NHL Rumor Mill – February 2, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – February 2, 2024

The ongoing fallout of the Elias Lindholm deal on the trade market, plus the latest on the Predators and Blackhawks in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports Sean Monahan of the Montreal Canadiens moves to the top of the list of available centers who are pending unrestricted free agents heading toward the March 8 trade deadline.

Montreal Canadiens center Sean Monahan (NHL Images).

He believes the Winnipeg Jets and Colorado Avalanche want to add a second-line center. The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers also make sense as destinations for Monahan.

The Anaheim Ducks’ Adam Henrique is probably next on that list. LeBrun also wondered if Scott Laughton could end up on this list if the Philadelphia Flyers fall out of the playoff race. He cited colleague Darren Dreger reporting the Flyers are getting calls about Laughton, who has two years left on his contract with an annual cap hit of $3 million. While general manager Daniel Briere isn’t keen to move the 29-year-old center he’s willing to listen to offers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Monahan’s bounce-back performance this season and his affordable $1.9 million cap hit account for why he’s likely the top center in the trade market leading up to March 8. The Canadiens could even retain half of that cap hit but they’ll likely want a first-round pick and maybe a prospect or a promising young NHL player in return.

Laughton could be moved if someone pitches a significant offer to Briere, who isn’t deviating from his rebuilding plans despite his club sitting third in the Metropolitan Divison. As he said, however, he won’t make trades just for the sake of doing so. Briere indicated the trade market would determine what moves (if any) he’ll make.

LeBrun believes the Flames’ focus now shifts toward pending UFA defensemen Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev. He thinks they’re still trying to re-sign Hanifin but will have to fish or cut bait by March 8.

It’s more likely that Tanev gets moved by deadline day. The Flames’ asking price is believed to be a second-round pick plus another asset but a club could have him right now if they’re willing to part with a first-rounder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun believes the Flames are rebuilding on the fly rather than engaging in a full roster teardown. They could seek a young roster player for Hanifin as he has more value than Tanev.

LeBrun also wondered what effect Lindholm’s trade might have on Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom as the two are good friends. Markstrom is signed through 2025-26 with an AAV of $6 million and a no-movement clause. If he wants out, moving him might have to wait until the offseason.


THE TENNESSEAN: Paul Skrbina doesn’t see the Nashville Predators parting with starting goaltender Juuse Saros by deadline day. They’re jockeying for a wild-card berth in the Western Conference and promising Yaroslav Askarov isn’t NHL-ready yet. The only way he thinks that could happen is if a desperate general manager is willing to overpay to get him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Somebody could pitch Preds GM Barry Trotz an offer too good to refuse but I don’t think anyone’s going to do that by the trade deadline. Maybe in the offseason if Saros’ contract extension talks get difficult.

Skrbina expects Tyson Barrie to be the more likely candidate following his recent public trade request. Pending free agents such as Tommy Novak, Yakov Trenin, Alexandre Carrier and Kevin Lankinen and pending restricted free agent Dante Fabbro could also become trade bait.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not all of those pending free agents could hit the trade block. In Fabbro’s case, Trotz doesn’t have to move him by March 8 as he could wait for the offseason to gauge his market value if he doesn’t have a long-term future in Nashville.


CHICAGO HOCKEY NOW: Nate Brown noted a recent report indicating the New York Rangers are taking calls on winger Kaapo Kakko and wondered if the Blackhawks should look into it if they haven’t already done so.

Kaapo, 22, could be an affordable acquisition and he still has time to reach his potential. However, Brown noted that the young Rangers winger has had ample opportunity to do so and hasn’t reached it yet. He also noted the Blackhawks are dealing with a struggling young winger of their own in Lukas Reichel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks already have enough promising youngsters on their club and within their system. They need more established young talent to help their rebuild and provide some much-needed depth around budding superstar Connor Bedard.

NHL Rumor Mill – January 29, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – January 29, 2024

Which players could the Rangers target as a possible replacement for Filip Chytil? What’s the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko? Will the Predators be busy in the trade market? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


NEW YORK POST: Before Sunday’s news that Filip Chytil is out for the rest of the season with a suspected concussion, Larry Brooks wondered which players the Rangers might target as a possible replacement for the sidelined center.

