NHL Rumor Mill – July 6, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 6, 2022

Are the Blackhawks shopping Seth Jones? What’s the latest on Alex DeBrincat, J.T. Miller, Nazem Kadri, Jakob Chychrun, Jesse Puljujarvi, Matt Murray and John Gibson? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE BLACKHAWKS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch suggests keeping an eye on Seth Jones. He said the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks hope to move the 27-year-old defenseman’s hefty contract. Jones is commencing an eight-year deal with an annual average value of $9.5 million. The only way to move that is to retain some salary which would be difficult to do.

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t dismiss the possibility of Jones getting traded. However, I doubt he’s going anywhere because of the reasons laid out by Garrioch. That contract is almost impossible to move.

Garrioch reports the Blackhawks seek at least three pieces in return for Alex DeBrincat.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One of those pieces is probably a 2022 first-round pick. The Blackhawks traded theirs away to the Columbus Blue Jackets last summer for Seth Jones.

NHL WATCHER: cited Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussing the possibility of the New Jersey Devils pursuing DeBrincat during their latest “32 Thoughts” podcast. Friedman said the Devils want a player under a lot of team control.

DeBrincat is slated to become a restricted free agent next summer and is two years away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. Friedman wondered if that would be enough team control for the Devils to part with the second-overall pick in the upcoming draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils would probably want assurances that bDeBrincat will sign a contract extension before giving up that pick and whatever else the Blackhawks want in return. The earliest he can sign an extension is when this year’s free-agent market opens on July 13.

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Gustav Elvin examined the pros and cons if the Flyers were to acquire DeBrincat. They’ve been linked to the 24-year-old Blackhawks winger with speculation suggesting they could offer up their first-round pick (fifth overall) in this year’s draft. However, he cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying the Flyers were unwilling to part with that pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers hold two first-rounders in the 2024 draft but I think Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson prefers something more immediate.

Garrioch also reported the Blackhawks are trying to trade Dylan Strome but there are rumors the 25-year-old RFA center won’t get a qualifying offer.

UPDATE ON J.T. MILLER

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports there’s plenty of interest in Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller with the NHL Draft fast approaching. They would prefer retaining the 29-year-old Miller but a contract extension could prove too expensive.

The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals are believed in pursuit of Miller. The Rangers need a second-line center while the Capitals face uncertainty over the long-term absence of Nicklas Backstrom as he recovers from hip surgery.

THE ATHLETIC: Harman Dayal also listed the New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers among the possible suitors for Miller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Blackhawks with DeBrincat, I daresay the Canucks seek three pieces in return for Miller. A 2022 first-round pick will likely have to be part of it. Failing that, a couple of top prospects or a couple of good young NHL players.

Coming off a 99-point season, Miller’s trade value has never been higher. If the Canucks feel they can’t afford to re-sign him, they must move him now if the right deal is there. Waiting until the trade deadline next February risks his value declining if he fails to play up to this season’s level or if an injury takes him out of the trade market.

LATEST ON KADRI, CHYCHRUN AND PULJUJARVI

NHL WATCHER: cited Jeff Marek on yesterday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast wondering if the Detroit Red Wings would be a destination for Nazem Kadri. The 31-year-old Colorado Avalanche center is slated to become a UFA on July 13. Marek observed the Red Wings have lots of salary-cap space this summer and it’s believed they’re really going to try and compete next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman could make a splash in this summer’s trade and/or free agent markets. He might go after Kadri but he might not fit into Yzerman’s long-term plans for the club given his age. It also depends on whether Kadri’s willing to sign with a rebuilding club.

THE SCORE: cited a report by The Columbus Dispatch’s Brian Hedger indicating the Blue Jackets are talking to the Arizona Coyotes about defenseman Jakob Chychrun. He observed Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen indicating a willingness to move his first-round pick (12th overall) to acquire a young NHL player with term remaining on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen holds the Blackhawks’ first-rounder (sixth overall) so he can afford to move his own first-rounder. The Coyotes reportedly set a very high asking price for Chychrun, who’s signed through 2024-25. The Jackets GM might have to bundle that pick with two or three other pieces to make it work.

