NHL Rumor Mill – October 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 19, 2020

The latest on the Flyers, Islanders and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher is still actively talking to teams, but the flattened salary cap is making it difficult to add players to his roster.

This is the most difficult offseason that I’ve ever seen,” said Fletcher. He feels the NHL is entering the Flat Cap Era. “As crazy as it is right now out there, I think next summer could be even worse in terms of having some paralysis in the market, and having just too many teams having to move money.”

Fletcher is also focused on the long term. Carter Hart and Travis Sanheim will be restricted free agents next summer while Scott Laughton is due to become an unrestricted free agent. Sean Couturier is two years away from UFA eligibility.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (NHL Images).

Carchidi observers forwards such as Mike Hoffman, Anthony Duclair, Mikael Granlund and Andreas Athanasiou remain available in the UFA market. However, he doesn’t know if Fletcher will pursue one of them.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall wondered what the Flyers’ recent signing of Erik Gustafsson to a one-year, $3-million contract means for Shayne Gostisbehere. Both defensemen play a similar offensive-minded style. While Gustafsson’s addition doesn’t guarantee Gostisbehere will be traded, Hall suggests it increases the possibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The flattened salary cap could make it more difficult for the Flyers to move Gostisbehere. As per Cap Friendly, the 27-year-old blueliner has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $4.5 million.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports unrestricted free agents Andy Greene and Matt Martin are expected to return with the New York Islanders. The Isles could also be in the market for a bargain third-line winger. He listed Derick Brassard, Carl Soderberg, Erik Haula, Alex Galchenyuk and Riley Sheahan among forwards who might be available for the right price.

Staple added there’s nothing new regarding a recent rumor suggesting the Isles were close to trading defenseman Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million AAV for next season. He speculates perhaps the Isles could interest the New Jersey Devils in winger Leo Komarov, who has a $3 million cap hit for the next two years. Staple also thinks Andrew Ladd is a likely LTIR candidate given his recent injury history.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders have $8.9 million in cap space, but a new contract for RFA center Mathew Barzal will likely eat up most of that, while defenseman Ryan Pulock is also due for a significant raise. Pulock has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Nov. 6.

GM Lou Lamoriello must shed salary to re-sign Barzal and Pulock and bring back Greene and Martin. Moving Boychuk could alleviate much of that cap concern, but Lamoriello could be forced to include a draft pick, prospect or young NHL player in the deal.

WGR 550: Brayton J. Wilson believes the Buffalo Sabres should revisit the idea of trading defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to provide themselves sufficient salary-cap flexibility for next season. The Sabres have a projected $13.645 million available but most of that will be taken up re-signing RFAs such as Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Casey Mittelstadt and Linus Ullmark and perhaps bring back Dominik Kahun after he wasn’t extended a qualifying offer.

Ristolainen, 25, has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.4 million. Wilson feels it may be worthwhile under the current economic conditions to move the blueliner for less than market value, pointing to the Vegas Golden Knights accepting a third-round pick in 2022 from the Vancouver Canucks for Nate Schmidt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ristolainen trade rumors had the Sabres attempting to move him in exchange for a scoring forward. That need has been addressed with the additions of Taylor Hall and Eric Staal.

It might be easier to move Ristolainen for a draft pick in a cost-cutting deal, but that’s assuming GM Kevyn Adams is willing to move him. Head coach Ralph Krueger apparently thinks highly of the Finnish blueliner and his opinion seems to carry considerable weight within the Sabres’ organization. Ristolainen probably won’t be shopped if Krueger wants him in the fold for next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 19, 2020

The latest on the Bruins, Blackhawks, Leafs and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney is willing to let Zdeno Chara take his time to reach a decision for the 2020-21 season. He said he’s been in regular contact with the 43-year-old defenseman and his agent. Chara is an unrestricted free agent who’s spent the past 14 seasons with the Bruins.

Zdeno Chara has yet to reach a decision on next season (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chara’s agent recently said his client is drawing interest from multiple teams. For now, there’s no indication the long-time Bruins captain is planning to leave Boston. The uncertainty over what next season will look like could be a factor in his decision not to rush into signing a new contract.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Uncertainty over the status of Brent Seabrook, Andrew Shaw and Zack Smith is affecting the Blackhawks’ salary-cap flexibility. The trio missed the 2020 playoffs because of injuries and there’s some question whether they’ll be medically cleared to play next season. They could be placed on long-term injury reserve to start the season, which would allow the Blackhawks to address their goaltending and other roster issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have around $5 million in cap space with center Dylan Strome to re-sign. Seabrook, Shaw and Smith take up roughly $14 million.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas doesn’t anticipate making any more significant offseason moves for the 2020-21 season. Dubas has added Joe Thornton, TJ Brodie, Wayne Simmonds, Aaron Dell, Zach Bogosian, Jimmy Vesey, Travis Boyd and Joey Anderson. He also brought back Jason Spezza. He doesn’t anticipate having to move out salary to re-sign restricted free agents Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott and Anderson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs have $1.469 million in salary-cap space. Dubas could bury some salary in the minors.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche forward Tyson Jost elected to sign his one-year qualifying offer worth over $874K.

