Sunday NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, the potential cost for the Rangers to re-sign Adam Fox and the Stars’ contract talks with John Klingberg in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports one of the biggest hurdles to getting a Jack Eichel trade done is the Buffalo Sabres’ unwillingness to retain any portion of his salary. They’re willing to take back some contracts in return but it’s still difficult with the 24-year-old center having four more years with an annual average value of $10 million remaining on his contract.

Friedman believes the Colorado Avalanche made a call to see if they could make it work but the Sabres’ unwillingness to take salary stopped discussions. Jeff Marek said the Vegas Golden Knights were in conversation with the Sabres but were unwilling to part with young center Peyton Krebs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t blame the Sabres for not wanting to retain salary. They don’t want to carry what would likely be a significant chunk of dead cap space for the next four seasons. Maybe they might budge a bit if this issue becomes the only sticking point but I think owner Terry Pegula wants Eichel completely off his books.

I’m not sure how much salary the Avalanche would want the Sabres to absorb but it would have to be a healthy chunk given their limited cap space. They’re already using LTIR right now and have over $55.7 million invested in 12 players for 2022-23 with the cap expected to rise by just $1 million to $82.5 million.

New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox (NHL Images).

As for the Golden Knights, Eichel would be an ideal fit there but they too don’t have much cap room and would need the Sabres to retain some salary in the deal to make it work. Their unwillingness to move Krebs also seems a deal-breaker.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker believes 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox is inching closer to a massive contract extension with the New York Rangers. The current price-point for talented young defensemen when Cale Makar inked a six-year extension this summer with the Avalanche worth $9 million annually. The Boston Bruins signing Charlie McAvoy last week to an eight-year extension worth an AAV of $9.5 million will also be duly noted by the Fox camp.

After signing Mika Zibanejad to an eight-year deal, Walker believes the Rangers face some salary-cap challenges for next season. While it’s possible Fox could accept a hometown discount to ensure the club can build around him, he would also be within his rights to seek between $9.5 million and $10 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even a hometown discount of, say, $8 million will still take a big bite out of the Rangers cap payroll. I’ll be shocked if he accepted that.

Some readers here speculate he might accept a one-year contract for considerably less but I doubt he’ll go that route considering he’s coming off a season that saw him join Bobby Orr as the only sophomores in NHL history to win the Norris. He may have grown up as a big Rangers fan but they’re still going to have to pay a lot for the privilege of having him on their roster.

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek said the Dallas Stars want John Klingberg to stay and the 27-year-old defenseman wants to remain with the Stars. However, his asking price could make it difficult to re-sign him. Marek reports Klingberg seeks an eight-year contract between $62 million and $66 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s an annual average value between $7.75 million and $8.25 million. It’s less than what teammate Miro Heiskanen got on his contract ($8.45 million AAV) and well below the $9 million Dougie Hamilton got as a UFA this summer from the New Jersey Devils.

Nevertheless, that could be a difficult number for the Stars to absorb. With Heiskanen, Esa Lindell and Ryan Suter already earning a combined $17.9 million annually, Klingberg’s asking price would push that to around $25 million invested in just four defensemen.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 16, 2021

Recaps of Friday’s action, a look at Charlie McAvoy’s contract extension with the Bruins, plus the latest on Nathan MacKinnon, Dylan Larkin, Brady Tkachuk and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jack Hughes scored twice, including the game-winner, as the New Jersey Devils kicked off their season with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Dougie Hamilton opened the scoring with his first goal as a Devil. The Blackhawks overcame a 3-1 deficit to force the extra frame on third-period goals by Kirby Dach and Dominik Kubalik.

New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (NHL Images).

The Vancouver Canucks blew a 4-2 lead in the third period but went on to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 on a shootout goal by J.T. Miller, who also had a goal and two assists in regulation. Elias Pettersson and Alex Chiasson each had a goal and an assist for the Canucks. Travis Konecny and Claude Giroux scored for the Flyers to tie the game.

Marcus Foligno snapped a 1-1 tie with eight seconds remaining in the third period to lift the Minnesota Wild to a season-opening 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Jakob Silfverberg opened the scoring for the Ducks early in the second but Kevin Fiala tied it late in the period. Ducks backup Anthony Stolarz made 46 saves filling in for John Gibson, who’s listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury suffered when he was run by the Winnipeg Jets’ Anthony Copp on Wednesday.