TSN’s Ryan Rishaug reports as many as four teams have been kicking tired on Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi. “Sense is return is marginal at this point but things can change over the next few days.”

OTHER TRADE RUMOR TIDBITS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s some trade buzz surrounding Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray. The Blackhawks, Arizona Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils are among the clubs that could use some help between the pipes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s injury history and $6.25 million cap hit through 2023-24 makes him difficult to move. The Senators will have to either retain part of his cap hit, take back a comparable contract or bundle him with a quality draft pick or prospect.

The Anaheim Ducks would like to get goalie John Gibson’s contract off their books. He’s got five years left with a $6.5 million AAV and a no-movement clause which could be tough for some teams to swallow.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson’s AAV is $6.4 million and he carries a 10-team no-trade clause. Nevertheless, his contract won’t be easy to move. He also recently denied a report claiming he would welcome a trade. Unless the Ducks retain part of that cap hit, they probably won’t find many takers.

Ignore any trade chatter about Clayton Keller. The Arizona Coyotes see him as one of their building blocks.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 5, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 5, 2022

Could Claude Giroux sign with the Oilers? What’s the latest on the Leafs and Senators? Check it out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OILERS INTERESTED IN GIROUX?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports there remains mutual interest between Claude Giroux and the Florida Panthers. With the July 13 start of the free-agent market fast approaching, there are other clubs that could pursue the 34-year-old forward.

Florida Panthers forward Claude Giroux (NHL Images).

The Edmonton Oilers could be among Giroux’s suitors if he hits the open market next Thursday. There were internal discussions over whether to pursue him if they’re unable to bring back Evander Kane. Giroux can play center or wing and the idea of his skating alongside Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl is an appealing option.

LeBrun also mentions the Ottawa Senators as a possibility. He wonders if the appeal of playing for a Cup contender might be more alluring for Giroux.

NHL WATCHER: cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wondering if the Toronto Maple Leafs would give the Giroux camp a call to inquire into what it would take to sign him. Friedman pointed out that Giroux is building a new home in Ottawa and made it clear at the March trade deadline that he prefers playing in the East.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind that there is no longer an interview process for pending unrestricted free agents to speak with clubs interested in signing them. The Oilers, Senators, Leafs or any team other than the Panthers must wait until the market opens at noon ET on July 13 to speak to Giroux and his representatives.

The Oilers could end up seeking other options to replace Kane if Giroux prefers staying in the Eastern Conference. I don’t think the Leafs can afford him unless he’s willing to accept a significant pay cut. Besides, they have other priorities as we’ll soon see.

Giroux’s been linked to the Senators for months because of the hometown ties. However, they’re still several years from Stanley Cup contention. Giroux wants to win now so there might not be a fit there.

LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes the Maple Leafs must find a way to move goaltender Petr Mrazek and his $3.8 million annual average value through 2023-24. As of today, they can’t afford to sign any of the free-agent goalies (including their own Jack Campbell) who could make a significant difference.

Koshan dismissed the notion of shipping out William Nylander given his value to the Leafs. He suggested forward Alex Kerfoot ($3.5 million cap hit) or defenseman Justin Holl ($2.1 million) as trade candidates.

Maple Leafs management must also figure out a way to replace the 21 goals and energetic play of departing winger Ilya Mikheyev. They could attempt to shop his rights heading into the upcoming NHL Draft. Re-signing restricted free agent defenseman Rasmus Sandin is their blueline priority. Once that’s completed, general manager Kyle Dubas isn’t expected to add to his defense corps as he’ll have seven rearguards under contract.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun wouldn’t be surprised if the Leafs are among the clubs with an interest in Marc-Andre Fleury. The Minnesota Wild is interested in bringing back the 37-year-old netminder for another season. He also thinks the Colorado Avalanche could be a good fit for Fleury if Darcy Kuemper heads to free agency next week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Leafs with just $6.4 million in cap space with 18 players under contract for 2022-23. Shedding Mrazek’s contract is a must but it could cost them a quality prospect or draft pick to get it done. Even then, Dubas still might have to shed another contract to free up sufficient room to re-sign or replace Campbell, re-sign Sandin and fill out the rest of the roster.

