NHL Rumor Mill – September 25, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 25, 2023

Could the Lightning and Steven Stamkos part ways following this season? Check out the latest speculation in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox weighed in on Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos’ disappointment with the lack of contract extension talks this summer with Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois. He believes the 33-year-old forward “dropped the biggest bombshell of training camp.”

Stamkos, 33, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He told reporters last week that he had preferred working out an extension before the start of the season. BriseBois, however, indicated that he preferred to wait until the end of the season to begin negotiations.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Fox wonders if BriseBois is “truly this cutthroat” to be playing hardball with the Lightning star. He also mused over what effect Stamkos’ frustration could have on his play this season.

Elliotte Friedman considered Stamkos’ remarks last week “a big, big shot across the bow”. He added that some of the players close to the Lightning captain believe “that Tampa wouldn’t be crushed if he left.”

Friedman believes that the Lightning want Stamkos to finish his career with them. However, it won’t be at a salary number that they consider unreasonable.

The Stamkos standoff factored into Ryan Dixon pondering whether this is the beginning of the end for this version of the Lightning. He isn’t writing off the club this season given the depth of talent and the potential benefit of a longer-than-usual offseason. However, he believes “we’ve clearly entered a new phase of their arc.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It all comes down to salary cap space for the Lightning. They have over $12.3 million in projected cap room for 2024-25 with 16 players under contract. Zach Bogosian, Calvin de Haan, Tyler Motte, and Haydn Fleury are among their other notable UFAs but they can be easily re-signed or replaced.

Stamkos, however, will take up a big chunk of their cap room, leaving little space to bring in players to bolster their roster. The average annual value of his current contract is $8.5 million. Given his performance in recent years, he’d be justified in seeking the same amount again. Even with the cap projected to increase in the coming years significantly,  BriseBois might not be comfortable investing that much for too long in an aging asset.

As I’ve stated before, it’s unlikely that BriseBois will trade Stamkos or that the latter will request a trade if they don’t have a contract extension in place by the March 8 trade deadline. The Lightning’s season would have to really go off the rails for either side to consider that option.

Defenseman Victor Hedman and winger Nikita Kucherov will likely be watching the outcome of Stamkos’ contract talks. Hedman is eligible for UFA status in 2025 and Kucherov in 2027. If the Lightning cut ties with Stamkos at the end of this season the clock could begin ticking on their tenures in Tampa Bay.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 25, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 25, 2023

Attainable milestones for the upcoming season plus the latest on Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, Rangers center Mika Zibanejad and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: has a complete roundup of Sunday’s preseason action.

THE SCORE: Several NHL players are in line to reach league milestones this season.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is within one goal of becoming the first player in league history to tally 300 career power-play goals. He’s also just 15 points away from reaching 1,500 career points.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby needs 88 points to tie Phil Esposito for 10th on the all-time points list. Esposito has 1,590 points.

Phil Kessel, the league’s reigning Ironman record holder, is just eight points away from reaching 1,000 career points. That’s assuming the 35-year-old unrestricted free agent finds a new contract with an NHL club. Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares is 25 points away from 1,000.

Twenty players, including Nashville’s Ryan O’Reilly, Minnesota’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman, Vegas’ Alex Pietrangelo, Boston’s Brad Marchand and Pittsburgh’s Erik Karlsson, could reach 1,000 career games.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has yet to suit up for training camp as he deals with an undisclosed injury. Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said Vasilevskiy is “wrestling with some things right now physically” and is considered day-to-day.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers center Mika Zibanejad is listed as day-to-day after leaving scrimmage on Sunday with an upper-body injury.

CAP FRIENDLY: The Seattle Kraken have officially removed winger Andre Burakovsky off injured reserved. He’d been on IR since Feb. 9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken managed to adjust to Burakovsky’s absence as they reached the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Nevertheless, he helped set the stage for that success with 39 points in 49 games before suffering a torn groin.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk will be evaluated today after leaving Sunday’s preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres. He was struck in the right arm by a shot in the third period, left the game and didn’t return.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Alex Nedeljkovic is hoping a fresh start with the Pittsburgh Penguins will help reset his career after two unsatisfying seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. He was a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2020-21 with the Carolina Hurricanes but struggled to replicate that success after getting traded to the Red Wings.