HEADLINES

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins yesterday signed Charlie McAvoy to an eight-year, $76 million contract extension. It’s the richest deal in franchise history as the 23-year-old defenseman will earn an annual average value of $9.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This contract ensures McAvoy will spend his prime playing years in Boston. He’s being paid in line with other talented young defensemen who recently signed new contracts such as Colorado’s Cale Makar ($9 million) and Columbus’ Zach Werenski ($9.58 million). McAvoy’s a better all-around defenseman than those two and will be worth every penny for the Bruins going forward.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar returns behind the bench for tonight’s game against the St. Louis Blues after emerging from COVID protocol. Center Nathan MacKinnon remains asymptomatic and sidelined for tonight’s game. Winger Valeri Nichushkin is week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin received a one-game suspension for throwing a punch with a gloved hand at Tampa Bay Lightning forward Mathieu Joseph after the latter hit him from behind. Larkin was injured on the play and could be sidelined longer as he missed practice on Friday to see a specialist. He missed the end of last season with a neck injury that require weeks of physical therapy.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Mark Scheifele makes his season debut tonight against the San Jose Sharks. He was serving a four-game suspension for charging Montreal Canadiens center Jake Evans during Game 1 of their 2021 second-round playoff series.

OTTAWA SUN: Brady Tkachuk took part in his first practice with the Senators on Friday after signing his new seven-year contract on Thursday. He won’t be playing in tonight’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs but could make his season debut on Sunday against the Dallas Stars or Thursday against the San Jose Sharks.

Speaking of the Senators, goaltender Matt Murray has been placed on injured reserve retroactive to Oct. 12 due to a non-COVID-related illness.

TSN: Winger Mike Hoffman could make his season debut with the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday against the Sharks or Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes. He signed a three-year contract with the Habs during the summer but suffered a lower-body injury during offseason training.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers center Ryan Strome will be sidelined for two games due to COVID-19 protocol.

THE PROVINCE: Travis Hamonic has not reported to the Vancouver Canucks’ AHL affiliate in Abbotsford but has not been suspended. He has been absent since the start of training camp to what is believed related to the league’s COVID-19 vaccination protocol. Hamonic passed unclaimed through waivers last week.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt (upper-body injury) and defenseman Henri Jokiharju (lower-body) are expected to miss at least two weeks.

TSN: The Los Angeles Kings placed defenseman Christian Wolanin on waivers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2021

The Rangers sign Mika Zibanejad to a lucrative contract extension, Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise officially sign with the Islanders, a large number of players hit the waiver wire, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers yesterday announced Mika Zibanejad signed an eight-year contract extension worth $68 million. The annual average value is $8.5 million. This deal will keep Zibanejad with the Rangers until he’s 36. By keeping his AAV under $9 million, it provided the Blueshirts with some cap flexibility to re-sign key players such as Adam Fox in the near future.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Post’s Larry Brooks indicated Zibanejad’s new deal is a little longer than Rangers’ management preferred. However, it was necessary to reach that $8.5 million cap hit as he likely would’ve received up to $10 million annually on the open market. As per Cap Friendly, they now have over $62 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23 with Fox, Ryan Strome, Kaapo Kakko and Alexandar Georgiev among the notables slated for new contracts next summer.

Zibanejad thrived since being traded to the Rangers in 2016, including a career-best 41 goals and 75 points in 57 games in 2019-20. He had a slow start last season following a bout of COVID-19 but finished strong with 50 points in 56 contests.

This signing should also take the Rangers out of the Jack Eichel sweepstakes. I’ll have more on that in today’s Rumor Mill. Brooks believes the only way it happens is if the Sabres retain 40-50 percent of Eichel’s $10 million AAV which isn’t going to happen.

DAILY FACEOFF: The New York Islanders officially announced the signings of Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise. They’re both on one-year, one-way contracts with an annual average value of $1.5 million. They’ll receive a base salary of $750K plus $750K in bonuses.

Frank Seravalli reported Erik Gustafsson has returned to the Chicago Blackhawks. The 29-year-old defenseman signed a one-year deal believed to be worth $800K.

Forty-three players hit the waiver wire yesterday. Vancouver Canucks defenseman Travis Hamonic and Edmonton Oilers forward Kyle Turris are the two notable names on that list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamonic was absent from the Canucks training camp and preseason for reasons related to the NHL’s vaccination protocols. Unvaccinated players face restrictions that could prevent them from participating in road games, which could also result in them being suspended without pay.

There was talk of the Canucks attempting to trade Hamonic. He’s on a two-year, $6 million contract with an eight-team no-trade clause.