Speaking of Fleury, NHL.com’s Dan Rosen wondered if he’d sign with the New Jersey Devils. I’m not ruling out a return with the Wild, though the opportunity to play with the Stanley Cup champion Avalanche could be tempting if they come calling on July 13.

UPDATE ON THE SENATORS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators GM Pierre Dorion is still open to shopping his first-round pick (seventh overall) in the upcoming draft. He’s in the market for a winger to skate alongside Tim Stuetzle or a top-four, right-shot defenseman.

The Senators made a serious pitch for Kevin Fiala before the Wild traded him last week to the Los Angeles Kings. They had no issue with the $7.9 million salary-cap hit of his new contract but balked at the seven-year term.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat is the most mentioned name in the rumor mill. He’d be a good fit with any team but it has to be determined if he’ll sign a contract extension before going down that road. Other trade options include Vancouver’s J.T. Miller and Conor Garland, Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi, and Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler or Pierre-Luc Dubois.

The Senators could also look at signing Claude Giroux via free agency next week. A blueline option could be Arizona Coyotes’ defenseman Jakob Chychrun.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators’ status as a rebuilding club could make it difficult for Dorion to acquire most of those players listed by Garrioch. The best option could be Puljujarvi, who won’t cost their first-rounder to acquire. He could benefit from a change of scenery after struggling with the Oilers and might fit in well with the Senators’ young forwards.

Chychrun lacks no-trade protection until 2023-24 and is under contract through 2024-25. Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could be very interested in the Senators’ pick but his asking price is said to be quite high, including a top prospect and a good young NHL player. That could prove too rich for the Senators.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 4, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 4, 2022

Should the Islanders pursue Johnny Gaudreau? What’s the latest on Jakob Chychrun? Could the Blackhawks have an interest in Petr Mrazek or Matt Murray? What’s the latest on the Oilers, Golden Knights and Sabres? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD ISLANDERS TRY TO SIGN GAUDREAU?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks made the case for the New York Islanders to sign Johnny Gaudreau if the Calgary Flames left winger hits the open market on July 13. He acknowledged it would be an expensive undertaking but suggested general manager Lou Lamoriello should shed a combination of Semyon Varlamov, Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier to do it.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders need a high-scoring winger to skate alongside playmaking center Mathew Barzal. However, it’s unlikely Lamoriello will set his sights on such an expensive target as Gaudreau.

Lamoriello seems unwilling to move Varlamov. Bailey could be a cost-cutting candidate while Beauvillier becomes a trade chip to add a forward or defenseman. However, I don’t see them being part of a grand plan to land a blue-chip free agent like Gaudreau.

CHYCHRUN STAYING IN ARIZONA?

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan reports Arizona Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong said not much has changed on the Jakob Chychrun trade front. He’s still willing to entertain offers but for now, he expects the 24-year-old defenseman will be returning with the Coyotes for 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, no one’s made an offer that would entice Armstrong to part with Chychrun. That could change this week leading up to the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal on Thursday and Friday.

If not, Armstrong seems content to have Chychrun in the lineup for the ’22-’23 campaign. The blueliner is under contract through 2024-25 with an affordable $4.6 million annual average value and lacks no-trade protection for the coming season.

COULD THE BLACKHAWKS TAKE ON MRAZEK OR MURRAY?

THE ATHLETIC: Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers believe the Chicago Blackhawks could begin to address their goaltending this week. They anticipate GM Kyle Davidson could contact the Toronto Maple Leafs about Petr Mrazek or the Ottawa Senators regarding Matt Murray. He might be willing to take on one of them in exchange for draft picks and/or prospects.

