NHL Rumor Mill – March 6, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 6, 2021

Who could the Leafs, Flyers, Jets and Islanders pursue leading up to this year’s trade deadline? Read on to find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos believes Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas doesn’t have much time to decide if he’ll make any acquisitions by the April 12 trade deadline. While that date is five weeks away any players acquired from American teams would face a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Could the Leafs, Flyers or Jets pursue Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm at the trade deadline? (NHL Images)

Traikos feels the Leafs don’t need another skill player such as Buffalo’s Taylor Hall. “It needs more blue-collar players like (Zach) Bogosian and (Wayne) Simmonds. Guys like Nashville defenceman Mattias Ekholm and Calgary forward Sam Bennett. It needs guys that can push back against Boston and Tampa and Vegas. Guys that can help the Leaf go the distance.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Making the dollars fit is the sticking point for the Leafs. Cap Friendly indicates they have just $130K in projected trade deadline salary-cap space. It’ll have to be a salary-in, salary-out scenario, the selling team retains some salary, or Dubas and his capologist find another creative way to free up the necessary space to make an addition.

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen was asked if the Philadelphia Flyers would try to bolster their blue line by acquiring Mattias Ekholm from the Predators. Rosen believes he’d be a good fit and a more well-rounded rearguard than current Flyers left-shot defensemen Erik Gustafsson and Robert Hagg.

However, the Flyers could face competition for Ekholm’s services in what could be a limited trade market. He also has a year remaining on his contract, which could affect their protection list for this summer’s expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The effect of an Ekholm addition upon the Flyers’ protection list suggests they could opt for a rental player instead. Options could include Detroit’s Marc Staal, Patrik Nemeth or Jon Merrill, Arizona’s Alex Goligoski, Ottawa’s Mike Reilly or Vancouver’s Jordie Benn, though they’re not as good as Ekholm.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Murat Ates was asked if the Jets should acquire a defenseman. While he feels Ekholm would be a good fit he believes the Jets would prefer a right-hand defenseman to pair with Josh Morrissey.

Ates mentioned Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen but his $5.4 million cap hit through next season could make him expensive if he fails to deliver. He also feels acquisition cost could keep the Jets out of the Matt Dumba sweepstakes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Columbus’ David Savard is rumored to be available if the Blue Jackets become sellers at the deadline. Sames goes for the Sabres’ Brandon Montour. They’re UFAs who might serve as good rental options though whether they’d be a good fit with Morrissey isn’t a certainty.

Arthur Staple recently examined possible blue line depth options for the New York Islanders. Given their limited salary-cap space, he anticipates GM Lou Lamoriello will look at affordable options such as the Red Wings’ Jon Merrill, the Senators’ Mike Reilly or Nashville’s Mark Borowiecki.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 5, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 5, 2021

Updates on Taylor Hall, Alex Ovechkin and Tuukka Rask plus the latest on the Canucks and Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.

HALL INTERESTED IN RE-SIGNING WITH SABRES

NHL.COM: cited a report in The Buffalo News in which Taylor Hall said he’s willing to sign another contract with the Sabres despite a disappointing performance by himself and the team this season. Hall said he’s enjoying his time in Buffalo, praising his teammates and coaching staff, adding he and his agent are “open to anything.”

Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not doubting Hall’s sincerity and perhaps Sabres management would be interested. Given the club’s current plight, however, I don’t think there’s a deal to be had unless the Sabres are willing to pony up a hefty long-term contract.

The Sabres have already been soaked with the Jeff Skinner deal. Unlike Hall, Skinner had a solid performance in his contract year. Team owners Terry and Kim Pegula could be reluctant to risk a similar investment on Hall.

LATEST ON THE CAPITALS AND BRUINS

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz cited NHL insider Bob McKenzie reporting Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin could resume contract talks with management in April. Ovechkin (who represents himself in contract talks) met with Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan earlier this season but the two sides agreed to table talks until later in the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Gretz points out, both sides want to get a contract extension done but how much and for how long could make it challenging. Ovechkin will be 36 when his new contract begins next season and at some point won’t be a $9.5 million player anymore.

MacKenzie also reported the Capitals could be in the market for an experienced goaltender given the lack of experience of their current tandem of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek. Their limited salary-cap space could hamper those efforts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals added Craig Anderson as a third goalie. However, the 39-year-old is past his prime and only appeared in two games this season.