The Rangers need a third-line center behind Mika Zibanejad and Vincent Trocheck. Brooks believes they will operate with the cap space freed up by placing Chytil and his $4.4 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve.

Brooks listed the Anaheim Ducks’ Adam Henrique and Montreal Canadiens’ Sean Monahan as the most prominent trade candidates. The 33-year-old Henrique carries a $5.85 million cap hit that the Ducks would have to retain half, likely driving up their asking price. Monahan, 29, has a $1.985 million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Elliotte Friedman touched on this during his Saturday Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada. He felt a trade sending Monahan to the Rangers wouldn’t be easy. He said there’s no love lost between the front offices of the two clubs as former Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton is now the Canadiens executive VP of hockey operations.

Ottawa Senators winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

Monahan is younger and carries a much more affordable cap hit but he does have a recent history of injuries. The Canadiens could seek a first-round pick in return for Monahan while the Ducks could seek the same for Henrique.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reported on Friday that Senators GM Steve Staios must determine what’s next for Vladimir Tarasenko. The 32-year-old right wing is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

On Wednesday, Staios told reporters that he hadn’t approached Tarasenko about waiving his no-trade clause. Nevertheless, both sides understand the reality of the situation.

The Senators GM said the winger has made a good impression with the Sens and hinted at re-signing him. However, Garrioch pointed out that the Senators need more assets (draft picks or prospects) and Tarasenko could fetch some of those in a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch also indicated that there were scouts from Washington, Detroit, St. Louis and Arizona at Thursday’s game against the Boston Bruins. They may have been there to look at Tarasenko and other Ottawa players but it’s worth noting that the Capitals, Red Wings and Coyotes will play the Senators within the next four weeks.

Tarasenko will certainly draw attention over the next month as the trade deadline approaches. He won a Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019 and has a proven record in postseason play with 44 goals and 64 points in 97 contests. The veteran winger has 32 points in 43 games with the Senators this season.


NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: Michael Gallagher recently reported Predators GM Barry Trotz spent time phoning different general managers during the club’s recent road trip. He said that he’d be ready to do something but the others couldn’t because of limited salary-cap space.

Trotz believes his team will be able to do “a couple of things” at the March 8 trade deadline. Gallagher noted he’s been trying to move defenseman Tyson Barrie but hasn’t been able to make the dollars work yet because the interested parties lack cap room.

Predators backup goalie Kevin Lankinen has drawn interest but he’ll fetch a draft pick or two rather than a player who can help the Predators now. There were rumblings earlier this season that blueliner Dante Fabbro was available but those have since died away

Trotz hasn’t made up his mind if he’ll be a buyer or seller but suggested his club’s performance in the coming weeks would determine his decision.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barrie is the most likely to be moved given his public trade request, which didn’t sit well with Trotz. However, I don’t think he’ll fetch much more than Lankinen.

NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – January 23, 2024

Could the Sabres trade Casey Mittelstadt? What’s the latest on the Predators? Are the Flyers interested in Arber Xhekaj? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


ESPN: Kevin Weekes recently looked at several players who could become available by the March 8 trade deadline. One of them was Casey Mittelstadt, who could become the odd man out among the Buffalo Sabres’ young forwards.

Weekes praised Mittelstadt’s performance in filling in for sidelined winger Jeff Skinner. However, they’ve yet to sign him to a long-term extension as they’ve done with their other young players. He said Mittelstadt is drawing a lot of attention.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski reports Mittelstadt was surprised to hear his name mentioned on NHL Network as a trade candidate. Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams has not approached the 25-year-old forward or his agent yet about a contract extension.

Buffalo Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt (NHL Images).

Mittelstadt has consistently been the Sabres’ most consistent player. He’s a versatile two-way player who can skate at center or on the wing among their top-six forwards.

Lysowski believes it could cost the Sabres $5.87 million annually (or 6.7 percent of their salary cap) on a five-year deal to sign Mittelstadt. They lack a proven internal replacement if they choose not to re-sign him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contenders seeking a player with Mittelstadt’s skills could be inquiring about his availability. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s also a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility in 2025.

I doubt that Adams is shopping Mittelstadt and likely intends on signing him this summer. He could be tempted by a significant trade offer but I don’t think he’ll get one leading up to the trade deadline. That sort of thing seems more likely in the offseason depending on how contract discussions go following this season.


NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: Michael Gallagher recently provided updates on several Predators who have reportedly become trade targets.

He noted that some observers still believe there’s an outside chance the Predators could move Juuse Saros despite general manager Barry Trotz’s stated intent to re-sign him. The Predators’ asking price could be outrageous but Gallagher believes that’s the point. He thinks Trotz has set the bar ridiculously high that no reasonable GM would agree to pay it.

One Predators goalie who could be available is backup Kevin Lankinen. Gallagher believes several teams could be interested in him. If they do move Lankinen, it could be closer to the March 8 trade deadline to allow promising Yaroslav Askarov more playing time with their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee before calling him up as Lankinen’s replacement.

Defenseman Tyson Barrie has been sidelined for nearly a month with an upper-body injury. That’s affected his trade value, which wasn’t that high to begin with. Most teams with an interest in Barrie lack the cap space to acquire him right now. He’s still expected to be moved by the March 8 trade deadline but this could drag on for a few weeks.

Earlier this season it was believed the Predators could move one or both of Alexandre Carrier and Dante Fabbro. However, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported they could now be inclined to retain both players. Fabbro’s been playing recently on their top defense pairing with Roman Josi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators could be unwilling to shake things up too much while they’re jockeying for a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. I don’t see Saros, Carrier or Fabbro getting shopped. Barrie will likely be a trade deadline move.


MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marc Dumont cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting the Canadiens may have received some calls about defenseman Arber Xhekaj. However, the Habs aren’t moving the 22-year-old blueliner, who was recently recalled from their AHL affiliate in Laval.

Friedman said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Philadelphia Flyers were among the teams expressing interest in Xhekaj.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens GM Kent Hughes recently said that Xhekaj was spending time in Laval to work on his defensive game. He also stated that he wanted the big blueliner to be part of their long-range plans.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2023

The Hurricanes’ Sebastian Aho achieves a franchise first in his club’s win over the Canadiens, a milestone game for Flyers coach John Tortorella, the latest injury updates, the Capitals finally sign Ethan Bear, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho collected four assists and Andrei Svechnikov tallied a hat trick in a 5-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Brent Burns set up three goals and Jesper Fast scored twice as the Hurricanes improved to 19-13-4 to move into third place in the Metropolitan Division with 42 points. Mitchell Stephens, Mike Matheson and Josh Anderson scored for the Canadiens as they slipped to 15-14-5.

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Aho became the first player in Hurricanes/Whalers history to collect four points in consecutive games and the first player in the NHL to do so since Jeremy Roenick on Nov. 25-26, 1999.

A three-goal second period powered the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Joel Farabee had a goal and an assist while Samuel Ersson made 18 saves before leaving the game early in the third period with an undisclosed injury. The Flyers improved to 19-11-4 and hold second place in the Metro Division with 42 points. Teddy Blueger scored for the 23-10-3 Canucks as they remain in first place in the Western Conference with 49 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a milestone game for Flyers head coach John Tortorella as he moved into 10th place on the all-time wins list for NHL coaches with 723. The Flyers have the same number of points as the Hurricanes but sit ahead of them with two games in hand.

The Vegas Golden Knights snapped a four-game losing skid by holding off the Los Angeles Kings by a score of 3-2. Logan Thompson stopped 32 shots while Jack Eichel, Michael Amadio and William Karlsson scored for the Golden Knights (22-10-5) move into a tie with the Vancouver Canucks with 49 points. Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist while Trevor Moore also scored for the Kings (20-8-4) as they remain in third place in the Pacific Division with 44 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks still hold first in the West with one more victory as well as a game in hand.

A four-goal first period and 25 saves by goaltender Stuart Skinner gave the Edmonton Oilers a 5-0 shutout over the San Jose Sharks. Zach Hyman tallied his 20th of the season as the Oilers improved to 16-15-1. Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 17 of 18 shots in relief of Magnus Chrona for the 9-24-3 Sharks.


THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski is out with an undisclosed leg injury on a week-to-week basis.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano returns to action on Friday against the Blue Jackets after missing a month with a broken finger.

CBS SPORTS: Nashville Predators blueliner Tyson Barrie is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

THE SCORE: The Washington Capitals officially signed Ethan Bear on Thursday to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $2.0625 million. The 26-year-old defenseman is returning to action following offseason shoulder surgery.