Mrazek carries a $3.8 million annual salary-cap hit for the next two seasons. Murray is signed through 2023-24 with an AAV of $6.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Davidson will likely ask for a sweetener like a draft pick and/or prospect to be packaged with Mrazek or Murray. He also won’t part with a high draft pick or prospect to do this favor for the Leafs or Senators.

LATEST ON THE OILERS, CANUCKS, GOLDEN KNIGHTS AND SABRES

THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman reports the Edmonton Oilers are still awaiting answers from Mike Smith and Duncan Keith before free agency begins next week. Both players have a year remaining on their contracts and there’s talk they could retire. Given Smith’s injuries, it appears more likely he’ll go on long-term injury reserve for next season than retire.

Nugent-Bowman also reports winger Jesse Puljujarvi hasn’t requested a trade. It sounds as though he’d like to return with the Oilers as a top-six winger. The Oilers could ask the restricted free agent to start the season on their third line and see if he can work his way higher in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My guess is Smith goes on LTIR, Keith returns to finish his contract, and Puljujarvi gets traded.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Owen Krepps acknowledged recent trade speculation swirling about Golden Knights defenseman Nic Hague. He believes it wouldn’t be a bad thing to move him in a cost-cutting deal given their blueline depth, allowing the Golden Knights to recoup some assets in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most pundits I’ve read on the subject believe moving Hague isn’t an option at this point. However, the Golden Knights might not have much choice if they can’t find other ways to reduce their payroll before 2022-23.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington reports the Sabres signing goaltender Craig Anderson last week to a one-year deal doesn’t mean they’re done seeking help between the pipes. He anticipates they’ll sign or trade for a netminder while allowing Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen more time to develop.

Harrington doesn’t expect they’ll pursue notable UFAs such as St. Louis’ Ville Husso or Toronto’s Jack Campbell. Free-agent targets could include Dallas’ Braden Holtby, Pittsburgh’s Casey DeSmith or Winnipeg’s Eric Comrie. Trade options could be the Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, San Jose’s James Reimer or the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I noted earlier, the Isles seem unwilling to move Varlamov. I think the Sharks intend to retain Reimer for the coming season. Georgiev could be a good addition if they’re looking beyond 2022-23.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup (Part Two) – July 3, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup (Part Two) – July 3, 2022

Check out the latest on Ryan McDonagh, Evgeni Malkin, Vincent Trocheck, Sergei Bobrovsky and more in Part Two of the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Minnesota Wild would like to bring back UFA goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for another season. He hasn’t made his decision yet and there will be competition for his services.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Depends on how much of a pay cut Fleury is willing to accept. Still, he and GM Bill Guerin are old teammates and friends. They could work something out.

Uncertainty over Nicklas Backstrom’s status makes it difficult to determine the Washington Capitals’ cap flexibility. It’s uncertain if they’ll bring back goalies Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov. They could pursue Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper if he becomes a UFA next week. They could be in on J.T. Miller.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With $8.9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for next season, the Capitals will have to move Vanecek or Samsonov if they intend to bring in Kuemper. He could prove too expensive to sign. The Canucks’ asking price for Miller could include Connor McMichael or Hendrix Lapierre.

The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to negotiate with defenseman Kris Letang. They’re reportedly not close to a deal with Evgeni Malkin but that could change before July 13.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cost of signing Letang will determine how much they’re willing to invest in bringing back Malkin. That could depend on how much of a pay cut he’s willing to accept and whether he’ll accept a three-year deal.

Friedman believes the St. Louis Blues could be a good destination for Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh. He admits it might take multiple moves and could affect their efforts to re-sign UFA winger David Perron. He also wondered if they can retain goalie Ville Husso.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have $9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for next season. McDonagh carries a $6.75 million cap hit and I don’t see the Lightning retaining part of it. They’ll have to shed some salary to fit him in and still have enough for Perron and perhaps Husso.

Friedman is curious whether Darcy Kuemper would consider signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs if Jack Campbell departs next week as a UFA. Re-signing defenseman Rasmus Sandin is trickier than they expected. He also wondered if Max Domi might be a fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule out the Leafs as a suitor for Kuemper but they’ve got to do something first about Petr Mrazek’s contract. They’ll also likely try to move out Justin Holl and his $2 million cap hit for next season.

