NHL Rumor Mill – May 22, 2019

The Sharks have several decisions to make this summer, plus the latest on Jacob Trouba, Kevin Hayes, and Ryan Callahan in today’s NHL rumor mill.


ESPN.COM: Figuring out the futures of Erik Karlsson, Joe Thornton, and Joe Pavelski are among Greg Wyshynski and Chris Peters’ keys to the San Jose Sharks offseason. Karlsson, Thornton, and Pavelski are due to become unrestricted free agents this summer. It’s expected Pavelski, 34, and the 39-year-old Thornton will be re-signed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Thornton will get another one-year, bonus-laden deal from the Sharks. Pavelski will be re-signed, perhaps to a two- or three-year deal with an annual cap hit similar to his current $6 million. 

Will the San Jose Sharks re-sign Erik Karlsson? (Photo via NHL Images)

Karlsson’s status is less certain. He managed 45 points in 53 regular-season games and 16 points in 19 postseason contests. However, he was hampered by nagging groin injuries. It’s believed he enjoys living and playing in San Jose but there’s speculation he could return east via free agency. Earlier this season, there was talk the Sharks wanted to re-sign him to an eight-year deal. That chatter cooled off by February.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Had Karlsson had a healthy season the Sharks probably would’ve re-signed him by now. They could still do so but his recent injury history is cause for concern.

The Sharks won’t be the only team leery of investing big money in Karlsson over a lengthy period. A year ago, it was believed he sought a deal similar to Drew Doughty’s eight-year, $88-million deal with the Los Angeles Kings. I doubt he’ll get that now. 

The Sharks could also invest in a reliable backup for starting goaltender Martin Jones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After struggling at times throughout the regular season, Jones redeemed himself with a solid postseason performance. As Wyshynski and Peters point out, Jones is signed through 2024 so he’ll be back next season. Coach Pete DeBoer lost confidence in backup Aaron Dell this season. 


WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe ponder Jacob Trouba’s future with the Winnipeg Jets. The 25-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA status.

Wiebe points out players of Trouba’s caliber tend to get traded in June. He also notes the Jets lack a first-round pick in next month’s draft, suggesting that could create some excitement leading up to the opening round.

If the Jets decide to move Trouba, perhaps they’ll consider a sign-and-trade agreement with another club, as that would improve the return. They could attempt to move him on his own or package him in a larger deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will consider all his options. He’d probably love to re-sign Trouba but that depends upon the blueliner’s asking price and if he sees his future in Winnipeg.

As Wiebe observes, Cheveldayoff won’t trade Trouba for just anything. He’ll want a good return, one that could include a first-round pick in this year’s draft.

A sign-and-trade scenario would be best. Cheveldayoff has plenty of time to work that out between now and the draft weekend. The Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, and New York Rangers are among the clubs linked to Trouba in the rumor mill. 


TSN: cites a report by The Athletic’s Joe Smith noting Ryan Callahan believes his days are numbered with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 34-year-old winger has a year left on his contract with a salary-cap hit of $5.8 million. With the Lightning facing a cap crunch, Callahan could become a cost-cutting trade candidate.

Smith believes they’ll have to sweeten the pot by including a draft pick or prospect. Callahan’s agent hasn’t discussed his client’s future with Lightning management but he said the winger will submit his 15-team trade list. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Smith also listed the New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, and New York Rangers as possible trade candidates. Those clubs have plenty of salary-cap space and could use some veteran leadership. If any of them are on Callahan’s list, maybe one of them will go for it if they get a suitable sweetener in the deal. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2019

St. Louis Blues are going to the Stanley Cup Final. Game recap plus updates on Erik Karlsson, the latest on the Oilers and Senators, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: For the first time in 49 years, the St. Louis Blues will be playing in the Stanley Cup Final. The Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-1 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final. Ryan O’Reilly collected three assists, David Perron had a goal and an assist, and Jordan Binnington made 25 saves. The Blues will take on the Boston Bruins – the team they faced during their last trip to the Final – in Game 1 of the Cup Final on Monday night

The St. Louis Blues are the 2019 NHL Western Conference champions. (Photo via NHL.com)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are the feel-good story of 2018-19. On Jan. 3, they were dead last in the league standings. They overcame the odds (in part thanks to Binnington’s goaltending) to reach the playoffs, eliminating the Sharks, Winnipeg Jets, and Dallas Stars along the way. 