 










Going For Something Old Nothing New To Maple Leafs

Going For Something Old Nothing New To Maple Leafs

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 18, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – October 18, 2020

A look at the notable remaining UFAs plus the latest on the Lightning and Canucks in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

BARGAINS AVAILABLE IN UFA MARKET

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos recently examined the best remaining bargains in this year’s NHL unrestricted free agent market. Topping the list is winger Mike Hoffman, prompting Traikos to wonder if it might make sense for the Ottawa Senators to bring him back.

Winger Mike Hoffman remains the best available player in the NHL UFA market (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never, but given Hoffman’s messy departure from Ottawa over two years ago, I don’t see a reconciliation between the two sides.

Traikos also suggested the Nashville Predators would be a good destination for winter Anthony Duclair because of their need for scoring wingers. He doesn’t rule out Travis Hamonic returning to the Calgary Flames but also thinks a chance to play for his hometown Winnipeg Jets would be a perfect situation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair’s streaky scoring could prompt Predators general manager David Poile to seek a more consistent option. Hamonic could be a fit on the Jets blueline but they’re bumping against the cap ceiling.

Traikos suggested Sami Vatanen could be a perfect stopgap on the Senators blue line until youngsters such as Erik Brannstrom, Jake Sanderson and Lassi Thomson are ready. He also feels winger Corey Perry could attract interest from Stanley Cup contenders, including the Dallas Stars. Speedy forward Andreas Athanasiou could also be a fit with the Senators or the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t be surprised if the Stars bring back Perry for another season. Vatanen and Athanasiou could be very affordable short-term options for many NHL clubs right now.

LATEST ON THE LIGHTNING

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith recently examined the Tampa Bay Lightning’s efforts to clear salary-cap space to re-sign restricted free agents such as Anthony Cirelli and Mikhael Sergachev. It’s clear they’ll have to package Tyler Johnson with a pick or prospect and retain part of his $5 million annual salary-cap hit if they hope to move him in a cost-cutting deal.

Smith also noted rumors of the Lightning approaching Steven Stamkos about a trade. While neither the club or the Stamkos camp is talking about it, their Lightning captain’s full no-movement clause gives him complete control over the situation. Smith cited Pierre LeBrun indicating Stamkos has decided he’s staying put until further notice.

The Lightning are reluctant to move Alex Killorn, in part because of his leadership and affordable contract. They also haven’t approached Yannie Gourde or Braydon Coburn about a trade. Smith believes Ondrej Palat is one player the Bolts would least want to move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams are sitting back and playing the waiting game with the Lightning. The Bolts’ need to shed salary gives GM Julien BriseBois little leverage in the current economic conditions. He still has plenty of time to address this situation, but it looks like he’ll have to make a painful move or two and it will involve adding assets to make it happen.

UPDATE ON THE CANUCKS

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston believes the Vancouver Canucks need to do some salary-cap juggling following their recent acquisition of defenseman Nate Schmidt. They have limited cap space with restricted free agents Jake Virtanen and Adam Gaudette in need of new contracts. He also believes they need to add an experienced defenseman and a second-line winger. One way to alleviate their cap crunch would be to place Sven Baertschi on waivers and demote him to free up $1 million.

Johnston also doubts the Canucks will find a new home for winger Loui Eriksson and his $6-million annual cap hit. He believes if that were possible it would’ve happened by now. He doesn’t expect Eriksson or Baertschi will be bought out once Virtanen signs.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report the Canucks kicked tires on UFA winger Mike Hoffman but adding him is only possible if they can carve out sufficient cap space to sign him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Canucks have $1.998 million in cap space. Johnston expects the combined contracts for Virtanen and Gaudette will be $4 million, meaning GM Jim Benning still has some cost-cutting to do.

The Canucks could get $3.5 million in wiggle room if oft-injured winger Micheal Ferland starts the season on long-term injury reserve but that likely won’t be determined until the training-camp medicals. Eriksson’s cap hit likely means he’s not going anywhere unless the Canucks buy him out. Brandon Sutter came up in trade rumors but his 15-team no-trade list and $4.37-million cap hit makes him difficult to move.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 18, 2020

Updates on Phillip Danault and Kasperi Kapanen plus the latest notable contract signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

TVA SPORTS: Louis-Andre Lariviere reported Phillip Danault’s agent indicated his client wants to engage in contract talks with the Montreal Canadiens before training camp. “It would be Phillip’s preference to negotiate a contract at this point with the Canadiens,” said Don Meehan. “We are making efforts in this regard.” Danault is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Montreal Canadiens center Phillip Danault (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The strong postseason performances of young centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi raised questions about Danault’s place in the Canadiens lineup next season and his long-term future in Montreal. The longer he goes without a contract, the more we’ll hear his name come up in trade rumors next season.

THE SCORE: cited Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford telling SiriusXM NHL Radio Network he believes Kasperi Kapanen could fit in well on the first line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. Kapanen was acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs in August. Rutherford is hopeful Kapanen’s speed and ability to track down pucks will make him a good fit on Crosby’s right wing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins will have a lethal complete first line if Kapanen plays as well as Rutherford hopes alongside Crosby and Guentzel.