Edmonton Oilers goalie Mike Smith isn’t expected to play next season while Duncan Keith’s situation could go either way. Trade candidates could include Zack Kassian, Warren Foegele, Jesse Puljujarvi and possibly Tyson Barrie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Puljujarvi has garnered a lot of attention recently in the rumor mill as a trade candidate. Kassian could be a buyout candidate while there could be some trade interest in Barrie.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are working with Ryan McDonagh to find a suitable trade. Winger Alex Killorn could also become a cost-cutting candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDonagh’s full no-trade clause gives him complete control over potential trade destinations. His $6.75 million annual average value through 2025-26 is also a limiting factor. Killorn carries a more affordable contract at $4.45 million through 2022-23. He carries a 16-team no-trade list.

If the Chicago Blackhawks trade Alex DeBrincat it might spur Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews to request a trade, especially if DeBrincat’s traded for futures. Teams are also inquiring about Kirby Dach.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Kane and Toews have identical $10.5 million cap hits through 2022-23 and full no-movement clauses. Moving either guy will involve retaining a healthy chunk of their annual average salary. One would think the Blackhawks would retain the 21-year-old Dach as part of their rebuilding plans. Then again, a lot of us thought the same thing about Brandon Hagel before they shipped him to Tampa Bay.

The cap-strapped Vegas Golden Knights need to shed salary. They could move Laurent Brossoit for cap reasons. “Trading Nic Hague is not a preferred option”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights are over $2 million above the cap with 18 players under contract for next season. Reilly Smith is believed to be signed but it won’t be made official until July 13 for tagging reasons. They’ll have to move more than Brossoit’s $2.325 million cap hit. Maybe they try to shop William Karlsson and his $5.9 million cap hit.

The Los Angeles Kings made their big move by acquiring Kevin Fiala last week. Friedman wondered if Fiala’s arrival might prompt one or two of their forward prospects to seek a trade if they feel he’ll block their efforts to crack the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If so, perhaps they could be packaged to add an experienced defenseman to their blueline.

It’s believed the Boston Bruins have an interest in Vincent Trocheck if the Carolina Hurricanes center hits the free-agent market next week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman also mentions Patrice Bergeron and perhaps David Krejci could return but that’s not a long-term plan at center. Trocheck could help at least fill the second-line center spot beyond next season. They have $2.3 million in cap space with 22 players signed for next season. Not a lot of room there.

The Calgary Flames are believed to have offered an eight-year deal to Johnny Gaudreau worth $9.5 million annually. They’re still waiting for a decision from the left winger, who feels loyalty toward Calgary but this is as much a family decision as it is a hockey one.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Gaudreau departs I can see the Flames pursuing Filip Forsberg if he doesn’t re-sign with the Nashville Predators.

Friedman wondered if the Carolina Hurricanes might make a pitch to Evgeni Malkin if he doesn’t sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t put anything past Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon.

The New York Rangers probably can’t afford to sign Andrew Copp or Ryan Strome so they’re testing the trade market for centers. Potential trade partners could ask for Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko or even Braden Schneider in return. Friedman wondered if they might look at Adam Henrique if the Ducks absorbed part of his salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported the Rangers have spoken to the Winnipeg Jets about Pierre-Luc Dubois. They’re also believed interested in Mark Scheifele. He also mentioned Vancouver’s J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat and Detroit’s Dylan Larkin, though those three have just one year each remaining on their contracts. Brooks mentioned Chicago’s Kirby Dach as an intriguing possibility.

The Florida Panthers denied they were trying to lay the groundwork to trade goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who has a full no-movement clause for two more seasons. UFA winger Mason Marchment is probably priced out of their market now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have $3 million in cap space with 17 players under contract for 2022-23. They can get some cap relief by placing sidelined winger Anthony Duclair (Achilles tendon surgery) on LTIR but they’ll have to be compliant when he returns at midseason.