THE PROVINCE: Speaking of the Canucks, they traded defenseman Olli Juolevi to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Noah Juulsen and forward Juho Lammiko.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a trade of young players who failed to pan out with their previous teams. Injuries also hampered the development of Juolevi and Juulsen. The latter is now on his third team in two seasons.

THE SCORE: Vegas Golden Knights president of hockey operations George McPhee accused player agent Allan Walsh of attempting to sabotage efforts to trade Marc-Andre Fleury by telling other clubs his client was considering retirement.

McPhee praised Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon’s handling of the situation. While acknowledging Fleury learned of his trade to the Chicago Blackhawks on social media, McPhee said they spoke with the goalie’s camp leading up to the deal. They stopped communicating with them when Walsh started telling other clubs Fleury planned to retire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to hear Walsh’s side of the story. The agent generated some controversy during the 2020 playoffs by posting an image on Twitter of Fleury with a photoshopped sword running through his back and head coach Pete DeBoer’s name on the blade. The suggestion was DeBoer stabbed his client in the back by giving Robin Lehner more playing time in the postseason. That image was removed at Fleury’s request.

SPORTSNET: New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood returned to practice yesterday after clearing all COVID-19 protocols. He’d received an inconclusive COVID test on Thursday. He said he “still has some things to do” before deciding one way or the other on getting vaccinated, “but I’m probably going to be getting the shot in the next couple of weeks.” He’s the only unvaccinated member of the Devils.

TSN: Speaking of the Devils, they signed forward Jimmy Vesey to a one-year, $800K contract.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette indicated captain Alex Ovechkin is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. He doesn’t consider it serious, suggesting the 36-year-old winger could be in the lineup for their season opener on Wednesday against the New York Rangers.

THE DENVER POST: The Avalanche signed defenseman Jack Johnson to a one-year, $750K contract.

SPORTSNET: Ottawa Senators forward Austin Watson is expected to be sidelined roughly four weeks with an injured ankle.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Mark Friedman was fined $1,812.50 for spearing Columbus Blue Jackets forward Sean Kuraly during Saturday’s preseason game.

Former NHL forward Frans Nielsen signed with DEL club Eisbaren Berlin. The 37-year-old center tallied 473 points in 925 career NHL games with the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 3, 2021

Robin Lehner accuses several teams of medical malpractice plus the latest on Nicklas Backstrom, Jonathan Drouin, Jack Johnson and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

ESPN.COM: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner alleged several NHL teams regularly gave players drugs such as benzodiazepines and Ambien without prescriptions. He said the Golden Knights weren’t among those clubs but implied he’d been on teams that had done so.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner can expect a call by NHL HQ if he hasn’t already been contacted. He’ll be in hot water if he can’t substantiate his allegation. If he can, however, it could prompt an investigation by the league.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said his injured hip is improving but there’s no timetable for his return. The ailment doesn’t require surgery and he’s been rehabbing it at an offsite location. His status remains week-to-week, leaving him questionable to start the season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Jonathan Drouin is the 2020-21 recipient of the Jean Beliveau Trophy, awarded annually to the Canadiens player who best exemplifies leadership qualifies in the community. Drouin’s been involved in numerous charities, including those helping children and sick people.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drouin receiving this honor takes on greater significance when one remembers he took a leave of absence from the Canadiens last season to deal with anxiety. Despite that, he still maintained his charitable work.

The Canadiens announced defenseman Sami Niku is sidelined indefinitely after suffering a concussion in Friday’s preseason game against the Ottawa Senators.

TSN: The Canadiens also claimed goaltender Samuel Montembeault off waivers from the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is seen as an insurance move by the Canadiens with starter Carey Price still recuperating from offseason knee injury. His status for the start of the season remains uncertain.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Sources claim the Colorado Avalanche are expected to sign defenseman Jack Johnson, who’s in training camp on a professional tryout offer. With Devon Toews sidelined, he’s likely to fill a spot as the fifth or sixth blueliner to start the season.

 

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 9, 2021

Sidney Crosby undergoes wrist surgery, Patrice Bergeron discusses his contract situation, the latest on Evander Kane and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby underwent surgery on his left wrist on Wednesday. He’s expected to be sidelined for six weeks and could miss the Penguins’ opening four games of this season. General manager Ron Hextall said Crosby has been dealing with an unspecified ailment in his wrist for several years.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It sounds like Crosby aggravated the ailment as he was ramping up his training in preparation for the coming season. The Penguins will now be without their top two centers to open the season. Evgeni Malkin is recovering from offseason knee surgery that will sideline him much longer than Crosby.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said his focus is on the upcoming season and not on his contract status. The 36-year-old center is entering the final season of his deal and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He indicated he’ll play out this season and discuss his contract with the Bruins after that.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could make some Bruins fans nervous after seeing long-time stars Zdeno Chara and David Krejci depart over the last two years. Bergeron is no longer in his playing prime but he remains among the league’s best two-way forwards.

