NHL Rumor Mill – December 16, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – December 16, 2019

The Taylor Hall trade watch continues, plus the latest on the Leafs, Canadiens, Blackhawks, and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE LATEST HALL SPECULATION

NJ.COM: Chris Ryan cites reports indicating the Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche are the leading contenders to acquire New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall. He speculates the Devils could seek several pieces, including a high draft pick, an additional conditional pick if Hall re-signs with his new team, a top prospect or one or two other solid prospects.

Despite a weekend of rampant speculation, Taylor Hall remains with the New Jersey Devils…for now (Photo via NHL Images).

Ryan examined the possible returns the Devils could receive from these clubs. He suggests targeting Coyotes prospect Barrett Hayton or Victor Soderstrom, Panthers prospect goaltender Spencer Knight, Blues defenseman Niko Mikkola, or Avs prospect Bowen Byram.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports multiple sources claimed the Coyotes aren’t offering up Hayton or Soderstrom, but the two sides could be haggling over prospect defenseman Kevin Bahl. He doesn’t know the details of the Coyotes’ package offer to the Devils, but it’s believed to be futures-based. The Coyotes could go in a different direction if this continues without a resolution for too long.

Friedman also cites sources claiming the Devils may have received an offer or two that revolve around younger, established NHL players. Devils general manager Ray Shero could face a choice between a futures offer or a hockey trade that can provide immediate help.

The Devils haven’t yet permitted interested clubs to speak with Hall or his agent regarding a contract extension. However, Friedman suggests that it doesn’t mean they won’t if they receive an offer they like that’s contingent on one. He also wonders what the Devils will continue to sit Hall if he’s not traded before the upcoming holiday trade freeze.

VANCOUVER SUN’s Patrick Johnston cited a source claiming the Panthers’ offer includes forward Vincent Trocheck and several Boston-based prospects.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes the Hall trade saga is becoming a farce that could affect his trade value. “The deeper we go into the season, the less Hall’s value, especially as a rental,” said Staples. “The more complications that come up in moving him — and surely a major league complication came up to thwart a trade this weekend — the less his value.”

Jim Matheson took to Twitter musing about what Oilers GM Ken Holland could offer up to acquire Hall as a rental player. He speculates the offer would be winger Jesse Puljujarvi’s rights plus a second-round pick that becomes a first-rounder if the Oilers reach the playoffs. Kurt Leavins asked, “Why would the New Jersey Devils grant negotiation status to a club that Taylor Hall doesn’t want to sign with?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It certainly seemed like a Hall trade was imminent when the winger was held out of the lineup over the weekend in consecutive games against two clubs – the Avalanche and Coyotes – reportedly interested in acquiring him. A deal could still go down soon, but it appears Devils management could be using the upcoming week-long holiday roster freeze (which begins at midnight ET on Dec. 19) as a deadline to pressure interested parties into improving their offers.

On Saturday, Chris Johnston reported the Coyotes had emerged as the front-runner for Hall. Friedman felt the Devils were trying to leverage the Coyotes’ trade package into better offers from other clubs.

In other words, “Here’s what the Coyotes are offering us for Hall. Can you match or beat it?” The lack of news since then suggests no one has done so, though it’s possible the haggling is continuing.

If the Panthers are offering up Trocheck, it will leave them thin at center. The Boston-based prospects could include Spencer Knight, defenseman Benjamin Finkelstein, and winger Logan Hutsko.

SHOULD THE LEAFS SWAP A FORWARD FOR A GOALIE OR DEFENSEMAN?

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle believes the Toronto Maple Leafs will face some tough decisions once sidelined forward Andreas Johnsson returns to action in January. With the third line of Pierre Engvall, Alexander Kerfoot, and Ilya Mikheyev keeps playing well, the Leafs could be reluctant to break them out. That could mean demoting Johnsson or Kasperi Kapanen to the fourth line, which doesn’t make sense given their experience and salaries.

