NHL Rumor Mill – September 7, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – September 7, 2022

The latest on Bo Horvat’s contract status with the Canucks plus an update on the Canadiens’ efforts to re-sign Kirby Dach in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CANUCKS TURN FOCUS TO RE-SIGNING HORVAT

SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports the Vancouver Canucks are shifting their focus toward re-signing captain Bo Horvat after signing J.T. Miller last week to a seven-year contract extension. Horvat, 27, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat (NHL Images).

MacIntyre points out that the constraints under the salary cap could make it difficult for the Canucks to invest heavily in their top-three centers such as Miller, Horvat and Elias Pettersson. It could limit their efforts to address their need to improve their defense corps.

General manager Patrik Allvin acknowledged this but also noted that Pettersson can play on the wing. He also felt a good team needs that depth at center. “But moving forward, we need to be aware of the cap situation and potentially some roster decisions coming into next summer,” said Allvin.

MacIntyre believes it’ll be surprising if the Canucks open their season next month with Horvat still unsigned after reaching an agreement with Miller. Still, he wonders if they’ll be able to afford Pettersson when he’s due for a new contract in 2024 and how they’ll upgrade their blueline.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston also wondered if the Canucks can really afford Miller, Horvat and Pettersson.

Allvin admitted multi-year contracts have proven difficult to trade. Johnston believes he’s referring to Tanner Pearson (two years at $3.25 million annually), Tyler Myers (two years, $6 million per season) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (five years at $6.75 million per).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allvin understands the importance of getting Horvat signed before the start of the season. “Hopefully we can figure something out here,” he said.

Miller’s new contract and an extension for Horvat won’t affect the Canucks’ salary-cap payroll for this season. However, with over $68 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23, a new deal for Horvat could push that to over $75 million, leaving little room to fill out the rest of the roster next summer.

At some point, the Canucks must free up cap space to accommodate new contracts for Horvat and Pettersson as well as address their roster weaknesses. Perhaps that means contract buyouts for Pearson and Myers next summer. Maybe it means retaining part of their salaries to facilitate a trade.

For this season, the Canucks are above the cap by $2.75 million. They should get cap relief by placing sidelined winger Micheal Ferland (concussion) and his $3.5 million AAV on long-term injury reserve. They could also attempt to a valuable player on a long-term contract such as winger Conor Garland.

ARE THE CANADIENS CLOSE TO SIGNING DACH?

TVA SPORTS: cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculating the Montreal Canadiens could be close to signing Kirby Dach. He believes it will be a four-year contract worth an average annual value of $3.5 million.

Friedman even suggested the Canadiens may have already reached an agreement with Dach. He felt the Habs might be trying to conclude a few things before formally announcing the new contract.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico also took note of Friedman’s remarks. He pointed out it’s no secret the Canadiens have been trying to move a forward. General manager Kent Hughes recently indicated he’d like to add another defenseman.

**UPDATE** The Canadiens announced they’ve signed Dach to a four-year, $13.5 million contract. The average annual value is $3.35 million

SPECTOR’S NOTE: D’Amico noted that Mike Hoffman, Joel Armia and Christian Dvorak have been frequently mentioned as trade candidates. He believes their excess of wingers could see them try to move Hoffman or Armia.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 25, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – August 25, 2022

Could the Leafs make a pitch for Patrick Kane? What’s the latest on the Canadiens? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

COULD THE LEAFS PURSUE PATRICK KANE?

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox observes that Patrick Kane has become the latest contestant in the annual “Will he be a Leaf or won’t he?” speculation that grips Toronto sports fans. The 33-year-old Chicago Blackhawks winger is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Cox noted that there have been “reports” claiming the Leafs and Blackhawks have discussed Kane. Paul Bissonnette of the “Spittin’ Chiclets” podcast believes Kane will be playing with the Leafs this season. It’s uncertain whether he or fellow long-time Blackhawks star Jonathan Toews want to be part of the club’s rebuilding plans.