McKenzie also reports the Boston Bruins could explore new contracts for pending free-agent goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. The Bruins also have sufficient salary-cap flexibility to add a significant player before the April 12 trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have limited options available to replace Rask and Halak via this summer’s UFA market. It would also be difficult to find suitable replacements via the trade market. Re-signing both to reasonable short-term contracts could be their best option.

The Bruins need an experienced top-four, left-side defenseman and a reliable second-line scorer. They’ve been linked to Nashville Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm and forward Mikael Granlund.

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS AND FLAMES

TSN: Darren Dreger speculates the Vancouver Canucks could shop pending UFA winger Tanner Pearson if unable to re-sign him before the April 12 trade deadline.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reported the Arizona Coyotes have had a longstanding interest in Pearson stretching back to last October’s trade talks with the Canucks regarding Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He suggests it’s best the Canucks move Pearson for something handy as they face re-signing young stars such as Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes in the near future.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Pearson could be traded if the cost of retaining him could affect the cap space necessary to re-sign the Canucks’ top young players. Maybe the Coyotes could revisit their interest if they become buyers at the trade deadline.

Ben Kuzma recently reported there’s been some trade buzz surrounding Canucks center Brandon Sutter. A pending UFA like Pearson, Sutter wants to stay in Vancouver but Kuzma points out he could also be a good rental solution for the Edmonton Oilers as a replacement for the disappointing Kyle Turris on their third line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sutter has a 15-team no-trade list but the Oilers might not be on it. They have limited cap space so the Canucks would have to pick up a healthy chunk of Sutter’s remaining salary. They could try to swap Turris for Sutter but I doubt the Canucks would do it as Turris has another year remaining on his contract with a $1.65 million cap hit.

TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports the Calgary Flames are in the market for a right-winger. They’d like to move Elias Lindholm from the top line to center the second line, which would create a need to replace him on the right side. They’ve tried several players in that role this season but haven’t found the right fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli recently listed Detroit’s Bobby Ryan and Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen on his updated trade-bait list. Both are affordable but Ryan would be the better option if the Flames seek a rental player. Kyle Palmieri could be a better one if the New Jersey Devils become sellers at the trade deadline.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 4, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 4, 2021

Should the Bruins pursue Jack Eichel or revisit their interest in Oliver Ekman-Larsson? Will the Penguins add some toughness before the trade deadline? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST BRUINS SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss believes the Bruins should be among the first team to contact the Buffalo Sabres if Jack Eichel decides he wants out or if they decide to move him in order to stockpile assets for their ongoing rebuild. However, the Bruins should say no if the asking price is David Pastrnak or Charlie McAvoy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Patrice Bergeron aging and the possible departure this summer of David Krejci via free agency, Eichel would be a great fit with the Bruins. However, I don’t believe they can come up with a suitable trade package to pry him away from the Sabres if they’re unwilling (as they should be) to part with Pastrnak or McAvoy.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy noted the Bruins’ need for an experienced left-shot defenseman. He suggested Bruins general manager Don Sweeney should revisit his offseason trade discussions with the Arizona Coyotes regarding blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The Coyotes captain was willing to waive his no-movement clause for the Bruins or Vancouver Canucks but a trade failed to materialize by his self-imposed Oct. 9 deadline.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk continues to pop up in trade speculation (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson’s agent was emphatic his client wasn’t going anywhere after that deadline passed. Maybe the Bruins could revisit those discussions in the offseason. With the Coyotes jockeying for a playoff spot in the Honda West division they’re probably not thinking of becoming sellers right now.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: DJ Bean wonders if the Bruins should go for it this season and fill in the cracks in their roster to improve their chances for a deep playoff run. He points out their roster could have a different look next season if Tuukka Rask and David Krejci depart via free agency this summer.

If the Bruins decide to go for it they’ll need to at least add a top scorer on Krejci’s line. They have $3.62 million in salary-cap space. They could be unwilling to part with their 2021 first-round pick and their prospect pool is unimpressive. Bean suggests inconsistent winger Jake DeBrusk could be an interesting trade candidate, though there is the risk that he could blossom on another club.

Bean also noted the Bruins could use an experience left-side defenseman, pointing out Nashville Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm could be available.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa reports one NHL assistant general manager claims the Bruins haven’t made DeBrusk available. Another NHL source, however, can see the 24-year-old winger being moved.