Mirtle said Kapanen is a player rival clubs lacking depth on the wing are keeping an eye on. He wondered if someone like Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson might be a good fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs reportedly don’t want to move Kapanen. If their depth issues in goal and on the blueline persist, however, they might not have much choice, especially if it could derail their playoff hopes. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Larsson, but I think the Leafs would prefer a good second-pairing rearguard in return for Kapanen.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

TVA SPORTS: Speculation persists over Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin’s recent scouting of the Chicago Blackhawks. Defenseman Olli Maatta’s name has surfaced, but Yvon Pedneault suggested Erik Gustafsson could be the target. He doubted the Blackhawks want to part with Maatta, but they could be willing to listen to offers for Gustafsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks acquire Maatta during the summer. He’s under contract through 2021-22. Gustafsson, however, will become a UFA in July. He’s the more likely trade candidate.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2019

Eric Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury reach career milestones, plus the latest on Sidney Crosby, Cale Makar, and more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal scored to pick up his 1,000th career point, but it wasn’t enough to prevent his club from falling to the Chicago Blackhawks 5-3. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane tallied a hat trick while Jonathan Toews collected three assists. Kevin Fiala scored twice for the Wild.

Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal netted his 1,000th career point in a 5-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks (Photo via NHL Images).

Marc-Andre Fleury moved into 14th place for all-time games played among NHL goalies (821) backstopping the Vegas Golden Knights to a 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Vegas winger Max Pacioretty scored twice and added two assists. Earlier in the day, the Canucks placed winger Sven Baertschi on waivers.

Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele each had a goal and two assists as the Winnipeg Jets thumped the Philadelphia Flyers 7-3. Flyers forward Joel Farabee faces supplemental discipline for interference on Jets center Mathieu Perreault. The injury-ravaged Flyers have dropped four of their last five games.

Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar scored twice to lead his club over the Detroit Red Wings 4-2, snapping the latter’s two-game win streak.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby recently teamed up with sponsor and equipment maker CCM to announce a donation of 87 sets of hockey gear to participants in three programs administered by Hockey Nova Scotia.

TSN: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar will miss the next two games with an upper-body injury.

NBC SPORTS: cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting former San Jose Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer is willing to entertain offers for coaching jobs this season. “Sometimes coaches wanna take time, maybe the rest of the season before they come back,” Friedman said. “The word is … that, depending on the situation, Peter DeBoer is willing to listen and will consider coaching this year. But again, it depends on the situation.”

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres sent struggling Casey Mittelstadt to their AHL affiliate in Rochester. The 21-year-old winger had been a healthy scratch in three of the Sabres’ last four games.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Former NHL winger Vladimir Tsyplakov has died at the age of 50. The cause of death was not revealed. Tsyplakov played nearly five seasons with the Los Angeles Kings and nearly two seasons with the Sabres. He netted 170 points in 331 NHL games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Tsyplakov’s family, friends, and former teammates.

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 15, 2019

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 15, 2019

The latest Taylor Hall trade speculation, plus updates on Ilya Kovalchuk and Sven Baertschi in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

HALL TRADE WATCH CONTINUES

SPORTSNET: As the New Jersey Devils sat out Taylor Hall for his second straight game, Chris Johnston reported the Arizona Coyotes (who fell 2-1 to the Devils last night) are considered the front-runner to land the 28-year-old winger. Johnston said the Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues, and a couple of other clubs were involved in trade talks for Hall, but the Coyotes are believed to have the best offer on the table.

The Arizona Coyotes are reportedly the front-runners in the bidding for New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall (Photo via NHL Images).

Elliotte Friedman said the Coyotes top-two prospects (Barrett Hayton and Victor Soderstrom) aren’t believed to be in that offer. It sounds like the two clubs are haggling over prospect defenseman Kevin Bahl. Friedman feels the Devils are trying to leverage the Coyotes’ trade package into better offers from other clubs, but they’re struggling to find a willing suitor. He added the Devils haven’t granted permission to interested clubs to talk contract extension with the Hall camp.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Matt Layman points out if the Coyotes include a first-round pick in the deal, it could be later in the round if they finish the season as a playoff club. He also reminds us the Coyotes have limited salary-cap space, while Hall’s salary-cap hit is $6 million.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche are also among five or six clubs that have inquired about Hall.

