NHL Rumor Mill – August 4, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 4, 2021

Could the Coyotes shop Phil Kessel, Christian Dvorak or Clayton Keller? Should the Oilers attempt to acquire Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST COYOTES SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz believes it’s a given the rebuilding Arizona Coyotes will trade Phil Kessel at some point. The 33-year-old winger becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer and a re-signing appears unlikely.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports Kessel’s trade status seems to change daily. He felt the club might be content retaining the winger this season with an eye on shopping him near the trade deadline. However, multiple sources claim Kessel’s representatives have approached Coyotes general manager Bob Armstrong requesting a trade before this season begins.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

Honoring that request won’t be easy. Kessel would like to play for the Vegas Golden Knights but a source said they’re not interested in acquiring him. The Coyotes might have to remain patient as there isn’t much interest in the veteran winger around the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel also carries a $6.8 million cap hit and an eight-team trade list along with a no-movement clause that prevents him from being demoted to the minors. Unless the Coyotes are willing to pick up half of his cap hit his best chance of getting traded could be the February trade deadline.

Morgan also observed the considerable interest around the league in Christian Dvorak. The 25-year-old has become a hot commodity because of his two-way play and affordable contract. However, it’s not a certainty Armstrong will trade Dvorak. Morgan suggests it would take a significant offer of either a couple of prospects or a prospect and a first-round pick.

The Boston Bruins expressed interest in Dvorak and could use another center after David Krejci’s departure. Other teams linked to the Coyotes center include the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and his hometown Chicago Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dvorak’s situation could be worth monitoring through training camp and leading up to the start of this season in mid-October. That’s when teams will evaluate their rosters and determine if they need to turn to the trade market for help. One of them could make an offer for Dvorak too good for Armstrong to pass up.

Gretz also suggested the Coyotes consider shopping Clayton Keller. Under contract for seven more seasons at $7.15 million annually, the 23-year-old forward is in theory one of the players they should build around. However, if they weren’t going to keep a key player like Conor Garland, what’s the point of holding onto Keller at this point?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gretz believes no one should be kept out of trade discussions with the rebuild underway. However, Morgan hasn’t mentioned Keller as a trade candidate. Neither did Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman in his latest podcast. Perhaps Armstrong sees Keller as one of a small core of players to build around.

COULD THE OILERS PURSUE KHUDOBIN?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples wondered if the Oilers should make a pitch for Dallas Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin. The Stars need to move out a goalie and the Oilers need one.

The Stars have a crowded crease with Khudobin, Ben Bishop, Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger. Bishop, however, could be sidelined for the upcoming season with a knee injury. It was assumed they’d start this season with Khudobin and Oettinger but the addition of Holtby raised questions about their intentions in goal and whether one of them could be used as a trade chip.

Staples believes the Oilers would have to find someone to take Mikko Koskinen off their hands before acquiring Khudobin. That could include adding a sweetener in the deal with Koskinen. It also depends on whether the Oilers are on Khudobin’s four-team no-trade list.

The Stars’ plan could be to put Bishop on long-term injury reserve, demote Oettinger to the minors (he’s waiver-exempt this season) and start with Khudobin and Holtby. However, if they can move Khudobin it would free up cap space to sign a forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That seems to be the game Stars GM Jim Nill is playing. Bishop’s career could be in jeopardy but for now, he faces an uncertain future regarding this season. Adding Holtby gives them the opportunity to shop Khudobin and go with a Holtby-Oettinger tandem. If there’s no immediate market for Khudobin, they send Oettinger to the minors until a new home for the 35-year-old veteran netminder and his $3.33 million cap hit is found.

The Oilers’ situation could be more complicated. Koskinen’s $4.5 million cap hit, inconsistent play and 15-team no-trade list make him difficult to move unless the Oilers are willing to retain salary or package him with a quality prospect or draft pick. Even then, there’s no certainty they can land Khudobin or any other suitable replacement at this point. The Oilers could be starting this season with Koskinen backing up Smith again.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 4, 2021

Check out the latest on Evander Kane, Jonathan Toews, John Klingberg, John Tortorella and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports several of Evander Kane’s teammates don’t want the San Jose Sharks winger to return to the club next season. That strained relationship was also the reason behind the club’s attempt to trade him earlier this summer.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

One source said the frustration stemmed from Kane’s disrespect for teams rules, including being late for practices and games. He faced no consequences for those actions, which didn’t sit well with younger teammates.

TSN: Kane has taken a voluntary leave of absence from the Hockey Diversity Alliance as the league investigates recent allegations that he bet on NHL games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s troubles appear to be mounting. Earlier this year, he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy citing over $26 million in debts with $10.2 million in assets. $1.5 million of those losses were related to gambling.

