NHL Rumor Mill – January 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 18, 2021

A look at some predicted moves for this season involving Patrik Laine, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Duncan Keith and more in the NHL rumor mill.

TSN: In his 31 bold predictions for the new NHL season, Frank Seravalli envisioned the Winnipeg Jets moving winger Patrik Laine before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. Two potential destinations: the Columbus Blue Jackets (for Pierre-Luc Dubois?) and the Carolina Hurricanes (for Brett Pesce or Vincent Trocheck?).

Could the Winnipeg Jets move Patrik Laine before the April 12 trade deadline? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve learned never to say never in this business so I don’t rule out Laine hitting the trade block before Apr. 12. However, I don’t see that happening if the Jets are in the thick of the playoff chase.

Seravalli isn’t the only pundit suggesting swapping Laine for Dubois. On paper, it makes sense. The Jets get a reliable second-line center while the Jackets bring in a type of goal scorer they haven’t had since Rick Nash left town almost 11 years ago.

The problem is we don’t know if Jets management wants to swap Laine for a second-line center when blue-line depth is their primary concern. I think they’ll want much more than that for a winger with 50-goal potential. We also don’t know how well Laine will get along with Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella. There’s also the concern over whether Laine or Dubois would commit long-term to their new clubs.

Laine would certainly provide a boost to the Hurricanes’ offense but he could end up on the second line if he doesn’t click with first-line center Sebastian Aho. A return of Trocheck and Pesce could tempt the Jets, but not if it’s just one or the other unless something else of significance is included in the deal. Moving Trocheck for Laine would leave the Hurricanes without a suitable second-line center.

Seravalli predicts Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could become the top target on TSN’s top free-agent list for 2021. The 27-year-old center wants to stay with the Edmonton Oilers but the club has no plans of going beyond $7 million annually on a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The flattened salary cap for next season could work to the Oilers’ advantage here. Nugent-Hopkins might not find many better offers because a number of teams will have limited cap space to make a competitive bid for his services. We’ll see how things unfold by July.

Speaking of the Oilers, Seravalli believes they’ll trade for another goaltender before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli made that prediction before Smith landed on long-term injury reserve last week. General manager Ken Holland will keep an eye on the waiver wire in the short term but I wouldn’t rule out Holland testing the trade market this season.

Seravalli thinks Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith will seek a trade after this season. The 37-year-old blueliner has two years left on his contract at $5.5 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Again, never say never. He’s got a full no-movement clause but could waive it if the right opportunity presents itself. Cap Friendly indicates Keith only has $3.6 million in actual salary remaining on his deal ($2.1 million for next season, $1.5 million for 2022-23). However, the cap hit itself could be difficult to move unless the Blackhawks pick up part of it. His age will also be a factor. He turns 38 this summer and his best seasons are now behind him.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 17, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 17, 2021

Check out the latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois, Patrick Laine, Jack Roslovic and more in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

LATEST ON DUBOIS AND LAINE

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Montreal Canadiens were among several teams to make serious pitches for Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois before the regular season began. Once the puck dropped, however, the Jackets have decided to wait and see how their season unfolds before making any decision on Dubois’ trade request.

Chris Johnston believes there’s no urgency by the Blue Jackets or Dubois to make a trade at this point. He feels there’s a certain comfort level between the two sides right now, pointing out the 22-year-old center is seeing first-line minutes right now. He believes the Jackets will want a return that replaced Dubois immediately rather than a futures package.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen could pull the trigger if he gets a deal he likes during this season. Finding that deal, however, is another matter. If the Jackets are struggling by mid-February it could put Kekalainen under pressure to move Dubois.

Could the Winnipeg Jets swap Patrik Laine for Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images)

For all the recent talk of the Canadiens parting with Nick Suzuki or Jesperi Kotkaniemi in a package deal for Dubois, we don’t know if Montreal GM Marc Bergevin intends to go that route. Bergevin seems interested but he could also remain patient and see how his club does over the course of the season and how well Suzuki and Kotkaniemi perform. If they meet or exceed expectations, Bergevin won’t have any need to trade for Dubois.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek recently weighed in on the Dubois speculation. He suggests one way to resolve this is to ship Dubois to the Winnipeg Jets for winger Patrik Laine, who is rumored to want out of Winnipeg.