THE ATHLETIC: George Richards reported the Panthers could be in play for Hall whether they need him or not, pointing out they have an abundance of talented wingers on its roster and in its farm system. He observed they have a lack of depth at center and could use some defensive help.

Jeremy Rutherford reported the St. Louis Blues have had interest in Hall and are monitoring the situation. At this point, however, they don’t appear engaged in serious trade discussions with the Devils. He also said the Montreal Canadiens are among the clubs with interest in Hall.

With the Devils looking to move the winger before the holiday trade freeze, and Blues GM Doug Armstrong’s tendency to be patient when pursuing trades, Rutherford doubts Hall will be coming to St. Louis. However, if he’s still available following the holiday freeze, Armstrong could remain interested leading up to the February trade deadline.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the sooner the Devils move Hall, the better it’ll be for the Rangers, as it’ll improve the trade value of winger Chris Kreider. Mark Fischer, meanwhile, reports Hall’s girlfriend may have confirmed the trade rumors by having an apparent goodbye party on Friday night with several wives and girlfriends of Devils players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Devils GM Ray Shero can’t leverage the Coyotes’ pitch into a better offer, it’ll be interesting to see if he accepts it before the holiday roster freeze kicks in at midnight on Dec 19 or uses it as a bargaining chip once the freeze is lifted by midnight on Dec. 27.

I daresay the Devils will retain part of Hall’s cap hit to alleviate the Coyotes’ cap concerns, but the latter must include a salaried player to make the deal work. For those who were wondering, they’re already getting LTIR cap relief.

The Avalanche were thought to be front-runners entering this weekend. If the Coyotes have topped their offer, it suggests Avs GM Joe Sakic isn’t offering up a top prospect like Bowen Byram or Alex Newhook.

The Blues, Panthers, and Canadiens may be among the interested parties, but it sounds to me like they’re in the tire-kicking stage. That might change if the Devils are trying to leverage the Coyotes’ offer.

KOVALCHUK UPDATE

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Los Angeles Kings will soon speak with Ilya Kovalchuk about finding his way back into NHL action. The 36-year-old winger has been a healthy scratch for over a month. He’s still skating and traveling with the team. He wants to play and believes he can help a team offensively.

Kovalchuk’s final bonus ($2.65 million) will be paid out today. After that, he’ll be paid a prorated amount of his $700K base salary for this season. That could interest clubs seeking cheap scoring help. Johnston suggests the Kings might terminate his contract, or perhaps see if his trade value improves once that bonus is paid out.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty thinks Kovalchuk would look good in a Bruins uniform for the right price. He feels the veteran winger could regain some of his offensive mojo skating alongside second-line center David Krejci.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings want the Kovalchuk saga brought to a close as soon as possible. He has a no-movement clause that prevents demotion to the minors and a seven-team trade list, but he could expand that listing if he’s keen to get back into action. A sticking point could be the remaining year on his contract with a $6.25-million salary-cap hit, though in actual salary he’ll be paid $4.25 million.

The Bruins need secondary scoring. Given Kovalchuk’s age and his struggles with the Kings, however, I’m not convinced he’s the right fit there.

CANUCKS SHOPPING BAERTSCHI

VANCOUVER SUN: Ed Willes reports Canucks GM Jim Benning confirmed a report they’re working with Sven Baertschi’s agent to try and find him a new NHL home. They’ve been shopping the winger for about 10 weeks.

“I’ve been talking to Andre (Rufener, Baertschi’s agent) once or twice a week. We’ve been working on this. I don’t know why he decided to come out publicly,” said Benning. He also confirmed he’s not seeking a lot in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps Baertschi’s agent went public to put pressure on Benning to move his client or to drum up more interest from rival clubs.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 2, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 2, 2019

The Islanders collect their eighth straight win, John Carlson leads the stars of the month, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The New York Islanders collected their eighth straight win by downing the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2. Isles captain Anders Lee scored a goal and added two assists while goaltender Thomas Greiss made 33 saves. The Lightning is 1-2-1 in their last four games.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made 51 saves in a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL Images).