Much will depend upon his performance and how much he’ll seek on his next contract. They could be more accommodating to Bergeron given how thin the Bruins are at center.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The NHL’s investigation into allegations San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane bet on his own games has hit a snag. Kane’s estranged wife Anna made the accusations on social media but the league has thus far been unable to interview her. The NHL hoped to have its investigation completed before training camp opened later this month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The article also reported an examination of betting trends that showed no abnormalities for Sharks games last season. Kane was also the Sharks’ leading scorer in 2020-21.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche signed center Artem Anisimov to a professional tryout offer.

TSN: The Calgary Flames signed unrestricted free agent forward Brad Richardson to a one-year, $800K contract and restricted free agent defenseman Connor Mackey to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $912,500.

Former NHL player J.T. Brown pledged his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation in Boston. “We need more information about brain injuries and concussions, the kind of information you can get from studying brains after someone has died,” said Brown, adding he loves hockey and hopes to make it safer for future generations.

CBC NEWS: Brandon University scolded former NHLer Theo Fleury for “reprehensible remarks” he made against vaccine passports. The university granted Fleury an honorary doctorate in 2015 but says his espousing of conspiracy theories is a “stain on his legacy”. He recently took to Twitter claiming vaccine passports would make it easier for pedophiles to track children and touted an anti-parasitic medicine commonly used for livestock as an alternative to COVID-19 vaccines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury was one of my favorite players during his NHL career. His work in exposing sexual predators in hockey and as a mental health advocate remains worthy of praise. Nevertheless, it’s sad to see him disappear down this rabbit hole of misinformation.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks scout Patrik Jonsson recently passed away at age 51 of prostate cancer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Jonsson’s family, friends and the Canucks’ organization.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 2, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 2, 2021

Are the Panthers close to announcing a new contract for Aleksander Barkov? Are there other moves the Islanders and Avalanche could make? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: With Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier and Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov getting new contracts last week, George Richards wondered if Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov could be next to sign a lucrative long-term extension.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).

Richards reports the Panthers are expected to announce a new contract for Barkov in the coming weeks, perhaps before training camp opens on Sep. 22. It’s believed he’ll get more than the $7.75 million per season that Couturier and Svechnikov will receive. The 25-year-old Panthers star is earning $5.9 million annually on his current deal which expires next July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barkov is the Panthers’ top player and among the best two-way forwards in the league. I don’t see them letting him go to market next summer. Richards expects it’ll be an eight-year maximum deal. He could pull in over $10 million per season.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple looked at what other moves could be in store for the New York Islanders after officially announcing new contracts yesterday for Anthony Beauvillier, Casey Cizikas, Kyle Palmieri and Ilya Sorokin.

The Isles didn’t announce a contract for Zach Parise but the winger will be joining them this season. Staple speculates he’ll get a one-year deal for the league minimum with performance bonuses on a plus-35 deal that could earn him over $2 million for the season.

Staple points out general manager Lou Lamoriello still hasn’t replaced Nick Leddy on the left side of the Islanders’ blueline. The Seattle Kraken has a surplus of left-handed defensemen but there hasn’t been much discussion between the two clubs. He doubts the Columbus Blue Jackets will part with Vladislav Gavrikov and it would take a decent-sized offer to pry Mattias Ekholm from the Nashville Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As noted in today’s Morning Coffee Headlines, the Islanders are $3.7 million above the $81.5 million salary cap. That will increase once they officially announce Parise’s contract.

They’ll address that overage by placing permanently sidelined Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million cap hit on LTIR. However, it still won’t leave much room to add a defenseman unless it’s a dollar-for-dollar swap or one or two players get demoted.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Peter Baugh was asked if the Colorado Avalanche might add a free agent or two to their bottom-six forwards. He believes they could offer someone like Tyler Bozak a cheap one-year contract or a tryout offer but they aren’t desperate to add someone before training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Baugh’s column was published before the Avalanche signed defenseman Jack Johnson to a professional tryout offer yesterday. They could do the same for a UFA forward like Bozak though there’s no certainty they will. GM Joe Sakic could see how things unfold in training camp before seeing if he needs another veteran for his bottom-six.