The Mercury News’ Curtis Pashelka speculated Kane’s gambling issues and the friction with his teammates could force Sharks management to buy out the remainder of his contract in the second buyout window. The club is eligible to use that opportunity because goaltender Adin Hill filed for salary arbitration.

Pashelka indicates a buyout of Kane would leave a total of $13 million in deal cap space on the Sharks payroll over the next four years. That’s in conjunction with the $7.25 million over the next three years from their recent buyout of Martin Jones.

Trading Kane would be the preferred option. As Kurz points out, however, the winger’s aforementioned issues combined with his $7 million annual average value for the next four seasons and a three-team trade list could make that move impossible.

TSN: Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said the club remains without a firm timeline for Jonathan Toews’ return. However, the club remains hopeful their 33-year-old captain will be ready for the start of this season. Toews missed all of last season with chronic immune response syndrome.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars GM Jim Nill said his club has started contract extension talks with John Klingberg. The 29-year-old defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He’s earning an annual average value of $4.25 million on his current contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klingberg will get a significant raise on his next deal. I don’t see the Stars paying him more than the $8.45 million AAV they’re paying to Miro Heiskanen, who’s a better all-around defenseman. If he seeks more, this season could be his last in Dallas.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues reached an agreement with forward Jordan Kyrou on a two-year, $5.6 million contract.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed center Travis Boyd to a one-year, $750K contract.

NEW YORK POST: Former NHL coach John Tortorella is joining ESPN as a studio analyst.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tortorella worked briefly with TSN in a similar role in 2008. Like him or not, he speaks his mind and that will make for entertaining television.

WGR 550: The Rochester Americans hired former Buffalo Sabres captain Michael Peca as an assistant coach. He spent last season as a development coach with the Washington Capitals.

TORONTO SUN: John Lilley has left his role as Maple Leafs director of amateur scouting to join the New York Rangers as director of player personnel and amateur scouting.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 3, 2021

A look at the teams that could afford to acquire Jack Eichel plus the latest on the Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz examines which teams can actually afford to trade for Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. That means being able to absorb his $10 million annual average value for the next five seasons and possess sufficient young assets to meet the Sabres’ asking price.

The New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks top Gretz’s list. While the Kings have less cap space following the acquisitions of Viktor Arvidsson and Phillip Danault, Gretz feels that’s never stopped a team from dealing for a player it badly wants.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gretz points out the Rangers have some short-term raises coming up for Igor Shesterkin, Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad but feels they should have sufficient flexibility to make it work. However, Shesterkin is projected to come in at around $5.75 million, Zibanejad could cost $9 million and Fox could hit $10 million annually after winning the Norris Trophy last season. One of them would have to move in a cost-cutting deal for Eichel and it would probably be Zibanejad, who’s a year away from UFA eligibility.

The Kings have just over $2.8 million in cap space after taking on Arvidsson, Danault and defenseman Alex Edler. If they were serious about Eichel I don’t think they would’ve added those three. They’re probably out of the Eichel sweepstakes.

The Ducks appear the best fit but that depends on whether general manager Bob Murray sees Eichel as a key piece in the club’s rebuild. The ongoing concern over the center’s herniated disc in his neck could also be an issue for the Ducks and the other clubs linked to him.

Gretz believes trading Eichel to either the Vegas Golden Knights or Minnesota Wild would make sense as both teams need a No. 1 center. However, it would take some work to pull off a deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres’ asking price from the Golden Knights was said to be winger Reilly Smith, promising center Peyton Krebs, young defenseman Nicolas Hague and a first-round pick. The Sabres would also have to pick up half of Eichel’s cap hit to make this work.

Gretz points out the Wild’s cap constraints for 2022-23 and 2023-24 from the recent buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter could make it difficult to take on Eichel’s full cap hit. Wild GM Bill Guerin is also said to be reluctant to part with most of his club’s top young prospects.

The Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators are Gretz’s wild-card teams. Eichel to the Bruins could be a good fit but they lack cap space and depth in tradeable assets. The latter point is also an issue for the Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some folks seem to think Eichel to the Bruins is doable. I’ve yet to see anyone come up with a realistic trade scenario that would address the cap issue or the lack of good young assets necessary to meet the Sabres’ asking price.

The Predators, meanwhile, have $16 million tied up in centers Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene. Unless they can find a way to get one of those players off their books, I doubt we’ll see Eichel suiting up with Nashville.

