NHL Rumor Mill – November 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 11, 2020

A look at next year’s unrestricted free agent class in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary recently previewed the NHL’s 2021 unrestricted free agent class.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

The notable forwards include Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz, Montreal Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar, Boston Bruins center David Krejci, and Avalanche winger Brandon Saad.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin’s already signaled his intent to re-sign with the Capitals. Unless Getzlaf feels he’d like one more shot at a Stanley Cup run, I can see him staying with the Ducks on a short-term deal. The Oilers and Nugent-Hopkins are discussing a long-term contract extension. I doubt the Avalanche part ways with Landeskog and I don’t see the Blues letting Schwartz depart after losing Alex Pietrangelo to free agency this year.

Hall could stay with the Sabres if he develops strong chemistry with Jack Eichel and the club significantly improves. Otherwise, he’ll test the market again. Tatar’s inconsistency means the coming season is likely his last in Montreal. The Bruins could let Krejci go unless he accepts a significant pay cut. Saad could be a one-year rental unless the Avs fail to re-sign Landeskog.

Noteworthy defensemen on O’Leary’s list include the Carolina Hurricanes’ Dougie Hamilton, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ David Savard, the Oilers’ Adam Larsson, and the Vegas Golden Knights’ Alec Martinez.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All four could end up hitting the market next summer. Cap constraints could make it difficult for Hamilton, Larsson and Martinez to remain with their current clubs. Savard will turn 31 next October and the Jackets could be reluctant to invest too much in him for too long.

The Bruins’ Tuukka Rask, Toronto Maple Leafs’ Frederik Andersen, the Blues’ Jordan Binnington, and the Avalanche’s Philipp Grubauer are among next year’s best UFA goaltenders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see the Bruins re-signing Rask to a short-term deal provided he doesn’t opt for retirement at the end of 2020-21. Andersen is likely a goner after next season.

The Blues parted ways with Jake Allen this year by trading him to the Montreal Canadiens. Things will really have to go sideways for them to let Binnington walk next summer. Grubauer’s future in Colorado could depend upon his performance in the coming season, especially during the playoffs.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 28, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 28, 2020

The latest on Frederik Andersen plus an update on the Lightning and Ducks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes a strong regular season and playoffs in 2020-21 by Frederik Andersen will make him one of the highest-paid goaltenders in next year’s unrestricted free agent market despite the possibility of a flat cap for 2021-22. He wonders if that might serve as motivation for the 31-year-old Maple Leafs netminder.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen (NHL Images).

Koshan also mused about the recent trade chatter surrounding Andersen might put a chip on the goalie’s shoulder in his contract year. He feels the Leafs would be loath to lose the netminder to free agency next year for nothing. Trading him, however, wouldn’t be prudent, as Koshan doubts a tandem of Jack Campbell and Aaron Dell could carry the Leafs on a deep playoff run.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I didn’t put much stock into the Andersen trade rumors. The Leafs couldn’t afford to land a suitable replacement via this year’s free-agent market and the pickings were slim in the trade market.

Andersen could be moved by the 2021 trade deadline if the Leafs are out of playoff contention by then. However, I doubt that will be the case. If Andersen carries them on a long playoff run, they’ll do all they can to retain him. If not, he’ll hit the open market and the Leafs will look to the trade and free-agent markets for a new starter.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz recently examined the Tampa Bay Lightning’s current salary-cap crunch and its effect upon their efforts to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. They have $2.895 million in cap space with only 18 players under contract. They must also re-sign defenseman Erik Cernak and add another depth defenseman and forward.

The current economic climate makes Cirelli and Sergachev tempting offer-sheet targets. However, Gretz points out how rare offer sheet signings are and the difficulty in successfully signing away either player.

Gretz noted it’s tempting to wonder what the Lightning could get for Steven Stamkos after they won the Stanley Cup while he was sidelined for all but one game. However, he doesn’t expect they’ll try to move him. He listed Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat and possibly Yanni Gourde as trade candidates with Johnson the obvious after the Lightning’s efforts to move him via waivers earlier this month.

