NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 15, 2020

The Canadiens sign Brendan Gallagher and Jake Allen to contract extensions, Golden Knights owner believes 2020-21 season will begin on Feb. 1, an update on Joe Thornton and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed winger Brendan Gallagher and goaltender Jake Allen to contract extensions. Gallagher inked a six-year, $39-million deal while Allen’s is two years with an annual average value of $2.875 million.

Montreal Canadiens sign Brendan Gallagher to a six-year contract extension (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallagher’s new contract came a day following a report claiming contract talks had broken down. The two sides wasted little time circling back and working things out. Cap Friendly indicates it’s an annual cap hit of $6.5 million, making the 28-year-old winger the Canadiens’ highest-paid forward. It also comes with a modified no-trade clause and a no-movement clause, ensuring he won’t be exposed to next year’s expansion draft.

It’s not surprising the Canadiens locked up Gallagher given his offensive consistency and his status as their heart-and-soul player. It should prove worthwhile through the first half of the deal but could become a salary-cap headache in the latter half as his performance declines.

The Allen deal was a bit of a surprise as it was expected he would only be with the Habs for a year and depart next year via free agency. His new contract is affordable but lacks no-movement protection, meaning he’ll be available in next year’s NHL expansion draft. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin could attempt to cut a deal with Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis to ensure Allen remains a Hab.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley told a Las Vegas radio station he sees the 2020-21 NHL season beginning on Feb. 1, a full month after the league’s official target date of Jan. 1. He also believes the schedule could be between 48 to 56 games. Foley feels the fate of next season relies on fans returning to the arenas, citing the NHL’s status as a gate-driven league.

Foley dismissed the possibility of the teams playing in quarantine cities as they did during the 2020 playoffs, calling it unfeasible over the course of a season. He instead mentioned the possibility of some sort of short-term divisional realignment, hinting at an all-Canadian division if the Canada-USA border remains closed by COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Foley isn’t saying anything that hasn’t already been speculated by fans and pundits. However, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman could frown on Foley’s remarks. He usually doesn’t stand for owners talking that freely about the league’s plans. Officially, the NHL and NHL Players Association are aiming for a full 82-game regular-season beginning Jan. 1.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson said he’s been in frequent contact with Joe Thornton but declined to say if the long-time Sharks center would return with the club next season. Wilson’s comments, however, make it sound as though he’d welcome Thornton’s return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent rumors have tied Thornton with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but there’s an ongoing belief he could return for another season with the Sharks.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins team president Cam Neely denied the club has imposed an internal salary cap lower than the league’s $81.5 million cap. Recent conjecture suggested financial losses suffered by team owner Jeremy Jacobs’ hospitality empire during the pandemic was behind the club’s limited activity in the free-agent and trade markets.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators avoided arbitration with forward Nick Paul by signing him to a two-year, one-way contract worth an annual average value of $1.35 million.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames recently signed free-agent goaltender Louis Domingue to a one-year, $700K contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 3, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 3, 2020

We’ve been dealing with a publishing problem since September 2. We’re working on the issue and hope to have it resolved soon. Here’s a brief look at the latest notable NHL trade rumors.

MURRAY AND ANDERSEN: TSN’s Darren Dreger believes Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has had a lingering interest in Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray going back to their days with the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds. Dreger believes Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has an offer on the table that he would consider for Murray, but he doesn’t believe it’s from the Leafs. They would have to find a landing spot for current starter Frederik Andersen.

The Athletic’s Pierre Lebrun cited sources saying the Leafs have had some inquiries about Andersen, who has a 10-team no-trade list. However, he thinks some teams could consider the free-agent market before going the trade route.

TAYLOR HALL: Dreger reports the Arizona Coyotes are expected to make another offer to pending UFA winger Taylor Hall. It sounds like there was good discussion between Coyotes brass and Hall’s agent but the lure of free agency is tempting. The Coyotes search for a new GM could complicate things.