The Edmonton Oilers might also be keen on Kane. They won two playoff rounds last season so they might be closer to taking a title run than the Leafs.

Cox pointed out the Leafs lack blue-chip prospects and they aren’t loaded with draft picks over the next three years. Meanwhile, folks in Edmonton are envisioning a package deal for Kane revolving around winger Jesse Puljujarvi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s easy to tell we’re in the dog days of the NHL offseason. The UFA market is depleted of prime talent and the trade market has been mostly quiet for the past month. It’s only natural that some observers are turning to speculation over where next summer’s biggest potential free agents could end up by the trade deadline.

I’m also guilty of playing this guessing game about Kane and other notable members of the 2023 UFA class. I believe the New York Rangers could be in the best position to acquire him if he agrees to be moved between now and the 2023 trade deadline.

The Blueshirts are a team on the rise but could need scoring depth at right wing if Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko fail to improve this season. They don’t have a lot of projected trade deadline cap space but they do have more than the Leafs or Oilers. The Rangers also have more depth in promising prospects to tempt the Blackhawks.

Anyway, that’s my choice. I could be wrong but so what? It’s the dog days of summer and we’ve gotta have something to talk about until training camp starts next month.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico expects the Canadiens will have around $4.4 million in cap relief to work with once Carey Price and his $10.5 million cap hit is moved to long-term injury reserve for the coming season. That could provide them some flexibility to re-sign center Kirby Dach and perhaps make another move.

Once Dach is signed, the Canadiens will have 15 forwards under NHL contracts for the coming season without counting first-overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky or other promising prospects. D’Amico anticipates they could move Christian Dvorak, Mike Hoffman or Joel Armia to free up a roster spot and some additional salary to perhaps add a right-side defenseman. He speculates they could make that move before the season opens in October.

Dvorak could be the odd man out at center following the additions of Dach and Sean Monahan. The Habs would be seeking a young right-shot blueliner or a veteran on a short-term deal along with some futures.

D’Amico cites sources suggesting the trade market isn’t optimal for Dvorak right now. If the Canadiens remain patient, however, his value could improve.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes has proven to be a savvy wheeler-dealer in his short time playing the trade market. He’s shipped out veterans who no longer fit into his club’s long-term plans for promising youngsters and quality draft picks. If he is shopping Dvorak, he’ll wait for the right moment and the right return just as he did with some of his earlier deals.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2022

Check out the latest on Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin plus a look at some potential Canadiens’ salary-cap casualties in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

NO TRADE DISCUSSIONS FOR PATRICK KANE

THE ATHLETIC’s Mark Lazerus took to Twitter citing a source saying the Chicago Blackhawks have had “NO discussions with any teams involving Patrick Kane.” He believes there are probably “plenty of teams” interested in the 33-year-old winger, “but nothing is happening”.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks beat writer Jay Zawaski quickly swatted down a rumor floating around yesterday claiming they were engaged in trade talks with several teams and the Dallas Stars were among them. Earlier this month, speculation linked Kane to the Edmonton Oilers before that one died away.

Like Lazerus, I don’t doubt that there are contenders with an interest in Kane. He’s in the final year of his contract, the Blackhawks are rebuilding, and he might not be keen to be part of that process.

Kane’s contract, however, will be difficult to move. He’s carrying a $10.5 million cap hit plus a full no-movement clause.

In actual salary, Kane’s earning $6.9 million, of which the Blackhawks have already paid out $4 million as a signing bonus. Nevertheless, they’ll probably have to retain perhaps up to half of Kane’s cap hit to facilitate a trade. That’s why some observers expect he’ll be moved closer to next season’s trade deadline. His movement clause and the Blackhawks’ asking price will also limit the potential destinations.

COULD PANARIN WAIVE HIS NO-MOVEMENT CLAUSE?

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Arthur Staple was asked if New York Rangers general manager Chris Drury would trade Artemi Panarin if the winger agreed to waive his no-movement clause.