The Lightning’s current cap woes mean they’ll likely have to absorb part of Johnson’s salary or throw in a sweetener to move him. Gretz dismisses the idea of trading Cirelli or Sergachev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson has a full no-trade clause but has apparently provided an eight-team list of preferred destinations. Killorn has a 16-team no-trade list. Palat and Gourde would have to agree to waive their no-trades. It’s down to Johnson and Killorn and it’s possible both could be traded to free up sufficient cap space to address the Lightning’s needs.

While an offer sheet for Cirelli or Sergachev is still possible, I don’t believe we’ll see it. If either guy was going to sign an offer sheet it would’ve happened by now. Both players could be reluctant to go that route.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Stephens was asked who he saw as potential trade targets for the Anaheim Ducks. He feels they need an affordable young forward with scoring ability but those are tough to find.

The Ducks had an interest in Kasperi Kapanen before the Toronto Maple Leafs traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Stephens thinks they have a real interest in Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson but not at his full $5 million annual cap hit.

Stephens thought they might have been interested in Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen before the Canucks re-sign him. He noted Philadelphia’s Travis Konecny is on TSN’s trade-bait list but doubts the Flyers will part with him unless it’s for a player who can lead a franchise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe the Ducks will look to free agency for an affordable short-term option. Possibilities include Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, Anthony Duclair or Andreas Athanasiou.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 6, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 6, 2020

The first round of the 2020 NHL Draft begins at 7 pm ET. Check out all the latest trade speculation in today’s rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE LIGHTNING

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the Tampa Bay Lightning aim to be aggressive in the trade market to offload some salary. He’s heard only four players – Andrei Vasilevskiy, Victor Hedman, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov – are considered unavailable/untouchable. He also assumes the same goes for restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

McKenzie noted the absence of Steven Stamkos from the untouchables list. It doesn’t guarantee the Lightning captain gets traded but it’s possible, though he feels Stamkos’ health could be a factor.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the Lightning have approached Tyler Johnson’s representatives about a possible move. The 30-year-old forward has a full no-trade clause but LeBrun believes general manager Julien BriseBois and Johnson’s agent, J.P. Barry, want to work together to find an amicable solution.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Stamkos has a full no-movement clause and an $8.5 million annual cap hit through 2023-24. Throw in his injury history and I’ll be surprised if he’s traded.

Johnson could be agreeable to waiving his no-trade clause but his $5 million annual average value through 2023-24 could be hard to move. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if BriseBois got some inquiries about Johnson from a couple of clubs, thus prompting his reaching out to the forward’s agent. Whether Johnson will agree to a trade is another matter.

LATEST COYOTES SPECULATION

McKenzie also cited colleague Darren Dreger reporting sources claiming the Arizona Coyotes are shopping Taylor Hall’s rights. The 28-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9. McKenzie also wonders if the St. Louis Blues will make a final attempt to re-sign defenseman Alex Pietrangelo before Oct. 9.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports word out of Buffalo is the Sabres have interested in Nick Schmaltz. The Arizona Coyotes center has six years remaining on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $5.85 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like Hall has played his final game with the Coyotes. That’s not surprising given their limited cap space and Hall’s likely desire to play for a contender. As for Schmaltz, I don’t think the Coyotes are keen to move him but that could depend on what a team like the Sabres could be offering.

LATEST LEAFS CHATTER

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas doesn’t intend to trade goaltender Frederik Andersen. Recent speculation linked the Leafs to Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Matt Murray. Dubas spent the past several weeks assuring Andersen no deal was imminent. Meanwhile, Lance Hornby reports Dubas has made adding more grit to the Leafs lineup a priority.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersen wasn’t going anywhere unless Dubas could find a goalie of equal or greater value. It would be foolish to trade him if they can’t land someone who can carry them on a deep playoff run.

UPDATE ON JOSH ANDERSON

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun wonders if the Columbus Blue Jackets will attempt to move Josh Anderson before the first round of the draft kicks off tonight. There’s been no progress in contract talks with the restricted free agent winger. It’s assumed Anderson might fetch a first-round pick in a trade, though the Jackets would prefer landing a top-two center. LeBrun wondered if Montreal’s Max Domi might interest them.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Canadiens and Calgary Flames are among the clubs interested in Anderson. He also said the Jackets are considering offers for defenseman David Savard.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Anderson could be a trade target for the Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interested parties could ask the Blue Jackets to speak to Anderson’s agent about a new contract. They probably don’t want to have the hassle of a possible salary arbitration with a player they just acquired.