PATRIK LAINE: The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Winnipeg Jets aren’t shopping Patrik Laine and he doesn’t think there’s a strong possibility the winger will be traded. Nevertheless, LeBrun suggested the Carolina Hurricanes as a possible trade partner because of their blueline depth. Just for fun, he proposed a package of Brett Pesce and Vincent Trocheck for Laine.

The Winnipeg Sun’s Scott Billeck is the latest Winnipeg pundit against the idea of the Jets trading Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers to address their blueline and second-line center needs.

ALEX PIETRANGELO: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports the St. Louis Blues trading Jake Allen to Montreal yesterday could foreshadow the club’s effort to re-sign pending UFA Alex Pietrangelo. The Blues need to shed cap space to make it happen, but Rutherford cites league sources saying the two sides aren’t close to an extension and nothing is imminent.

BRUINS: ESPN.com’s Greg Wyshynski believes the Boston Bruins must decide if they’ll re-sign pending UFA defenseman Torey Krug. Both sides have said they’d like to work out an extension. Several of the Bruins’ stars are on cap-friendly deals, but Krug could get some big offers on the open market. He also feels the Bruins should take one last run at the Cup with their current core, but advocates more roster tinkering. They should also determine if goalie Tuukka Rask still intends to return for the final year of his contract.

NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty believes the Bruins could have a different look next season. He feels they must begin transitioning from their aging core toward a young one build around David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy, and they must get bigger up front.

HENRIK LUNDQVIST: New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist has returned with his family to start the school year in New York. He has a year left on his contract. However, he faces an uncertain future with the Blueshirts as the club transitions toward young goalies Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev. It’s unknown if he might retire or seek to continue his career with another NHL team.

MAX DOMI: The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin suggested the Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets, Winnipeg Jets and San Jose Sharks as possible destinations for Max Domi if the Montreal Canadiens decide to trade him. Those clubs all need depth at center.

BLUES TRADE ALLEN TO MONTREAL: The St. Louis Blues traded goaltender Jake Allen and a seventh-round pick in 2022 to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for two picks in the 2020 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The picks are the Washington Capitals third-rounder and the Chicago Blackhawks seventh-rounder.

Moving Allen wasn’t a surprise. The Blues must free up salary-cap space if they hope to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo and fellow defenseman Vince Dunn.

This deal sheds Allen’s $4.35-million cap hit for next season, giving the Blues $75.1 million invested in 20 players for 2020-21. That won’t be enough to re-sign both blueliners, assuming that’s the intent of Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. More moves could be coming.

The Canadiens, meanwhile, land a reliable backup for starter Carey Price. Allen, 30, had his struggles as a full-time starter in St. Louis but put up solid numbers backing up Jordan Binnington this season.

Allen is an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2020-21, so it’ll be interesting to see how well he fits in with Price. In the meantime, his presence should buy promising Cayden Primeau some time to develop his game with their AHL affiliate in Laval.

Acquiring Allen leaves the Canadiens with $67.4 million invested in 17 players. Depending on how things shake out with restricted free agent Max DomI, there’s enough room to make another significant addition or two.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 22, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 22, 2020

What next for the Canadiens and Blues now that their seasons are over? Is Jesse Puljujarvi close to re-signing with the Oilers? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CANADIENS

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Julian McKenzie believes the Montreal Canadiens have good reason to be optimistic over their future following their surprising performance in the 2020 postseason. Nevertheless, they have some issues to address. They must land a proven scoring forward and a reliable backup goaltender for Carey Price.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski believes the Canadiens must reevaluate core forwards Jonathan Drouin, Tomas Tatar, Brendan Gallagher, Max Domi, and Phillip Danault. He wonders if they’ll move any of them to make room for promising youngsters like Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. He feels they need more size on the wing and must sort out the left side of their blueline.

