Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 21, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – November 21, 2021

Will the Rangers go shopping for a forward? Have they started contract talks with Ryan Strome? What moves could be in store for the Sabres after trading Jack Eichel? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup

LATEST RANGERS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple took note of TSN’s Darren Dreger’s recent report claiming the New York Rangers are in the market for a middle-six forward to replace Sammy Blais after he suffered a season-ending knee injury. He also felt they could pursue a defenseman but that could be a move made closer to the March 21 trade deadline.

Staple believes the Rangers can’t afford to take on players with term remaining on their contracts as new deals will be required next summer for Blais and restricted free agent Kaapo Kakko plus they’ll also require a second-line center and a backup goalie.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel (NHL Images).

Looking at players on expiring contracts, Staple suggested the Seattle Kraken’s Calle Jarnkrok or Marcus Johansson, the Ottawa Senators’ Chris Tierney, the Carolina Hurricanes’ Nino Niederreiter, the Arizona Coyotes’ Phil Kessel, the Chicago Blackhawks’ Dylan Strome, the Montreal Canadiens’ Artturi Lehkonen and the Los Angeles Kings’ Gabriel Vilardi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Niederreiter will be available. The Hurricanes are among the NHL’s best teams and have little reason to ship him out for a draft pick or prospect. If they were to move Niederreiter, it would be to bring in a player to address a different roster need.

The Los Angeles Kings aren’t a struggling club like the others listed here but they could become a seller should fall out of the playoff chase as the season rolls along. Vilardi was recently demoted to the minors and could become a trade chip at some point. Staple’s colleague, Lisa Dillman, speculated the former first-round pick might be at the point in his career where a trade could help get his career back on track. She proposed the Tampa Bay Lightning and the rebuilding Coyotes as possible destinations for Vilardi.

Kessel would be an expensive addition unless the Coyotes retain part of his $6.8 million cap hit. Teams with an interest in the veteran winger could prefer waiting until the trade deadline to pursue him.

The Blackhawks tried shopping Strome since last season but couldn’t find any takers. The interim management probably won’t have any better luck. He’s been skating on their checking line but is best suited on the second line with better wingers.

As for the Kraken, Senators and Canadiens, they’re going to be among this season’s sellers but they don’t have to dump expiring contracts right now. They’ll likely wait until the second half of the season in order to find the best return possible.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wondered if the Boston Bruins might try to entice the Rangers into taking winger Jake DeBrusk off their hands. He had a strong preseason but has been inconsistent thus far this season. DeBrusk remains a mainstay in the rumor mill among NHL scouts and executives but there’s no indication the Bruins and Rangers are talking trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk might still be a topic of trade chatter in some NHL circles but there’s doesn’t seem to be much interest in him. The media speculation about the 24-year-old winger’s trade status has died down since the summer.

NEW YORK POST: Speaking of the Rangers, Mollie Walker reported there haven’t been any contract extension talks between management and Ryan Strome. The 28-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Given their recent signings of Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox plus Kakko due for a new contract, Walker believes the Rangers probably can’t afford to re-sign Strome.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Rangers with over $70.8 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23. Strome will seek a higher annual average value than his current $4.5 million. He’ll likely hit the open market next summer unless the Rangers shed some salary to re-sign him.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE SABRES?

THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski was asked if the Sabres would pursue a starting goaltender via next summer’s free-agent market. He doesn’t see them going that route with promising Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen on the cusp of the NHL.

If Luukkonen is ready for the job next season, the Sabres could bring back Dustin Tokarski or sign a reliable veteran on a short-term deal. Lysowski recommends going the trade route if Luukkonen isn’t ready.

Lysowski was also asked which of the Sabres pending UFAs could be shopped at the trade deadline. He felt Colin Miller’s value as a right-shot defenseman puts him at the top of the list.

Others could include Vinnie Hinostroza, Drake Caggiula, Cody Eakin, Robert Hagg, Craig Anderson and Dustin Tokarski but he doesn’t expect the Sabres will trade them all. He speculated they could attempt to bring back Mark Pysyk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres have made their big moves after trading Jack Eichel, Taylor Hall, Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen since April. Any major moves between now and March 21 will likely be to move out some pending UFAs for draft picks.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 20, 2021

Check out the latest on the Penguins, Wild and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Josh Yohe was asked if the Pittsburgh Penguins could become sellers at the 2022 trade deadline if they don’t make the playoffs. He didn’t dismiss the possibility of a rebuild but felt they’re not at that point yet.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images).