Connor Hellebuyck made 51 saves and Nikolaj Ehlers scored the winning goal late in the third period as the Winnipeg Jets edged the San Jose Sharks 3-2. The Sharks have dropped four consecutive games.

A four-goal first period powered the Washington Capitals to a 6-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Jakub Vrana scored twice while Michal Kempny and Tom Wilson each had three points.

Sebastian Aho, Dougie Hamilton, and Jaccob Slavin had three points each to lead the Carolina Hurricanes over the Detroit Red Wings 7-3. Hurricanes’ goaltender Petr Mrazek picked up his 15th consecutive home victory. Anthony Mantha scored two goals for the Red Wings.

The St. Louis Blues overcame a 3-1 deficit to nip the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in overtime. David Perron tallied the winner and also collected an assist. Pierre-Luc Dubois and Oliver Bjorkstrand each tallied a goal and an assist.

Ryan Getzlaf’s overtime goal lifted the Anaheim Ducks over the Vancouver Canucks by a score of 2-1. Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes left the game in the first period with an ankle injury. Earlier in the day, the Canucks recalled Sven Baertschi while Micheal Ferland (concussion) was placed on injured reserve.

Roope Hintz scored two goals and Anton Khudobin kicked out 38 shots as the Dallas Stars defeated the Colorado Avalanche 2-1. Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon scored to extend his points streak to 13 games.

Sean Couturier tallied a goal and an assist and scored the winner in a shootout as the Philadelphia Flyers edged the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Taylor Hall also had a goal and an assist for the Devils. Earlier in the day, the Devils acquired goaltender Louis Domingue from the Lightning in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2021.

HEADLINES

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak, and Edmonton Oilers winger Leon Draisaitl are the NHL’s three stars for October 2019.

THE SCORE: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin was activated off injured reserve. He’s expected to be in the lineup for today’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

SPORTSNET: Hall-of-Famer Doug Gilmour is rejoining the Toronto Maple Leafs as a community representative.

TSN: Speaking of the Leafs, they’ve loaned forward Nic Petan to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 10, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 10, 2019

Game recaps, injury updates, Canadiens and Flyers swing a four-player trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Philadelphia Flyers rookie goaltender Carter Hart collected his eighth straight win backstopping his club to a 6-2 drubbing of the Anaheim Ducks. Hart tied Jocelyn Thibault as the only two goalies in NHL history to win eight straight games before their 21st birthday. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher confirmed Hart would remain with the club for the remainder of the season. While the Flyers have points (9-0-1) in their last 10 games, the Ducks have just two victories in their last 21 contests, sending them tumbling to the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hart’s the biggest reason behind the Flyers’ recent resurgence, providing them with the quality goaltending that was lacking earlier in the campaign.

As for the Ducks, injuries and a lack of scoring depth have crippled them this season, but I also believe general manager Bob Murray’s reluctance to fire head coach Randy Carlyle is another contributing factor. It’s apparent the players have tuned out Carlyle. Big changes are required in Anaheim and they should start behind the bench as soon as possible.

**UPDATE** The Ducks fired Carlyle this afternoon. Murray will take over as the coach on an interim basis for the remainder of the season. 

John Tavares’ overtime goal lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 (Photo via NHL Images).

John Tavares’ overtime goal gave the Toronto Maple Leafs (71 points) a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, opening a two-point lead over the latter for second in the Atlantic Division. Earlier in the day, the Canadiens shipped David Schlemko and Byron Froese to the Philadelphia Flyers for Christian Folin and Dale Weise, placed defenseman Karl Alzner on waivers, and placed Paul Byron (forearm) on injured reserve as winger Andrew Shaw returned to the lineup. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A bit of tinkering here for both clubs, with Schlemko and Weise as the notable players in this deal. By moving Schlemko to the Flyers, the Canadiens shed his $2.1 million salary-cap hit through next season while bringing back Weise ($2.35 million through 2019-20), who was a popular checking line forward during his previous tenure in Montreal.

