NHL Rumor Mill – September 28, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 28, 2021

An update on the Senators’ contract talks with Brady Tkachuk plus the latest on the Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators remain in contract talks with Brady Tkachuk’s representatives as training camp continues without the 22-year-old restricted free agent winger.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk (NHL Images).

General manager Pierre Dorion has been in daily contact with Tkachuk’s agents Craig Oster and Don Meehan. It’s believed the Senators tabled an eight-year, $64 million contract. While the two sides aren’t far apart regarding the dollars, the structure of the deal remains a sticking point.

The issue is Tkachuk’s agents seek bonus money for their client and the Senators don’t want to go that route. TSN’s Darren Dreger wonders if a short-term deal could be the middle ground. While the Senators have plenty of salary-cap space, Garrioch believes they don’t want to sink 60 percent of their cap payroll into four or five players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Missing training camp will affect Tkachuk’s performance when he finally returns to the lineup. That could become a potential setback for the Senators’ hopes of playoff contention this season. There’s no indication how much longer this impasse could drag on though one phone call from either camp could quickly bring this to a resolution.

I’ve seen some fans musing over the internet over whether the Senators could trade Tkachuk if this standoff carries over into the regular season. I doubt they’ll go to that extreme. He remains a valuable member of their core. Garrioch also noted the deadline for clubs to get their RFAs under contract is Dec. 1. I’ll be surprised they reach that point without a resolution.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning addressed the ongoing absence of defenseman Travis Hamonic from training camp. He expressed confidence last week that the 31-year-old would report after missing medicals and the start of training camp.

It’s believed Hamonic’s absence is related to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols for unvaccinated players for the upcoming season. The deadline to opt-out of this season is Oct. 1. Hamonic took that option in the 2020 playoff after his infant daughter was hospitalized with a serious respiratory infection.

Benning said Hamonic is dealing with a personal issue and wants everyone to give the blueliner the space he needs to deal with it. He added he’s in constant contact with Hamonic’s agent. Kuzma said the Canucks GM didn’t want to dwell on the cause of the blueliner’s absence, the opt-out deadline, or what maneuvering he might have to do to reallocate Hamonic’s $3 million salary this season to add a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are also dealing with the ongoing absences of restricted free agents Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. If Hamonic opts out of this season, perhaps some of that $3 million he was supposed to earn will go toward new contracts for Pettersson and Hughes.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 27, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 27, 2021

Check out the latest on Tomas Hertl and Jake DeBrusk in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka recently reported Tomas Hertl hinted he might be willing to accept a hometown discount to stay with the San Jose Sharks. He pointed out how former teammate Joe Thornton took less money to play with good teams. “I like that idea,” he said. “You can go somewhere else, sign the maximum, even maybe too much, but you’re losing for the next eight years”.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

Hertl also said he loves San Jose but one of his biggest priorities is being able to win on a consistent basis. Pashelka believes the Sharks’ performance this season could determine how things shake out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap space will also be an issue. Even if Hertl agrees to a hometown discount a new contract will be expensive. He’s earning an annual average value of $5.625 million on his current deal. A hometown discount in his case is probably close to $7 million as he could get over $8 million annually on the open market.

With the Sharks carrying a projected $66.5 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23, a $7 million per season deal for Hertl will push them to $73.5 million. That leaves little room to improve the roster under a salary cap expected to be $82.5 million next season. General manager Doug Wilson will probably have to make a cost-cutting move if he hopes to keep Hertl in the fold.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Jake DeBrusk is on Nick Goss’ list of five Bruins to watch during the preseason. The 24-year-old winger was the subject of considerable trade speculation during the offseason. However, the Bruins didn’t move him and chose to protect him in the Seattle expansion draft.

Offensive consistency was an issue for DeBrusk. When he’s not scoring, Goss points out he doesn’t give the Bruins much in other areas of the game. He’s in the final season of his contract so this is a perfect opportunity to get his career back on track.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk is slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next July. A 20-plus goal season would help him make the case for a raise on a long-term deal. Another inconsistent effort, however, could see his name surface again in trade speculation.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 26, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 26, 2021

Check out the latest on Mika Zibanejad plus some Dallas Stars speculation in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker recently reports Mika Zibanejad isn’t giving anything away about his contract extension talks with the Rangers or allowing it to get in the way of his preseason preparation. The 28-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (NHL Images).

Walker speculates Zibanejad could be in line for a seven- or eight-year extension. It’s believed his camp’s initial ask is $10 million annually while Rangers management will likely look at something in the $7 million to $9 million range.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello wondered if Rangers general manager Chris Drury will play a game of chicken with Zibanejad if he can’t get him signed before the March trade deadline. There’s also the Rangers’ unstated wish to upgrade at center, including rumors of their interest in Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. Carpiniello doesn’t believe the Blueshirts can afford two high-priced centers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zibanejad told reporters he’s happy in New York and likes the team’s direction. How long he remains part of it remains to be seen.