Domi-for-Anderson? Maybe a move that makes sense for two players that could benefit from a change of scenery but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a fit there for either club.

IN OTHER RUMORS…

Pierre LeBrun reports talks between the Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets regarding Jets winger Patrik Laine seemed to cool over the weekend. The Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets could also be interested.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets are reportedly seeking a second-line center and a top-two defenseman. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said he’s considering all his options. That doesn’t mean Laine’s going to be traded. Yes, it could happen, but the asking price will be significant, perhaps too expensive for most clubs to bear.

Defenseman Alec Martinez and center Paul Stastny could become trade options for the Vegas Golden Knights. Wingers Jonathan Marchessault and Max Pacioretty have been mentioned to LeBrun but he said there’s no clear indication from his Vegas source that the Golden Knights would move either guy.

Bob McKenzie reports Henrik Lundqvist cannot formalize a new contract until Oct. 9, when he’ll officially become an unrestricted free agent. The New York Rangers last week bought out the final season of the 38-year-old goaltender’s contract. The Washington Capitals are said to be the front-runners for Lundqvist’s services.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators GM Pierre Dorion hasn’t received an offer yet that would convince him to part with the fifth-overall pick in tonight’s draft.

Garrioch also listed Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury and Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo as possible goaltending trade targets for the Senators. Free-agent options could include Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, Washington’s Braden Holtby, Chicago Corey Crawford, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, Detroit’s Jimmy Howard and Edmonton’s Mike Smith.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater reports Avalanche trade talks are heating up, though it could take until the end of the week before a deal gets done. He’s hearing Nikita Zadorov’s name coming up in trade rumors. The 25-year-old defenseman is a restricted free agent. Dater claims there have been no contract discussions with the Avs. Center Tyson Jost and winger Valeri Nichushkin have also surfaced recently in the rumor mill.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 5, 2020

The latest on Patrik Laine, Tyler Johnson and Matt Murray plus updates on the Leafs and Flames in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE LATEST ON LAINE

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s talk the Philadelphia Flyers are making “an aggressive push” to acquire Patrik Laine. He believes they have the ability to make a deal for the left-winger if the right fit can be found with the Winnipeg Jets.

Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine (NHL Images).

A league executive speculated the Flyers could see if the Jets have an interest in Shayne Gostisbehere. The defenseman has three years remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $4.5 million. The Jets could also want a second-line center as part of the return.

Garrioch said the Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens are believed to have made pitches for Laine. He thinks the Jets would want center Phillip Danault in return. He also claims the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild and Florida Panthers all have interest in the winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think the Jets would be interested in Gostisbehere given the decline in his stock over the last two years. Ivan Provorov or Travis Sanheim would be more to their liking and I don’t see the Flyers parting with either guy in a package deal for Laine.

The Blue Jackets need more offense but I believe they’re more interested in landing a scoring center. I suspect the Jets could ask for Zach Werenski as part of the return. Recent reports out of Montreal suggest Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin isn’t pursuing Laine because of the high asking price. Of course, he could always change his mind.

LIGHTNING DISCUSSING TRADE WITH JOHNSON

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports hearing the Tampa Bay Lightning have talked to Tyler Johnson’s representatives about working together on a possible trade. The 30-year-old forward has a full no-trade clause and four years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $5 million. “Let’s see where this goes,” said LeBrun.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports there’s talk Johnson has no interest in waiving his clause. If not, other trade options could include Ondrej Palat, Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn. CapFriendly indicates Palat and Gourde also have full no-trade clauses while Killorn has a 16-team no-trade list.

UPDATE ON MURRAY

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s a chance the Pittsburgh Penguins will trade Matt Murray before the draft ends on Wednesday. If not, he’ll receive a qualifying offer from the Penguins. Garrioch believes Murray will get $5 million to $6 million via arbitration. The Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators have kicked tires on Murray. It’s believed the Penguins would prefer shipping him to a Western Conference club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was rumored the Penguins sought a first-round pick from the Oilers for Murray. That asking price could explain why he hasn’t been traded yet. The deadline for qualifying offers is Oct. 7 at 5 pm ET.