NBC SPORTS: The Sharks played without defenseman Erik Karlsson, winger Tomas Hertl and captain Joe Pavelski. The trio was sidelined by various injuries. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Had those three been healthy, perhaps the outcome of Game 6 would’ve been different. Karlsson was plagued by injury throughout the regular season. Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said the blueliner was healthy and dialed in “for about six weeks.”  An unrestricted free agent this summer, Karlsson’s future in San Jose is uncertain. I’ll have more on his status later today in the Rumors section.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators general manager Pierre Dorion met with former Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy yesterday in Montreal. Roy was reportedly being interviewed for the Senators’ head-coaching position. Dorion has also interviewed “associate coach Marc Crawford, Belleville coach Troy Mann, Pittsburgh assistant Jacques Martin, Providence College coach Nate Leaman, Toronto assistant D.J. Smith and Dallas assistant Rick Bowness.” A decision could come as early as this weekend. 

TSN: Former Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes coach Dave Tippett remains the front-runner for the Edmonton Oilers’ coaching job. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers also dismissed Duane Sutter as their vice president of player personnel. 

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Carolina Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook (core muscle injury) and defenseman Calvin de Haan (right shoulder) recently underwent surgery. Martinook’s recovery time is four-to-six weeks while de Haan will be sidelined four-to-six months. 

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings center Dylan Larkin was injured during Team USA’s 3-0 loss to Canada during a preliminary round game at the IIHF World Championships. No update as to his status but it’s believed to be a groin injury. 

NHL Rumor Mill – May 21, 2019

Latest on the Predators and Hurricanes plus seven teams in need of a goaltender in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun believes Nashville Predators general manager David Poile could make changes to his roster this summer. Poile was disappointed by his club’s early departure from the 2019 playoffs. He doesn’t intend to blow things up but won’t be inactive this summer.

Speculation continues to link Matt Duchene to the Nashville Predators (Photo via NHL Images)

LeBrun notes there’s renewed speculation suggesting Poile might pursue Columbus Blue Jackets center Matt Duchene via free agency. Poile had a previous interest in the 28-year-old center and people around Duchene feel he’d be interested in playing for the Predators. 

If Poile pursues Duchene, LeBrun believes he’ll have to shed salary first. That’s led to rumor suggesting defenseman P.K. Subban ($9 million annual average value) could be traded, but that’s not a certainty. LeBrun also suggests other players could also become cost-cutting candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Predators have over $75.8 million invested in 21 players for 2019-20. All their core players are under contract for next season.

Duchene could command up to $9 million annually on a long-term deal. Assuming an $83 million cap hit, the Predators can’t afford him unless they shed salary. Only Pekka Rinne has no-trade/no-movement protection. As LeBrun observes, that gives Poile plenty of candidates for a cost-cutting deal.

The Predators GM also has a history of making bold trades. Instead of going the UFA route, perhaps he’ll try a hockey trade targeting a club with depth at center. 


NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Luke DeCock reports on possible offseason moves by the Carolina Hurricanes. With goaltenders Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney slated to become UFAs this summer, he believes they should explore going in a different direction from Mrazek. He doubts they’ll re-sign pending UFA winger Micheal Ferland, who managed just one goal after the trade deadline.

DeCock feels the Hurricanes still have “a desperate need for another center.” He’s not sure if promising Martin Necas is ready for that role yet. Defenseman Justin Faulk has a year left on his contract. DeCock thinks this is the year the Hurricanes must decide if they’ll re-sign or trade him. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The pickings are slim for goaltending upgrades via free agency. Unless GM Don Waddell can sign Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky or the Islanders’ Robin Lehner, he might have to stick with his current tandem. It was reported in January that Ferland sought a deal comparable to the six-year, $31-million contract of Washington’s Tom Wilson. He’s not getting that from the Canes or anyone else.

Necas, 20, struggled to crack the Hurricanes lineup. However, he tallied 52 points in 64 games this season with the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate in Charlotte. Still, it remains to be seen if he’s ready for prime time. The Canes have over $54.2 million committed to 14 players. If owner Tom Dundon is willing to spend toward the cap, they’ll have plenty of cap space to pursue a center.

Since the summer of 2017, Faulk was frequently the subject of trade speculation. If Waddell is unable to reach agreement on a contract extension, perhaps he’ll put Faulk on the trade block this summer for a center.  


SPORTSNET: Luke Fox listed the Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers, and New York Islanders as clubs that could use a goaltender for next season. 

Fox suggests Petr Mrazek could be lured elsewhere via free agency, putting the Hurricanes in need of a new starter. With Sergei Bobrovsky expected to depart via free agency, the Blue Jackets will need a replacement. The Oilers need to bring in someone to support Mikko Koskinen, while the Blackhawks need a backup for Corey Crawford.