Staple believes Drury would be interested in moving Panarin under that scenario but doesn’t expect it will happen. He anticipates the winger’s hefty contract would make him difficult to move. “It would either be a swap of bad contracts or just a massive salary dump by the Rangers,” he writes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In June, Staple cited sources claiming Drury was unhappy over Panarin’s postseason performance. He speculated the winger could seek a trade if the rift persisted.

Then as now, there’s no indication that Panarin wants out or that Drury wants to move him. I’m not doubting the veracity of Staple’s sources. Perhaps there is tension between the two behind the scenes.

Nevertheless, Staple makes a good point about Panarin’s contract making him tough to move. I wouldn’t hold my breath anticipating a big trade involving him.

CANADIENS’ COST-CUTTING CANDIDATES

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico recently examined some potential cost-cutting candidates for the Canadiens. Despite shipping out Shea Weber’s contract and sending Jeff Petry to Pittsburgh for Mike Matheson, the Habs are still pressed against the $82.5 million cap for the coming season.

Christian Dvorak was D’Amico’s top candidate, citing the frequency in which the 26-year-old center has surfaced in trade speculation this summer. Joel Armia and Mike Hoffman are his other trade possibilities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens GM Kent Hughes has had a busy summer making moves to free up salary-cap space. Dvorak could draw the most interest given his age and reasonable $4.45 million cap hit through 2023-24. If Hughes is going to move him, the coming season is his best opportunity. Dvorak’s eight-team no-trade list kicks in next summer.










Sunday NHL Rumor Mill – June 5, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Mill – June 5, 2022

The Blackhawks could test this summer’s trade market, what a Kevin Fiala-to-Islanders trade might look like, and some Canadiens’ speculation in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

BLACKHAWKS TO TEST THE TRADE MARKET

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Chicago Blackhawks could be a team to watch over the next few weeks in the trade market.

Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Seth Jones are off the table given their no-move clauses. However, management is testing the market for anyone on their roster that other teams are willing to ask about.

Friedman said another general manager compared this to when they moved Brandon Hagel before the trade deadline. “Can you make them an offer that makes them want to seriously think about it?”

Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That report could make Blackhawks fans nervous about Alex DeBrincat’s future in Chicago. He’s a year away from becoming a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, carries a $6.4 million cap hit and lacks no-trade protection. The 24-year-old winger also set a career-high in points this season with 78 and matched his career-high of 41 goals.

Of everyone on the Blackhawks roster who could be available, DeBrincat is the guy who’ll garner the most interest and fetch the best return. However, the rebuilding Hawks won’t just give him away. The asking price will consist of at least a first-round pick and either a top prospect or a good young (and affordable) NHL player.

Any club acquiring him should ensure they have the cap space to sign him to a big raise after this season. Another 40-goal performance will push his value up into the $9 million per season range.

WHAT WOULD A “FIALA-TO-ISLANDERS” TRADE LOOK LIKE?

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently mused over what it might cost the New York Islanders to make a pitch for Kevin Fiala. The Minnesota Wild winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a one-year, $5.1 million contract. The Wild could have difficulty signing him because of their limited salary-cap space for next season.

Kurz believes any potential trade for Fiala would have to start with the Isles’ first-round pick in either this year’s draft or next year’s. He also believes they’d have to throw in a young player or prospect. He rules out Anthony Beauvillier because of his $4.15 million cap hit but suggested Oliver Wahlstrom as an alternative. If the Islanders don’t want to part with their first-round pick, perhaps a prospect such as Aatu Raty might push the deal over the finish line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind that Kurz is merely speculating here. There’s no indication the Islanders are interested in Fiala, especially with the secretive Lou Lamoriello as their general manager. Nevertheless, this provides at least some idea of what it might take to acquire him. The Wild can’t afford to take back much salary in a Fiala deal.

LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy recently reported Joel Armia’s performance for Finland in the World Championships has generated some trade buzz about the Canadiens winger.