The problem, however, is it’s uncertain why each player seeks a change of scenery. If it’s the size of the market, it’s hard to imagine either player would be happy with this swap.

Duhatschek believes it would be serendipitous if Laine were to end up with the Anaheim Ducks, where former Jet Teemu Selanne wound up spending most of his Hall-of-Fame career. He suggested the Los Angeles Kings as a landing spot for Dubois, where the young center could fill the second-line role behind Anze Kopitar. The price for the Ducks and Kings would cost them a promising young asset like Trevor Zegras or Quinton Byfield.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen’s preference could be shipping Dubois to a Western Conference team. The Kings could be a good fit but we don’t know if GM Rob Blake is willing to give up promising assets for Dubois. They could also be out of the running if the Jackets seek a return that provides immediate help.

Dubois might be a better fit with the Ducks as they’ll need a suitable replacement soon for aging captain Ryan Getzlaf. Like the Kings, however, they probably couldn’t help the Jackets address their need to replace Dubois at center.

Kekalainen could accept a package of picks and prospects in exchange for Dubois if he had a deal lined up with another club where he could flip that return for an established young first-line center. However, that could be easier said than done.

I concur with Duhatschek regarding the uncertainty about whether Dubois or Laine would like their new markets if they were swapped for each other. Laine is a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights. The Jackets will want assurances he’ll sign a long-term extension. Dubois is signed through next season but the Jets will have concerns about his plans beyond 2022.

PENGUINS INTERESTED IN ROSLOVIC

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Pittsburgh Penguins are among the teams “very interested” in Winnipeg Jets forward Jack Roslovic. The 23-year-old restricted free agent remains in Columbus awaiting a trade.

Friedman points out the Penguins have started the season 0-2, adding general manager Jim Rutherford isn’t afraid to make in-season moves. He wonders if there could be a fit there.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets could seek a top-four defenseman for Roslovic. And no, they won’t want Mike Matheson or Cody Ceci in return.

RECENT CAPITALS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Tarik El-Bashir was asked if Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan might consider trading center Evgeny Kuznetsov. While Kuznetsov can at times be a frustrating player to watch, El-Bashir doesn’t see MacLellan trading him, especially when they’re in go-for-it mode.

El-Bashir was also asked if the Capitals might trade winger Richard Panik in a cost-cutting deal. He believes the Capitals are hopeful Panik will have a bounce-back performance under head coach Peter Laviolette but doesn’t rule out moving him if things aren’t clicking by mid-February. The winger’s $2.75 million annual average value through 2022-23 would be difficult to move.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 16, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 16, 2021

Could the Canadiens acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois? Could the Panthers move Aleksander Barkov? Would they shop Keith Yandle to the Bruins? What’s the latest on the Oilers’ goaltending? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE CANADIENS ACQUIRE DUBOIS?

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels believes the Montreal Canadiens’ rumored pursuit of Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois could be a complex and risky endeavor.

Can the Montreal Canadiens afford to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Columbus Blue Jackets? (NHL Images)

He believes Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen would want Nick Suzuki and something else in return. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin could counter with Jesperi Kotkaniemi as the centerpiece of a package with a top prospect also included.

In order to take on Dubois’ $5 million annual average value, the Canadiens would have to send a roster player earning more than $3 million (such as Paul Byron) to the Jackets.

Engels suggests it’s possible Bergevin could part with Kotkaniemi. However, he’s not sure the Habs GM would also want to include one of his top prospects in the deal. Bergevin could also be outbid by the Winnipeg Jets, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators or Anaheim Ducks.

The restrictions on travel between Canada and the United States also complicates things. Engels suggests the Canadiens would be without Dubois for 14 days while he completes mandatory self-quarantine before he could join them. They’d also be without the player or players they’d give up in the deal during that period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquiring Dubois would be a tempting option for the Canadiens, but that deal will be expensive. I don’t see Bergevin parting with Suzuki. Kotkaniemi is possible but he’s got plenty of promising upside. Giving up a prospect such as Cole Caufield, Kaiden Guhle or Mattias Norlinder could also be tough to swallow.

