NHL Rumor Mill – September 14, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – September 14, 2022

An update on Jason Robertson’s contract talks with the Stars plus the latest on the Canadiens and Oilers in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

LATEST ON JASON ROBERTSON

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks reports Stars general manager Jim Nill remains hopeful that Jason Robertson will be at training camp when it opens next week. Contract negotiations continue between Stars management and the 23-year-old restricted free agent winger.

Dallas Stars forward Jason Robertson (NHL Images)

Robertson is coming off his entry-level contract and a career-best 41 goals and 79 points in 74 games. Nill indicated he’s in constant communication with the winger’s representatives. The club has around $7.2 million in salary cap room depending on the final roster makeup.

DeFranks suggests that means a long-term contract is off the table, speculating Robertson could get an average annual value of $7 million on a three or four-year deal. The Stars can create more cap room for the coming season by carrying a smaller roster or trading players such as goaltender Anton Khudobin ($3.33 million) or forward Radek Faksa ($3.25 million).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bridge deal seems the most likely option here. How much Robertson gets could depend on whether Nill can find a taker for Khudobin or Faksa.

Their respective AAVs aren’t that expensive. Nevertheless, it’ll be difficult finding a trade partner at this time of year when most clubs have limited cap room.

UPDATES ON THE CANADIENS AND OILERS

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie reporting Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson is garnering interest in the trade market as training camp approaches. Lavoie claimed there’s a lot of interest around the league for a blueliner like him.

Lavoie doubts Edmundson, 29, will be traded now but thinks the 6’5”, 229-pound rearguard is drawing some attractive offers and could garner more as the season progresses. He missed most of 2021-22 with a back injury but can bolster his trade stock with a healthy, productive season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Murphy suggested, it’d doubtful he’ll be moved before the 2023 trade deadline. Unless the Canadiens get a mind-blowing offer they’re not trading Edmundson now. They recently made him an alternate captain and value his experience and leadership among their young blueliners.

TSN’s John Lu took to Twitter reporting Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen admitted he’s “had communication” with management regarding a contract extension. However, he offered no further comment on the subject.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Carey Price’s uncertain future and the ongoing development of Cayden Primeau, it’s unsurprising the Canadiens are interested in discussing a new contract with Allen. They’ll need some veteran stability in goal beyond this season if Price’s career is over and Primeau isn’t ready for prime time.

Lu’s colleague Ryan Rishaug tweeted on Monday that he thinks the Edmonton Oilers are waiting to hear an answer from winger Jake Virtanen regarding a professional tryout offer.

He also indicated they’re exploring all cost-cutting trade options for winger Jesse Puljujarvi. They can still start the coming season with what they have if they don’t move Puljujarvi but it could create salary-cap complications later in the season.

Rishaug doesn’t see Tyson Barrie as a trade candidate. He expects the Oilers will start this season with what they’ve got on their blueline and see how things go.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, avoiding arbitration with Puljujarvi by signing him in July to a one-year, $3 million contract provides cost certainty when attempting to trade him. It seems no team wanted to take on an unsigned restricted free agent with consistency issues with arbitration rights.

On the other hand, most teams have limited salary-cap space. Puljujarvi’s $3 million cap hit is a tight squeeze for many clubs right now.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 2, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – September 2, 2022

Some potential trade destinations for Patrick Kane and how the Canadiens can add a defenseman in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens took a look at four possible landing spots for Patrick Kane and what it might cost to acquire him from the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Buffalo Sabres are Kane’s childhood team and already have some quality talent on their rebuilding roster. They also have plenty of salary-cap space and have a stockpile of prospects to tempt the Blackhawks.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If there is a mutual interest in Kane and the Sabres, I think the latter would prefer waiting until next summer to sign him as an unrestricted free agent. They wouldn’t have to part with any players or prospects to get him and the annual cap hit would be lower than his current $10.5 million.

Stephens also suggested the Toronto Maple Leafs as a destination. He acknowledged it would take some financial wizardry for the cap-strapped Leafs to pull it off. Adding Kane would give the Leafs a formidable top-six formation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has proven adept at salary-cap wizardry in the past. Adding Kane, however, could prove beyond his powers. It would require shedding considerable salary while requiring the Blackhawks to retain half of his average annual value. A three-team trade would significantly reduce the Leafs’ share of his AAV but finding a team willing to do it is easier said than done.

The Detroit Red Wings are another club with promising prospects that could be attractive trade bait. They would have to free up a bit of cap room but it wouldn’t be a daunting task. Kane alongside Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond would be a tantalizing combination.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman has avoided pursuing big-ticket talent, preferring to acquire depth veterans to augment his rising young stars. He could surprise us with a major move by acquiring someone like Kane, but I don’t

Stephens thinks the Colorado Avalanche adding Kane would be the kind of move we’d expect them to make. Adding the 33-year-old winger would push the defending Stanley Cup champions back to the top of the heap. It would require the difficult task of trying to shed Erik Johnson’s $6 million cap hit plus the Avs only have four total picks in the next two drafts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche management has shown creativity before landing quality talent. However, their lack of draft picks and Johnson’s cap hit could put acquiring Kane out of reach.