Armia was said to be a popular name in the market leading up to the March trade deadline. He has three years remaining on his contract with a $3.4 million cap hit, which could mean the Canadiens take back a smaller contract in order to get a draft pick in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes made no secret of his intention to free up some salary-cap space this summer by shopping a veteran or two. Armia could be among his cost-cutting trade candidates.

Murphy also wondered if Ethan Bear might be a fit with the Canadiens. The 24-year-old Carolina Hurricanes defenseman is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer.

Bear saw action in 58 regular-season games with the Hurricanes but was a healthy scratch in the playoffs. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculated the blueliner might not want to return, though a lot depends on what happens with fellow RFA Tony DeAngelo and pending UFA Ian Cole this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule out an interest in Bear if he’s available by the Canadiens. He could be among several affordable young options Hughes could be seeking this summer for his blueline. Murphy’s source cited Bear’s conditioning as an issue, which could hurt his trade value.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 12, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – March 12, 2022

The latest on Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Rickard Rakell, Marc-Andre Fleury, Dominik Kubalik, Max Domi and Joel Armia plus updates on the Blues and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NO LONG-TERM CONTRACT OFFERS FOR LINDHOLM, MANSON AND RAKELL?

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Elliott Teaford reports scuttlebutt around the league suggests defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson and winger Rickard Rakell won’t get long-term contract extension offers from the Anaheim Ducks. Pat Verbeek, their new general manager, is said to favor three- or four-year extension offers (or possibly shorter) rather than six- to eight years deals.

Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm (NHL Images).

Verbeek’s priority is believed to be signing Lindholm. He’s the only one of those three pending unrestricted free agents the Ducks GM mentioned by name during a recent meeting with season-ticket holders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Verbeek will have to make the money worth their while if he hopes to get those three to sign deals that are at most four years in length. Otherwise, he should start peddling those three now because I doubt they’ll take less than market value cap-wise on short-term deals to stay in Anaheim.

The annual average value of Lindholm’s current contract is $5.205 million but he’s earning $6.75 million in actual salary. He could seek at least $7 million annually on his next contract.

LATEST ON FLEURY AND KUBALIK

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope reports Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury hopes to avoid this summer’s free-agent market by re-signing with the Hawks or inking an extension with whichever club might acquire him at the trade deadline. Pope also reported the Ducks and Edmonton Oilers have been linked to Blackhawks winger Dominik Kubalik.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury is an unrestricted free agent this summer. He could be amenable to a one-year contract but could seek something not too far below his current annual average value of $7 million.

Kubalik is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. He’s earning an annual average value of $3.7 million while his actual salary this season is $4 million. Maybe the Ducks are eyeing the 26-year-old winger as a possible replacement for Rakell.

TEAMS INTERESTED IN DOMI AND ARMIA

TSN: Darren Dreger reports there’s a higher level of interest in the trade market for Max Domi. The Columbus Blue Jackets winger has elevated his play in recent games. Dreger noted Domi may not be among the top tier of players in the trade market but he’s not that far below.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico also cited Dreger reporting the Canadiens have fielded some calls about forward Joel Armia based on his playoff performance over the past two seasons. D’Amico points out Armia has three more seasons left on his contract with an annual average value of $3.4 million, suggesting the Canadiens might have to retain some salary to move him or take back a contract in return.

LATEST ON THE BLUES AND SENATORS

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford weighed in on some of the recent trade speculations regarding the St. Louis Blues. One source said they’re no longer involved in talks with the Seattle Kraken regarding Mark Giordano while Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun isn’t the blueliner they’re focused on as they seek a shutdown rearguard.

The Blues remain interested in the Montreal Canadiens’ Ben Chiarot and the Seattle Kraken’s Carson Soucy. They’re also seeking a fourth-line penalty-killing forward.

Rutherford acknowledged the trade speculation linking the Blues to Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux. While not ruling it out, he considers the addition of Giroux a long shot citing his contract and the Blues’ depth at forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are also bumping up against the $81.5 million salary cap. It will take some creativity to acquire Chiarot or Soucy even though they carry affordable cap hits. It could take a three-team deal to bring Giroux to St. Louis.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Senators GM Pierre Dorion is ready to deal but things are quiet right now in the trade market. He’s willing to move defensemen Michael Del Zotto and Josh Brown and forwards Chris Tierney and Zach Sanford.

