NHL Rumor Mill – September 24, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 24, 2020

A look at Sportnet’s list of possible contract buyout candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BUYOUT CANDIDATES

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner, Edmonton Oilers winger James Neal and New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist top Luke Fox’s list of 14 players who might be considered for contract buyouts.

Will the New York Rangers buy out Henrik Lundqvist? (NHL Images)

Buying out Neal would free up $3.83 million if the Oilers need room to go shopping in the trade or free-agent markets. The Rangers, meanwhile, don’t intend to carry three goalies as they did this season, making Lundqvist a possible buyout candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Alzner has two years left on his contract with an annual average value of $4.625 million. The Habs have kept him buried in the minors and could afford to do so again for 2020-21. Cap Friendly indicates buying him out would only give them over $666K in cap savings next season, though that increases to $2.66 million in 2021-22.

The first buyout period runs from Sept. 25 to Oct. 8. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks suggests the Rangers could wait until the 24-hour second buyout window following the settlement or award on filings by any one of their arbitration-eligible restricted free agents. That would allow some additional time to determine if there’s a trade partner for Lundqvist once the goalie market carousel slows down.

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Olli Maatta, Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, and Vancouver Canucks forwards Loui Eriksson and Sven Baertschi are also on Fox’s list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks would see substantial savings buying out Maatta, as the annual cap hit over the next four years would be over $680K. I believe the Golden Knights will attempt to trade Fleury if they re-sign Robin Lehner. A buyout could be the option of last resort.

Fox points out an Eriksson buyout wouldn’t provide much cap relief for the Canucks, but they would get $1.7 million in relief by buying out Baertschi. Canucks GM Jim Benning could prefer the trade route for one or both, even if it meant absorbing some salary.

Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris, New York Islanders winger Andrew Ladd, Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader and Florida Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman are other possible buyout candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox points out Turris has four years at $6 million annually on his contract, Ladd has three years with an AAV of $5.5 million, while Abdelkader has three years at $4.25 million annually remaining on his deal.

Because buyouts are at twice the remaining tenure, their respective teams could be reluctant to go that route. The Isles won’t get much immediate cap relief buying out Ladd. Stralman has two years at $5.5 million annually left. A buyout would provide $3 million in cap savings for next season.

Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo, Anaheim Ducks winger David Backes, and Boston Bruins defenseman John Moore round out Fox’s list. It was subsequently noted the Ducks informed Backes they’ll keep him for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Okposo and Moore each have three years remaining on their contracts. The Sabres have gone the buyout route in the past so we can’t dismiss the possibility they’ll do it again. However, an Okposo buyout would count as $4 million against their cap for next season and $5 million in 2021-22.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 5, 2020

A look at possible off-season targets for the Sharks and the cost to the Red Wings of trying to move Justin Abdelkader or Frans Nielsen to the Kraken in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Curtis Pashelka reports San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson will be looking to add depth to his roster in the off-season. He’s expressed interest in acquiring a forward.

Could the San Jose Sharks attempt to acquire Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson in the off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)

Pashelka listed Florida Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov, Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson, Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kaspari Kapanen, St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz, and Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli as potential targets.

Dadonov and Toffoli are unrestricted free agents at season’s end. Schwartz has a year left on his contract with an annual average value of $5.35 million, Kapanen is earning $3.2 million per season through 2020-21, and Johnson is signed through 2023-24 worth $5 million annually.

Pashelka wonders if the Panthers will be willing to pay out another big salary to re-sign Dadonov when they’ve already got $60 million invested in 13 players for next season. The Lightning might consider moving Johnson to free up cap space. If he’s unavailable, perhaps Alex Killorn could be a worthwhile target.

The Leafs would likely want an affordable, right-shot defenseman in return for Kapanen. It might take a third team getting involved for the Sharks to land him. The Blues also need to shed some salary. They might prefer shopping center Tyler Bozak or goalie Jake Allen, but Schwartz would draw more interest. If the Canucks fail to re-sign Toffoli, perhaps he’d consider returning to a California-based club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pashelka also noted the Sharks have cap issues of their own, with 15 players under contract and roughly $14.9 million available next season. Adding Dadonov or Toffoli would take a big bite out of that cap room, forcing Wilson to make a salary-dumping deal. Probably better off to look at the trade market.

Kapanen carries the most affordable contract, but the asking price could be a sticking point. Johnson has a full no-trade clause and could be unwilling to waive it, whereas Killorn has a 16-team no-trade and might be amenable to moving to San Jose. The Blues could move Schwartz if push came to shove, but I see them shopping Allen and perhaps someone else.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James examined the cost to the Red Wings of trying to tempt the Seattle Kraken into acquiring Justin Abdelkader or Frans Nielsen next summer by packaging either player with a draft pick or prospect.

She believes it doesn’t make sense for the Wings if it means including a top prospect or a first-round pick. It also wouldn’t make sense for the Kraken to take on Abdelkader’s annual cap hit ($4.25 million through 2022-23) or Nielsen’s ($5.25 million through 2021-22) for a third- or fourth-round selection or a middling prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the Wings could be stuck with both players beyond next season. Perhaps GM Steve Yzerman can find a budget team looking to reach the cap floor, but those teams would also want something decent in the package deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 6, 2020

Recent updates on the Red Wings and the latest on Chris Tanev in today’s NHL rumor mill.