THE ATHLETIC: Marc Antoine Godin examined how the Montreal Canadiens could acquire a right-side defenseman. They’ll garner salary-cap flexibility with Carey Price expected to be on long-term injury reserve this season, plus they have depth in forwards to dangle as trade bait.

Godin suggests a trade before the start of the season targeting clubs that could be willing to swap a defenseman for a forward (such as Joel Armia) whose contract runs into 2024-25 when the salary cap is expected to significantly rise. The Edmonton Oilers’ Tyson Barrie or the Winnipeg Jets’ Dylan DeMelo could be options under that scenario.

Another could be using their cap flexibility for a temporary short-term fix. Godin suggested the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Justin Holl or the Ottawa Senators’ Travis Hamonic. He also thinks it would be worthwhile keeping an eye on the Carolina Hurricanes, who have five right-side defensemen.

Godin also suggested they could keep an eye on the waiver wire or sign an unrestricted free agent such as Anton Stralman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind that Godin is merely making suggestions here. He’s not saying the Canadiens are targeting those defensemen. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if Habs GM Kent Hughes were to land one of those blueliners or another right-shot rearguard. He’s done a good job thus far addressing his rebuilding club’s needs.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 4, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – August 4, 2022

A look at some cost-cutting trade candidates for the Oilers plus the latest on the Kings in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

HOW WILL THE OILERS SHED SALARY FOR 2022-23?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples wonders how the Oilers will become cap compliant for the coming season after signing Kailer Yamamoto to a two-year contract with an annual cap hit of $3.1 million.

Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi (NHL Images).

Staples points out Puck Pedia indicates the Yamamoto signing puts the Oilers over the $82.5 million salary cap by $6.8 million. By putting the combined salaries ($6.38 million) of sidelined players Oscar Klefbom and Mike Smith on long-term injury reserve, they’ll still exceed the cap by over $400K with restricted free agent Ryan McLeod to re-sign.

That could involve making a cost-cutting trade before the season begins. Staples suggested forwards Jesse Puljujarvi and Warren Foegele as the top-two candidates with defenseman Tyson Barrie a distant third.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speculation over which player the Oilers could shop to shed salary was kicking around the rumor mill before the Yamamoto signing.

Staples colleague Kurt Leavins suggested Puljujarvi’s new one-year, $3 million contract could be advantageous if the Oilers decide to peddle him. He said there were “rumblings” that the Montreal Canadiens were interested in the 24-year-old winger during the draft last month.

However, the Canadiens are pressed against the cap with center Kirby Dach to re-sign. However, they can’t afford Puljujarvi’s contract unless Carey Price and his $10.5 million cap hit return to LTIR for the coming season or the Habs dump some salary via trade or waivers.

The Athletic’s Allan Mitchell raised the possibility of the Oilers trading Puljujarvi and then signing someone like Phil Kessel to a bargain contract. He thinks that’s risky given Puljujarvi’s youth, higher shooting percentage and two-way play.

Mitchell doesn’t see Foegele or Barrie being moved, especially the latter after Duncan Keith’s retirement. Staples shared that view, with both suggesting Puljujarvi as the more likely trade candidate.

THE KINGS COULD SHOP A DEFENSEMAN

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens reports the Los Angeles Kings have nine defensemen, not including promising Brandt Clarke and Helge Grans. Two of them (Mikey Anderson and Sean Durzi) are restricted free agents.

The Kings have just $1.5 million in cap space. Stephens suggested Durzi, Sean Walker and Tobias Bjornfot as trade candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walker seems the most likely candidate given his $2.65 million cap hit for the coming season. However, his trade value could be diminished by the knee injury that ended his 2021-22 season. Another could be Matt Roy, who carries a $3.15 million cap hit through 2023-24.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 28, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 28, 2022

Check out the latest Oilers and Leafs speculation plus an update on Ethan Bear in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE OILERS

SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Mark Spector was asked which goaltender Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland might target in this summer’s free-agent market. He believes he’ll choose a cheaper, less proven goalie than an expensive free-agent question mark.

Spector said sources tell him Marc-Andre Fleury chooses not to play in Edmonton. He anticipates the Oilers’ free-agent targets will be St. Louis’ Ville Husso and Toronto’s Jack Campbell. He envisions a tandem of Campbell and Stuart Skinner.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie (NHL Images).