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 24, 2023

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 24, 2023

Could the Hurricanes land Patrick Kane? Is a new contract coming for the Flames’ Mikael Backlund? Will the Canucks shed more contracts? Who could be a cost-cutting candidate for the Senators? Find out in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.


SPORTSNET: That’s the question Ryan Dixon asked among his biggest questions for each team this season in the Metropolitan Division.

Patrick Kane is still rehabbing from an offseason hip resurfacing procedure. Dixon believes the Hurricanes are in no danger of missing the playoffs but felt they could use another offensive player to get them over the postseason hump.

Free agent winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dixon noted the Hurricanes’ experiment with Max Pacioretty last season failed when he was sidelined for all but five games by a twice-torn Achilles.

During the summer, Kane’s agent said his client was expected to be ready to return to action by December. By that point, he’s supposedly going to weigh offers from clubs that he believes will give him the best shot at winning the Stanley Cup.

The Hurricanes could be among that group as they’re considered among the Cup favorites. Finding the cap dollars, however, could be difficult as they’re entering the season with just over $920K in cap space.


CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson reports there are rumblings of contract extension discussions heating up between the Flames and Mikael Backlund. The 34-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

We’ll see what happens,” said Backlund on Saturday. “It’s pretty quiet right now, but we will see what happens. We haven’t made a decision yet.”

Gilbertson cited reports from earlier in the week suggesting Backlund is open to re-signing with the Flames. He also indicated that his teammates believe he should be wearing the captaincy. He noted that the Flames intend on naming a new captain before their season opener on Oct. 11.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Gilbertson pointed out, that date for naming their next captain could also be the deadline for getting a new contract done for Backlund if he is to wear the “C”.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: In the wake of the Vancouver Canucks trading Tanner Pearson to the Montreal Canadiens, Jeff Paterson reported Canucks hockey ops president Jim Rutherford indicated his club is “probably a contract or two away” from unraveling their salary-cap issues.

Rutherford didn’t single out any specific contracts but Paterson believed he was referring to Tyler Myers, Brock Boeser and Conor Garland. Myers is on an expiring deal with an average annual value of $5 million, Boeser has two years remaining with an AAV of $6.65 million while Garland has three years left at $4.95 million AAV.

Paterson pointed out that Myers, Boeser and Garland have floated repeatedly in the rumor mill. However, Rutherford blames the flattened salary cap for the Canucks’ difficulty in shedding unwanted contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Myers could still come off the Canucks’ books before the end of this season. All but $1 million of his $6 million AAV was paid out in a signing bonus. That could make him enticing for budget-conscious clubs seeking an experienced playoff rental defenseman.

If the Canucks still intend to move Boeser and/or Garland, they might have better luck next summer. That’s when the salary cap is projected to rise by at least $4 million.


SPORTSNET: Limited salary-cap space is complicating the Ottawa Senators’ efforts to sign restricted free-agent center Shane Pinto. They’d prefer not to part with the 22-year-old center, especially with Josh Norris starting training camp wearing a non-contact jersey.

They’ll have to trade somebody else to make room for Pinto. Mathieu Joseph keeps popping up as a trade candidate. The 26-year-old winger carries an annual cap hit of $2.95 million through 2025-26. They might have to include a sweetener in the deal to make it work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The article also cited Elliotte Friedman saying the Philadelphia Flyers “have been buzzing around the situation.” It was rumored they (and the Boston Bruins) were interested in Pinto. Perhaps the rebuilding Flyers would take Joseph off the Senators’ hands if he comes with a pick or a prospect.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2023

The Kings defeat the Coyotes to split their Global Series in Australia, plus the latest on Auston Matthews, Mark Stone, Mathew Barzal, Jeff Carter and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Los Angeles Kings held off the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 to split their two-game Global Series at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. Adrian Kempe scored twice for the Kings while Karel Vejmelka made 31 saves for the Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both games were sellouts with over 13,000 fans in attendance at each contest.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews hasn’t killed many penalties in his NHL career but the Leafs are going to see if the 26-year-old center can grow into that role in training camp.

