do so, especially among the influential veterans in the 30-33 age bracket. The players were concerned taking the early opt-out would make the current amicable negotiations more contentious.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is please by the NHLPA’s decision not to re-open the CBA (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun also reported the team owners haven’t been part of the negotiations with the players, who felt continuing talks directly with Bettman and league VP Bill Daly remains the best path. He also said the league’s desire for labor peace is very real, more so than at any point in his coverage of the league over the past 25 years.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine raised eyebrows when he appeared to complain to a Finnish reporter that he’d be a top-line player on other clubs. He spent most of last season on the Jets’ second line with center Bryan Little. “There are top lines and then there is our line. But I play with the guys I’m told to play,” he said. The 21-year-old restricted free agent remains mired in a contract impasse with the Jets and is practicing with SC Bern in Switzerland.

THE SCORE: Jets captain Blake Wheeler said he didn’t have an issue with Laine’s remarks. “I would say those are all good things. You want guys that are hungry for more and not content with where he’s at,” said Wheeler, who praised the youngster’s skills and his contributions to the Jets’ power play.

Meanwhile, Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen is joining Laine with SC Bern. Like Laine, he’s yet to sign a new contract with his NHL club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine’s latest comments fueled speculation over his future with the Jets. I’ll have more this morning in the Rumors section.

SPORTSNET: The Los Angeles Kings signed former Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton to a one-year, $1.5-million contract.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan took part in his first training-camp practice with the club. Traded to Chicago by the Carolina Hurricanes this summer, de Haan has been recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and a nagging groin injury.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Speaking of the Hurricanes, they signed defenseman Fredrik Claesson to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700K at the NHL level. With blueliner Trevor van Riemsdyk still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, the move provides additional depth to the Hurricanes’ blue line.

THE SCORE: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Noah Juulsen will consult a specialist for a second opinion regarding his ongoing headache issues.

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