RECENT RED WINGS SPECULATION

DETROIT FREE PRESS: In a recent evaluation of the Red Wings’ roster, Helene St. James doesn’t expect Jimmy Howard, Trevor Daley, Jonathan Ericsson will be back. They’re unrestricted free agents at the end of this season.

St. James believes restricted free agents Tyler Bertuzzi, Anthony Mantha, Robby Fabbri, and Adam Erne will be re-signed. Defenseman Madison Bowey was placed on waivers during the regular season, but there’s little risk in re-signing him for another year. RFA winger Brendan Perlini isn’t expected back.

Could the Detroit Red Wings pursue Torey Krug in this year’s UFA market? (Photo via NHL Images)

Winger Justin Abdelkader could face waivers next season if his performance doesn’t improve.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin observed the Wings will have about $35 million in salary-cap space for 2020-21. With only 11 players under contract, general manager Steve Yzerman will still have to spend even after re-signing key players like Bertuzzi and Fabbri.

Larkin wondered if the stage was set for Michigan native Torey Krug to join his boyhood club. The 29-year-old Boston Bruins defenseman is an unrestricted free agent after this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larkin joins several pundits wondering if Yzerman might woo Krug home to the Wings. If the blueliner tests the UFA market and is keen to join the Wings, Yzerman could make a pitch.

Nevertheless, Yzerman recently said he’s looking at making sensible signings to provide his young core with some short-term experienced depth. If that’s the plan, he won’t be pursuing big-ticket UFA talent like Krug.

Even if Yzerman was willing to go that route, there’s no guarantee Krug or the other top UFA players will want to sign long-term deals with the rebuilding Wings.

LATEST ON CHRIS TANEV

SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports Chris Tanev feels at home with the Vancouver Canucks and hopes to stay. The 30-year-old defenseman has spent his entire NHL career with the Canucks, but he’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Before the pandemic struck and cast everything in doubt, including next season’s salary cap, Tanev was considered a second priority for the Canucks to re-sign following goalie Jacob Markstrom and winger Tyler Toffoli. The blueliner said he can see players sign one-year deals in the hope the league’s finances improve next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Canucks have over $63.4 million invested in 14 players. Along with Tanev, Markstrom and Toffoli, Jake Virtanen, Josh Leivo, Adam Gaudette, Troy Stecher, and Tyler Motte must be re-signed or replaced.

Unless the Canucks shed a salary or two, they won’t have room for everybody, especially if they re-sign Markstrom and Toffoli. However, uncertainty over the league’s revenue could work in their favor if some of those free agents are willing to accept one-year deals at affordable prices.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 7, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 7, 2020

Kings GM Rob Blake will find positives in resuming the season, an update on Jeff Carter, Capitals winger Brendan Leipsic in hot water over offensive comments, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE LATEST ON A POSSIBLE RESUMPTION OF THE NHL SEASON

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Despite his club being out of playoff contention if the season resumes, LA Kings general manager Rob Blake believes it could be worth it. “We will find positives by playing those games,” he said. “That’s our mentality. It’s expected of us.” Despite the different scenarios being floated around, Blake said the message to his players is to keep the same mindset. “There are still games to be played.”

A nagging core injury will keep Jeff Carter out of the LA Kings lineup if the schedule resumes in July (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Among the positives is assessing the performance of their promising young players, as well as potential free-agent veterans battling for jobs.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien reports we shouldn’t expect to see Jeff Carter in the lineup if the Kings return to action. Blake indicated the veteran center hasn’t been able to travel to see a specialist regarding a core muscle injury because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Carter continues to rehab at home.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Brien speculates other aging NHL veterans on cellar-dwelling clubs, such as San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton, could also be shut down for the rest of the season.

THE DETROIT NEWS: While the last-place Red Wings have nothing to play for if the schedule re-starts, winger Justin Abdelkader feels it would still be beneficial. “You can work on your skills and development, you can get better, and there’s going to be an opportunity to get better. As a team, and for me personally, that can help lead into the following season.”

SPORTSNET: British Columbia Premier John Horgan has written to the NHL and NHL Players’ Association offering a place to play if the league seeks a hub city to resume the season. Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney have also spoken to the league about staging games in Toronto and Edmonton.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment was forced to change its date for initial payments of season tickets for Maple Leafs and Raptors games following an angry backlash from season-ticket holders. The first payment was slated for May 8 but has been changed to June 8 for now. Given the uncertainty over when the NHL and NBA will return to action amid the COVID-19 pandemic, ticket holders felt MLSE was showing disregard to the fans.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports a long-time Maple Leafs and Raptors season-ticket holder said he wouldn’t return to watch live games until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine or assurance the virus has been defeated.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MLSE’s tone-deafness aside, getting fans to return to games next season could be challenging for pro sports in general and the NHL in particular, considering they’re the most gate-reliant of the major professional sports leagues.