You’re down a man but at the same time, it’s hockey, a lot of anticipation, a lot of reads and I feel like I have a good stick and can break up plays,” said Matthews. “I’d love to be utilized on it.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s part of Matthews’ evolution as a more complete NHL player. He remains among the league’s elite scorers but he’s been developing other aspects of his game. The complaint against him earlier in his career was he didn’t backcheck but he’s since improved that part of his game.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone believes his club’s critics shouldn’t be taking the defending Stanley Cup champions lightly this season. “You look at the players we have, it’s pretty ironic that people are writing us off,” said Stone. He believes the Golden Knights can use that as motivation to win the Cup again this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think people are “writing off” the Golden Knights so much as they are basing their views on the difficulty of repeating as Cup champions. They’re also looking at how other Cup contenders have improved compared to last season.

Stone and his teammates can rest assured that their opponents certainly won’t be taking them lightly. As the defending champions, the Golden Knights are now the measurement of success for other NHL clubs this season.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders center Mathew Barzal is hoping to bounce back from his injury-shortened 2022-23 campaign. “It’s tough to come back off injury,” said Barzal. “I had, like, three skates before I played in the playoffs. Lungs weren’t really there, legs weren’t really there.” He managed just two goals in six playoff games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barzal missed the last 23 games of the regular season with a knee injury. It can take time for players to regain their conditioning following an injury, especially one involving their legs. Being unable to skate makes it difficult to maintain cardio or leg strength while recovering.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins forward Jeff Carter said he hasn’t given much thought to his future as he takes part in his 20th NHL training camp. The 38-year-old said he’s focussing on giving the Penguins the best that he can regardless of his role this season. It appears the Penguins intend to lighten his workload by bumping him down to fourth-line winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is likely Carter’s final season with the Penguins regardless of his role or performance. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. Whether he lands with another NHL club next season depends on how he plays in 2023-24.

THE ATHLETIC’s Aaron Portzline took note of a report indicating that former Columbus Blue Jackets winger Jakub Voracek is now a member of the Kladno Knights coaching staff. “He’s true to his word, Voracek. He always said he’d go into coaching,” wrote Portzline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Voracek is in the final season of his eight-year NHL contract. The 34-year-old winger has been sidelined indefinitely by concussion symptoms since last November and is on permanent LTIR. The Columbus Blue Jackets traded his contract to the Arizona Coyotes last March.

The Kladno Knights, by the way, are owned by Jaromir Jagr, who is still playing for them at age 51.

CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Yegor Chinakhov is listed as day-to-day with a back strain. He’s missed three straight days of training camp thus far.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Former Anaheim Ducks winger Nic Kerdiles was killed in a motorcycle accident early Saturday morning in Nashville. He was 29.

An Irvine native, he was the first Ducks player to come from Orange County, chosen in the second round (36th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft. Kerdiles played three regular-season games and four postseason contests for the Ducks from 2016 to 2018 and spent the rest of his pro career in the minors before retiring in 2019.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kerdiles’ family, friends and former teammates.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2023

Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim talks about being mentioned in summer trade chatter, the Bruins hope to re-sign Jake DeBrusk and the latest on Avalanche blueliner Devon Toews in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall reports Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim was mentioned in a late-June trade rumor that involved discussions between the Flyers and St. Louis Blues regarding Blues rearguard Torey Krug.

The deal never got off the ground as Krug used his no-trade clause to block it. Four days later, Sanheim’s eight-year contract with a full no-trade clause went into effect.

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim (NHL Images).

Sanheim revealed it was a stressful time. “It sucks,” he said. “It’s not a position you want to be in, but it’s a business and I understand it, I understand where the team’s at.” He added that he’s happy to be staying in Philadelphia, saying it was the reason he signed an extension for eight years in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sanheim’s full no-trade clause ensures he controls his future with the Flyers over the next four seasons. After that, the clause becomes a 12-team no-trade list.

Sanheim could be encouraged by Flyers management to waive the clause if he was willing to go to a club of his choosing. That’s assuming things go sour with the Flyers over the next four seasons and he’s no longer happy playing for them. As long as he wants to stay in Philadelphia, however, I’d say he’s not at risk of getting traded anytime soon.


98.5 THE SPORTS HUB: Ty Anderson reports Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is hopeful of re-signing Jake DeBrusk. The 26-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

We’re going to have communication with Jake and his representative (and) we’d like to know if Jake indeed does want to be here,” said Sweeney. While he’s not going to say anything publicly about the status of contract talks, the Bruins GM made it clear that his club would like to retain DeBrusk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk was frequently the subject of trade rumors prior to signing his current contract in March 2022. He silenced that conjecture last season with a career-best 50-point performance in 64 games and would’ve scored more had he not been sidelined for four weeks by injuries suffered during the 2023 Winter Classic.

