Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 20, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 20, 2021

The Blackhawks could have an interest in Jack Eichel, the Coyotes could try to trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson again, and the latest on Matthew Tkachuk in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Chicago Blackhawks are among the clubs with an interest in Jack Eichel, who is expected to be traded by the Buffalo Sabres later this summer. Brooks believes any offer from the Blackhawks for the Sabres captain must include young center Kirby Dach and their first-round pick (11th overall) in this year’s draft.

Other clubs believed to have an interest in Eichel include the Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings and perhaps the New York Rangers. Brooks also reports the Blackhawks are thought to be interested in Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones and Carolina Hurricanes blueliner Dougie Hamilton, who could sign with the Seattle Kraken.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger examined the potential pluses and minuses for the Blue Jackets if they were to acquire Eichel. His neck injury, desire for experimental surgery to treat the condition, $50 million remaining on his contract and the high cost of acquiring him are the drawbacks. The upside, however, is the addition of a hopefully healthy elite 24-year-old superstar center in his playing prime.

Hedger points out the Sabres need goaltenders. The Jackets could include Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo plus two of their three first-round picks in this year’s draft (including the fifth-overall selection) as part of a package offer. It would be surprising, however, if the Jackets parted with that fifth-overall pick.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch is dismissive of speculation suggesting the Senators could pursue Eichel. While they could use him, his $10 million annual cap hit for the next five years plus the Sabres’ high asking price makes no sense for them at this point in their rebuild.

Garrioch instead suggested Anaheim’s Adam Henrique if the Ducks absorb part of his $5.825 million AAV. Henrique has strong chemistry with Senators winger Connor Brown playing for Canada at the recent World Championships. Other options could include Calgary’s Sean Monahan, Montreal’s Phillip Danault, Chicago’s Dylan Strome, Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks suggests the Blackhawks’ interest in Eichel could be tied to the uncertainty over the health of captain Jonathan Toews, who missed this season battling a mysterious illness. He’s expected to return to action next season but Toews and the Hawks are keeping silent about his condition.

With Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw on permanent long-term injury reserve, the Blackhawks will have nearly $11 million in cap relief if they wish to add a high-salaried player this summer. One can’t fault them for exploring the cost of acquiring Eichel if doubt remains about Toews’ condition. However, recent speculation has tied them to Jones and Hamilton given their need for a top-two defenseman. Those two would be more affordable to acquire than Eichel.

The Jackets have bee been searching for a true first-line center for some time. They have the cap space, those extra first-round picks and the goaltending depth to draw upon as trade bait for an Eichel offer. However, the Sabres could want that fifth-overall pick plus another player or a top prospect included in the deal.

Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson (NHL Images).

I agree with Garrioch that it’s nonsense to link the Senators to Eichel. Their young players showed considerable improvement last season. It would be wise to maintain their current pace for another season and see how they develop. The Sens should pursue an experienced center this summer but will likely target more affordable options.

COYOTES ATTEMPTING TO TRADE EKMAN-LARSSON AGAIN

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Arizona Coyotes will try again to trade defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. They attempted to deal their 29-year-old captain last fall but he only agreed to waive his no-movement clause for the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks.

Friedman said the two sides will take a different approach this time. The Coyotes will check the trade market. If they get a suitable offer they’ll bring it to Ekman-Larsson and he can decide if he’s comfortable with it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson’s declining performance and his hefty $8.25 million annual average value for the next six years will make him difficult to move. The Coyotes could be forced to absorb some salary or take back an expensive contract to make this work.

SHOULD THE BLUES PURSUE MATTHEW TKACHUK?

STLTODAY.COM: Ben Frederickson believes the St. Louis Blues should make a pitch for Matthew Tkachuk if the Calgary Flames are crazy enough to trade him. He feels the 23-year-old winger could help the Blues find some of their missing spark with his gritty offensive style of play.