Even if Bergevin is willing to part with Kotkaniemi and one of his best prospects, making the dollars fit would be difficult. Byron is a former 20-goal scorer but the 31-year-old last hit that mark in 2017-18 and he’s been waylaid by injuries over the last two seasons. The Jackets could also be reluctant to take on a winger who turns 32 in April with two years remaining on his contract.

Bergevin could try to offer up another roster player but he doesn’t have many to spare that would suit the Jackets. Tomas Tatar is a free agent this summer while depth forwards like Joel Armia and Artturi Lehkonen each earn less than $3 million annually. The Jackets won’t take Jonathan Drouin’s $5.5 million AAV.

Kekalainen is reportedly being patient with Dubois’ situation. Bergevin might be wise to follow the same tactic and see how this season plays out. Perhaps they could revisit this in the offseason. Then again, there might not be any need for the Canadiens to make this deal if Suzuki and Kotkaniemi blossom into stars this season.

UPDATE ON BARKOV AND YANDLE

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports Panthers GM Bill Zito told captain Aleksander Barkov there’s no truth to trade rumors suggesting he might be available. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported Thursday that Barkov was drawing interest from rival general managers. The report was based on whether the 25-year-old center would re-sign with the Panthers this summer, and if not, would they consider trading him.

“Bill talked to me right away, he told me they aren’t true,” said Barkov. “So it’s all good and I am concentrating on the start of the season. Thank you for mentioning this is my first time being mentioned in trade rumors.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt there were some general managers calling Zito to find out what changes he had in store for the Panthers this season and if Barkov might be part of them. It should be pointed out that Seravalli noted in his report that Zito intends to re-sign his captain.

Maybe that becomes a problem if the Panthers fail to improve this season. For now, I don’t see Barkov going anywhere.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites sources claiming if and when Zito asks Keith Yandle to waive his no-movement clause, he will do it for the Bruins. Murphy feels the main question is whether the Bruins would want the 34-year-old defenseman and his $6.35 million AAV through 2022-23.

Murphy cites reports indicating Bruins GM Don Sweeney spoke to Zito about what it would take to acquire Yandle but nothing came of it. He feels the Bruins seem determined to stick with their youth movement on defense and wouldn’t want to risk exposing Brandon Carlo or Matt Grzelcyk to this summer’s expansion draft if they acquired Yandle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay Yandle’s cap hit was a key reason why those rumored talks didn’t go far. If the Bruins remain interested in bringing Yandle back to his home state it might be best to do so after the expansion draft, and only if the Panthers agree to pick up part of his cap hit.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes the Oilers’ goaltending situation has gone from bad to worse this week. First, they lost Anton Forsberg to Carolina via waivers on Tuesday. On Friday, Mike Smith was placed on long-term injury reserve, taking him out of the lineup for at least 10 games.

Given the high number of back-to-back games the Oilers face in this shortened season, Staples wonders what GM Ken Holland will do. “Overpay? Patiently wait for some goalie to pop up on the waiver wire?”

Staples noted some Oilers’ observers are suggesting a trade for someone like Arizona’s Antti Raanta or Toronto’s Michael Hutchinson. Others suggest signing UFA Jimmy Howard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers were taking a risk bringing back the 38-year-old Smith for another season. If anything happens to Mikko Koskinen they will be well and truly screwed. There simply aren’t many palatable options available right now. Holland might not have much choice but to be patient and hope a decent netminder becomes available soon.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 15, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 15, 2021

Teams are making inquiries about the Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov while the club tries to figure out what to do with Keith Yandle, plus the latest on Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BARKOV AND YANDLE

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports being told there are “a number of teams” making inquiries about Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov in recent weeks. Panthers general manager Bill Zito said he has no intention of trading the 25-year-old center and hopes to re-sign him. However, rival clubs are skeptical that Barkov will re-sign when his contract expires in 2022.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images)

Barkov’s camp wants to win in Florida and is willing to give Zito the time needed to get the right pieces in order to do that. However, Seravalli believes Barkov’s situation will be worth watching in the coming months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barkov is perhaps the NHL’s most overlooked star. He’s among the league’s best two-way forwards and one of the most disciplined players, winning the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 2018-19.

Nevertheless, most fans and pundits around the league don’t seem to realize just how good he really is. Panthers fans won’t like me saying this, but he’d garner far more recognition and plaudits if he played on a better team in a bigger hockey market.