Teams are expressing interest in pending UFA forward Nick Paul and goaltender Anton Forsberg. However, the Senators are focused on keeping them.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – December 13, 2021

Analysis of a list of suggested Canadiens trade candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TVA SPORTS: asked their NHL analysts for their picks of which players the Montreal Canadiens could move before the March 21 trade deadline and those they keep.

Renaud Lavoie believes the Canadiens should shop goaltender Jake Allen and retain Brendan Gallagher.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen is among the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for the Canadiens. He’s signed through 2022-23 with an affordable $2.875 million cap hit. Clubs seeking experienced depth between the pipes could have an interest in Allen. However, I doubt the Habs would consider moving him until Carey Price returns to action. Even then, his affordable contract and reliability as Price’s backup make it likely that they’ll hang onto him.

Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher (NHL Images).

Teams love Gallagher’s work ethic and feisty style but they won’t be enamored of his $6.5 million cap hit through 2026-27. The Habs would have to pick up a healthy chunk of his annual average value to move him. His six-team no-trade list could also be a bit of a sticking point. Moving Gallagher seems like something that would occur in the offseason than at the trade deadline when teams have more salary-cap space to work with.

Patrick Lalime suggests shopping Jonathan Drouin and retaining Nick Suzuki.

Drouin has had consistency issues but he could flourish on a deeper club. He’s got a $5.5 million cap hit but only one season left on his deal plus a three-team no-trade list. It could be worth exploring the trade market to gauge his value.

Suzuki’s not going anywhere unless he demands a trade. The Canadiens signed the 22-year-old to an eight-year deal that kicks in next season at an annual cap hit of $7.875 million. He remains a key part of the Canadiens’ future despite the recent management change.

Felix Seguin proposed peddling Joel Armia and retaining Artturi Lehkonen.

Armia has three more seasons at $3.5 million annually on his contract. He’s affordable but his streaky play could hurt his trade value. .

Lehkonen is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer who will also be a year away from UFA eligibility. The Canadiens could try to move him at the trade deadline if he’s only seeking a one-year deal. However, they can afford to wait until the summer or next season’s trade deadline.

Louis Jean recommended trading Carey Price and retaining head coach Dominique Ducharme.

Price won’t be going anywhere at the trade deadline. He’s still rehabbing his way back from offseason knee surgery. His $10.5 million cap hit through 2025-26 and full no-movement clause makes it very difficult to move him during the season.

Trading Price might have to wait until the offseason and could require the Habs retaining half of his cap hit. They might also need to get a third team involved willing to pick up half of the remainder for a sweetener like a draft pick to facilitate shipping him to any interested club.

Jean believes Ducharme deserves another chance after having little time to prepare last season and a shortened offseason heading into 2021-22. Canadien executive VP of hockey ops Jeff Gorton said Ducharme would remain as head coach for the rest of the season. Whether he’s still behind the bench next season isn’t a certainty.

Guillaume Latendresse believes Jeff Petry should be moved and Ryan Poehling retained.

Petry has had a horrible season but the 34-year-old defenseman reached 40 points last season for the fourth straight year. He carries a $6.25 million annual cap hit through 2024-25 and a 15-team no-trade clause. Still, there could be a playoff contender willing to bet on Petry regaining his form on a better blueline.

Poehling had difficulty cracking the Canadiens roster in the past but the 22-year-old has shown potential this season. He’s signed through 2022-23 at a very affordable $750K. He’ll be staying put.

Maxime Lapierre felt they should trade Ben Chiarot and hang onto Alexander Romanov.

Chiarot is slated to become a UFA next summer. There’s talk he could fetch a first-round pick. That makes him their most likely trade candidate.

Romanov is only 21 and still has plenty of potential as a top-four defenseman. His future remains in Montreal.