Tkachuk has one year remaining on his current contract worth $7 million and becomes a restricted free agent next summer. Frederickson believes he’d be worth sacrificing Jordan Kyrou’s scoring potential or their first-round pick (16th overall ) in this year’s draft or finding the necessary cap space for a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames general manager Brad Treliving has indicated he’s going to explore all his options this offseason. That includes possibly trading Tkachuk. So far, however, there’s no indication the young winger’s on the trade block. Most of the Flames trade speculation involves Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

Frederickson is correct in his assessment of the Flames’ expensive asking price for Tkachuk. Nevertheless, there will be teams willing to pay it to get him. The Blues could be among the suitors but they might not win a bidding war for his services.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 20, 2021

The Islanders hold off the Lightning for a Game 4 victory, Jaccob Slavin wins the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, plus an update on Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Islanders tied their semifinal series with the Tampa Bay Lightning at two games apiece by holding on for a 3-2 victory in Game 4 on Saturday. Second-period goals by Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal and Matt Martin gave the Islanders a 3-0 lead but the Lightning made it interesting with third-period tallies by Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson.

New York Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock (NHL Images).

Bolts defenseman Ryan McDonagh had a glorious opportunity to send the game to overtime in the dying seconds with a spinorama backhand but Isles blueliner Ryan Pulock blocked it in the crease to preserve the victory. The series returns to Tampa Bay for Game 5 on Monday night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve heard and read some hockey fans criticizing this series as boring because both sides are playing a tight-checking defensive style. This contest, however, was anything but dull. The Islanders controlled the second period and seemed on their way to a blowout victory but the Lightning battled back in the third for a nail-biting finish.

Point remains the Lightning’s most dangerous scorer. He’s this postseason’s goal leader (12) and has scored in seven straight games.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin is this year’s winner of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. He took just one minor penalty in 52 games this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lady Byng Trophy tends to be the NHL’s least-appreciated award for honoring the somewhat quaint notion of “gentlemanly play”. It draws derision from those who believe hockey players aren’t effective unless they’re rough and tough on the ice.

I would argue, however, that this award deserves more respect. In a sport where physicality is so prized, a player performing well at the highest level with a disciplined style that avoids costly penalties is worthy of commendation and acclaim.

Slavin is considered among the NHL’s best all-around defensemen. He has four 30-plus point seasons on his resume and regularly leads his club in ice time, blocked shots and takeaways while garnering a total of just 60 PIMs over six seasons. That’s the kind of skilled, cool-headed, big-minute rearguard every team wants on their blue line.

Montreal Canadiens interim head coach Dominique Ducharme will be isolated from his team for 14 days after testing positive for COVID-19 just hours before Game 3 on Friday. Assistant coach Luke Richardson has taken over for Ducharme, who will still consult with the players and coaching staff between games via Zoom meetings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not the first time the Canadiens have had to adjust to an absent head coach. Former bench boss Claude Julien returned to Montreal for heart surgery following Game 1 of their first-round series with the Philadelphia Flyers last August. Ducharme can return behind the bench on July 2 if the Canadiens should advance to the Stanley Cup Final.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2021

The latest Jack Eichel speculation, the Bruins are in the market for a left-side defenseman, Kirill Kaprizov’s contract talks go cold, and an update on Dylan Strome in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON EICHEL

WGR 550: Appearing on “The Instigators” yesterday, TSN’s Darren Dreger said discussions on Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel increased over the past week. They’ve reached the point where Dreger is comfortable saying he’s getting traded. He indicated there’s a number of suitors, speculating the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets are in the mix. He also thinks the Los Angeles Kings will get into the bidding at some point.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All three teams have the cap space to absorb Eichel’s $10 million annual salary-cap hit plus young assets that could entice the Sabres.

The Ducks need a top-line center with 36-year-old captain Ryan Getzlaf no longer capable of first-line duty if he decides to return next season. However, I don’t think this is the right move for a team that’s really only just starting to rebuild. Eichel makes more sense for a club that’s trying to advance an ongoing rebuild process or a retooling team looking to quickly get back into playoff contention.

Eichel seems like a good fit for the Kings. Recent reports claim they’re in the market for two top-six forwards. As I’ve noted before, however, there’s a sense among Kings’ followers that they’re seeking players in their late-20s on short-term deals for those top-six roles. If that’s the case, they’re not getting into the mix for Eichel.