If the Flames don’t bring back Mike Smith, they’ll need someone to help share the workload with David Rittich. The Flyers need someone to support promising Carter Hart. The Islanders could need a replacement for Robin Lehner if he departs via free agency. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes could retain Mrazek if there’s no suitable replacement via trade or free agency. The Jackets have little choice but to find a replacement for Bobrovsky. The Oilers and Blackhawks will be shopping for experienced backups.

I can see the Flames bringing back Smith for one more year. The Flyers acquired Cam Talbot to supposedly mentor Hart but maybe they’ll consider other options. I expect the Isles will re-sign Lehner. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 21, 2019

The latest on the Sharks, Blues, and Bruins, plus an update on Justin Williams, in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NBC SPORTS: San Jose Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer offered no updates yesterday on the status of Erik Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, and Tomas Hertl. The three were injured during the Sharks’ 5-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. 

Joe Pavelski is one of three players uncertain to play for the San Jose Sharks tonight in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final (Photo via NHL Images)

Karlsson appears to be nursing an old injury that he aggravated in Game 4 of the series. Pavelski left Game 5 after receiving a high hit from Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Hertl was also on the receiving end of a high hit from Blues forward Ivan Barbashev. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Down 3-2 in the series and facing elimination tonight, the Sharks’ odds of winning Game 6 become slimmer with three of their best players on the sidelines. 

CBS SPORTS: Speaking of Barbashev, he won’t face supplementary discipline for his hit on Hertl

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league was “unable to determine conclusively that the head was the main point of contact.”  Sure looked like his head was the primary point of contact to me. I stopped trying to make sense of rulings from the department of player safety a long time ago. 

WEEI.COM: Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said he’s learned a lot from his early days as an NHL coach. Cassidy recently faced criticism from former NHL player Bates Battaglia, who played for Cassidy with the Washington Capitals in 2003-04. Since taking over as Bruins coach, Cassidy has a regular-season record of 117 wins, 52 losses, and 22 overtime defeats.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: People can change and improve and that’s certainly what Cassidy’s done since his first tenure as an NHL head coach. After being fired by the Capitals, Cassidy spent one season as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks (2005-06), two seasons with the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, and eight seasons with the Bruins’ AHL affiliate in Providence. In his 2 1/2 years as the Bruins’ bench boss, he’s coached them to three straight playoff appearances and their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 2013. 

THE SCORE: Carolina Hurricanes captain Justin Williams is undecided if he’ll return for a 19th NHL season. The 37-year-old winger led the Hurricanes to their first postseason appearance in a decade. If he does return, Williams made it clear it’ll be with the Hurricanes. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Williams scored 23 goals and 53 points during the regular season, along with seven points in 15 playoff games. If he’s willing to agree to a one-year, bonus-laden contract worth the same annual salary-cap hit as his current contract ($4.5 million), I think he’ll come back for another season. 

NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2019

Latest Erik Karlsson speculation, possible free-agent targets for the Avalanche, and seven clubs that could threaten an offer sheet in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


SPORTSNET 960: Chris Johnston last week suggested San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson could be “this year’s John Tavares”. In other words, he could garner as much attention in this year’s free-agent market as Tavares did a year ago. Johnston doubts Karlsson will re-sign with the Sharks, though he might fall in love with the area and wish to stay. 

Could Erik Karlsson’s injury history hurt his free-agent value this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)

Johnston suggests the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning as potential suitors. The latter, however, must shed considerable salary to fit him under their cap. Before this season, it was assumed Karlsson would get a deal comparable to Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings. The blueliner’s recent injury history, however, could affect his value. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson’s health prompted Frank Seravalli to rank him second among this season’s UFA class, behind Columbus’ Artemi Panarin.

Cap Friendly indicates the Sharks have over $58.2 million invested in 15 players. Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Gustav Nyquist, and Joonas Donskoi are their noteworthy unrestricted free agents. Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc are their notable restricted free agents. 

I anticipate the Sharks will re-sign Pavelski, Thornton, Meier, and Labanc. That won’t leave much for Karlsson, especially if he seeks top dollar this summer.

Karlsson’s spate of injuries dates back to 2017 when he had offseason heel surgery. This season, a nagging groin injury sidelined the 28-year-old defenseman for 29 games in the regular season. It’s also hindered his play in the Western Conference Final. If he hits the open market there will still be plenty of interest in him. However, the suitors could prefer a short-term deal for less than $11 million per season.