NESN.COM: The Boston Bruins avoided salary arbitration with Matt Grzelcyk, signing the defenseman to a four-year, $14.75 million contract. The annual average value is $3.687 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grzelcyk gets a big pay raise over the $1.4 million annually of his previous contract. He’ll be taking on more responsibilities on Boston’s blue line following Torey Krug’s departure via free agency. Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have over $6.6 million in salary-cap space with restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk to re-sign.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Speaking of the Penguins, they signed defenseman Cody Ceci to a one-year, $1.25 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ceci’s stock has tumbled as he’s now on his third team after being traded from the Ottawa Senators to the Maple Leafs in 2019. He earned $4.5 million on a one-year contract last season. A right-handed shot, he’ll likely skate on Pittsburgh’s third pairing. The Pens have $80.18 million invested in 23 players for 2020-21.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues signed Jake Neighbours to a three-year entry-level contract. The 18-year-old winger was the Blues’ first-round pick (26th overall) in this year’s NHL draft.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2020

The latest on Patrik Laine and Mike Hoffman plus updates on the Bruins and Ducks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON LAINE

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck notes TSN’s reporting Patrik Laine’s agents suggesting a trade for their client might be mutually beneficial for Laine and the Jets, comparing it to Jacob Trouba’s agent requesting a trade back in 2016. He was traded in 2019 to the New York Rangers.

Winnipeg Jets left wing Patrik Laine (NHL Images).

Billeck wonders how it reached this point with Laine, pointing out the Jets’ difficulty of retaining some of their stars. He suggests the blame lies not with the city or other issues but within the organization. He also wondered how that could affect the morale of Laine’s teammates if he’s the latest star to head out the door.

Billeck feels the club has failed to provide Laine with a center to play with. He feels there’s no reason Laine can’t be the top-line left wing while Kyle Connor plays with Nikolaj Ehlers on the second line.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe also cites Laine’s probable disappointment in not getting first-line minutes. He wouldn’t be surprised if general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was dangling the winger in the trade pond to see what offers he might attract to address the Jets’ roster needs.

He doubts any public attempt by Laine’s agents to force the issue will work with Cheveldayoff, pointing out it years before Trouba and Evander Kane were dealt after making trade requests.

Wiebe doesn’t believe the Jets would trade Laine for just pennies on the dollar. He listed seven teams (Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, Anaheim Ducks, New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets) that could have the assets to acquire the young sniper.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wiebe’s proposals include such notables as Florida’s Aaron Ekblad and Jonathan Huberdeau, Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart, Carolina’s Brett Pesce and Martin Necas, Philadelphia’s Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim, Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm, the Islanders Brock Nelson and Ryan Pulock, and Columbus’ Zach Werenski. Some of those, like Huberdeau, could be part of a one-for-one swap. The rest would have to be the centerpiece of a larger package.

Laine’s agents can suggest a trade but that doesn’t mean Cheveldayoff will do it. The return has to make sense for the Jets. Hanging over this, of course, is Laine’s contract. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’ll demand a significant raise over his $6.75-million annual average value.

Perhaps this situation gets resolved by moving Laine to the first line and dropping Connor down to the second line with Ehlers and Paul Stastny. He lights it up next season, the Jets reward him with a lucrative long-term deal and everyone’s happy. Another option is Laine goes to arbitration next summer, ensuring he’ll be leaving Winnipeg when he reaches UFA eligibility at 25. Or Cheveldayoff gets a trade offer too good to pass up in the coming weeks.

What’s certain is we haven’t heard the last of Laine in offseason trade chatter.

POTENTIAL DESTINATIONS FOR HOFFMAN

THE SCORE: Matt Teague and Brandon Maron list the Nashville Predators, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, Columbus Blue Jackets and the Florida Panthers as possible destinations for Mike Hoffman. The 30-year-old winger remains the best available player in this year’s UFA market. He’s reportedly willing to accept a one-year contract worth around $6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators, Bruins and Blue Jackets have been linked to him in recent trade speculation. The Preds have the cap space to meet his salary demand. The Bruins have over $12 million available but must also re-sign Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk and Zdeno Chara. The Jackets must re-sign first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois before they commit dollars to another forward.

The Kings have over $13 million in cap space and recently acquired Olli Maatta from the Chicago Blackhawks. GM Rob Blake, however, seems intent on maintaining his rebuilding program. Adding an expensive, short-term veteran doesn’t seem to fit into that plan. As for the Panthers, they could circle back to Hoffman now that Evgenii Dadonov has departed for Ottawa.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens look at six possible replacements for Ryan Miller if he doesn’t return as the Anaheim Ducks backup. He suggested Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard, Michael Hutchinson, Garret Sparks, Adin Hill and Pheonix Copley.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty cites a couple of sources saying the Bruins could consider former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner as a cheap insurance option in case youngsters like Urho Vaakanainen and Jakub Zboril show they aren’t ready for prime time