TSN: The Buffalo Sabres placed center Tage Thompson on their non-roster list as he is dealing with a personal issue.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: The Devils sent goaltender Akira Schmid to their AHL affiliate in Utica after recalling Nico Daws. They’re hoping Schmid can regain his rhythm after struggling this season.

DAILY FACEOFF: Detroit Red Wings goalie Michael Hutchison and Sabres forward Tyson Jost hit the waiver wire on Thursday.

Nikolai Khabibulin is returning to action as the 50-year-old goaltender signed a one-year deal with the KHL’s Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod. His last professional game was on Nov. 16, 2013, with the Chicago Blackhawks.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Former NHL defenseman Cody Franson has been hired as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Iowa Wild.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: A lawsuit alleges the Kraken violated the Seattle Metropolitans trademark with their Winter Classic jerseys.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 27, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – December 27, 2023

Four players most likely to be moved before the March trade deadline, the latest on the goalie market and some recent Flyers speculation as we catch up on the NHL Rumor Mill.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau recently listed Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev, Anaheim Ducks forward Adam Henrique, San Jose Sharks goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen and Chicago Blackhawks center Tyler Johnson as the four players most likely to be moved by the March 8 NHL trade deadline.

Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev (NHL Images).

All four are eligible to become unrestricted free agents next July unless they agree to contract extensions with their current clubs.

Tanev has been linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils. Proteau doesn’t rule out the Colorado Avalanche making a pitch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs’ current priority is a second-line center which is why they’ve been recently tied to Calgary’s Elias Lindholm. Still, we can’t dismiss the possibility of adding Tanev to shore up their defense if they have enough cap room to do so.

Proteau suggests the New York Islanders as a fit for Henrique.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lou Lamoriello, who drafted Henrique in 2008 while general manager of the New Jersey Devils, is now the GM of the Isles. Lamoriello does at times reunite with some of his former players.

With San Jose mired at the bottom of the standings, there’s no compelling reason for them to hang onto Kahkonen. He could fetch a couple of draft picks or a decent prospect for the rebuilding Sharks. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks could peddle Johnson for long-term help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of Johnson, Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy cited an NHL executive claiming the Blackhawks have let it be known that the 33-year-old center will be available in the trade market. Murphy suggested he could be a more affordable option to the Bruins if they’re unable to pry Elias Lindholm away from the Flames.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the Toronto Maple Leafs have dipped its toes into the goaltending market as Ilya Samsonov continues to struggle while Joseph Woll remains sidelined until January. He doesn’t think anything’s imminent and the Leafs are hoping a few days away will help Samsonov as they continue to work with him.

Friedman also said that the teams with a surplus in goalies are hoping to work it to their advantage in the trade market. They’re asking for a lot especially if salary retention is involved.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks doesn’t see any worthwhile goalies on the market who can help the New Jersey Devils between the pipes. He suggested they shore up a blueline that was weakened by the offseason departures of Damon Severson and Ryan Graves and the recent sidelining of Dougie Hamilton for what could be the rest of the regular season.

Brooks thinks Calgary Flames rearguard Noah Hanifin would be a perfect target while Chris Tanev would also be on their list. He wondered if there would be any way for them to acquire Brady Skjei or Brett Pesce from the Carolina Hurricanes or if they’d have any interest in the Nashville Predators’ Tyson Barrie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One of those playoff hopefuls in need of goaltending help could cave and meet the high asking price well before March 8, especially if they’re in danger of missing the postseason. Once that happens it could open the floodgates.

However, some of those clubs could share Brooks’ view about the depth in available goaltending talent and opt instead to bolster their bluelines.

Hanifin and Tanev would draw a lot of attention. So would Skjei or Pesce if the Hurricanes decide to become sellers but I don’t think they’re at that stage yet. As for Barrie, he would help teams seeking offense from the blueline but there might not be much of a market for his style of game right now.


THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz suggested the possibility of the Philadelphia Flyers becoming buyers as well as sellers at this season’s trade deadline because of their improved performance thus far this season.