Maybe the Rangers kick the tires on Karlsson but their interest could be in younger, more affordable options like Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba. The Lightning had serious interest in Karlsson last summer. But with center Brayden Point in line for a big raise and over $74 million already tied up in 17 players, the Bolts lack the room for Karlsson now. 


SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen noted Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic intends to be aggressive in this year’s free-agent market. Boylen lists Dallas’s Mats Zuccarello, San Jose’s Gustav Nyquist, and the Islanders’ Anders Lee as possible UFA targets. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs have over $45.9 million committed to 13 players for 2019-20. Several players, including Mikko Rantanen, Alex Kerfoot, and Nikita Zadorov, are restricted free agents due for raises this summer. After re-signing those RFAs, Sakic will still have plenty of cap space to invest in the UFA market.

Lee would be the best of the bunch but I expect he’ll re-sign with the Isles. Same for Zuccarello with the Stars. Nyquist, however, could be available.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently listed the New York Islanders, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, Arizona Coyotes, and Buffalo Sabres as seven clubs that could offer-sheet a superstar this summer. He indicates they all have plenty of salary-cap space to make such a move.

Fox noted Isles GM Lou Lamoriello is ruthless. He wondered if new Wings GM Steve Yzerman might consider an offer sheet as a means to quickly put his stamp on the team. Given the Canadiens’ difficulty in attracting top UFA talent to Montreal, Fox believes the offer sheet must be considered.

Devils GM Ray Shero could make a splash this summer after failing to do so last year. Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon is seen as a wild card. The Coyotes are in dire need of scoring punch. If the Sabres fail to re-sign Jeff Skinner they’ll need a new winger for center Jack Eichel. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello is ruthless but he’s never gone the offer-sheet route before. Given his cap space, I expect he’ll stick to the trade and UFA markets to bolster his roster. Yzerman has a reputation for bold moves but he’s also never attempted to sign a player to an offer sheet. He could take this season to evaluate the Wings roster before deciding on a major deal.

Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin doesn’t rule out using an offer sheet. However, he’s on record that you only go that way if you’re sure you’ll get the player you want. There’s no certainty Bergevin will find that player this summer. I expect Shero, Coyotes GM John Chayka, and Sabres GM Jason Botterill will also stick to trades and UFA signings.

Dundon favors aggressive moves but I’m not convinced he’s going to push GM Don Waddell to pursue a player with an offer sheet. Waddell did a good job since last summer going the trade route, bringing in Dougie Hamilton, Nino Niederreiter, and Micheal Ferland. He could stick to trades and free agency this year. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 20, 2019

The Blues are within one game of the Stanley Cup Final. A recap of Game 5 of the Western Conference Final, updates on the Bruins, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues are one win away from the Stanley Cup Final following a 5-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. Jaden Schwartz tallied a hat trick and Vladimir Tarasenko scored on a penalty shot. Schwartz is one goal from tying Brett Hull’s franchise record for most goals (13) in a playoff year. Tarasenko became the first Blue to score on a penalty shot in the postseason. Jordan Binnington turned in a 21-save shutout performance. 

Jaden Schwartz’s hat trick powered the St. Louis Blues to victory in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final (Photo via NHL Images)

The Blues lead the series three games to two. They can wrap up the series in Game 6 at home on Tuesday night.

It was a costly loss for the Sharks. Four players – Erik Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, and Joonas Donskoi – left the game with injuries. Donskoi was the only one to return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Up 1-0 entering the second period, the Blues seized control of the game with goals by Schwartz and Tarasenko. Those tallies sucked the life out of the Sharks. They were on their heels for the remainder of the contest.

Karlsson was once again in obvious discomfort, stoking speculation his nagging groin injury has flared up again. Pavelski seemed to be limping when he left the game following a hit by Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Hertl departed following a blindside hit by Blues forward Ivan Barbashev that went uncalled. The Sharks will be in real trouble if those three remain sidelined for Game 6. 

NBC SPORTS: David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, and Steve Kampfer skipped Boston Bruins practice yesterday. Krejci took a “maintenance day”. Chara and Kampfer are nursing injuries but they skated before practice yesterday. The trio is expected to be in the lineup for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final next Monday.

CBS SPORTS: cites a report from The Fourth Period claiming the Carolina Hurricanes intend to buy out goaltender Scott Darling. The contract buyout period begins June 15 and runs to 5 pm ET on June 30.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As yet, there’s no indication from Hurricanes management regarding their intentions for Darling. It’s doubtful they’ll formally confirm their plans before the buyout period begins. Signed to a four-year, $16.6-million contract two years ago, Darling struggled with poor conditioning and several injuries. He spent the bulk of this season with the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate in Charlotte.