I don’t doubt Barkov’s sincerity about wanting to win with the Panthers. However, they’ve been a sad-sack organization through most of his tenure. He could consider testing the UFA market if the Panthers are still spinning their wheels by the end of next season.

Speaking of the Panthers, Pierre LeBrun reports Keith Yandle’s agent believes Zito is trying to put pressure on his client to convince him to waive his no-movement clause. Zito, however, said he hasn’t asked the 34-year-old defenseman to waive that clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zito is wasting little time trying to shake things up since taking over as Panthers GM in September. LeBrun’s colleague Travis Yost indicated moving the puck-moving blueliner won’t be easy because of his declining play and $6.3 million annual average value.

Nevertheless, Yost doesn’t dismiss the possibility of Yandle getting traded to a club with blue-line issues provided the Panthers retain some of his annual average value. I don’t dismiss that possibility but Yandle’s age and the remaining term of his contract (through 2022-23) are significant sticking points.

LATEST ON DUBOIS

Former Sportsnet analyst Nick Kypreos took to Twitter yesterday saying the Montreal Canadiens are Dubois’ destination of choice. He claims the Jackets’ asking price is focused around “Nick Suzuki/plus.” Kypreos also said Habs defenseman Alexander Romanov “has been deemed untouchable.”

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’s Brian Hedger replied to Kypreos with a tweet saying he’s heard “Kotkaniemi/Mete and something else” was what he heard from asking around.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards believes the Panthers should be in the mix if the Columbus Blue Jackets intend to trade Pierre-Luc Dubois. He feels Zito is a big fan of Dubois, suggesting he’d make a good fit centering the Panthers’ second line with Barkov on the top line. Richards doubts a package of draft picks and prospects will pry Dubois from the Jackets, adding it will be costly to land him.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty wonders if the Bruins could get into the bidding for Dubois. Jack Studnicka and Urho Vaakanainen are their best assets but Haggerty feels it will cost much more to get a deal done. He’s not holding his breath expecting to see Dubois in a Bruins jersey. Meanwhile, Haggerty’s colleague Jimmy Murphy reports the Panthers and New Jersey Devils are among those interested in the Jackets’ center.

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes Dubois would address the Senators’ need for a legitimate first-line center, something they haven’t had since Jason Spezza was traded away in 2014. He thinks it would take a significant offer to acquire Dubois, suggesting anyone other than Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot or Tim Stuetzle should be in play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said Blue Jackets’ coach John Tortorella’s recent comments about Dubois wanting out isn’t making GM Jarmo Kekalainen’s job any easier. LeBrun said other clubs are saying Kekalainen wants to be patient with this situation, but it’s apparent there’s plenty of interest in the 22-year-old center.

It’s possible that a trade could shake out during this season that Kekalainen finds too good to pass up. I believe that deal must include a scoring forward, preferably a center. However, I still believe a deal of that magnitude takes place in the offseason. Despite the flattened salary cap, there will be clubs with the cap space this summer to take on Dubois’ $5 million AAV for next season and to pay him a big raise beyond that.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 14, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 14, 2021

Updates on Pierre-Luc Dubois and Keith Yandle in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NHL.COM: John Lane reports Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella confirmed Pierre-Luc Dubois’ trade request. “Yeah, he wants out,” said Tortorella, commending the 22-year-old center for his honesty but wishing he’d be more transparent about his reasons.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Tortorella indicated Dubois had a good training camp but he intends to keep the center on a short leash this season. “He needs to continue to do the things to help this team and be the best teammate he can be, or I’m not sure where it goes,” he said. “It’s a situation, and we’ll go to it day by day.”

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline suggests big changes could be coming to the Blue Jackets after this season. In addition to Dubois’ trade request, Tortorella is in the final year of his contract, as is team captain Nick Foligno. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen also has to decide whether Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins is their starting goalie as both are slated for UFA status in 2022.

Portzline believes Kekalainen has shown no urgency to move Dubois but wonders how long this can fester before he’s forced to act. The center is under contract through 2021-22. Dubois could be with the Jackets throughout this season unless they fall out of playoff contention and receive a tempting trade offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets were among the clubs with interest in Dubois. Kekalainen will set a significant asking price, perhaps seeking a scoring forward (preferably a center) in return. The Jackets GM isn’t known for hasty trades and will wait until the offseason if necessary for the right return.