Asked if Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust and Brian Dumoulin could become deadline trade chips if the Penguins were out of contention, Yohe replied he could envision them being available for the right price, especially Rust as he’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He also mused about whether general manager Ron Hextall would attempt to peddle pending UFAs Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski believes the Penguins need a course correction to snap out of their early-season struggles. He feels they need a right-side defenseman, a scoring winger for Jeff Carter and a spark plug player similar to former Penguins forwards like Patric Hornqvist or Brandon Tanev.

In the wake of the Penguins’ impending sale to the Fenway Group, Kingerski wondered what effect that could have upon the future of Malkin and Letang in Pittsburgh.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will be interesting to see what changes there are (if any) once the Fenway Group takes over ownership of the Penguins. The longer Malkin and Letang go without new contracts, the more speculation about their trade status as the deadline approaches.

Management could be reluctant to move Malkin, Letang, Rust or any other pending free agents if the Penguins hold a playoff berth by deadline day. We’ll have to wait until the calendar flips to January 2022 to perhaps begin to get a clearer picture of their plans.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo was asked about the future of winger Jordan Greenway. He could be moved before next season to make room for promising wingers like Matthew Boldy and Adam Beckman.

Greenway’s a pending restricted free agent in the midst of an underwhelming start to this season. Russo believes he’ll be moved at some point before next season and expects the Wild would seek futures in return.

Russo also said the Wild are trying to move center Victor Rask but haven’t found any takers yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Greenway, 24, is a 6’6”, 231-pound left winger who was showing some potential as a big playmaker over the last two years. However, he has just three assists in 12 games this season and facing criticism for not being more physically engaged and driving the offense. With a cap hit of $2.1 million, he could be an affordable option for clubs seeking size and offense at left wing.

OTTAWA SUN: Earlier this week, Ken Warren speculated over whether the Senators will pursue a trade for a center to replace the sidelined Colin White and Shane Pinto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators have been rumored to be in the market for a center for some time. GM Pierre Dorion could be shopping around but finding a suitable deal this early in the season won’t be easy.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 19, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 19, 2021

Should the fading Canadiens start shopping players like Brendan Gallagher or Ben Chiarot? Are the Rangers and Panthers in the market for a forward? Check out the latest in today’s NHL trade rumors.

SHOULD THE CANADIENS SHOP GALLAGHER OR CHIAROT?

TVA SPORTS: Anthony Martineau and Nicolas Cloutier weighed in on which Montreal Canadiens players they’d attempt to trade if they were the general manager.

Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher (NHL Images).

Martineau suggested shopping Brendan Gallagher. He felt the 29-year-old winger’s $6.25 million cap hit through 2026-27 could become burdensome for the Canadiens over the long term. The reporter also accused the hard-working winger of selfish play, saying the last few times Gallagher got angry was over missing an empty net, or at teammate Alexander Romanov for too intense coverage in a recent practice or sucker-punching New York Rangers forward Barclay Goodrow.

Nevertheless, Martineau feels Gallagher’s reputation for hard work would make him enticing for some clubs. He thinks the Canadiens would have to retain part of the winger’s salary but it would be worthwhile to make room on the roster and salary cap for younger players to build around.

Cloutier, meanwhile, suggested packaging defenseman Ben Chiarot with versatile forward Joel Armia for a first-round pick and a prospect. He considers them big players built for postseason hockey who could help a contender to reach another level. When asked who would replace them on the Canadiens roster, Cloutier proposed Jesse Ylonen and one of their many left-shot prospects in their system.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallagher has definitely lost much of the spark that made him effective as an agitating, heart-and-soul top-six winger. Perhaps playing for a better club will rekindle that fire.

The Canadiens would have to retain part of Gallagher’s cap hit if they don’t want to take back a big contract in return. He also has a six-team trade list and a no-movement clause that prevents him from being demoted to the minors.

Some might chuckle at Cloutier’s suggestion of Chiarot and Armia fetching a first-rounder and a prospect. However, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes Chiarot alone could land a first-round pick. “He’s playoff-tested, he’s not a high maintenance guy,” said Friedman. 

As for the left-side defensemen in the Habs system to replace Chiarot, 2020 first-round pick Kaiden Guhle best fits that description. The earliest he could make his NHL debut is next season as they’ll keep Guhle in Junior hockey for this season.

Bear in mind there’s no indication the Canadiens are about to beat the trade deadline rush and engage in an early firesale of veterans. That likely won’t start until sometime in January leading up to the Olympic break in February. Time will tell if Gallagher, Chiarot and Armia become trade candidates. 