The league plans to resume this season without fans and are considering starting next season in December in hopes social-distancing restrictions will be lifted by then. If there’s still no vaccine and little assurance the coronavirus has been contained by then, however, fans could still be reluctant to return.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks assume their arena (SAP Center) will be among the last to open for NHL games. They’re examining different scenarios for reopening once the pandemic ends based on local health guidelines.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals and the NHL condemned offensive comments made in a private group chat on social media by Brendan Leipsic and Florida Panthers forward Jack Rodewald. Leipsic made derogatory remarks toward teammates Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway, several former Vancouver Canucks teammates, and the wife of a current Canucks player.

Leipsic deleted his Instagram account and issued a statement on Twitter claiming his friend’s account was hacked and those comments were circulated on social media. He apologized for his “misogynistic and reprehensible” remarks but faces a meeting with Capitals GM Brian MacLellan to discuss the matter.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi is recovering well from an injured spleen suffered in early March, but he won’t return to action if this season resumes. He’s on track to be ready for the start of 2020-21.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks re-signed defensemen Christian Djoos and Jani Hakanpaa to one-year contract extensions Wednesday. Djoos accepted $1 million, down from $1.25 million for this season, while Hakanpaa will be paid $750,000, down from $850,000. The cuts could be linked to uncertainty over next season’s salary cap limits.

AZCENTRAL.COM: The Arizona Coyotes provided money to Gila River Arena to pay their staff during the pandemic but they’ve yet to be paid.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils will donate 10,000 tickets for next season to health care workers with RWJBarnabas Health in honor of National Nurses Day and Week.










NHL Buyout Barometer – Atlantic Division (Part 1)

NHL Buyout Barometer – Atlantic Division (Part 1)

 










NHL Rumor Mill – March 31, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 31, 2020

A look at several veterans who could face retirement in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Steven Ellis lists Dallas Stars winger Corey Perry and Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu among six pending unrestricted free agents that may have played their final NHL games if the league cancels the remainder of this season and the playoffs. Nashville Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis, Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, Pittsburgh Penguins winger Patrick Marleau, and Carolina Hurricanes winger Justin Williams round out his list.

Dallas Stars winger Corey Perry is among several veterans who may have played their final NHL games if the season doesn’t resume (Photo via NHL Images).

Perry’s low production (21 points) makes it hard to imagine another team signing him after this season. Injuries have hampered Koivu, who’s slipped down the Wild’s depth chart. He’s also shown no interest in playing elsewhere. Injuries have also taken a toll on Hamhuis’ play.

Howard’s struggles in recent years leads Ellis to suggest a club would be desperate to take a chance on the veteran netminder. Marleau didn’t manage much offense with the Penguins after being traded to Pittsburgh last month. Williams put up decent numbers following his return from a half-season hiatus, but his two-way play was rusty and his ice time reduced from last season.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently looked at which NHL players may have played their final games if the league doesn’t return to action this season.

He also notes Koivu’s Wild-or-nothing position could make things tricky for the veteran center. He also believes the Stars’ one-year gamble on Perry hasn’t worked out. However, Williams could still be an affordable option if he decides to return next season. For teams with flexibility, a player like Marleau, Toronto’s Jason Spezza or Washington’s Ilya Kovalchuk might be worthwhile signings.

Turning to defensemen, O’Brien suggests injuries could force the end of the careers of Chicago’s Brent Seabrook, Dallas’ Roman Polak, Detroit’s Jonathan Ericsson, and Trevor Daley. He also hopes St. Louis Blues rearguard Jay Bouwmeester hangs up his skates following his health scare last month. He feels Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is a “play as long as you want” option, while Hamhuis and Ottawa’s Ron Hainsey could remain good veteran options.

Among the goaltenders, Anaheim’s Ryan Miller could get nudged out the door. O’Brien wondered if Henrik Lundqvist would accept a backup role if the New York Rangers buy him out. He speculates Howard might accept less money and a reduced role to remain in the NHL. Ottawa’s Craig Anderson and Edmonton’s Mike Smith are aging and struggled in recent seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the NHL cancels this season, it will rob those on Ellis’ and O’Brien’s lists the opportunity for a last hurrah.

I think Perry, Koivu, Howard, Hamhuis, Miller, Anderson, Polak, Ericsson, and Daley have probably played their final NHL games. Bouwmeester’s cardiac incident last month will probably bring his playing days to an end.

Lundqvist’s situation will be interesting if he and the Rangers part company. He could move on to a mentor role with another club or call it a career. At this point, it could go either way.

Chara will return with the Bruins next season on another one-year, bonus-laden deal. I can see Marleau doing the same with the Sharks, though that’ll depend upon their cap space. Williams could return with the Hurricanes, but they’ll probably want a full-season commitment this time around.

Seabrook could be placed on long-term injury reserve for next season if he needs more time to recover from his surgeries. Smith’s had his inconsistencies, but he’s played well enough to remain in Edmonton in a backup role for another season.

Spezza could stick with the Leafs for another season on a cheap one-year deal. Speculation out of Montreal claims Kovalchuk is all-but-certain to return to the Canadiens on a bonus-filled one-year deal.