Shinzawa points to DeBrusk being bounced around the lineup and a five-game stretch sidelined by a lower-body injury as factors affecting his disappointing performance this season. He feels the Bruins should get back a like-minded forward or a left-shot defenseman if they decide to put DeBrusk on the block.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk has been a fixture in the rumor mill since the offseason but Sweeney has stuck with him. The Bruins GM might be able to bring in a decent second-line rental player by the trade deadline without having to part with DeBrusk to do so. Finding a top scorer for Krejci’s line or an established top-four left-side rearguard, however, could be difficult without giving up something worthwhile in return.

WILL THE PENGUINS ADD TOUGHNESS AT THE TRADE DEADLINE?

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski cites Penguins director of hockey operations Brian Burke hinting his club could make a move or two before the April 12 trade deadline. “That’s the goal, to see if we can add this year. See how far we can get with this group. Yes, the team is getting older. The stars are getting older. But since I’ve been here, they’ve all been excellent,” said Burke.

Penguins GM Ron Hextall last Saturday admitted he’d like to add some toughness after Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson injured Pens forward Mark Jankowski with a hit during a recent game. Hextall said his club would look into it if a suitable player could be found but there aren’t many available around the league.

Kingerski listed Ottawa’s Austin Watson, Anaheim’s Nicolas Deslauriers and Detroit’s Luke Glendening as three options that could address that need.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We know Burke likes an element of truculence on his rosters. Acquiring one of those players listed by Kingerski shouldn’t cost very much provided they’re available.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 3, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel, the Leafs still shopping for a forward, plus updates on Dougie Hamilton, Tony DeAngelo and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman acknowledged the trade speculation swirling about Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel but doubts the 24-year-old center is moved by the April 12 trade deadline. He points out a number of teams cannot afford to take on his $10 million annual average value right now.

Could the New York Rangers or Los Angeles Kings try to acquire Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres? (NHL Images)

Friedman thinks the Rangers could do it anytime they wanted but called some of the proposals out there “kinda crazy.” If the Sabres decide to trade Eichel it’ll be in the summer when teams have more salary-cap space to work with.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Craig Custance cited an NHL executive who believes Eichel will eventually wind up a Ranger. Another, however, felt the Los Angeles Kings would be a better match because they have the type of promising high-centers (Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte) the Rangers lack to offer up as trade bait.

Kings general manager Rob Blake has stuck to the mantra of the patient rebuild and it looks like it’s starting to pay off. He could be tempted to accelerate the process by acquiring Eichel. However, I wonder how keen he’d be to add another $10 million player to his roster with Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty already on the books.

Speaking of the Rangers, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks believes it would be almost impossible for them to get into the bidding for Eichel and his $10 million AAV without first moving center Mika Zibanejad, who has a no-movement clause. Given Zibanejad’s struggles this season, finding a trade partner willing to gamble on him won’t be easy even if he agreed to waive his NMC.

LEAFS STILL SEEK A FORWARD

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Toronto Maple Leafs still want to bolster their forward lines before the April 12 trade deadline. Some speculation linked the Leafs to Nashville Predators forward Mikael Granlund. Dreger thinks there could be a fit if the Predators agree to retain some of Granlund’s salary. The Leafs have the prospects and draft picks to make something happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with just over $130K of trade-deadline cap space. Granlund has over $2.1 million remaining of his $3.75 million salary for this season. No chance of a deal there unless the Preds absorb a considerable chunk of his salary or take back a contract of equal or greater value.

HURRICANES UNLIKELY TO MOVE HAMILTON

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports contract talks between the Carolina Hurricanes and pending UFA defenseman Dougie Hamilton have gone quiet since last month. The Hamilton camp could prefer a deal comparable to what Alex Pietrangelo received from the Vegas Golden Knights while the Hurricanes prefer something similar to what Torey Krug got with the St. Louis Blues. LeBrun doesn’t believe they’ll trade Hamilton, preferring to deal with this before the UFA market opens on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As LeBrun points out, the Hurricanes are all-in this year. Hamilton’s contract discussions will be set aside until the season is over.

UPDATE ON DEANGELO

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports former New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo has told the club he’s willing to accept being loaned to an American Hockey League team. He’s not welcome with their AHL affiliate in Hartford but the Rangers are willing to facilitate sending him to another club. Servalli believes it’ll take another NHL team stepping up to make that happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several NHL teams were rumored to have an interest in DeAngelo earlier this season. However, that has dried up as his personal baggage made him too toxic. It’ll be interesting to see if one of those interest parties might give him an opportunity to skate below the media radar with their AHL farm team.