He believes Flyers GM Daniel Briere could pull the trigger on Sean Walker and/or Nick Seeler if a team were to offer a first-round pick and/or a prospect for either defenseman. Morgan Frost and Rasmus Ristolainen are also on the trade board and it wouldn’t be surprising if they were dealt.

Meanwhile, the Flyers also carry some late-round draft picks that could be used as trade bait to fill the gaps in their roster after dealing away some of their more talented trade bait.

Kurz doesn’t see Briere trading away any of their promising young player or first-round picks for playoff rental players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much will depend on how the rest of the Flyers’ season unfolds. Briere will be a seller if they stumble through the second half and fall out of playoff contention. However, as Kurz suggests, if they’re still in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race leading up to the trade deadline, Briere could see what he can do to help his club reach the postseason without giving up too much of his future to do so.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 20, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – December 20, 2023

The annual holiday roster freeze runs from Dec. 20 – 27 but that hasn’t stopped the trade speculation. Check out the latest on Blue Jackets winger Johnny Gaudreau plus updates on the Predators, Devils, Hurricanes and Oilers in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Bailey cited a recent report by the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch in which a league executive told him the Columbus Blue Jackets “are willing to discuss just about anybody.” That prompted Bailey to speculate whether Johnny Gaudreau could be “up for grabs.”

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Bailey pondered the possibility of the Flyers acquiring Gaudreau. He acknowledged the Blue Jackets won’t give the 30-year-old winger away plus he carries a no-movement clause through 2026-27 and a $9.75 million average annual value. The asking price would likely be a first-round pick and either two really good roster players or two top prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bailey believes Gaudreau would approve a trade to Philadelphia as he cheered for the Flyers while growing up in South Jersey. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that deal to happen.

Flyers general manager Daniel Briere recently stated he’s sticking to his rebuilding plan and wasn’t going to sacrifice assets for a return that could improve his team’s chances of clinching a playoff berth this season. I daresay that also extends to struggling 30-something players carrying expensive contracts through 2028-29.


NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: Michael Gallagher recently noted that Predators general manager Barry Trotz is still actively shopping Tyson Barrie after granting the 32-year-old defenseman permission to speak with other clubs about a trade.

Gallagher also wondered if Trotz might be peddling more than one blueliner. He cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently pondering the futures of Dante Fabbro and Alexandre Carrier in Nashville. Friedman noted that they’ve both been healthy scratches several times during this season.

Fabbro seems the more likely of those two to be moved. Citing a team source, Gallagher stated they’d prefer to retain Carrier as he’s better suited to head coach Andrew Brunette’s system.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s also worth noting that Carrier is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July while Fabbro becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

I think Trotz’s priority for now is finding a trade for Barrie. As long as the Predators remain a playoff team, he could hang onto Fabbro and Carrier for the playoffs. However, if the Preds fall out of contention by the March 8 trade deadline, both blueliners could become available.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the New Jersey Devils don’t have a firm deadline for when defenseman Dougie Hamilton will return from surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle. LeBrun’s understanding is he’s probably out until the playoffs. That means they’ll have his $9 million cap hit to play with leading up to the March 8 trade deadline, which they could put toward adding a defenseman and a goaltender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils haven’t placed Hamilton on long-term injury reserve yet because they’re sitting just under the $83.5 million salary cap. However, they could do so at any time if they need to add players to their roster. Keep an eye on them in the coming weeks.

Chris Johnston believes the Carolina Hurricanes will be looking for help in the goalie market. He pointed out they raised a lot of eyebrows recently by demoting Antti Raanta to the minors while his replacement (Yaniv Perets) came from the ECHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes got some good news recently as starter Frederik Andersen has resumed skating after a blood-clot issue sidelined him for six weeks. They also signed Aaron Dell to a professional tryout offer. Perhaps they’re hoping to buy some time here with Perets and/or Dell backing up Pyotr Kochetkov until Andersen is ready to return to action.

Darren Dreger believes a trade remains likely for Philip Broberg. The 23-year-old Edmonton Oilers defenseman was recently demoted to their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield but still wants to play in the NHL. Dreger suggested the possibility that he becomes a sweetener if they want to try and move Jack Campbell’s contract and free up some salary-cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will likely take more than Broberg in the deal to tempt any club from taking on Campbell’s contract right now. Even then, the Oilers will probably have to retain some salary in the deal.