The Jackets have sought a first-line center for years. They have three first-round picks in this year’s draft to draw upon as trade bait. The Sabres also need goaltending and there’s talk the Jackets are willing to move Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo for a return that addresses another roster need. They’re in a good position to make a solid pitch for Eichel.

BRUINS SEEK A LEFT-SIDE DEFENSEMAN

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss reported Bruins president Cam Neely indicated his club’s off-season priority is finding a top-four left-side defenseman during his end-of-season press conference on Tuesday.

Goss speculated they could go the trade route as pickings are slim in this summer’s free-agent market for that type of blueliner. He feels Nashville Predators rearguard Mattias Ekholm would be a great fit but the Bruins’ weak prospect pool means they don’t have many tradeable assets.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty observed Vegas’ Alec Martinez, Arizona’s Alex Goligoski and the Bruins’ Mike Reilly are the top left-handed blueliner in this summer’s free-agent market. Other options could include New Jersey’s Ryan Murray and Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak. However, he felt the Bruins would be better-served by using trade chips such as Urho Vaakanainen or Jake DeBrusk to acquire a younger, established left-shot rearguard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Predators moving Ekholm after passing up the opportunity to do so leading up to this year’s trade deadline. He’s got a year remaining on his contract but they appear keen to re-sign him.

Perhaps the Bruins will pursue St. Louis’ Vince Dunn. There’s speculation the Blues could attempt to trade the pending restricted free agent this summer.

UPDATE ON KAPRIZOV’S CONTRACT TALKS

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports early contract talks between the Minnesota Wild and the representatives for Kirill Kaprizov aren’t going well. He cited NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes reporting Friday that the 23-year-old winger was in Moscow and it’s believed CSKA would like to sign him for the KHL and the 2022 Olympics.

Russo indicates Kaprizov is in Moscow attending a friend’s wedding. CSKA Moscow would love to sign the Calder Trophy finalist but the winger’s desire is to play in the NHL. Nevertheless, the possibility of returning to the KHL provides the Kaprizov camp with leverage in contract talks with the Wild.

The sticking point is the term of the contract. The Wild want to ink Kaprizov to a seven- or eight-year deal but the winger’s camp prefers a two- or three-year deal to bring him up to his UFA eligibility at age 27.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo also noted Kaprizov doesn’t seem to want a long-term deal unless the Wild are willing to pay him what his future market value could be. The Wild, however, would be nervous of doing so without having more time to fully evaluate his potential.

I don’t think Kaprizov will return to the KHL but his camp will attempt to use as much leverage as possible. I also doubt Wild general manager Bill Guerin will trade the promising young winger after his impressive NHL debut this season. It’ll be interesting to see how these negotiations proceed over the course of the offseason.

BLACKHAWKS SHOPPING STROME?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Chicago Blackhawks are looking to move Dylan Strome. He had just 14 points in 40 games this season. “He would be eligible for the expansion draft,” writes Garrioch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome showed potential as a second-line center with a 51-point performance in 58 games in 2018-19 after being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in an early-season deal. However, injuries and inconsistent play held him to 38 points in 58 games in 2019-20 and 14 points this season. He’s got one season remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $3 million.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2021

The Canadiens stun the Golden Knights with a Game 3 OT win, Aleksander Barkov win the Selke Trophy, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson scored the tying and winning goals in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 3 of their semifinal series. Anderson made it 2-2 late in the third period when Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury mishandled the puck beside his net, giving Anderson a wide-open net for an easy goal. Canadiens goalie Carey Price made 43 saves for the win. Game 4 goes Sunday night in Montreal.

Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson (NHL Images).

The Golden Knights opened the scoring in the second period as Nicolas Roy cashed in on an errant pass by Canadiens center Eric Staal. Cole Caufield quickly tied it with his second goal of the playoffs. Alex Pietrangelo restored the Golden Knights’ lead early in the third period before Fleury’s blunder cost them the game.