The fates of Tortorella, Foligno and their goaltenders will be determined by the club’s performance this season. Missing the playoffs or another early postseason exit could bring about a shake-up.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin wonders what’s next for Keith Yandle now that the Florida Panthers are trying to ease the 34-year-old defenseman out of their lineup. His no-movement clause prevents them from placing him on their taxi squad unless he agrees to waive it. They could start the season by making him a healthy scratch, ending his 866-game Ironman streak.

Yandle’s declining performance could hurt his trade value. Larkin suggests the Panthers might have to absorb part of his $6.35 million annual average value (through 2022-23) to make him enticing in the trade market, provided he agrees to waive his NMC. Larkin reports a source said Yandle hasn’t been the initiator on any plans to waive his clause.

Larkin suggested the Boston Bruins as a potential fit. The New York Islanders could be another but they lack sufficient cap space to find room for Yandle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see any club having an interest in Yandle at this point in his career. He has too much tenure on his contract even if the Panthers agreed to pick up a healthy chunk of his annual cap hit. Never say never, of course, because we’ve seen instances in the past where seemingly untradeable players get moved. Still, the Panthers could be forced to wait until the offseason to make that happen.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 13, 2021

With the regular season opening today, check out the latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois and Keith Yandle in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BLUE JACKETS GETTING CALLS ABOUT DUBOIS

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reports several sources claim interested teams are “not screwing around” when it comes to Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old center requested a trade despite recently signing a two-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Interest is reportedly growing in Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Friedman said the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets are among the pursuers but there are other clubs in the chase who haven’t received as much attention. Friedman wonders if the Jackets will move quickly to trade Dubois.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports there’s been some speculation linking Dubois to Jets winger Patrik Laine. “That makes a lot of sense, but there’s nothing close there,” said Dreger.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Arpon Basu was asked if the Canadiens would or should make a player for Dubois. He feels it would cost the Habs one of their two promising young centers (Nick Suzuki or Jesperi Kotkaniemi) and there’s no guarantee Dubois will be more successful over the long run than either of those two. If Habs general manager Marc Bergevin could find a way to acquire Dubois without parting with Suzuki or Kotkaniemi it would be a no-brainer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent speculation also has the Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers as possible or suggested suitors for Dubois. Whether they’re actually pursuing him is another matter.

Dubois-for-Laine addresses the Jets’ outstanding need for a reliable young second-line center. That proposed swap would help the low-scoring Jackets but creates a big hole at center for them.

If the Canadiens land Dubois without parting with Suzuki or Kotkaniemi they’d be set for years at center, salary cap permitting. Maybe Bergevin bundles pending UFA Philip Danault with a top prospect like Cole Caulfield and a couple of his 11 picks between rounds 2 and 5 of the 2021 NHL draft, though that would require a commitment from Danault to sign a contract extension with the Jackets. However, the Canadiens would have to include another salaried player to create room for Dubois’ $5 million AAV. 

That’s just spitballing on my part. Suzuki or Kotkaniemi would have to be part of the return and I doubt Bergevin wants to give up either guy.

YANDLE OUT OF FAVOR WITH THE PANTHERS?

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports Keith Yandle has fallen out of favor with the Florida Panthers. They’ve informed the 34-year-old defensemen he no longer fits into their plans for this season. His no-movement clause (NMC), however, prevents them from demoting him to their taxi squad. It’s believed they plan to make him a healthy scratch for their season-opener, which would end his Ironman streak of 866 games.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Yandle’s NMC gives him ultimate control over this situation. However, it’s difficult to move salary right now. Friedman said he’d heard the Panthers had some talks with the New York Islanders, with the Panthers taking back some salary, but a deal didn’t happen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yandle yesterday said he hadn’t been approached by the Panthers about waiving his NMC. Maybe GM Bill Zito is trying to force the rearguard into seeking a trade or accepting a demotion to the taxi squad.

PuckPedia shows Yandle is signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $6.3 million. If he’s willing to accept a trade, the Panthers will have to do a dollar-for-dollar swap or absorb a healthy chunk of his cap hit to make the deal work. Even then, his age and the remaining term on his contract could be sticking points.