Asked which players could be cost-cutting trade candidates, Skinner listed Zack Kassian ($3.2 million), Warren Foegele ($2.75 million) and Tyson Barrie ($4.5 million). He also included restricted free agent Jesse Puljujarvi depending on his pay raise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers face considerable uncertainty between the pipes for next season. Mikko Koskinen is off to Switzerland while aging Mike Smith could be considering retirement. Even if Smith returns to complete the final season of his contract, they still need a more reliable starter.

Campbell and Husso have shown promise as starters but question marks hover over both. Campbell struggled over the second half of last season with the Maple Leafs, which was his first full campaign as a starter. Husso had a solid regular season with the Blues when Jordan Binnington struggled but gave way to Binnington in the playoffs.

Of those cost-cutting trade candidates, Barrie could attract the most attention. He’s a skilled puck-moving defenseman who could draw interest in the trade market. VancouverHockeyNow’s Rob Simpson believes he’d be a good addition to the Canucks.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE LEAFS AFTER RE-SIGNING LILJEGREN?

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas still has to deal with restricted free agents Rasmus Sandin, Pierre Engvall and Ondrej Kase after re-signing Timothy Liljegren on Monday.

Koshan wonders how the Liljegren signing affects Justin Holl’s future with the Leafs. While he carries an affordable $2 million cap hit for next season, re-signing Sandin is a priority. He also anticipates trade-deadline pickup Ilya Lyubushkin will hit the open market on July 13.

With less than $7 million in cap space, Dubas must figure out his goaltending. He also needs to bolster his defense and forward lines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen what Dubas has in store to find the cap space to address those needs. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if Holl gets traded (despite his 10-team no-trade list) in a cost-cutting deal to free up space for Sandin’s new contract.

UPDATE ON ETHAN BEAR

CANUCKS ARMY: Lachlan Irvine cites CHEK TV’s Rick Dhaliwal reporting the Vancouver Canucks have had early discussions with Ethan Bear. The restricted free agent defenseman was given permission by the Carolina Hurricanes to speak with other clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dhaliwal said it’s too early to tell how far those talks go between the Canucks and Bear. He could fit their need for younger, affordable talent, especially on their blueline.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 23, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 23, 2022

The Jets are reportedly exploring trade options for Blake Wheeler while Pierre-Luc Dubois indicates his time in Winnipeg could be short. Check out the details plus the latest on Tyson Barrie in today’s NHL rumor mill.

JETS SHOPPING WHEELER?

DAILY FACEOFF: Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler checks in at No. 3 on Frank Seravalli’s updated list of this offseason’s trade targets. He indicates sources say the Jets are exploring the trade market and engaging with teams on the possibility of moving the 35-year-old right winger.

Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler (NHL Images)

Wheeler has a full no-movement clause until July 1, after which it reverts to a five-team trade list. He has two more seasons remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $8.25 million.

Seravalli suggested Wheeler’s contract might not be difficult to move. He suggests there could be a market among playoff contenders seeking a “point-per-game, play-driving winger with size and heart.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wheeler was all those things Seravalli described during his playing prime. However, age could be catching up with him. He got off to a slow start last season and was hampered by a bout with COVID-19 and an injury, though his performance improved over the second half as he finished with 60 points in 65 games. His leadership also came under criticism by Winnipeg pundits and fans amid rumors of divisions in the Jets’ dressing room.

Wheeler’s contract is an issue with the salary cap rising by just $1 million for 2022-23. It’s not impossible to move as there will probably be general managers willing to gamble on him remaining a point-per-game winger on a deeper roster. However, they might not be keen to carry an $8.25 million cap hit for the next two seasons. The Jets could end up taking back a comparable contract, retain part of his annual cap hit, or attempt a three-team deal to spread the dollars around.

DUBOIS TO TEST UFA MARKET IN 2024

THE SCORE: cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting Pierre-Luc Dubois informed Jets management of his intention to test the open market when he’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in 2024.

Dubois is a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights. Friedman said the Jets have control of the process until then and intend to keep the 23-year-old center “and have him as a Jet for a long time.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets acquired Dubois last season from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic. They probably envisioned signing him to a long-term contract with perhaps an eye on him taking over from Mark Scheifele as their first-line center. Scheifele, by the way, is also eligible for UFA status in 2024.

This is not an ideal situation for the Jets. Dubois intends to just sign a two-year extension and then leave in 2024. Based on Friedman’s report, management seems to believe they can convince him otherwise. Unless they’re willing to open the vault and overpay for his services this summer, they risk watching him walk away in two years’ time.

That might explain Seravalli’s report claiming the Jets are gauging Wheeler’s value in the trade market. They might be trying to shed his salary to make room for a hefty raise for Dubois.

LATEST ON BARRIE

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples weighed in on Tyson Barrie ending up on Daily Faceoff’s list of this summer’s trade targets. He not only agrees with it but predicts the 30-year-old Oilers defenseman will be shipped out this summer.