OTHER RUMORS OF NOTE

Seravalli reports Arizona Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski could be added to the TSN NHL Trade Bait board. He’s a pending UFA playing top-pairing minutes but there hasn’t been any contract extension talks between the two sides.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goligoski has an eight-team no-trade list and a $5.45 million AAV. The latter could prove the more significant sticking point in any trade discussions.

Friedman reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are in the market for centers…The Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers are eyeing defensemen but both must monitor their expansion draft protection lists…Teams seeking goalie depth might ask the Sabres about Jonas Johansson…The LA Kings hope to re-sign pending UFA forward Alex Iafallo.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 2, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 2, 2021

A look at TSN’s latest trade-bait board in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: With the NHL’s Apr. 12 trade deadline six weeks away, Frank Seravalli lists Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm, Columbus Blue Jackets blueliner David Savard, New York Rangers rearguard Tony DeAngelo, Buffalo Sabres defender Brandon Montour and Sabres winger Taylor Hall among the top-five players on his trade-bait board.

Ekholm has a year remaining on his contract and could fetch more than Savard, who’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. However, Seravalli believes the latter’s playoff experience and right-hand shot will draw interest from postseason contenders. It remains to be seen, however, if Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen will move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Philly’s Jordan Hall observed recent trade speculation linked Ekholm to the Philadelphia Flyers. However, he believes the club’s performance over the next month will determine if they need external help on their blue line.

Seravalli notes Kekalainen tends to let pending UFAs play out their contracts but that might change if the Jackets fall further out of playoff contention. DeAngelo remains available but his banishment from the Rangers over his personal issues makes rival general managers reluctant to take a chance on him right now.

Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images)

It’s only a matter of time until the Sabres become sellers. Montour and Hall are both pending UFAs but the latter has a full no-movement clause. His camp was reportedly interested in talking contract extension with the Sabres but that might have changed given the club’s ongoing poor play. His $8 million cap hit could be difficult for most contenders to absorb. 

Predators winger Mikael Granlund, Detroit Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan, Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen, Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett and Canucks winger Tanner Pearson round out the top ten.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granlund, Ryan and Pearson are pending UFAs on teams with fading playoff hopes. Granlund was linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs while Ryan acknowledged the possibility he could be traded but hopes to return to the Wings this summer as a free agent.

Virtanen and Bennett are fixtures in this year’s rumor mill. The Canucks reportedly attempted to ship him to the Anaheim Ducks over the weekend for Danton Heinen but his $3.75 million in actual salary for next season was a rumored sticking point. The Athletic’s Thomas Drance believes this shows the Canucks still hope to get something decent back in return.

The Bennett trade chatter picked up a month ago when his agent went public with a trade request. Flames GM Brad Treliving recently stated his club will decide the versatile forward’s fate and not his agent. Treliving may be reluctant to move Bennett this season because he ramps up his game in the playoffs. However, he could change his mind at the trade deadline if the struggling Flames fail to improve.

Red Wings forward Luke Glendening, St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn, Sabres center Eric Staal, Wings blueliner Marc Staal and Senators winger Ryan Dzingel fill the final five spots on the list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Ryan, Glendening and Marc Staal are both pending UFAs who could be shopped at the deadline for draft picks. The latter still has a no-movement clause but could waive it for a contender.  Detroit Sports Nation cited a report in The Athletic quoting an NHL executive’s belief that Wings GM Steve Yzerman could shop a young forward like Tyler Bertuzzi or Anthony Mantha if the right deal came along. Bertuzzi could draw more interest but Yzerman could prefer moving the talented-but-inconsistent Mantha, who also has a bit of an injury history. He’ll likely seek a good young player in return.

Dunn was the hot topic of trade chatter a month ago but that has died out as the Blues deal with an injury-ravaged roster. Eric Staal still has a 10-team no-trade list but his experience could make him an invaluable addition to a playoff club. Dzingel was recently acquired by the Senators from the Carolina Hurricanes but could also be moved by the trade deadline for a draft pick.










NHL Trade Speculation Swirling About Struggling Predators

NHL Trade Speculation Swirling About Struggling Predators