LATEST ON THE RANGERS AND PANTHERS

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the New York Rangers have been in the market for a middle-six forward for some time. It can be a third-liner or someone who can skate on the top-six. That search became amplified by Sammy Blais recently suffering a season-ending injury. The trade market is quiet right now but things could pick up around the American Thanksgiving holiday next week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The trade market is slow right now with only three deals taking place since the start of the season. The Blueshirts’ search could extend beyond the end of this month.

This would’ve been an ideal opportunity for Vitali Kravtsov. However, he’s now on loan to KHL team Traktor Chelyabinsk and cannot return to the Rangers until the KHL season is over.

Pierre LeBrun reported the Florida Panthers aren’t in the market for a replacement center for sidelined captain Aleksander Barkov. He’s out for three-four weeks with a sprained knee that won’t require surgery. They feel they have the depth to compensate for his absence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers moved Sam Bennett into Barkov’s spot on the first line and rookie Anton Lundell into the second line spot, with the returning Joe Thornton sliding into the third-line center role.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 18, 2021

A look at some options for the Islanders to replace the sidelined Ryan Pulock, possible goalie targets for the Oilers, and the latest on the Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple examined possible options for the New York Islanders to replace sidelined defenseman Ryan Pulock, who’s out four to six weeks with a lower-body injury.

General manager Lou Lamoriello could look to within his system. He could give younger defensemen like Noah Dobson more playing time, turn to a veteran like Thomas Hickey, or call up Robin Salo.

Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg (NHL Images).

If Lamoriello decides to go the trade route, Staple suggested inquiring into the availability of Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun or Dallas Stars blueliner John Klingberg. Less expensive options could include the Seattle Kraken’s Mark Giordano or Vince Dunn, the Montreal Canadiens’ Ben Chiarot or the St. Louis Blues’ Marco Scandella.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t rule out Lamoriello pursuing a deal for a defenseman but I think he’ll look to within for the time being. Staple was merely suggesting possible trade options. There’s no indication any of those defensemen he mentioned are available.

The Coyotes aren’t moving Chychrun unless he requests a trade. They see him as a key piece in their rebuilding process. The Stars are talking contract with Klingberg and I don’t think they’ve reached the point where they’re considering a trade. I doubt the Kraken are planning to move Giordano or Dunn right now. The same goes for the Canadiens with Chiarot and the Blues with Scandella.

Anything’s possible, of course, and if Lamoriello’s willing to overpay maybe he could acquire one of those defensemen. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for one of them to be suiting up with the Isles over the next six weeks.

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell recently observed Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland doesn’t have a history of swinging trades this early in the season. He usually waits until the trade deadline if his club is in contention and his roster has a need to be filled.

Goaltender Mike Smith’s recent injury has given some cause for concern. Mitchell suggested the Detroit Red Wings’ Thomas Greiss, New Jersey Devils’ Jonathan Bernier, Chicago Blackhawks’ Marc-Andre Fleury and the Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin or Braden Holtby if the Oilers should need help between the pipes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some folks have already started linking Fleury to the Oilers but I’d keep an eye on the Dallas Stars. Ben Bishop has been practicing with the club for several weeks but they’re taking it slow to ensure he’s 100 percent recovered from last year’s knee surgery. They also can’t activate him off long-term injury reserve without clearing some cap space.

NHL.com’s Mike Heika speculated they could move Khudobin or Holtby though doing so could put the Stars in a bind if Bishop got hurt again. They do have promising Jake Oettinger that they could call up but they could prefer letting him spend this season with the farm team before bringing him up full time.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Montreal Canadiens would consider adding a puck-moving defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a move that might not happen until the offseason. The Canadiens are sinking like a sunset in the standings and there’s not much available in the trade market to help them right now.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 17, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 17, 2021

No changes yet for the Canucks, an update on Samuel Girard, and the latest on the Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NO CHANGES COMING FOR CANUCKS

TSN: Darren Dreger reported Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini met yesterday with general manager Jim Benning to discuss the club’s poor on-ice performance this season. However, there aren’t any changes coming to the Canucks, “at least not yet”, according to Dreger. It’s believed Aquilini will remain patient but the expectation is the results on the ice must change.

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That isn’t going to stop speculation that Benning and head coach Travis Green are on thin ice. After reaching the playoffs in 2019-20, they got a mulligan for missing the postseason last season because of the shortened schedule, the outbreak of COVID-19 that decimated the roster in April and Elias Pettersson’s season-ending injury in March.