LATEST SHARKS SPECULATION

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman quashing a rumor linking Sharks winger Timo Meier to the New Jersey Devils. “Those were flatly denied to me,” said Friedman. “Someone said you’re way off, don’t go down that road.” Peng cited sources saying other clubs aren’t enamored with Meier’s contract. He’s got two years remaining on his deal with an annual average value of $6 million.

Peng also noted Friedman indicated the Sharks are believed to have an interest in Christian Dvorak. The 25-year-old Arizona Coyotes center has four years left on his contract worth $4.45 million annually. However, Friedman doesn’t believe the Sharks are engaged in trade talks with the Coyotes. He also linked the Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers among those interested in Dvorak.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like Sharks GM Doug Wilson believes Meier can regain the 30-goal, 66-point form of 2018-19. As for Dvorak, the rebuilding Coyotes will likely want draft picks plus a quality prospect or a young NHL-ready player in return.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 3, 2021

Kevin Fiala and Travis Sanheim headed to club-selected arbitration, an update on Igor Shesterkin’s contract talks, the Avalanche sign Ryan Murray, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim are being taken to salary arbitration by their respective teams. Arbitration hearings will be scheduled between August 11-26.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As when a player files for arbitration, the players and teams in these cases can continue to work toward new contracts before their scheduled arbitration hearings. In most instances, the arbitration date is used as a deadline to working out a new deal, avoiding negotiations dragging on for weeks.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker reports Igor Shesterkin’s decision not to file for salary arbitration suggests he and the New York Rangers are making progress toward a new contract. The 25-year-old goaltender is two years away from qualifying for unrestricted free agent status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walker indicated Rangers general manager Chris Drury could attempt to sign Shesterkin to a cost-effective four-to-six year deal. Shesterkin is projected to cost between $5 million and $6 million annually. She speculates a new deal for the netminder could come in closer to $5.75 million.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed defenseman Ryan Murray to a one-year, $2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s signing shrinks an already shallow pool of decent free-agent talent.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports the NHL and the International Olympic Committee failed to secure an expanded media rights agreement for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Nevertheless, the league still intends to send players to those Games. Talks are reportedly ongoing between the league, IOC, NHL Players Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation.

The NHL apparently lost leverage for a bigger media rights deal when it left NBC, which hosts the Winter Olympics, to sign new broadcasting agreements with ESPN and Turner Sports.

THE MERCURY NEWS: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league’s probe into gambling allegations leveled at Evander Kane will be done before the start of training camp next month. Kane’s estranged wife took to social media accusing the 30-year-old San Jose Sharks winger of betting on NHL games, including throwing games to win money.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks intend to publicly release the findings of its investigation into sexual assault allegations against the team’s former video coach. The investigation has been ongoing since June.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 2, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 2, 2021

Check out the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko and an update on the Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON TARASENKO

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports all’s quiet on the Vladimir Tarasenko trade front. He believes it became “painfully apparent” there was no market for the unhappy 29-year-old winger when the Seattle Kraken passed on him in favor of Vince Dunn in last month’s expansion draft. It was assumed they would select Tarasenko and flip him to another club for assets.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images)

It’s become known around the league that Tarasenko has relaxed his no-trade clause completely. Trade options are shrinking as teams filled their needs when the free-agent market opened last week. His poor performance last season after coming back from his third shoulder surgery in two years has adversely affected his trade value.

Thomas wonders if there’s a Cup contender in need of more offense willing to take a chance on Tarasenko. He pointed out the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes have the cap space to absorb the winger’s $7.5 million annual cap hit through 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers believe Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello could be working on a trade. They think that’s why the club hasn’t officially announced the signings of free agents such as Zach Parise and Kyle Palmieri because Lamoriello doesn’t want other teams to know how much cap space he’s got. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s up to something but I don’t see how he can absorb Tarasenko’s contract with the Blues absorbing part of that $7.5 million cap hit.

There’s talk Lamoriello could offer up Josh Bailey ($5 million AAV through 2023-24) because he was left exposed in the expansion draft. The Blues, however, could ask for a draft pick or prospect as part of that return to make it worthwhile to retain part of Tarasenko’s cap hit.

The Hurricanes have to re-sign Andrei Svechnikov but they would still have sufficient cap room to acquire Tarasenko. Team owner Tom Dundon could be reluctant to add more salary while Tarasenko’s shoulder surgeries could also be a concern for management.

Another possible destination for Tarasenko is the New Jersey Devils. The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford recently pointed out Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald was interested in adding a top-six winger. They have a lot more cap space and depth in promising prospects and young NHL-ready players to dangle as trade bait.

UPDATE ON THE CANADIENS

TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens still have some areas to address this offseason. They could use a puck-moving defenseman and an experienced center.