DeBrusk recently told reporters that he hopes to re-sign with the Bruins but added that it takes two to tango in contract talks. It certainly sounds like Sweeney is willing to dance.


THE SCORE: cited Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews telling Mile High Sports’ Aarif Deen that he wants to remain with the club for the remainder of his career. Toews, 29, is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Toews told Deen that he’d rather not have contract extension talks drag on into the coming season. He’s earning an average annual value of $4.1 million on his current contract but his solid play could make the case for him to double his money on his next deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche only have $10 million in projected cap space with 13 players under contract for next season. If Gabriel Landeskog’s ongoing knee injury ends his career they will keep him on long-term injury reserve. That will give them the cap flexibility to re-sign Toews. Otherwise, they’ll have to shed salary to keep him.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2023

The Coyotes defeat the Kings in the first game of the Global Series in Australia, the Halifax Mooseheads retire Nathan MacKinnon’s number, plus the latest on Elias Pettersson, Alex DeBrincat and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: A highlight-reel goal by Logan Cooley proved to be the game-winner as the Arizona Coyotes defeated the Los Angeles Kings 5-3 in the first game of the NHL’s preseason Global Series at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the first NHL game ever played in the Southern Hemisphere. The Coyotes and Kings will face off again in the second game in Melbourne on Sunday. Click the above link to see Cooley’s spinarama goal. I realize it’s only preseason play but it was still an impressive display of skill by the young center.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon had his No. 22 retired by the Halifax Mooseheads on Friday prior to their home opener against the Charlottetown Islanders. The Halifax native played two seasons for the QMJHL club, leading them to the Memorial Cup in 2013 before being chosen first overall in the 2013 NHL Draft by the Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fitting tribute to one of the greatest players in Nova Scotia hockey history. The Mooseheads, meanwhile, dropped a 3-1 decision to the Islanders.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson isn’t concerned about his contract situation as he focuses on the upcoming season. He felt it would be the media that would turn it into a distraction but not for him. “I’m happy now but I just want to focus on the season.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pettersson, 24, is slated to become a restricted free agent next July with arbitration rights. He and the Canucks have plenty of time to work out an agreement. They’re under no risk of losing him to free agency.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings forward Alex DeBrincat is looking forward to regaining his 40-goal form with his new club. Coming off a 41-goal performance in 2021-22 with the Chicago Blackhawks, his production dropped to 27 goals last season with the Ottawa Senators. “I think last year I gave up a lot of chances, maybe got lazy on it or whatever it may be, hit a post, stuff like that.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Traded to the Red Wings by the Senators in July, DeBrincat quickly signed a four-year contract with them. Perhaps playing for his hometown club will help him rediscover his scoring touch.

TSN: Evgeny Kuznetsov remains with the Washington Capitals despite offseason trade rumors that dogged the 31-year-old center. The talented but inconsistent Kuznetsov claims he’s happy to be staying in Washington and hopes for a bounce-back season under new head coach Spencer Carbery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A productive Kuznetsov will be crucial to the Capitals’ playoff hopes this season. It was rumored he requested a trade toward the end of last season. There was also talk that the Capitals let other clubs know that he was available but they either got no takers or any suitable offers. His $7.8 million cap hit through 2024-25 would’ve likely been a deal breaker given Kuznetsov’s erratic play last season.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers missed practice yesterday due to neck spasms and isn’t expected to return today. His condition is not considered a long-term issue.

CBS SPORTS: Florida Panthers winger Carter Verhaeghe is listed as day-to-day with muscle tightness. He’s not expected to be sidelined for long.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: Devils head coach Lindy Ruff exercised his option year for the coming season. He and general manager Tom Fitzgerald are currently working on an extension.

OTTAWA SUN: Hours after taking over as the new owner of the Senators, Michael Andlauer brought back team founder Cyril Leeder as chief executive offers and president. Those are the same roles he previously held with the club until he was fired by former owner Eugene Melnyk in 2017.

Andlauer is also expected to find a role within the organization for former Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson.

DAILY FACEOFF: The New York Rangers signed defenseman Adam Clendening to a professional tryout offer.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Long-time Canadiens team doctor David Mulder is retiring after 60 years. Dr. Dan Deckelbaum will be the new head physician, with Dr. Mulder receiving emeritus status, allowing him to continue in an advisory role.