Has Max Domi played his final game with the Montreal Canadiens? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All those forwards Wyshynski mentioned lack no-trade protection. I don’t see the Canadiens moving away from Drouin after he developed some chemistry with Suzuki during the postseason. Gallagher is a heart-and-soul guy so he’s not going anywhere. Neither is Danault, who could move down into a third-line center role with Suzuki and Kotkaniemi on the rise. Tatar is an unrestricted free agent next summer and I expect the Habs will keep him for next season and see what unfolds.

That leaves Domi, a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who was a fixture in the Montreal trade rumor mill throughout this season. That speculation grew louder given his lackluster playoff performance. Granted, he was a late arrival to training camp over COVID-19 concerns given his health conditions. He may have been nursing an injury. Nevertheless, he could become the odd man out.

TVA Sports recently cited The Athletic’s Michael Russo including Domi on his list of possible trade targets for the Minnesota Wild. There’s also some chatter linking Domi to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It remains to be seen if those clubs have any interest in him or if Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin intends to shop him. Still, I expect this isn’t the last time Domi’s name surfaces in the rumor mill.

BLUES

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan wonders what the future holds for Alex Pietrangelo now that the St. Louis Blues are out of the playoffs. The Blues captain becomes an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He wants to stay in St. Louis and the Blues want to keep him, but he’s in line for a lucrative new contract. Because of the flat salary cap, Kaplan expects a compromise could be worked out between the two sides.

The cap-strapped Blues will have to move out some contracts to make it work. Kaplan suggested goaltender Jake Allen’s trade value has never been higher. Other veterans could be on the move, such as Tyler Bozak, Jaden Schwartz, Alexander Steen, or Carl Gunnarsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have over $79.4 million invested in 21 players, with Pietrangelo and restricted free agent Vince Dunn to re-sign. Keeping both means shedding some salary even if they’re willing to accept hometown discounts.

Steen has a full no-trade until next February and there probably wouldn’t be much interest in a 36-year-old forward with a $5.75-million cap hit. Schwartz has a modified no-trade but he’s also a valuable part of their core forwards. Bozak is 34 and carries a $5-million cap hit through next season with a 10-team no-trade clause.

Allen’s solid performance this season, his cost-effective $4.35-million cap hit for next season and lack of no-trade protection makes him the most likely trade option. Gunnarsson has a five-team no-trade but the 33-year-old carries an affordable $1.75 million cap hit through next season. Moving those two, however, won’t free up enough room for Pietrangelo and Dunn. GM Doug Armstrong will have to get creative.

OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Bruce McCurdy cites Sportsnet’s Mark Spector reporting there have been quiet discussions between Oilers GM Ken Holland and the agent for unsigned winger Jesse Puljujarvi. After contacting both sides, Spector expects Puljujarvi will sign a new contract with the Oilers and join them in training camp in the fall.

(NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: A restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract, Puljujarvi spent last season in Finland awaiting what he hoped would be a trade from the Oilers. Holland, however, reportedly didn’t find any offers to his liking. Looks like Puljujarvi realizes if he wants to continue his NHL career, it’ll have to be with the Oilers.

SPORTSNET: Spector also recently reported Holland isn’t sure yet whether he’ll re-sign Mike Smith for another season or find another goaltender to share the crease with Mikko Koskinen. The Oilers GM has only so many assets and cap space to improve his roster for next season.

Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry could be available in the trade market. The Blues could look at moving one of their goaltenders to free up the cap room for Alex Pietrangelo.

Spector doesn’t see Holland pursuing Washington’s Braden Holtby via free agency and doesn’t expect the Vancouver Canucks will part ways with Jacob Markstrom. That leaves Vegas’ Robin Lehner as the best under-30 UFA option. 

(AGAIN, NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Oilers should prioritize improving their goaltending depth. Landing Lehner seems unlikely as he’ll want a big raise on a long-term contract. Trading for Allen is one possibility, though his inconsistency throughout his career is a concern. Murray could be peddled by the Penguins but his injury history and consistency issues are red flags. Holtby is far too expensive and Markstrom’s probably not going anywhere.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2020

The latest on the Rangers, Red Wings, and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes a strong postseason by Tony DeAngelo could increase his value when he negotiates his new contract and in the trade market. The Rangers defenseman is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights at the season’s end.