Coming off their Stanley Cup win, the Colorado Avalanche face big decisions regarding UFAs Darcy Kuemper, Nazem Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the three, Nichushkin seems the most likely to be retained. Kuemper and Kadri will be expensive and they’ve got to keep an eye on their long-term cap space with Nathan MacKinnon due for a big raise next summer.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup (Part One) – July 3, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup (Part One) – July 3, 2022

Are the Flyers pursuing Alex DeBrincat? Could the Islanders pursue Johnny Gaudreau? Check out the latest in Part 1 of the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup

TRADE & FREE-AGENT RUMORS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” COLUMN

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Montreal Canadiens will continue testing the trade market on veterans such as Christian Dvorak, Jeff Petry and possibly Josh Anderson. Teams believe they’re not interested in moving goaltender Jake Allen. It will be interesting to see if they’ll revisit their interest in Ottawa Senators forward Colin White.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petry remains the more likely to be moved given his age (34), his trade request last season and his $6.25 million cap hit through 2024-25. It could take a significant offer to pry Anderson away from them.

The New Jersey Devils have made it known they’re willing to shop the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft but there’s no certainty that will happen. There have been some trade rumors regarding restricted free agent winger Jesper Bratt. Kevin Fiala’s new contract with the Los Angeles Kings could have an effect on Bratt’s contract negotiations. The Devils could also pursue St. Louis Blues goaltender Ville Husso if he tests the unrestricted free agent market on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala signed a seven-year deal with the Kings worth an annual average value of $7.875 million. There was speculation the Bratt camp was seeking over $7 million per season before the Fiala deal was signed. If the Devils trade him, they could seek a good player in return who’s carrying an affordable cap hit beyond 2022-23.

The trade status of Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun continues to blow hot and cold. This could be one of the times when it heats up.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll believe it when I see it. The Coyotes have set a high asking price. With Chychrun signed through 2024-25, they will remain patient in their quest for the right offer.

A lack of draft capital could make the Seattle Kraken turn to the UFA market rather than pursue talent via trades. Friedman believes they’ll be aggressive, suggesting they could target such notables as Johnny Gaudreau, Nazem Kadri, John Klingberg, etc.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken made two significant signings last summer in Philipp Grubauer and Jaden Schwartz. They have plenty of cap space and a willingness to make another splash or two in the UFA pool.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat (NHL Images).

The Philadelphia Flyers made a legitimate pitch for Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat. They’ve also tested the trade market on most of their players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher intends to swing for the fences again. Last summer, he acquired Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen, shipped out Shayne Gostisbehere to the Arizona Coyotes, and swapped Jakub Voracek for Cam Atkinson.

Friedman thinks the Columbus Blue Jackets will consider upgrading their blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets have over $19 million in cap space with 20 players signed for 2022-23. A big chunk of that could be eaten up re-signing Patrik Laine but there should still be sufficient room to bolster their defense corps.

The Ottawa Senators are willing to move the seventh overall pick for the right offer. They’re seeking a right wing and a right-side defenseman. They’ve had calls on Connor Brown after he indicated he intends to test next summer’s free-agent market. Friedman wondered if they’ll move Matt Murray and land Claude Giroux.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s injury history and $6.25 million cap hit through 2023-24 scream, “Buyer beware!” I think Giroux’s preference is signing with a Cup contender but maybe he’ll consider joining his hometown club for the right offer.

The Detroit Red Wings are believed working on a contract extension for captain Dylan Larkin. Friedman doesn’t see them among the favorites to land Jack Campbell if the Toronto Maple Leafs goalie hits the open market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect the Red Wings to bring in a reliable backup for starting goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic. Campbell wouldn’t be a fit there unless he’s the starter.

It’s believed the Buffalo Sabres are working on a new contract for winger Victor Olofsson. They’re also expected to examine the goalie market to find someone to share the goalie duties with Craig Anderson, who recently signed a one-year deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be wild if Campbell signed with the Sabres. It probably won’t happen but it would add some spice to their rivalry with the Leafs.