Staples believes Barrie’s puck-moving skills will draw interest in the trade market. With Evan Bouchard and Cody Ceci as right-shot defensemen superior to Barrie at even strength, the latter’s $4.5 million cap hit is a luxury the Oilers can’t afford. He suggests shipping him out to clear cap space to add a goaltender or to re-sign Evander Kane.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barrie carries a reasonable short-term contract and lacks no-trade protection. I can see him getting moved in a cost-cutting deal this summer.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 14, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 14, 2022

Is Ducks goalie John Gibson open to a trade? Could the Canadiens trade winger Josh Anderson? What’s the latest Tyson Barrie speculation? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

DOES GIBSON WANT OUT OF ANAHEIM?

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Steven Ellis cited a tweet by Sportsnet’s Nick Alberga claiming John Gibson has informed the Anaheim Ducks that he’s open to being dealt. The 28-year-old goaltender has five years remaining on his contract with an annual salary cap hit of $6.4 million.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (NHL Images).

It’s unclear where Gibson would want to play. Ellis listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers among four clubs that would be looking to address their goaltending this offseason.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Sammi Silber believes the Capitals should at least inquire if Gibson is open to a trade. However, the Ducks would have to retain some salary to make it worthwhile for the Capitals.

TSN: Bryan Hayes reported Gibson’s agent dismissed Alberga’s report, claiming there was nothing to it and they don’t want out of Anaheim. Nevertheless, he and panelists Jamie McLennan and Jeff O’Neill didn’t rule it out. McLennan observed Gibson’s contract provides cost certainty, suggesting his stats would improve with a better team in front of him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt there would be teams willing to gamble on Gibson if he and the Ducks agree it’s time to part ways. As the TSN panel observed, he’ll be in his early-30s and nearing the end of his contract when the rebuilding Ducks are ready to become contenders. He could be unwilling to waste what remains of his playing prime in that situation.

However, Gibson’s $6.4 million annual average value is a sticking point. Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek could be reluctant to retain any portion of that contract given how many years remain on his contract. There’s also his 10-team no-trade clause, which could feature some of the teams mentioned by Ellis and Silber.

I’m not suggesting there isn’t a market for Gibson. I just believe that moving him could prove easier said than done when the salary cap is only rising by $1 million for next season.

COULD THE CANADIENS SHOP JOSH ANDERSON?

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico recently reported Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes is getting lots of calls from some rival GMs expressing interest in Josh Anderson. The 28-year-old winger has five years left on his contract with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million.

D’Amico believes Anderson could be an excellent trade chip for the Canadiens if Hughes decides to capitalize on the power forward’s strong reputation around the league. He also cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer that Anderson is a hot commodity right now.

A high-ranking NHL executive told D’Amico the Canadiens haven’t floated Anderson in trade talks. However, they are willing to listen if case a team is willing to meet their high price.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner wondered if the New York Islanders could pry Anderson away by offering up the 13th overall pick in this year’s draft. The Canadiens are pressed for cap space and Hughes could have little choice but to unload some players.

The Islanders also have limited cap space for next season. Based on that, Rosen also proposed they offer Quebec native Anthony Beauvillier ($4.15 million annually) for Anderson.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited Bob Stauffer suggesting to Elliotte Friedman it might be a good idea for the Oilers to acquire Anderson if they were to lose winger Evander Kane to free agency.

Friedman countered by suggesting the Oilers would be better off re-signing Kane as they lack the draft picks to meet the Canadiens’ high asking price. Failing that, he recommended finding Kane’s replacement via free agency rather than chasing players through trades.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the Canadiens listening to offers for Anderson. The fact they’ve set an expensive price tag on him indicates how highly they think of him as a player and a person. Sure, Hughes could move him if someone’s willing to overpay but I doubt he’ll be upset if nobody does.

Would Hughes listen if Isles GM Lou Lamoriello offered up that first-rounder plus Beauvillier? Maybe, but we don’t know if Lamoriello is even looking at anyone on the Canadiens roster. His focus could be elsewhere.

LATEST ON TYSON BARRIE

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski suggested the Penguins should consider Tyson Barrie as a replacement for Kris Letang if the latter departs this summer via free agency. He believes the 31-year-old defenseman would fit the Penguins’ style well and would cost nearly $3 million less than the $7.25 million AAV of Letang’s current contract.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: Rob Simpson suggested Barrie could be a good fit with the Canucks. He doesn’t consider him too old at 31, believing he’d bring qualities and depth that the Canucks could use on their blueline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barrie is signed through 2023-24 with an annual cap hit of $4.5 million and lacking no-trade protection. Some observers suggest he could become a cost-cutting casualty for the cap-strapped Oilers. His improved play this season could have teams like the Oilers, Canucks or perhaps the Dallas Stars looking into his availability this summer.