New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo (NHL Images).

Brooks feels the only path for a long-term deal for the young blueliner is moving him to the left side of the Rangers’ blueline. Trading DeAngelo would leave the Blueshirts scrambling to find an affordable veteran third-pairing, right-shot rearguard via free agency.

A strong playoff tournament by third-line center Filip Chytil could affect how the Rangers management approach contract talks with second-line center Ryan Strome, who’s also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Brooks would be shocked if they give Strome a long-term deal, especially when they’ll have to pay Mika Zibanejad $10 million annually to keep him off the UFA market in 2022. It would also keep Chytil relegated to the third line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers have over $67 million tied up in 15 players for next season, with DeAngelo, Strome, Jesper Fast, Brendan Lemieux, and Alexandar Georgiev among their notable free agents. It could be a tight squeeze fitting them within their cap payroll unless they shed a salary, which explains in part the speculation suggesting they could buy out the final season of Henrik Lundqvist’s contract.

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan reports acquiring a goaltender is among this off-season’s top priorities for Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman. He’s skeptical the rebuilding Wings can entice any of this summer’s notable UFA goalies unless they overpay.

Khan suggests Yzerman go shopping via the trade market. Possible options include Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jake Allen of the St. Louis Blues, or Alexandar Georgiev of the New York Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khan suggests bringing one of them in as long-term or stop-gap measures. Yzerman could prefer the long term.

Murray, Jarry, and Georgiev are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. The Wings GM could swing a deal acquiring one of them after they’re signed to a new contract.

Allen is a year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent. Assuming Yzerman was interested, he could seek assurances Allen would re-sign before trying to acquire him.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Hailey Salvian recently examined which Ottawa Senators’ free agents are staying or going. She doesn’t see them keeping Craig Anderson, Mikkel Boedker, Scott Sabourin or Matthew Peca, and feels it’s 50-50 UFAs Ron Hainsey and Mark Borowiecki are re-signed.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 16, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 16, 2020

Some potential Red Wings trade targets, the Predators’ cap crunch, and the latest on Ilya Kovalchuk in today’s NHL rumor mill.

POSSIBLE RED WINGS TRADE TARGETS

THE DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan lists several potential trade options for the Detroit Red Wings. With only $46.2 million invested in 11 players next season, they have enough room to re-sign their key free agents and target cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary.

Could Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson became a trade target for the Detroit Red Wings? (Photo via NHL Images)

Kulfan suggests Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde, and Alex Killorn could interest the Wings. They could also set their sights on Pittsburgh Penguins goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry, St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen and winger Jaden Schwartz, and Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson and Gourde each have a full no-trade clause while Killorn carries a modified no-trade. They all know Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman from his days as Lightning GM. That could sway one of them to approve a move to Detroit, but it’s not a certainty.

Schwartz also has a modified no-trade clause. He could be reluctant to include the rebuilding Wings on his list of preferred destinations.

Murray, Jarry, Allen, Kapanen, and Johnsson would be easier targets because they lack no-trade protection.

PREDATORS FACING CAP CRUNCH

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Adam Vingan recently explored how the Nashville Predators could fill multiple holes on their roster with limited cap space next season. They have 17 players under contract for next season with roughly $9.3 million in cap room.

Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith are their notable unrestricted free agents. Vingan speculated the 28-year-old Granlund might be receptive to a two-year deal while the 31-year-old Smith could seek term, though the latter might be open to accepting less money.

Buying out center Kyle Turris could also free up some cap room. He has four years left on his contract worth $6 million annually. A buyout would see the Predators carry $2 million in dead-cap space through 2028. Vingan considered it difficult to believe GM David Poile will pull off a big trade to clear cap space, noting he’s never retained salary in a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Poile is willing to retain part of Turris’ salary in a trade, buying him out could be his only option to free up valuable cap space for next season. A rival club could take on Turris if some salary was retained, but Poile could be squeezed to add a draft pick or a quality prospect in the deal. The remaining four years on his contract, however, could be a deal-breaker.