Vince Dunn could address that need on the blueline but the Seattle Kraken probably won’t part with him. Tyler Bozak could be an interesting free-agent option at center.

The Canadiens should also look into acquiring Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. The Canadiens have salary-cap space, good prospects and promising young players such as Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Alexander Romanov to offer up as trade bait.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn recently filed for salary arbitration with the Kraken but I don’t see them moving him unless contract negotiations completely break down. Bozak would be an affordable depth signing but the Habs seem content with Jake Evans and Cedric Paquette as their bottom-six centers.

As for Eichel, the Canadiens are already over the cap by nearly $2.3 million, though they’re expected to get some cap relief for 2021-22 by placing Shea Weber on long-term injury reserve. Nevertheless, I don’t see them pursuing Eichel unless they’re moving significant salary and the Sabres are picking up a big chunk of his $10 million annual cap hit.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2021

Marc-Andre Fleury will report to the Blackhawks, the Kraken’s contract with Philipp Grubauer rejected by the league, Evander Kane denies betting on NHL games, and 17 players file for salary arbitration. Get the details in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Marc-Andre Fleury confirmed Sunday he will report to the Blackhawks this season. “Hey, Chicago, it’s Marc,” he said via the club’s social media account. “Just wanted to let you know: I’m in. Let’s get to work.”

Marc-Andre Fleury will report to the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL Images).

The Blackhawks acquired Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights last Tuesday. However, he took several days to discuss his situation with his family and consider his future. The 36-year-old goaltender has a year remaining on his contract with a $7 million salary cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury won the Vezina Trophy for the first time last season with the Golden Knights. He won’t have a solid defense in front of him in Chicago as he did in Las Vegas. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks could have a shot at a playoff spot in the Central Division this season if Fleury maintains his Vezina form.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken have rectified an accounting error that resulted in the league rejecting the club’s first attempt to finalize its contract with goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The front-loaded contract violated the CBA’s 25 percent cap above the amount in the initial contract year.

Grubauer’s annual average value is $5.9 million for six seasons. He will earn $5 million in actual salary this season. It was originally slated to rise to $6 million in 2022-23 and $7.5 million in 2023-24, an increase of 30 percent. The deal has been restructured by shifting $250K from the third year to the second year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: When this was first reported some fans on social media wondered if the contract would be voided. Doesn’t work that way. The team gets the opportunity to fix the accounting error. In this case, it was an easily addressed minor detail.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane denied allegations made by his estranged wife claiming he bet on NHL games. “I have NEVER gambled/bet on hockey, NEVER gambled/bet on Sharks games, NEVER gambled/bet on any of my games and NEVER thrown a hockey game,” he said in a statement released yesterday.

The NHL announced it would investigate Kane based on the allegation made on an unverified Instagram account attributed to Angela Kane. She responded to Kane’s statement via that account yesterday, accusing him of abandoning her and their daughter to party and gamble in Europe. She also claimed he had a gambling addiction and claimed he was trying to use the media to control the narrative.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s personal life has been under growing media scrutiny since applying for bankruptcy in January. He was also the topic of trade speculation following a recent report claiming several of his teammates expressed frustration about him to management during their season-ending exit interviews. The Sharks released a statement on Saturday saying they supported the league’s intent to investigate the gambling allegations.

NHLPA: Seventeen NHL players applied for salary arbitration yesterday:

Zach Aston-Reese (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Ross Colton 
(Tampa Bay Lightning)
Andrew Copp 
(Winnipeg Jets)
Jason Dickinson 
(Vancouver Canucks)
Vince Dunn 
(Seattle Kraken)
Adam Erne 
(Detroit Red Wings)
Dante Fabbro 
(Nashville Predators)
Dennis Gilbert 
(Colorado Avalanche)
Adin Hill 
(San Jose Sharks)
Michael McNiven 
(Montreal Canadiens)
Victor Mete 
(Ottawa Senators)
Adam Pelech 
(New York Islanders)
Neal Pionk 
(Winnipeg Jets)
Zach Sanford 
(St. Louis Blues)
Juuse Saros 
(Nashville Predators)
Jakub Vrana 
(Detroit Red Wings)
Nikita Zadorov 
(Calgary Flames)

The deadline for club-elected arbitration is 5 pm ET on Monday, Aug. 2. The arbitration period is from Aug. 11 to Aug. 26.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several notable names on this list include Dunn, Pelech, Pionk, Saros and Vrana. If history is anything to go by we can expect most, perhaps all of these players to reach agreements with their teams on new contracts before their scheduled arbitration hearings.