NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2020

Check out the latest Canadiens speculation plus updates on Braden Holtby, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Lias Anderson in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Andrew Berkshire was asked if the Montreal Canadiens should attempt to sign Dustin Byfuglien. The 35-year-old defenseman’s contract with the Winnipeg Jets was mutually terminated earlier this year.

Assuming Byfuglien is interested in continuing his NHL career, Berkshire doesn’t see a fit in Montreal. His age, injury history, and questions about his commitment to play are big warning flags.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens must bolster their blueline depth next season, but Byfuglien isn’t the answer here. We don’t know if he’s even interested in playing again. Assuming he is, those factors Berkshire raised will be significant issues.

HOLTBY TO THE FLAMES?

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (Photo via NHL Images).

Berkshire was also asked where he thinks Braden Holtby will end up after this season. The Washington Capitals goaltender is due to become an unrestricted free agent. Berkshire said he’d be shocked if Holtby wants more than a one-year deal or if a club is willing to give him one. He points to the 30-year-old netminder’s recent struggles and feels he needs to prove himself again as a starter.

He believes the best option for Holtby is joining a team that is somewhat established but lacking a top-end goalie and with a highly touted prospect who could claim the net by 2021-22. He suggested the Calgary Flames, as Holtby could provide support for David Rittich with the Flames having to rush promising Dustin Wolf. However, that might not be necessary if Cam Talbot wants to return on a short-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap constraints could prevent the Flames from signing Holtby. As per Cap Friendly, they have over $64.5 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21. RFAs include Andrew Mangiapane, Mark Jankowski, and Oliver Kylington, while the UFAs include T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Erik Gustafsson, and Michael Stone.

UPDATE ON GOSTISBEHERE

PHILLY.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Sam Carchidi was asked if the Philadelphia Flyers were looking for a trade partner for Shayne Gostisbehere. While the 26-year-old defenseman struggled this season, the Flyers aren’t looking to just give him away. If they do try to move Gostisbehere, Carchidi thinks the asking price could be a young forward with 20-goal potential or a second-round draft pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere has frequently surfaced in this season’s rumor mill. Following the trade deadline, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher denied Gostisbehere was on the trade block. Considering the growing depth on the Flyers’ blueline and their need for secondary scoring, Ghost Bear will probably remain the subject of trade speculation.

LATEST ON ANDERSSON

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Lias Andersson told Rangers president John Davidson he wants to remain a Ranger, but he declined an invitation to attend next month’s training camp leading to the 2020 Stanley Cup tournament. Brooks wonders if Andersson will ever don a Rangers jersey again.

Last December, Andersson returned home to Sweden and demanded a trade, prompting the Rangers to suspend him. Both sides agreed he would be allowed to play for his hometown club for the remainder of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersson has popped up from time to time in trade rumors, usually linking him to Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi, who spent this season in Finland after requesting a trade. Most of the trade chatter suggests little or no interest in the once-promising young center.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 26, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 26, 2020

In today’s NHL rumor mill, we look at the latest Oilers speculation and some suggested backup goaltender options for the Ducks.

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Mark Spector was asked if the Edmonton Oilers would be able to trade Kris Russell, and if Matt Benning would be retained and traded or let go.

Russell’s annual average value is $4 million through 2020-21. The 33-year-old defenseman is seeing third-pairing minutes on the Oilers’ blueline. Benning, 26, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

Spector feels general manager Ken Holland’s ability to move Russell will impinge on what he’ll offer Benning. He doesn’t see much sense in cutting Benning loose but expects he or Russell is likely to be moved to make way for a younger rearguard like Caleb Jones or Evan Bouchard.

Speculation persists linking Jesse Puljujarvi to the New York Rangers (Photo via NHL Images).

Asked if the Oilers could buy out Russell or winger James Neal, Spector doesn’t expect that to happen unless the NHL offers up compliance buyouts in the off-season.

(NOT MARK) SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in Russell’s play and his cap hit will make him difficult enough to move. It gets tougher when his 10-team no-trade list climbs to 15 teams for 2020-21. They also can’t bury him in the minors because he has no-movement protection. Maybe they find a taker in the off-season, but I doubt it. I also agree with “Cousin Mark” about the buyout option.