After a 3-2-1 start, the Canucks are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games. They’re six points out of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference and in danger of falling so far behind that they’ll be unable to make up the lost ground over the remainder of the season.

Aquilini’s patience will be tested if the Canucks fail to make significant improvement over the next two or three weeks. Another stretch like the last 10 games could spell the end for Benning and Green.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the Colorado Avalanche isn’t interested in shopping Samuel Girard. The 23-year-old defenseman is in the second season of a seven-year contract with an affordable $5 million annual average value.

LeBrun suspects the Girard trade chatter was a result of the Jack Eichel trade talk over the past few months. He said the Avalanche did inquire about Eichel but he doesn’t believe the talks got very far.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Girard trade speculation originated with The Denver Post’s Mark Chambers, who speculated the blueliner could become expendable with young Bowen Byram stepping up as a top-four rearguard. LeBrun doesn’t rule out the possibility of Girard getting moved if the Avalanche received an offer too good to refuse but said the club isn’t interested in moving him.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks examined what the Rangers could do to address the loss of forward Sammy Blais to a season-ending knee injury. They were already thin up front, especially after winger Vitali Kravtsov’s departure to Russia to await a trade.

Brooks wondered if they could interest the Los Angeles Kings in a swap of Kravtsov’s rights for recently demoted center Gabriel Vilardi. For now, he thinks general manager Chris Drury will look within his system to address the issue before turning to the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most general managers tend to look to within for replacements before seeing what’s available in the trade market. If there was interest in Kravtsov’s rights he would’ve been moved by now. The Kings don’t seem to be in any hurry to dangle Vilardi in the trade market.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 16, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 16, 2021

Could teams regret not pursuing Vladimir Tarasenko? Should the Canadiens try to acquire Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD TEAMS REGRET NOT PURSUING TARASENKO?

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz believes there are teams that should regret not making a push to acquire Vladimir Tarasenko from the St. Louis Blues after the 29-year-old winger requested a trade this summer.

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

Gretz acknowledged there were some concerns over Tarasenko’s health following three shoulder surgeries in two years. He also had two seasons left on his contract with an annual average value of $7.5 million. However, Tarasenko has regained his high-scoring form with seven goals and 14 points in 14 games with the Blues.

The Seattle Kraken passed on selecting an unprotected Tarasenko in the expansion draft. The winger also submitted a 10-team list of preferred destinations that was believed to include the New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Vegas Golden Knights, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins. Gretz points out several of those clubs (Flyers, Bruins, Rangers) could’ve used Tarasenko.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of the general managers of those clubs could be kicking themselves over failing to pursue a Tarasenko trade this summer. Hindsight, as always, is 20/20. The concerns over Tarasenko’s shoulder were realistic while his contract (paying him a whopping $9.5 million in actual salary this season) was difficult for most of those clubs to absorb under a flattened salary cap.

Let’s not overlook the rumored high asking price of Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. He wasn’t going to just give Tarasenko away. A first-round pick, a top prospect and an affordable young forward with top-six potential were reportedly part of the sought-after package. Armstrong was also said to be unwilling to absorb any portion of the winger’s annual cap hit.

Tarasenko could still end up getting traded if the Blues should tumble out of playoff contention later in the season. That appears unlikely at this point. Interested clubs will likely have to wait until next summer to take another crack at pursuing Tarasenko, provided the winger hasn’t changed his mind about getting traded by then.

SHOULD THE CANADIENS PURSUE GIRARD?

TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie suggested the Montreal Canadiens could use a defenseman to improve their blueline shortcomings this season. Philippe Boucher agreed, proposing they look at acquiring Samuel Girard from the Colorado Avalanche. Girard recently surfaced in trade rumors following a report in The Denver Post suggesting the Avs could shop the 23-year-old rearguard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several factors sparked the Girard speculation. He struggled during the Avalanche’s second-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights last spring. He had a slow start to this season while rookie Bowen Byram emerged as a top-four blueliner.

However, Byram’s recent concussion combined with an improved effort on Girard’s part highlighted the latter’s ongoing value to the Avalanche defense corps. That doesn’t mean he’s untradeable but it shows the Avs probably aren’t in any hurry to move him.

If Avalanche GM Joe Sakic dangles Girard in the trade market he’ll likely seek a top-six forward in return. Given the Canadiens’ offensive woes, there might not be a deal to be had there.