Friedman wondered if the Anaheim Ducks might bring Josh Manson back via free agency. He also mused over the possibility of the Los Angeles Kings signing him. GM Pat Verbeek will want something tempting to part with goaltender John Gibson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson has denied rumors he’ll welcome a trade out of Anaheim. He’s got a 10-team no trade clause plus a $6.4 million cap hit through 2026-27 that some teams will find too expensive to take on.

The San Jose Sharks are still going through the process of hiring a new general manager. They could prefer retaining goalie James Reimer but it’s not a certainty. They must also decide if it is worthwhile keeping both Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson is younger than Burns but carries more term on a more expensive contract plus he has a long history of injuries. Burns has a three-team trade list but perhaps he’d widen it for a chance to play for a contender.

It doesn’t sound like the New York Islanders intend to move goalie Semyon Varlamov. Winger Anthony Beauvillier could be a trade candidate. Friedman sees them as a stealth candidate for Johnny Gaudreau.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Islanders with $12 million in salary-cap space with 18 players under contract for 2022-23 and defenseman Noah Dobson due for a raise coming off his entry-level contract. They’ll have to shed a lot of salary if they hope to sign Gaudreau and have enough left to sign Dobson and fill out the rest of the roster.

Friedman believes the Jets won’t trade Mark Scheifele. There’s interest in Pierre-Luc Dubois but they still hold his rights for two more years. They will work with Blake Wheeler to look into a trade. There’s also interest in defenseman Brenden Dillon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 35-year-old Wheeler’s age, his $8.25 million cap hit and five-team trade list make it difficult to find a suitable trade partner. Teams will have more interest in the younger Dubois, who intends to test the UFA market in two years’ time.

There’s a path for the Vancouver Canucks to sign captain Bo Horvat to a contract extension. With Brock Boeser signed, Friedman doesn’t see him getting traded. The Canucks will set a high asking price for J.T. Miller and should get it whether it’s from the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals or another club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It seems more likely the Canucks will trade Miller, preferably before the free-agent market opens on July 13. Much of the talk from management seems to suggest a contract extension is a long shot.

Friedman expects Filip Forsberg and the Nashville Predators will reach an agreement on a new contract. He believes it’ll be eight years at $8.5 million annually. He also wondered if Phil Kessel might sign with the Predators, mentioning they nearly acquired him at the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel could be an affordable depth option for the Predators. As for Forsberg, there’s speculation the holdup in his contract talks is the inclusion of a no-trade clause, something the Preds don’t usually hand out.

Friedman pondered whether the Dallas Stars can afford long-term contract extensions for young RFAs Jake Oettinger and Jason Robertson. They can’t afford to re-sign Michael Raffl, who wants to continue playing in the NHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars have over $18 million in cap space with 18 players under contract for next season. Oettinger and Robertson could get affordable bridge deals but it would be best if the Stars can lock them up for long-term contracts now. They would be much more expensive to sign coming off short-term deals.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 2, 2022

Check out the latest on Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Filip Forsberg, Johnny Gaudreau, Alex DeBrincat, Jack Campbell and more, plus some contract buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

RUMORS FROM THE LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” PODCAST

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussed the latest trade and free-agent speculation during their latest “32 Thoughts” podcast.

Regarding Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, Friedman said teams have told him there’s a path toward a deal between the club and the pending unrestricted free agent. He also indicated the same for the Nashville Predators and pending UFA winger Filip Forsberg.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins were reportedly offering Letang a three-year contract while he sought a five-year deal said to be between $8 million and $9 million annually. Perhaps that path is a three-year contract at around $8.25 million? We’ll see.

Friedman suggested an eight-year deal at $8.5 million annually for Forsberg. There’s speculation the holdup could be the winger seeking a no-trade clause, which the Predators as a rule tend to avoid.