Canadiens assistant coach Luke Richardson made his NHL head-coaching debut filling in for Dominque Ducharme after the Habs bench boss tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day. All of his players tested negative for the coronavirus. Ducharme appears to be asymptomatic but is expected to be sidelined for the next 10 days.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The hockey gods were smiling on Montreal in this game. Vegas should’ve easily taken it after outshooting the Habs 45-27 and controlling most of the play throughout this contest. It’s becoming repetitive to type this, but Price was the difference once again. Still, the Golden Knights appeared poised to skate away with a narrow victory until Fleury’s costly turnover changed the script.

Questionable officiating continues to plague the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. A prime example was the referees missing Jonathan Marchessault high-sticking Montreal’s Corey Perry in the face during overtime, cutting the Habs forward and forcing him from the game for repairs.

The Golden Knights played without center Chandler Stephenson, who was also a late scratch from Game 2. He’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury believed to be concussion-related symptoms.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov is the 2021 winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy.

NEWSDAY: Oliver Wahlstrom could be in the New York Islanders’ lineup tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 4 of their semifinal series. Wahlstrom was sidelined during Game 5 of the Isles’ first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders need something to give them an offensive lift after their offense was stifled by the Lightning in the last two games.

WGR 550: Former Buffalo Sabres star Rene Robert is in a Florida hospital after suffering a severe life-threatening heart attack yesterday. Few details have been revealed as Robert’s family has requested privacy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here hoping Robert, 72, makes a full and swift recovery. He was a member of the Sabres’ famed French Connection Line with Gilbert Perreault and the late Richard Martin in the 1970s.

OTTAWA SUN: Goaltender Marcus Hogberg has signed a four-year contract with Linkoping HC in Sweden after the Senators informed him last month that they wouldn’t qualify his rights. He spent three seasons with the Sens from 2018-19 to 2020-21.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed forward Liam Kirk to a three-year entry-level contract. He’s the first player born and trained in England to be drafted by an NHL team.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2021

The latest Leafs speculation plus updates on Dougie Hamilton and Seth Jones in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE LEAFS

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle no longer feels optimistic about the Toronto Maple Leafs’ chances of re-signing Zach Hyman. The 29-year-old left-winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman (NHL Images).

Multiple sources claim they don’t believe there have been any substantial contract discussions between the Leafs and the Hyman camp for some time. Talk around the league is the winger could command up to $6 million annually on a long-term deal, with the Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson (seven years, $38.5 million) cited as a comparable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t rule out the possibility of the Leafs re-signing Hyman for perhaps a bit of a hometown discount. He could find it difficult to land a big-money deal with the salary cap remaining around $81.5 million. Nevertheless, many NHL general managers tend to succumb to auction fever in the free-agent market. Someone could tempt Hyman away from the Leafs with a significant offer.

OTTAWA SUN: Joel Colomby recently expressed the hope that Hyman would accept a hometown discount to stay with the Leafs and give them that essential grit they need on their top line. With Nick Foligno expected to return to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Colomby believes they must find someone to replace him. “Is that Evander Kane’s name we’re hearing in trade rumors?”, he asked.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: To my knowledge, Colomby’s the only one hearing Kane’s name in trade rumors. The 29-year-old winger was their most productive player, finishing the season with a team-leading 22 goals and 49 points in 56 games.

Things have been rather quiet for the San Jose Sharks in recent weeks. I believe they have no intention of moving Kane. If they were, his bankruptcy proceedings could dampen his value. That’s assuming the Leafs are among the three teams on his list of preferred trade destinations. If that wasn’t a showstopper, his $7 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 probably would be.

UPDATES ON JONES AND HAMILTON

THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers cited a source claiming the Chicago Blackhawks are going to explore adding either Dougie Hamilton or Seth Jones to their defense corps this summer. However, they don’t intend to leverage their future to add either blueliner.

The Blackhawks won’t be interested should Hamilton seek a deal comparable to the $8.8 million annually on a seven-year deal Alex Pietrangelo signed last October with the Vegas Golden Knights. They would, however, consider discussions for a lower cap number.