The Canadiens sent Weise to their AHL affiliate but there’s talk they’ll try to bring him up into the roster soon. Schlemko, meanwhile, is expected to skate alongside promising Philippe Myers on the Flyers’ blueline.  

The St. Louis Blues picked up their fifth straight win by nipping the Nashville Predators 3-2. Blues rookie goalie Jordan Binnington picked up his ninth win in 11 starts and teammate Vladimir Tarasenko stretched his points streak to seven games. The Blues (57 points) maintained their grip on the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. 

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton collected two assists to tie Gordie Howe (1,049) for ninth on the all-time list in a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Kevin Lebanc tallied a hat trick for the Sharks. Following the game, Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock criticized his players’ performance. “At this time of year, the coaches can’t want it more than the players,” he said. The Oilers (53 points) are four points out of a playoff berth. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players are a disheartened bunch right. They’ve tried their best since the All-Star break but their lack of depth is hampering those efforts and hurting morale. Scolding them won’t overcome those issues. 

Jacob Markstrom made 44 saves and Elias Pettersson scored the winner in a shootout to give the Vancouver Canucks a 5-4 win over the Calgary Flames. Pettersson also collected two assists in regulation. Flames winger James Neal lost some teeth after being struck in the mouth by the stick of Canucks defenseman Alex Biega but he was able to finish the game. Biega received a double-minor penalty. Earlier in the day, the Canucks revealed sidelined winger Sven Baertschi is dealing with post-concussion syndrome

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby surpassed Mario Lemieux for most games played in franchise history (916) in a 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Penguins (63 points) have dropped four straight and cling to the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. 

An overtime goal by Patrice Bergeron gave the Boston Bruins a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Before the game, the Bruins honored Bergeron for recently playing his 1,000th career NHL game. The Kings also activated forward Trevor Lewis off injured reserve.

Third-period goals by Conor Sheary, Connor Mittelstadt, and Kyle Okposo carried the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The Sabres (61 points) sit two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference

The Minnesota Wild snapped their four-game losing skid by doubling up the New Jersey Devils 4-2, handing Devils goalie Cory Schneider his 20th consecutive loss. With the win, the Wild (59 points) hold the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference

Ryan Pulock scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the New York Islanders edged the Colorado Avalanche 4-3. It was the Avs’ sixth straight defeat, putting them three points behind the St. Louis Blues (57 points) for the final wild-card berth in the West. 

Ottawa Senators goaltender Anders Nilsson made 44 saves as his club downed the Winnipeg Jets 5-2. Mark Stone scored twice against the Jets, who’ve dropped three straight games. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe the Jets’ recent slump puts more pressure on GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to swing a deal before the trade deadline. 

The Arizona Coyotes ended a five-game losing skid by holding off the Dallas Stars 3-2. Alex Galchenyuk scored twice for the Coyotes (53 points), who sit four points out of a Western Conference wild-card spot. Stars defenseman Roman Polak left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. 

Mike Hoffman’s overtime goal gave the Florida Panthers a 5-4 victory over the Washington Capitals, giving the Panthers their sixth win in their last eight contests. Brett Connolly scored twice for the Capitals. 

Cam Atkinson scored the game-tying and winning goals as the Columbus Blue Jackets rallied to down the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3. 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 11, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – July 11, 2018

Latest on Max Pacioretty and Erik Karlsson plus a recent update on the Vancouver Canucks in your NHL rumor mill.

Is Max Pacioretty’s time with the Montreal Canadiens drawing to a close? (Photo via NHL Images)

CANADIENS TO TRADE PACIORETTY?

THE ATHLETIC:  Marc Antoine Godin reports an NHL source claims Montreal Canadiens general manager has told captain Max Pacioretty that he won’t receive a contract extension and the club’s intention is to trade him as soon as possible. Pacioretty’s new agent, Allan Walsh, declined to comment except to say his client loves Montreal and hopes to stay.