Friedman doesn’t think the Penguins are getting close to a deal with Evgeni Malkin.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Recent reports out of Pittsburgh say the same thing, though there’s talk the Penguins will shift their focus to Malkin once they sort out how much it’ll cost to retain Letang. It will also depend on how much of a pay cut Malkin is willing to accept to stay in Pittsburgh.

Turning to Johnny Gaudreau, Friedman said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Calgary Flames offered him an eight-year contract worth around $9.5 million. He believes the Flames are willing to be flexible.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Thursday that Gaudreau hasn’t reached a decision yet. He suspects the winger will keep the Flames in the loop but wants to see what offers he’ll get on the open market.

Friedman also elaborated on a recent rumor he’d heard about an offer the Chicago Blackhawks received for Alex DeBrincat. He said it was a reasonably high first-round pick plus another first-round pick and a prospect. However, it wasn’t enough to get the deal done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Montreal Canadiens, Columbus Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres, Anaheim Ducks, Winnipeg Jets and Arizona Coyotes have multiple picks in the first round of this year’s draft. Maybe one of those teams made that pitch for DeBrincat. Discuss!

Regarding his report of the Tampa Bay Lightning looking into shopping Ryan McDonagh, Friedman believes the St. Louis Blues could be among the suitors. He thinks the 32-year-old defenseman would be a good addition to their blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, he would, but his $6.75 million cap hit wouldn’t be when Cap Friendly shows them with just over $9 million in cap space and 18 players under contract for 2022-23. They must re-sign or replace pending UFA goaltender Ville Husso plus they’re keen to retain UFA winger David Perron. Unless Blues GM Doug Armstrong intends on shedding salary, he’ll have to pass on an opportunity to acquire McDonagh.

Friedman mused over the possibility of the Edmonton Oilers signing Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmonton pundits believe Oilers GM Ken Holland intends to go goalie-shopping after speaking with Mike Smith in the near future. He’ll need a starter if Smith retires or spends next season on their long-term injury reserve list.

Recent speculation out of Toronto claims the Leafs and Campbell aren’t close to a deal. He could see a multi-year deal worth over $5 million per season, which the Leafs currently can’t afford unless they dump some salary. I expect the Oilers will be among those lining up to speak with Campbell’s agent if the netminder is available on July 13.

Speaking of the Leafs, Friedman doesn’t see them acquiring goalie John Gibson from the Anaheim Ducks. They had previous talks with former Ducks GM Bob Murray without success. Friedman doesn’t see that changing with Pat Verbeek now in charge in Anaheim.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson recently denied rumors claiming he would welcome a trade. He carries a $6.4 million cap hit through 2026-27 and a 10-team no-trade list. The Leafs could be on that list.

Finally, Friedman wonders if the New Jersey Devils will attempt to sign Blues goalie Ville Husso if he hits the open market on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landing a reliable starting goalie is among the priorities for Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’s among the general managers putting in calls to Husso’s agent on July 13.

POTENTIAL CONTRACT BUYOUT CANDIDATES

THE HOCKEY NEWS: San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic topped Mike Stephens’ recent list of potential contract buyout candidates. The buyout window opened on July 1 and runs until 5 pm ET on July 12.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks are still without a full-time replacement for general manager Doug Wilson. Still, it didn’t stop them from axing Bob Boughner as head coach on July 1.

I doubt they’ll find any takers for Vlasic in the trade market given his hefty contract and the decline in his play. We can’t rule out a buyout before July 12.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith and winger Zack Kassian are also on Stephens’ list, as well as Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek and Ottawa Senators netminder Matt Murray.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports out of Edmonton suggest Kassian is a more likely buyout candidate than Keith, whose experience and leadership are still prized by Oilers management. They need to shed some salary to bolster their goaltending.

The Leafs could buy out Mrazek if they can’t find a trade partner for him before July 12. As for Murray, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported this week that the Sens aren’t likely to go that route.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen had Senators forward Colin White and Florida Panthers winger Patric Hornqvist on his list of buyout candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch indicated White could indeed be bought out by the Senators. The Panthers could do the same if they can’t find a club to take him off their hands in the trade market.