THE LATEST ON THE LEAFS

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports of ongoing speculation of a Matt Murray/Jack Campbell reunion with the Maple Leafs. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas had Murray and Campbell as his goalie tandem when he was general manager of the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds in 2011-12.

Hornby feels Dubas can’t afford to lose current Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen to free agency next summer. Signing Murray, 26, for the long-term would be preferable to doing the same for the 31-year-old Andersen. However, Hornby wonders if Dubas envisions Campbell becoming the Leafs’ No. 1 goalie, which would put less pressure on him to find a replacement for Andersen.

Regarding rumors linking the Leafs to Alex Pietrangelo, Hornby doubts they can free up sufficient cap space to sign the St. Louis Blues defenseman if he hits the open market on Friday. He points out Morgan Rielly is slated for a new contract in 2022, making him difficult to re-sign if they invest heavily in Pietrangelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas reportedly told Andersen that he’s received calls from other clubs expressing interest in the Leafs starter but he’s not shopping the netminder. I don’t believe Dubas will trade him unless he can get a suitable replacement. That might not be Murray, who’s struggled with injuries and consistency over the last two seasons.

Unless Pietrangelo’s willing to accept a one- or two-year deal, I don’t see him coming to Toronto. Even then, it wouldn’t make sense for the Leafs to shed a lot of cap space to invest in him on a short-term basis.

IS A BIG MOVE COMING FOR THE FLAMES?

CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson thinks Flames GM Brad Treliving will make a splash this week. It could be a blockbuster trade, a marquee free-agent signing, or both. Treliving has $17 million in cap space and some top-end talents rumored to be trade bait.

Gilbertson believes the Flames GM has an interest in Jacob Markstrom. The Vancouver Canucks goalie is slated to become a UFA on Friday and could see a deal equivalent to the five-year, $25-million contract that Robin Lehner inked Saturday with the Vegas Golden Knights. The Flames have also been linked to Alex Pietrangelo, but Gilbertson suggests Vancouver blueliner Chris Tanev would be a more affordable option.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames will be worth watching this week. There was considerable disappointment in their performance this season and in the playoffs. There was talk of shopping a top-line forward like Johnny Gaudreau or Sean Monahan but Treliving could be unwilling to go that route right now.

They definitely need to improve their goaltending if Cam Talbot isn’t re-signed. Markstrom or Braden Holtby could be on their radar. I also don’t see them landing Pietrangelo but I don’t think Tanev is the right fit. Treliving could go the trade route to address his blueline needs.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2020

The latest on Matt Dumba, Brock Boeser, Darcy Kuemper, Frederik Andersen, Phillip Danault and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts”, Elliotte Friedman believes Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin will continue trying to build up his depth at center. There’s interest in defenseman Matt Dumba, a good player signed to a good contract.

Friedman suggested the Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks, and Calgary Flames could be among the suitors. The Jets can’t offer up a center but perhaps the Wild might be interested in a skilled winger. Same goes for the Canucks though Friedman isn’t convinced they’d move winger Brock Boeser. He feels the Flames could do it.

He also noted Guerin’s predecessor pursued Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander. However, the Leafs weren’t inclined to move him then and Friedman isn’t convinced that’s changed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s media speculation suggesting Patrik Laine or Nikolaj Ehlers could be available, but I don’t see the Jets parting with either guy for Dumba. Boeser told The Province he doesn’t want to be traded and doesn’t expect to be. Boeser-for-Dumba seems reasonable, but it wouldn’t address the Wild’s need for a first-line center unless they flip Boeser to another team for a center.

If the Flames are willing to move Sean Monahan, a Dumba-for-Monahan swap would work, but that would leave the Flames in need of a first-line center. Nylander can play center but he’s at his best on the wing. Guerin may be willing to take a chance on Marcus Johansson as a center but I don’t think he’s going to take any chances with his first-line center spot.