Benning, meanwhile, could end up on the trade block if his contract talks become contentious. With Cap Friendly indicating the Oilers carry over $71 million invested in 16 players for next season, Holland can only offer Benning at best a modest raise over his current $1.9 million salary-cap hit.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins reports the New York Rangers would potentially part with a high draft pick to facilitate a swap of Lias Andersson to Edmonton for Jesse Puljujarvi. However, he’s been told the Rangers have more interest in Puljujarvi than the Oilers have in the slow-footed Andersson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Andersson-for-Puljujarvi rumor has floated around for a while, but I’m not convinced this is going to take place. Stranger things have happened but I don’t see the Rangers giving up a high draft pick to make this happen.

DUCKS BACKUP GOALIE OPTIONS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Eric Stephens recently examined several possible backup goalie options for the Anaheim Ducks if Ryan Miller isn’t re-signed or retires. Among them are Dallas’ Anton Khudobin, Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Edmonton’s Mike Smith, the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, and Ottawa’s Craig Anderson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephens does a good job breaking down the pros and cons of each netminder. Khudobin and Greiss could prove too expensive as both will be in demand. Smith and Anderson are coming to the end of their respective careers. Talbot could seek a starter’s job after regaining his form this season with the Flames.

The Ducks could be forced to consider more affordable short-term options to spell off John Gibson, but that might not be suitable to ease his heavy workload.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – May 19, 2020

Check out the latest on the Leafs and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE LEAFS PURSUE MURRAY OR HEISKANEN?

SPORTSNET: During a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked what a contract extension for Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen might look like, and if the Leafs should attempt to acquire Matt Murray. He believes they could push Andersen’s extension to 2021 and dismissed the notion of acquiring Murray.

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs dump Frederik Andersen in favor of Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray? (Photo via NHL Images)

Despite Murray’s two Stanley Cup rings, Fox is not convinced that the Pittsburgh Penguins netminder is better than Andersen, pointing out the latter has more wins over the past four seasons and a better career save percentage. Murray is also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forget about the comparisons of Andersen’s and Murray’s career stats, the Leafs can’t afford the latter even if they wanted to acquire him. As per Cap Friendly, they have almost $77 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21, with $6.65 million going to Andersen and Jack Campbell. Unless they intend on trading Andersen (and I don’t believe they do), there’s no room to take on Murray. 

Fox was asked if the Leafs should trade Mitch Marner to the Dallas Stars for Miro Heiskanen. He doesn’t see the Stars parting with their 20-year-old stud defenseman. He also cites Stars beat reporter Sean Shapiro declaring Heiskanen untouchable but speculates they could be willing to part with blueliner John Klingberg.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, Marner for Klingberg, Leafs fans? Discuss! 

LATEST PULJUJARVI SPECULATION

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins cited a New York source claiming there was “renewed smoke” over the possibility of a trade that would see the Oilers ship winger Jesse Puljujarvi to the New York Rangers for center Lias Andersson. However, word out of New York is Oilers general manager Ken Holland would also demand a first-round pick from the Rangers, with the Oilers including another mid-level prospect in a two-for-two swap. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Under that scenario, I envision it ending with Rangers GM Jeff Gorton rolling his eyes skyward, politely thanking Holland for his offer, and hanging up the phone. 

Jim Matheson doesn’t expect to see the Oilers trading Puljujarvi to the Florida Panthers for center Henrik Borgstrom. The Panthers currently value centers over wingers, especially after trading away Vincent Trocheck. The Panthers also don’t need Puljujarvi when they’ve got Owen Tippett and Grigori Denisenko in their pipeline. Speaking of Tippett, sources consider swapping him for Puljujarvi a non-starter.

Regarding a recent suggestion of the Oilers shopping Puljujarvi to the Ottawa Senators for their third first-round pick in the 2020 draft, Matheson said sources indicate the Senators are lukewarm on the Oilers winger because they’re deep in farm forwards ready to make the jump to the NHL. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson also indicates Holland won’t be talking to other GMs about Puljujarvi’s rights until hockey resumes. In other words, the aforementioned rumors are probably just media spitballing. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 29, 2020

Some players express reluctance about resuming the season, a look at some possible neutral-site host cities and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines,

LATEST ON THE NHL’S EFFORTS TO RESUME THE SEASON

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the NHL is expected to extend its quarantine period from April 30 to May 15. He also said there will be a call today between the league and the NHL Players’ Association to discuss player concerns regarding a resumption of the season. Those issues include travel and quarantine issues for European players returning to North America, the potential period players could be separated from their families, and the expense of continuing the schedule in divisional host cities.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The state of Texas is reopening, but Stars general manager Jim Nill said he’ll await approval from the league before allowing his players to resume small-group training at the team’s facilities.