It’s believed Pacioretty will seek a lucrative long-term contract after his current deal turned out to be one of the league’s biggest bargains. The 29-year-old left wing would prefer to re-sign with the Canadiens but there’s been trade speculation stretching back to December. Bergevin does not publicly comment about contract talks with his players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s already a bit of push-back against this story, suggesting this could be an agent’s tactic and pointing out the rumor didn’t come from a Montreal source. Still, it was widely reportedly the Canadiens had a trade in place to send Pacioretty to the Los Angeles Kings during the NHL Draft last month but the deal fell through because he declined to sign a contract extension with the Kings. 

Rumors linked Pacioretty to the Kings, San Jose Sharks. St. Louis Blues and Florida Panthers. With the Kings having signed Ilya Kovalchuk and the Blues yesterday inking Patrick Maroon, they’re likely out of the market for a scoring winger. The Sharks, who lost out in the bidding for John Tavares, could be the leading suitor. 

It’s widely assumed the Canadiens would want a scoring center in exchange for Pacioretty but that return could be difficult to land if he intends to hit the open market next summer. As per Cap Friendly, he lacks no-trade protection so he could be unwilling to sign a contract extension with the Canadiens unless he gets a guarantee that he won’t be dealt during the final season of his current contract.

SIGNING KUCHEROV WON’T AFFECT LIGHTNING’S EFFORTS TO LAND KARLSSON

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Smith reports the Tampa Bay Lightning re-signing winger Nikita Kucherov yesterday to an eight-year, $76-million contract extension doesn’t preclude the Lightning from acquiring Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. GM Steve Yzerman didn’t mention Karlsson by name but said any report that he was close to making a major acquisition was “very inaccurate”. However, he didn’t rule out the possibility of taking on a high-salaried player, though they’d “have to make the money work, so to speak.”

Smith notes the Lightning have around $4 million in cap space for 2018-19 while Karlsson’s annual cap hit is $6.5 million. Defensemen Braydon Coburn ($3.7 million), Anton Stralman ($4.5 million) and Dan Girardi ($3 million) come off the books next summer as unrestricted free agents. However, Smith suggests the Lightning would still have to move a contract, such as that of winger Ryan Callahan ($5.8 million annually) or center Tyler Johnson ($5 million AAV), to re-sign Karlsson, who’s also due to become a UFA next July. No-trade clauses for those like Callahan and Johnson could also complicate things.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman won’t say he’s pursuing another team’s player via trade as that would be considered tampering. However, it’s no secret the Lightning GM is trying to work out a deal with the Senators for Karlsson.

As Yzerman noted, making the dollars work is a sticking point. There was talk last week of the Lightning trying to get a third club involved, like the New York Rangers, to take a salaried player off their hands. Still, the Senators will also have to take one or two contracts from the Lightning to make this work.

It’s believed they want promising young defenseman Mikhail Sergachev as part of the return. They could also ask for another young roster players such as 22-year-old center Brayden Point. 

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS

THE PROVINCE: Last week, Jason Botchford noted the Vancouver Canucks kept saying they wanted to be active in this summer’s trade market. However, they “may have to be creative to get it done.”

Botchford recommended retaining up to half the annual cap hit of a defenseman like Ben Hutton ($2.8 million) or Michael Del Zotto ($3 million), consider moving a player like Nikolay Goldobin or Brendan Gaunce rather than risk losing them to waivers, or move a veteran such as Brandon Sutter, Sam Gagner or Sven Baertschi. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t rule out the Canucks considering any of these options, though they might end up having to wait until the season is underway to drum up some interest.

Hutton and Del Zotto are both entering the final season of their contracts so maybe, as Botchford suggests, a rival club could consider one of them as a reclamation project. Goldobin or Gaunce could improve into full-time roster players so moving either guy this summer could be premature.

Sutter would have to waive his no-trade clause to be dealt. Gagner lacks no-trade protection but teams could balk at his $3.15-million cap hit through 2019-20. The Canucks recently re-signed Baertchi to a three-year deal worth over $3.36 million. Having him under contract could make him easier to move but I think they see him as part of their rebuilding plan.