The Rangers will either commit to a long-term deal for Zibanejad or turn to the trade market or free agency next summer to replace him. It’s as simple as that.

Carpiniello’s correct in his assessment that they cannot afford to carry two expensive centers, especially with 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox becoming a restricted free agent at the same time. Talk of Zibanejad and a healthy Eichel on the Blueshirts was a pipe dream. It’s either one or the other. 

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks’ 10 questions facing the Dallas Stars this season included speculation over John Klingberg’s future with the club. The 27-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July after completing a seven-year contract with an annual average value of $4.25 million.

Considering how much several notable defensemen (including teammate Miro Heiskanen) received this summer, Klingberg could prove too expensive for the Stars. With Heiskanen earning $8.45 million annually, Esa Lindell making $5.8 million and Ryan Suter $3.65 million, re-signing Klingberg would give the Stars one of the most expensive bluelines in the league.

Turning to the trade deadline, DeFranks suggested players on expiring contracts like Klingberg, Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov could become trade bait if the Stars are out of playoff contention by then. If the Stars are close and they retain them past deadline day, they risk losing those players to free agency for nothing next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Stars with over $58 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23 with Klingberg, Pavelski, Radulov and Braden Holtby as their notable UFAs and forwards Denis Gurianov and 2021 Calder Trophy finalist Jason Robertson becoming restricted free agents.

Klingberg’s going to cost at least as much as Heiskanen, probably more. As DeFranks observed, they probably can’t afford to keep him. Pavelski and Radulov are aging and don’t have many productive seasons left while Holtby’s past his prime.

Gurianov has arbitration rights and will seek a substantial raise if he hits 20 goals and 40 points this season. Robertson will be coming off his entry-level contract but a strong sophomore season will result in a hefty raise for him as well.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 25, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 25, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel and Tomas Hertl in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WGR 550: TSN insider Darren Dreger said the Buffalo Sabres and Jack Eichel remain at an impasse over how he should rehab the herniated disc in his neck and the best medical course of action for the 24-year-old center.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Dreger said Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams and Eichel’s agent Pat Brisson remain in constant communication. They’ve assembled a list of teams that have expressed some interest in the center but he doesn’t think any progress has been made in those discussions.

Nick Kypreos recently tweeted one of a half-dozen teams interested in acquiring Eichel said they’d consider acquiring him if the Sabres are willing to add condition clauses to the deal, such as games played, scoring, etc. Dreger agreed it’ll take more than a generic trade package to sway the Sabres into trading him.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports one NHL executive claims the Buffalo Sabres asking price for Jack Eichel remains high. “It’s insane what they’re still asking. They’re going to be stuck with him and his value is going to decline even more.”

Murphy believes the Boston Bruins were among the clubs rumored to have kept tabs on Eichel’s situation. However, his sources couldn’t confirm if they’re still engaged in trade talks for the North Chelmsford, Massachusetts native.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: When healthy, Eichel is a player any team would like to have on their roster. However, there isn’t a club willing to acquire him as long as he remains sidelined and the Sabres maintain their asking price (believed to be four assets comparable to four first-round picks) or refuse to allow for conditions to be written into a trade.

Since there’s no end in sight to this situation, I’m curious as to what you, the reader, believe it would take for a team (such as your favorite one) to acquire Eichel. What realistic trade offer would it take for, say, the Bruins to meet the Sabres’ asking price? Remember I said “realistic trade offer”. That means no package containing has-beens and never-weres. Post your offers in the comments section.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng reports Sharks GM Doug Wilson said he’s had “several conversations” with the agent for pending free agent center Tomas Hertl. He indicated he would keep those discussions in confidence.

Wilson added Hertl knows “how we feel about him.” He expects to speak with the 27-year-old center in the near future.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports “numerous NHL teams” have reached out to Wilson about Hertl. It appears he’ll be staying in San Jose for the time being. Meanwhile, those clubs that asked about him are waiting to see how their rosters shake out through training camp and the opening month of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl’s trade status could become clearer once the calendar flips to 2022. His name will appear more frequently in trade rumors if he’s still unsigned as the March trade deadline approaches. His status will also depend on where the Sharks are in the standings by that point.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 24, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 24, 2021

The latest on Vladimir Tarasenko, Ilya Mikheyev, Logan Brown and Sami Niku in today’s NHL rumor mill.