As for Jones, it depends on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ asking price. One league source believes it could be a first-round pick, a second-rounder, and a high-quality prospect. Another felt Kirby Dach would have to be part of any offer from the Blackhawks.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater believes the Avalanche should pursue Jones if he wants to come to Colorado. He speculates the cost could be either Nazem Kadri, Tyson Jost or JT Compher, a first-round pick and a prospect such as Connor Timmins or Justin Barron. He wouldn’t give up Bo Byram though the Blue Jackets are sure to ask for him.

OTTAWA SUN: Joel Colomby reported there are rumors of the Maple Leafs having talks with the Blue Jackets about Jones. He believes the Leafs could fit him within their well-publicized salary-cap constraints by having the Jacket retain salary on the final year of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw on permanent long-term injury reserve status, the Blackhawks will have sufficient cap space to pursue a top-two defenseman like Hamilton or Jones. Whether they can pull it off remains to be seen. Jones could end up costing them more in terms of a new contract plus the sizable return to the Blue Jackets. With Hamilton, it’s just the contract to be sorted out.

It’ll be interesting to see what Avalanche GM Joe Sakic has in store for his club following their disappointing playoff exit. He’s got to re-sign or replace pending UFAs like Philipp Grubauer and Gabriel Landeskog, plus Cale Makar is due a hefty raise coming off his entry-level deal. Sakic will have to shed salary if he pursues Jones.

The question of return will also be an issue for the Leafs. They don’t have a first-round pick in this year’s draft to include in a trade offer. There’s also the long-term cost of Jones’ next contract, which could exceed $8 million annually starting in 2022-23. Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs have over $51 million tied up in just six players for ’22-’23. They can’t take on Jones without shedding one of those contracts.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 18, 2021

The Lightning regains the lead in their semifinal series with the Islanders, Rod Brind’Amour wins the Jack Adams Award and re-signs with the Hurricanes, the GM of the Year finalists are revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brayden Point’s goal late in the second period held up as the winner as the Tampa Bay Lightning nipped the New York Islanders 2-1 to take a two games to one lead in their semifinal series. Point has a six-game point streak and leads all postseason scorers with 11 goals. Yanni Gourde opened the scoring in the first for the Lightning and Cal Clutterbuck tied it in the second. Game 4 is Saturday evening on Long Island.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning caught a break when Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech received a questionable penalty for interfering with Nikita Kucherov. While they killed that off, the Bolts scored four seconds after Pelech left the box.

Despite that call, the Islanders had plenty of time to even the score but couldn’t generate sufficient offense against the Lightning’s close checking. The Bolts beat the Isles at their own game last night.

Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour is this year’s winner of the Jack Adams Award. He also signed a three-year contract extension after guiding the Hurricanes to their first division title since 2005-06.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The contract negotiations dragged on for weeks but this had an air of inevitability about it. The delay was due to final details being hashed out for new contracts for Brind’Amour’s coaching staff.

Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens, Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders, and Bill Zito of the Florida Panthers are this year’s finalists for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award. The award is voted on by the league’s general managers and a panel of NHL executives and media following the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

NHLPA: Toronto’s Auston Matthews was named the NHL’s best goal-scorer, Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman named the best defenseman and his teammate Andrei Vasilevskiy the best goalie in the 2020-21 NHLPA player poll.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of particular note in this poll was over 68 percent of the players don’t want to see the regional division format carried forward from this season. Over 66 percent, however, would like to see the series-style schedule continue.

We already knew the league will return to its traditional conference and divisional format next season. It’ll be interesting to see if the players’ view on the series-style format carries any weight next season’s schedule is drawn up.

Colorado Avalanche center Carl Soderberg is returning home, signing a two-year contract with the Malmo RedHawks of the Swedish Hockey League. He began his playing career with the RedHawks before embarking on a nine-year NHL career with the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This likely spells the end of the 35-year-old Soderberg’s NHL career. He had 110 goals and 297 points in 597 games.

TSN: Rick Westhead reports Chicago Blackhawks senior management allegedly refused to report allegations of sexual assault of two players by a former video coach to the local police during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A superb piece of investigative journalism by Westhead. A lawsuit filed by one of the two players against the Blackhawks is ongoing. A club spokesman declined to comment because this is an active litigation matter.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed a new affiliate deal with the ECHL’s Iowa Heartlanders.