LATEST ON KOVALCHUK

TVA SPORTS: Washington Capitals winger Ilya Kovalchuk said he’s stayed in contact with several of his former Montreal Canadiens teammates. Kovalchuk enjoyed a solid bounce-back performance with the Habs after they acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings. He was shipped to the Capitals before the February trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk enjoyed his brief time in Montreal. Speculation persists suggesting Kovalchuk could return to the Canadiens next season on a one-year, bonus-laden contract.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 12, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – July 12, 2020

Three teams and five pending UFAs hurt the most by a flat cap in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, and St. Louis Blues as the three teams hurt the most by the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million for 2020-21.

The Leafs have over $76.9 million invested in next season’s cap payroll, the Lightning $76.1 million, and the Blues $79.425 million.

Notable Leafs due for new contracts include Jason Spezza, Kyle Clifford, Travis Dermott, and Ilya Mikheyev. Defensemen Tyson Barrie and Codi Ceci are all but certain to depart via unrestricted free agency. The limited cap room could also be a problem next year when goaltender Frederik Anderson becomes eligible for UFA status.

Could a flat salary cap force the Toronto Maple Leafs to trade William Nylander? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s widely assumed Leafs general manager Kyle Duba will make a cost-cutting move or two. The Toronto Sun’s Michael Traikos believes a forward like Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or even William Nylander and his $6.9 million cap hit could be traded in the off-season.

Dubas supposedly promised Nylander he wouldn’t be traded as long as he was the GM, but an unexpected flat cap could provide the perfect excuse. There would be considerable interest in Nylander, but perhaps not that much in his cap hit. 

The Lightning has two good young players in defenseman Mikhail Sergachev and center Anthony Cirelli as restricted free agents in the off-season. A new contract for Cirelli alone could take up all of their cap room. Boylen points out winger Alex Killorn’s full no-trade clause becomes a 16-team no-trade at the end of this season, suggesting the Lightning might have to explore those 14 trade options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Killorn seems the most likely Lightning trade candidate when this season ends. Some have also suggested Tyler Johnson or Yanni Gourde but they’ve got full no-trade clauses and could be unwilling to waive them.

The Blues will have to make a couple of salary-dumping deals if they hope to re-sign defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn. Boylen wonders if Colton Parayko, Tyler Bozak, David Perron, or Jake Allen hit the trade block.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen seems a likely trade candidate now that Jordan Binnington’s secured his place as the Blues’ No.1 goaltender. Bozak and Perron have modified no-trade clauses. Of the two, the 32-year-old Perron would have more value than the 34-year-old Bozak, but Perron also has two years (at $4 million annually) left on his contract while Bozak has just one year at $5 million.

Lots of clubs would line up to land Parayko but I don’t think Blues GM Doug Armstrong wants to move him. In a recent mailbag segment, Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch proposed winger Jaden Schwartz as a possible trade option if the Blues re-sign Pietrangelo.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Speaking of Pietrangelo, Ryan Kennedy recently lists the Blues’ captain among five free agents who could get hurt by the flattened salary cap. The others include Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall, Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom, Vegas Golden Knights netminder Robin Lehner, and Carolina Hurricanes blueliner Sami Vatanen.

Kennedy speculates those five won’t enjoy the big-money free-agent bonanza they would otherwise get in a normal off-season. Some, like Pietrangelo or Markstrom, might have to accept a hometown discount on short-term deals if they wish to stay with their current clubs. The others might also end up having to accept a shorter term or less money.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They won’t be the only unrestricted free agents likely to be disappointed by what they’ll likely get in the open market. A few, like Pietrangelo, could still get top dollar but could find those offers coming from rebuilding clubs with plenty of salary-cap space. Those players could be unwilling to join those clubs and instead accept shorter contracts for less money from contenders.