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports Vladimir Tarasenko said little about his tumultuous offseason in which he requested a trade from the St. Louis Blues during an interview yesterday. Asked if he was disappointed he hadn’t been moved, the 29-year-old right winger said it’s behind him now.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

I don’t see any reason to discuss it now,” said Tarasenko. “Camp starts. I don’t want to be a distraction in the room. I’m here to work. I’m healthy, I’m happy to play hockey again.” He also added he and his family love living in St. Louis and are grateful to the fans for their support.

Tarasenko had been taking part in informal skates with his Blues teammates in St. Louis prior to training camp opening this week.

Ben Frederickson believes Tarasenko’s actions will speak louder than his few words. He pointed out sources speaking on the winger’s behalf during the summer critiqued the Blues’ handling of his shoulder injuries, to management’s handling of his trade request, to the club picking Ryan O’Reilly as team captain over him.

Frederickson said team owner Tom Stillman and general manager Doug Armstrong weren’t going to be strong-armed into making a trade. He also indicated Tarasenko’s market wasn’t what the winger thought it was due to his shoulder injuries, declining production and hefty contract.

Nevertheless, Frederickson believes the Blues have a potential problem on their hands bringing back a player who has made it clear he wants to go.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko’s presence shouldn’t be an issue as long as he’s getting along with his teammates and the coaching staff. If he stays healthy and his production improves it’ll help his trade value. However, it’s unlikely the Blues will move him if they’re in playoff contention this season.

They could wait until next summer to move Tarasenko when he’ll only have one year remaining on his contract. His cap hit ($7.5 million) is expensive enough but he’s also earning $9.5 million in actual salary this season. He’ll earn a more palatable $5.5 million next season. He also has a full no-trade clause which will limit where the Blues can ship him.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas shot down trade speculation about Ilya Mikheyev on Wednesday. Asked about Mikheyev’s trade request, Dubas said the 26-year-old winger was going to be on the team “and is going to be a big part of the team.” He referred questions about the trade request to Mikheyev’s agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mikheyev seemed to back away from the question about his trade request when asked about it yesterday. His agent, Daniel Milstein, declined to comment. It’s believed that request was based on his limited playing time last season. By the sound of things, he’ll be getting a bigger role with the Leafs.

TSN’s Shawn Simpson recently speculated Logan Brown could be plucked off waivers by the Arizona Coyotes if things don’t work out for him with the Ottawa Senators. He spent the summer in Arizona and is close with Coyotes stars Clayton Keller and Jakob Chychrun.

NESN: The Boston Bruins could be interested in Sami Niku following the recent termination of the 24-year-old defenseman’s contract with the Winnipeg Jets.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, Morgan Rielly, Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, Brady Tkachuk and Eric Staal in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports it’s difficult to pinpoint a timeline when the Buffalo Sabres could trade Jack Eichel. His new agent, Pat Brisson is on good terms with Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams and there are ongoing discussions between the two.

Eichel and the Sabres remain at an impasse over which medical procedure he’ll undergo to repair the herniated disc in his neck. It’s possible Eichel gets traded to a club willing to allow him to undergo the disc replacement surgery he favors but there’s no guarantee and no sign a trade is close.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As they say in the Army: “SITREP: no change.” This will probably drag on for months and perhaps cost Eichel the entire season until a suitable trade partner is found. Even then, his $10 million annual cap hit over the next five seasons plus the Sabres’ expensive asking price could make any interested club leery of taking that gamble.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (NHL Images)

Pierre LeBrun reports the Toronto Maple Leafs and Morgan Rielly’s camp quietly engaged in preliminary contract discussions over the summer. LeBrun doubts anything will be settled quickly. A lot of it has to do with what next summer’s market will be for unrestricted free-agent defensemen after Dougie Hamilton, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski and Darnell Nurse all got deals this summer worth $9 million-plus per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun speculates Rielly negotiations could drag on into next June. They could eventually reach a point where they decide to shelf those talks until the offseason. I think Rielly and his representatives saw those hefty offseason signings and believe they can get the same.

Some Leafs fans are still calling for Rielly to get traded if he doesn’t re-sign this season. I don’t see that happening unless the Leafs are out of playoff contention by the March trade deadline.

Dreger believes it’s all about the term and less about money in the Vancouver Canucks’ negotiations with restricted free agent defenseman Quinn Hughes. With training camp underway and Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin and Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov under contract, Hughes and teammate Elias Pettersson are hoping to find common ground soon with Canucks management.

Negotiations are also ongoing between the Ottawa Senators and Brady Tkachuk. Dreger feels the main hurdles here are structure and protection. He wonders if a shorter-term deal might become an option if talks drag closer to the start of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No real change here from reports earlier in the week. Nevertheless, they could be signed at any time. We began this week with six notable RFAs and are now down to those three.

LeBrun reports unrestricted free agent center Eric Staal is committed to playing another NHL season but has yet to find a new club. His preference is to find a good fit with an American club.