Montreal Canadiens center Phillip Danault recently expressed concern about resuming the NHL season (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some players, such as the Los Angeles Kings’ Drew Doughty, the Montreal Canadiens’ Phillip Danault, and the New York Islanders’ Ryan Pulock, expressed skepticism about returning to action or concern about lengthy family separations. Others, such as the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jake Muzzin, said they’re looking forward to restarting the season.

Any plan to continue playing will require the NHLPA’s approval. While the concerns of some players are certainly justified, the possibility of larger escrow deductions from their salaries next season could tip the scales in the league’s favor.

If the NHL cancels the season, it will lose around $1.1 billion in hockey-related revenue. That reportedly means over 40 percent of the players’ salaries for 2020-21 will be clawed back. Completing this season would recoup between $400 million and $500 million, meaning next season’s escrow number would be around 20 percent. That’s still higher than the usual 12-to-15 percent escrow clawbacks, but more palatable than 40 percent.

Pierre LeBrun reports the league is also considering starting up the 2020-21 season in December if the end of the current season stretches into September or October. A December start also means a better chance of having fans back in the arenas again.

Bob McKenzie reports a decision on when to stage the 2020 NHL Draft could be made next week. He’s pessimistic that it could be held in June before the resumption of the season, citing the negative reaction to the idea around the league.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins GM Jim Rutherford expects the NHL will follow the National Football League’s lead in staging a virtual draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the NHL canceled the remainder of the season and playoffs, it would make sense to hold the draft in June. The issues raised by staging the draft before resuming the season in July, such as sorting out the draft order and addressing conditional draft picks moved in trades earlier this season, would create unnecessary headaches and unpopular solutions.

TAMPA BAY TIMES/EDMONTON JOURNAL/THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Tampa Bay, Edmonton, and Columbus are among the clubs under consideration to become divisional host cities if the NHL season resumes this summer.

OTTAWA SUN: Don’t expect Ottawa to be a neutral site location. A lack of suitable hotels and their proximity to the rink are among the issues.

SPORTSNET: The NHL is selling team-branded face coverings with the proceeds going to Feeding America and Food Banks Canada COVID-19 Response Funds.

 

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SCORE: Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom will undergo his final treatments as he makes progress against Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer. “He feels great, considering the condition he’s in. He’s such a great kid and he’s determined. His focus is to play as soon as possible,” said Flyers assistant general manager Brett Flahr.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Lindblom makes a full recovery and resumes his NHL career.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Recently retired NHL player Joel Ward hopes to become a coach with the San Jose Sharks. Ward said he’s chatted with management several times.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes Foundation donated $478,000 during the 2019-20 season, including cash grants, to 26 local nonprofits and youth hockey organizations in North Carolina.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – April 28, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – April 28, 2020

Check out recent speculation on the Canadiens, Rangers, and Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CANADIENS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Engels was asked about backup goaltender options for the Montreal Canadiens. The Dallas Stars’ Anton Khudobin a prime target but would the Canadiens pay more than the $2.5 million AAV he currently earns when they’re paying Carey Price $10.5 million annually? Engels thinks they have the cap flexibility to do it.

Engels felt the Canadiens should consider trading Brett Kulak because they’ve got Alexander Romanov coming next season. Kulak’s affordable contract ($1.85 million AAV through 2021-22) could net the Habs some help elsewhere on the roster. He also feels it’s all but assured winger Ilya Kovalchuk rejoins the Canadiens in the off-season as an unrestricted free agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I also believe the Canadiens should make a serious effort to sign Khudobin. They need a skilled, experienced backup to spell off Price over the next couple of seasons under promising Cayden Primeau is fully ready for prime time.

Kulak might not fetch much, but with some teams potentially looking to shed salary under a possible flat cap next season, maybe he could fetch a decent depth player. Kovalchuk should be an affordable, short-term signing on a one-year, bonus-laded deal.

TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie still believes the Canadiens should bring back former Hab Mikhail Sergachev by signing the young Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman to an offer sheet.

Should the Rangers buy out Henrik Lundqvist if the NHL allows for amnesty buyouts in the off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning has over $76 million invested in 16 players for next season, which explains why Sergachev could be a tempting offer-sheet target. However, that’s assuming he’s willing to listen to offers from rival clubs. If he’s not, it’ll be a waste of time. Besides, it’s assumed the Lightning could move a veteran like Alex Killorn in the off-season to make room to re-sign Sergachev.

RANGERS

NEW YORK POST: In a recent mailbag segment, Larry Brooks was asked If Henrik Lundqvist or Marc Staal would be the target of an amnesty buyout if the league allows such buyouts before next season. Buying out Lundqvist would free up $8.5 million for next season, compared to $5.7 million for Staal. “Sentiment aside, I do not think this would be a difficult choice,” replied Brooks.

Brooks admitted the possibility Lias Andersson could be in the Rangers’ 2020 training camp, but it would require a lot of work to breach the differences between the unhappy young winger and the organization, particularly with head coach David Quinn. He felt Andersson could be traded in the off-season as part of a bigger deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If amnesty buyouts are permitted this off-season, shedding Lundqvist’s cap hit makes the most sense. It would be a sad way for his career with the Blueshirts to end, but this is a business decision that would allow them salary-cap flexibility for 2020-21. As for Andersson, I’ll be surprised if he’s still with the Rangers’ organization next season.

SHARKS

THE MERCURY NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Curtis Pashelka was asked if Martin Jones would keep his job as the San Jose Sharks’ starting goalie next season. His guess is Jones will be back, but he also felt the Sharks must seek a goalie with NHL experience who can play 35-40 games. Braden Holtby could be out of their price range, but perhaps Robin Lehner or Cam Talbot fits the bill. Pashelka also doesn’t rule out Aaron Dell returning if Lehner or Talbot proves too expensive.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby will be in the market for a lucrative long-term deal. Lehner could be more affordable, but he’ll also want some long-term security. Talbot might be the best option, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he remains with the Flames.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2020

The NHL community mourns the death of former NBA star Kobe Bryant, plus the latest on Jeff Skinner, Anthony Duclair and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: The NHL community took to social media yesterday mourning the death of former NBA star Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in a helicopter crash in California. Wayne Gretzky, Alex Ovechkin, Henrik Lundqvist, Martin Brodeur, P.K. Subban, and Mitch Marner were among those expressing their condolences to Bryant’s family on Twitter yesterday.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is among a number of people in the NHL community mourning the sudden death of former NBA star Kobe Bryant (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sympathies to Bryant’s family, friends, and former teammates.

Marner and Toronto Maple Leafs teammate Frederik Andersen voiced their support for the establishment of a viable professional women’s hockey league. “A lot of those players are great players, and to see them not in a league right now is disappointing,” Marner said. “I really hope they get a league back up and running.”

Ottawa Senators winger and All-Star representative Anthony Duclair hopes to stay in Ottawa and help the rebuilding club. “When the change is gonna happen, when Ottawa’s gonna become a contender, I want to be part of that,” Duclair added. “So I’m working as hard as I can.” Duclair is a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights, but there have been no contract talks thus far with Senators management.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair rejuvenated his sagging NHL career with the Senators. General manager Pierre Dorion’s focus is on his unrestricted free agents, like center Jean-Gabriel Pageau. I daresay contract talks with Duclair will commence at some point following the end of the regular season. Given how well he’s played since coming to Ottawa last season, I expect they’ll try to keep him.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner returned to practice yesterday for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on Dec. 27. He could be in the lineup when the Sabres face the Senators on Tuesday.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko will return to action tonight after missing seven games with an upper-body injury. Winger Sammy Blais (wrist injury) could also be back. The Blues also placed winger Troy Brouwer on waivers yesterday.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks recalled forward Troy Terry from his AHL conditioning stint.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers have loaned forward Lias Andersson to Swedish club HV71. Andersson had left the Rangers’ AHL affiliate last month and requested a trade, but there appears to be a thaw in the relationship between the 21-year-old forward and Rangers’ management.