Friedman believes players who’ve been paid their bonuses and have low actual salaries for 2020-21 will be attractive trade targets. They include Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen, Arizona Coyotes center Derek Stepan, and New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, though he has an additional year remaining on his contract. Friedman also said Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has reached out twice to Andersen to say teams are interested in him, but he’s not actively shopping him and isn’t interested in any offer he doesn’t consider an improvement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Credit Dubas for being upfront with Andersen about the trade chatter. If he doesn’t get offered a better goaltender, Andersen won’t be going anywhere. Stepan or Subban could interest clubs looking to reach the cap floor. Both have seen their stock tumble over the last couple of years so there might not be much interest in either guy.

Friedman speculates Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito is going to be asked about Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad and Jonathan Huberdeau. He doesn’t see Barkov going anywhere but expects Zito will move one of the big tickets on his blueline to create flexibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Ekblad gets moved. Keith Yandle ($6.35 million through 2022-23) has a full no-movement clause while Anton Stralman ($5.5 million through 2021-22) carries a 16-team no-trade list. The most likely candidate is Mike Matheson ($4.875 million through 2025-26). He lacks no-trade protection and has popped up in this season’s rumor mill.

The Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks are among the clubs asking about Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper. The Boston Bruins, Flames and Oilers have inquired about Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson while the Colorado Avalanche asked about Niklas Hjalmarsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of speculation about the status of those Coyotes in recent weeks, especially given recent reports of the club’s money troubles. However, they’ve hired an experienced executive in Bill Armstrong as their new GM. Depending on what ownership wants, I feel he’s the right guy to navigate this situation.

Coyotes insider Craig Morgan recently cast doubt on the idea of the Coyotes trading Kuemper for draft picks and prospects. If they shop Ekman-Larsson and he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause, Morgan suggested the Boston Bruins as a destination if they lose Torey Krug to free agency next month. He thinks cost-controlled young players like defenseman Brandon Carlo and winger Jake DeBrusk could be attractive to the Coyotes.

Speaking of the Oilers’ rumored interest in Kuemper, the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples feels they could stick with Mikko Koskinen. Jim Matheson feels the Oilers would be better off acquiring a 1-A like Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk or a promising young goalie like the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev, though he’s probably out of reach.

Friedman claims Montreal Canadiens center Phillip Danault’s name is “out there” and there’s definitely interest, but rival general managers aren’t sure what Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin will do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault’s name may be out there but Friedman doesn’t say if he’s being actively shopped or if clubs are calling to make inquiries. I think the Habs would be foolish to part with Danault and I’m not the only one who shares that view.

The Chicago Blackhawks and goalie Corey Crawford initially weren’t seeing eye-to-eye on the dollar value of a contract extension. Crawford knew there would be a pay cut but the amount was the issue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis noted Friedman’s inclusion of the Blackhawks among the clubs making inquiries about Kuemper, who has a two-year deal worth $4.5-million annually. Rather than part with assets to acquire Kuemper, Roumeliotis suggests simply paying Crawford a similar contract.

If the Vegas Golden Knights were willing to buy out Marc-Andre Fleury, Friedman wouldn’t be surprised to see him return to the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, he doubts Vegas would go that route in this economy.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 12, 2020

The latest on the Leafs, Canucks and Blues in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports the Maple Leafs haven’t been actively shopping goaltender Frederik Andersen, but it behooves general manager Kyle Dubas to listen to offers. A high number of goalies potentially available via the trade and free-agent markets could affect Dubas’ final decision on Andersen. Koshan expects Andersen will still be a Leaf when next season opens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So do I unless Dubas can find a replacement who’s as good or better than Andersen.

Michael Traikos believes the Leafs shouldn’t waste their time pursuing an expensive defenseman such as St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo. Instead, he suggests signing a more affordable physical option like Mark Borowiecki, who’s heading to the free-agent market after several seasons with the Ottawa Senators. While Borowiecki isn’t the right-shot blueliner the Leafs seek, he would add a much-needed element of toughness to their roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Dubas can’t find that top-pairing right-side rearguard, he might be forced to consider one or two affordable depth alternatives. Someone like Borowiecki could be among those options depending on how much cap space Dubas can free up.

SPORTSNET: Florida’s Aaron Ekblad, Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, St. Louis’ Colton Parayko, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen and Vancouver’s Troy Stecher are among Luke Fox’s list of 15 intriguing blueline trade targets for the Leafs.

Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Carolina’s Brett Pesce, Arizona’s Niklas Hjalmarsson, Columbus’ David Savard and Minnesota’s Jonas Brodin are also on Fox’s list. The remainder includes Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm, Chicago’s Connor Murphy, Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar and Edmonton’s Adam Larsson and Matt Benning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt Ekblad, Dumba, Parayko and Pesce are available. Ristolainen was rumored to be on the trade block a year ago but Sabres coach Ralph Krueger loves his game so he’s probably off the market. Manson’s a possibility but the Ducks will want a good scoring forward (preferably a center) in return. Ditto the Wild with Brodin and the Blue Jackets with Savard. 

The Coyotes could try to move Hjalmarsson in a cost-cutting deal provided he waives his no-movement clause. The asking price for Ekholm could also be a scoring forward. Stecher is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and could hit the trade block if the Canucks can’t afford to re-sign him.

Larsson, Benning and Murphy have surfaced in offseason trade chatter. The Panthers could cut some payroll but I think they want to re-sign Weegar.

Rory Boylen, meanwhile, wondered if Dubas might flip his recently-acquired first-round pick (15th overall) to upgrade the defense corps, seek out further salary-slicing deals that would involve moving a mid-level contract like Alexander Kerfoot ($3.5 million), Andreas Johnsson ($3.4 million) and Pierre Engvall ($1.2 million), or explore options for Andersen’s replacement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I won’t be surprised if Dubas flips that first-rounder in a deal for a top-four defenseman. They want to win right now and already have enough youth on the roster.

CANUCKS

SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports Tyler Toffoli’s willingness to re-sign with the Vancouver Canucks creates another salary-cap headache for GM Jim Benning. Toffoli, 28, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9, along with goaltender Jacob Markstrom and defenseman Chris Tanev. Toffoli earned an annual average value of $4.6 million on his current contract and his next deal could be worth between $5-$6 million annually.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Tanev also wants to re-sign with the Canucks. Unless the club can free up some salary-cap space, keeping the 30-year-old defenseman won’t be easy. Benning remains hopeful of re-signing the long-time Canucks blueliner. Johnston urges caution, pointing out a decade of wear-and-tear have taken a tool upon Tanev’s performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston points out the Canucks have $15 million in cap space. Unless Benning can shed a salary or two, there won’t be enough room to re-sign Markstrom, Toffoli and Tanev. Even then, Tanev would be the odd man out. The combined cost of re-signing Markstrom and Toffoli could be at least $11 million.

Toffoli won’t lack for suitors if he hits the open market. In a recent mailbag segment, The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz suggests he’d be a good target for the San Jose Sharks.

BLUES

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Jeremy Rutherford reported a source claimed the St. Louis Blues offered Alex Pietrangelo a five-year deal worth close to $7 million than $8 million annually. It’s believed the 30-year-old defenseman isn’t happy with the offers he’s received.

It’s believed Pietrangelo could settle for something between $8-$9 million. Rutherford expects negotiations to continue, but sources say if Pietrangelo’s wife wasn’t from St. Louis and they hadn’t started their family there he might’ve already told the Blues he’s moving on.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Pietrangelo won’t come down from his asking price the Blues must shed more salary to re-sign him or bid him farewell. Plenty of time remains until the free-agent market opens on Oct. 9 to hammer out an agreement.

Rutherford acknowledged the trade chatter about Vince Dunn, but he believes the Blues want to keep him. He’s a restricted free agent without arbitration rights, giving the club control over his contract. Barring a holdout, they could re-sign him for next season between $2.5 – $3 million. Maybe they trade him if they cannot re-sign him beyond 2020-21.

Rutherford also expects the Blues will do everything they can to re-sign winger Jaden Schwartz, but if Pietrangelo re-signs, he could become a cap casualty. He’s got a year left on his contract with an AAV of $5.35 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford also touched on the possibility of the Blues getting $7.5 million in cap relief next season if Vladimir Tarasenko is on long-term injury reserve throughout the season. He’s projected for reevaluation of his surgically-repaired shoulder in December or January, but could be sidelined longer. Right now, there’s no certainty he’ll be out for the entire season.