NHL Rumor Mill – December 28, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – December 28, 2019

With the NHL holiday roster freeze lifted, here’s the latest on the Rangers and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports sources claiming there’s little interest in Rangers forward Lias Andersson. He’s been suspended without pay since walking out on the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford on Dec. 20 after requesting a trade. The seventh-overall selection in the 2017 NHL Draft, the 21-year-old Andersson has just nine points in 66 NHL games.


New York Rangers forward Lias Andersson attracting little interest in the NHL trade market (Photo via NHL Images).

Brett Cyrgalis recently speculated Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton could stage another trade deadline sell-off as his club’s playoff hopes dim. He lists forwards Chris Kreider, Jesper Fast, Ryan Strome, and goaltender Alexandar Georgiev as possible trade chips.

THE ATHLETIC: If the Rangers decide to trade Georgiev, Shayna Goldman recently suggested it’s less likely they’ll do it during the season. Goalie deals aren’t common in-season and the Blueshirts could be reluctant to rush promising netminder Igor Shesterkin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise regarding Andersson, who’s been a big disappointment thus far. Maybe his performance will improve with a different club, but it appears there aren’t many willing to give him that opportunity. If the Rangers aren’t in the postseason chase by February, Gorton could start shopping a couple of pending free agents for draft picks and prospects as he continues to rebuild the roster.

Unless Shesterkin is threatening to return to the KHL unless he sees NHL action this season, there’s no reason for the Rangers to move Georgiev. You can’t rule it out if a rival club is willing to overpay for Georgiev’s services, but I don’t think anyone’s reached that point right now.


THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington recently proposed Sabres GM Jason Botterill should take care of business following the NHL holiday roster freeze. He points out they need help up front while they wait for Jeff Skinner to rediscover his game. They must also decide on defenseman Zach Bogosian, who reportedly sought a trade after being a recent healthy scratch.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Yerdon was asked if Botterill will ever move a defenseman for a forward and the type of return Bogosian could fetch. While Yerdon expects that move will happen, it’s anyone’s guess when. A center would be preferable but a winger would also help. He expects Bogosian’s trade stock is low right now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I have no doubt Botterill’s been working the phones shopping a blueliner for a forward, but finding a suitable deal isn’t easy at this time of year. There aren’t many sellers and those that are might not have what the Sabres need.

Botterill could be forced to wait another four-to-six weeks for the market to improve as the Feb. 24 trade deadline approaches. That could be too late to help the Sabres.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 23, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – December 23, 2019

The latest on Nicklas Backstrom, Craig Anderson and Lias Andersson in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE WASHINGTON POST: Samantha Pell reports a source claims contract term, not money, is a sticking point in negotiations between Capitals management and Nicklas Backstrom. The center is meeting directly with general manager Brian MacLellan to discuss a new deal.

Contract term is a sticking point in negotiations between NIcklas Backstrom nd the Washington Capitals (Photo via NHL Images).

Backstrom would prefer a five-year contract to avoid another negotiation soon. The Capitals prefer a three-year deal, extending Backstrom through the season when he turns 35.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom is 32 and in the final season of a 10-year, $67-million contract. With 27 points in 29 games, he’s on pace for 68 points in 74 games this season.

While still productive, Backstrom’s at a point in his career when his performance will eventually decline. Perhaps the two sides agree to a four-year deal if Backstrom accepts an annual cap hit of $6 million per season.


OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren speculates the Florida Panthers could become a trade destination for Senators goaltender Craig Anderson. The netminder’s Florida home is just 15 minutes from the Panthers arena. He also spent parts of three seasons with them earlier in his career.

Warren indicates the Panthers are using prospect Chris Driedger is serving as a backup for Sergei Bobrovsky. He acknowledges their limited salary-cap space could be a stumbling block. They have around 900K available while Anderson carries a $4.5-million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers could be in the market for an experienced, reliable backup for Bobrovsky. Unless they shed significant salary, they’ll probably prefer a more affordable, younger option than Anderson.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks chastised Lias Andersson for his recent trade request and departure from the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford. The 21-year-old winger has been suspended by the Rangers. Brooks believes Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton has been trying to trade Andersson since the winger’s demotion in November. He points out the youngster’s trade value wasn’t helped by his poor performance in Hartford.

Brooks doubts there’s much of a market for a forward who lacks speed, explosiveness and isn’t creative with the puck. He wondered if the Nashville Predators would be willing to discussion swapping Andersson for Eeli Tolvanen, a once highly touted Preds prospect who’s also struggling to crack the NHL.

THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell doubts the Edmonton Oilers will take a chance on Andersson. He feels the Oilers are looking to increase their speed and pace, especially at the center position. The Rangers could seek a draft pick in return, but Mitchell thinks the Oilers will want to keep the rest of their 2020 draft stock.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rumors were suggesting the Oilers swap Jesse Puljujarvi for Andersson before Puljujarvi’s Dec. 1 signing deadline. The issues raised by Brooks and Mitchell could explain why that didn’t come to pass. As for an Andersson-for-Tolvanen swap with the Predators, that’s probably not high on Nashville GM David Poile’s priority list. 

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 22, 2019

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 22, 2019

Updates on Braden Holtby, Ilya Kovalchuk, Taylor Hall, and Lias Andersson in the pre-Christmas NHL rumor roundup.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Washington Capitals and the agent for Braden Holtby won’t talk contract during the season, putting their focus on winning the Stanley Cup. The 30-year-old goaltender is due to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

Friedman points out the Capitals have gone this route before with John Carlson and T.J. Oshie before their UFA eligibility on July 1. Just because Holtby could become a UFA doesn’t necessarily mean he will.

Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby’s contract talks on hold until season’s end (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Salary-cap space could be an issue. Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have over $61.9 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21, with Holtby and Nicklas Backstrom as their prime UFAs. It could cost a combined $18 million to re-sign both, leaving little room for the rest of the roster.


SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports there’s a fair bit of interest in Ilya Kovalchuk following the mutual termination of his contract with the Los Angeles Kings. His agent is working the phones talking to interested clubs.

Kovalchuk will have to sign a much smaller deal than the one he had with the Kings. Though there’s nothing imminent, Johnston feels he’ll find a new NHL home soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I share the view of the Boston’s Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont: “The truth about Kovalchuk: His last outstanding year was 2007-08, when he potted 52 goals with the Thrashers. Otherwise, not worth the price or the bother.”


BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont believes the New York Islanders could aggressively pursue Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall if he hits the open market next summer. The Isles have lots of salary-cap space, even though young center Mathew Barzal will be due for a big payday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders have over $64.5 million committed to 16 players for next season. Assuming Hall seeks over $10 million annually on the open market, it won’t leave enough for Barzal’s hefty raise, new contracts for arbitration-eligible RFA blueliners Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews, and re-signing or replacing UFAs Matt Martin, Derick Brassard, and Tom Kuhnhackel. Unless GM Lou Lamoriello intends to shed salary, he could pass on Hall to consider more affordable free-agent options.


NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker reports the New York Rangers yesterday confirmed Lias Andersson has requested a trade and is no longer with the club. The Rangers’ first-round picks (seventh overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft, the 21-year-old winger skated in just 66 games over parts of three seasons in New York.

General manager Jeff Gorton is expected to use the current NHL holiday roster freeze to shop Andersson, who spent much of this season on the fourth line.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston believes it’ll be challenging for the Rangers to move a young asset who hasn’t played up to lofty expectations. Nevertheless, they’re not going to just give him away.

Elliotte Friedman said Rangers had talked to the Edmonton Oilers about swapping Andersson for Jesse Puljujarvi before the Dec. 1 deadline to get the latter under contract for this season. He wonders if that might get revisited.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson said the Oilers weren’t interested in Andersson because they didn’t think he plays “with enough NHL pace”. The same, of course, can be said of Puljujarvi.

Gorton might have to package Andersson with a pick or prospect to make him enticing. Perhaps he becomes part of a bigger deal near the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 18, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – November 18, 2019

Should the Leafs fire coach Mike Babcock or trade William Nylander to shake things up? Should the Rangers consider trading Lias Andersson? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.


TORONTO STAR: Rosie DiManno believes the Maple Leafs might be better-served trading William Nylander than replacing Mike Babcock as head coach. She feels the club hasn’t replaced the emotion Nazem Kadri brought to the lineup before he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche this summer. While it appears Babcock has lost the room, she suggests it’s down to general manager Kyle Dubas for assembling the roster the coach has to work with. Dubas reverence for skill came at the expense of every other hockey dimension.

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs consider trading William Nylander to shake things up?(Photo via NHL Image)

DiManno believes something must be done to kick-start the Leafs before it’s too late to save the season. If parting company with Babcock isn’t the answer, then they should make a trade to shake up the team. She suggests it’s down to trading William Nylander or a prospect package that includes Rasmus Sandin “and, seriously, you don’t want to be doing that.” DiManno acknowledged Dubas’ promise not to trade Nylander but says handshake promises don’t mean squat in pro sports.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Babcock has lost the room, replacing him seems the best option. The danger, however, is it could give the players (especially their young stars) the feeling they’re blameless for the club’s on-ice woes. If the front office stands by Babcock, a shake-up trade is the only option.

Dubas promised Nylander he wouldn’t be traded. If he breaks his word, the players could end up distrusting him. Still, if someone offers up a deal that could address the Leafs’ defensive weaknesses, it would be worth serious consideration.


NEW YORK POST: Before the Rangers assigned Lias Andersson to their AHL affiliate, Larry Brooks noted the once-promising young center was mired on their fourth line. He suggested a trade might be necessary to address the situation. Pointing out the Rangers had some interest in Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi, Brooks felt sending Andersson the other way would seem logical.


SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks’ colleague Brett Cyrgalis reports the Rangers still believe in Andersson. They’ll evaluate his performance in Hartford and see how he responds to more playing time there. I don’t know if the Rangers offered Andersson for Puljujarvi. If they did, the Oilers probably weren’t interested.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 18, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 18, 2019

Golden Knights snuff out the Flames, the Blackhawks beat the Sabres, Oskar Sundqvist fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 34 saves to blank the Calgary Flames 6-0, snapping his club’s five-game winless skid. Nate Schmidt collected four assists while William Karlson scored twice and set up another. The Flames have been shut out in two straight games and have dropped four straight. 

Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury backstopped his club to a 6-0 win over the Calgary Flames (Photo via NHL Images).

The Chicago Blackhawks picked up their fourth straight victory by downing the Buffalo Sabres 4-1. Patrick Kane scored to extend his point streak to nine games while rookie Kirby Dach scored twice. Jack Eichel tallied for the Sabres. 

TSN: St. Louis Blues winger Oskar Sundqvist was fined over $7,300.00 by the NHL department of player discipline for charging Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson. 

THE DETROIT NEWS: Robby Fabbri has bolstered the Red Wings secondary scoring since his acquisition from the Blues earlier this month. They have a record of three wins and two overtime/shootout losses since he joined the roster. Fabbri has also tallied six points during that period. 

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers demoted center Lias Andersson to their AHL affiliate in Hartford and placed winger Micheal Haley on waivers

CBS SPORTS: The Florida Panthers placed winger Dryden Hunt on waivers.