Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 21, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – February 21, 2021

More Jack Eichel speculation, almost everyone on the Predators could be available in the trade market, and Ethan Bear’s trade value in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin believes the Jack Eichel era is heading toward a cliff in Buffalo. The Sabres captain was disgruntled over the club’s direction before last year’s front-office purge, the team isn’t scoring and Larkin expects rival clubs could soon start making trade offers for their franchise player.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel remains a hot topic for trade conjecture (NHL Images).

Larkin cites recent comments by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicating Eichel was unhappy over his situation last summer. While he didn’t request a trade, rival teams did make inquiries. Larkin wonders how much more Eichel will endure before he wants out.

Eichel’s no-movement clause doesn’t kick in until after the 2021-22 season, giving the Sabres a window of opportunity to trade him to any team. They would get significant offers because the 24-year-old center is in the prime of his playing career.

Larkin acknowledged the idea of moving Eichel and pending free agent winger Taylor Hall hurts. However, if the Sabres aren’t improving with those two in the lineup it might be best to hit the reset button.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos also wonders if it’s time for the Sabres to trade Eichel. He points to this being the center’s sixth season in the league with a team showing no sign of progress. Traikos pondered the possibility of Eichel following the same path as Patrik Laine and Pierre-Luc Dubois and ask his agent to request a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Sabres shopping Eichel before the trade deadline if they haven’t climbed into playoff contention by then. However, I expect ownership and management will sit down with their captain to discuss the club’s situation and his future in Buffalo.

The Sabres will hang onto Eichel if he’s willing to stay put. If one side or the other believes it’s time to move on, an offseason trade makes the most sense. That’s when teams have more cap space and a willingness to make blockbuster moves.

Possible destinations for Eichel could be rebuilding teams with plenty of salary-cap space to absorb his $10 million annual average value and with sufficient assets to help the Sabres rebuild. The Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers fall into that category and could be among the suitors.

FEW UNTOUCHABLES AMONG THE PREDATORS.

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman reports word is there are only three untouchables – Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Pekka Rinne – on the Nashville Predators. He believes they could be willing to listen to trade offers on almost everyone else, including winger Filip Forsberg and defenseman Dante Fabbro.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman points out Rinne is among the untouchables because he’s coming to the end of his contract. I doubt there would be much of a market for the 38-year-old goaltender given his fading performance and $5 million annual average value.

Just because the Preds are willing to listen to offers on guys like Forsberg and Fabbro doesn’t mean those players will be traded. Those two are among their better players and I doubt they’ll be moved unless there’s a mind-blowing offer for either guy.

The most obvious trade candidates are pending UFAs such as Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Brad Richardson. Mattias Ekholm, Calle Jarnkrok and Nick Cousins could also be available as they each have a year remaining on their contracts with affordable salary-cap hits.

Ekholm has been often mentioned in recent days as perhaps their most desirable trade chip. That would change, of course, if guys like Forsberg and Fabbro are available.

COULD THE OILERS SHOP ETHAN BEAR?

THE ATHLETIC: Jonathan Willis recently observed the notion of the Edmonton Oilers shopping Ethan Bear has been floating around. Willis doubts they will move the 23-year-old defenseman because they lack a proper replacement for him, weakening their blue line. He feels any assessment of Bear as a trade chip only makes it clear how important he is to the Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t argue with Willis’ assessment. Sure, the Oilers could use him as a trade chip to address another roster issue but doing so would then leave a hole to be addressed on the defense.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2020

Henrik Lundqvist to undergo open-heart surgery, Kirby Dach sidelined by wrist surgery and a roundup of Monday’s notable free-agent signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Henrik Lundqvist announced yesterday he’ll be undergoing open-heart surgery to address the condition that has sidelined him for this season. The 38-year-old goaltender signed a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals after being bought out by the New York Rangers in September.

Henrik Lundqvist will undergo open-heart surgery (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to King Henrik for a swift and complete recovery.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Kirby Dach could miss the entire upcoming season after undergoing wrist surgery on Monday. The timeline for his recovery is four-to-five months. The 19-year-old center suffered a fractured wrist last week playing for Canada during an exhibition game against Russia during the World Junior Championships in Edmonton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a significant blow for the Blackhawks heading into this season. Dach was expected to play a bigger role with the club following a solid debut in 2019-20. There’s a chance he could return to the lineup by the time the playoffs begin in May, provided the Blackhawks qualify for the postseason.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed free-agent winger Corey Perry to a one-year, $750K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry isn’t the high-scoring right winger he was during his playing prime with the Anaheim Ducks. Nevertheless, he played a key role in the Dallas Stars’ march to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. The 35-year-old Perry should provide the Habs with experienced depth and leadership on their checking lines.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Former New York Islanders forward Derick Brassard is expected to sign a one-year contract with the Coyotes. Meanwhile, SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports they also signed Jordan Schmaltz to a professional tryout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes freed up cap space over the weekend by shipping Derek Stepan ($6.5 million annual average value) to the Ottawa Senators. That’s given them just over $3 million in cap space, with a portion going to replace Stepan with the more affordable Brassard.

SPORTSNET: The Los Angeles Kings have signed forward Andreas Athanasiou to a one-year, $1.2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a good opportunity for Athanasiou to get his career back on track following last season’s disappointing performance with the Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers. A former 30-goal scorer, the 26-year-old should get plenty of playing time with the rebuilding Kings.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed Ethan Bear to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $2 million. The 23-year-old defenseman was a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Inking the promising Bear to a short-term deal was a good cost-effective move by the Oilers. If his development continues as hoped he’ll be in line for a big raise in two years’ time. Cap Friendly shows the Oilers sitting over $2.19 million above the $81.5 million salary cap. However, they’ll be cap compliant once they place sidelined Oscar Klefbom ($4.16 million AAV) on long-term injury reserve.

The Florida Panthers signed defenseman Kevin Connauton to a professional tryout offer.

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports goaltender Garret Sparks is heading to the Calgary Flames on a PTO.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Pittsburgh Penguins were the only club among 123 teams of North America’s “Big Four” professional men’s sports leagues to receive a loan through a COVID relief program. The Penguins received a $4.82 million loan through the CARES Act.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 9, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 9, 2020

In today’s NHL rumor mill, the Golden Knights are reportedly trying to trade Max Pacioretty plus the anticipation of increased activity in the trade and free-agent markets as the new season approaches.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the Vegas Golden Knights have “doubled down” in recent days and weeks in their efforts to trade Max Pacioretty. The 32-year-old winger has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7 million. He led the Golden Knights last season with 32 goals.

Vegas Golden Knights reportedly shopping winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images)

The Golden Knights are over the salary cap and attempted earlier in the offseason to shed some salary. Seravalli suggests moving Pacioretty would clear sufficient salary to become cap compliant and perhaps take a run at unrestricted free agents such as Mike Hoffman and former Golden Knight Erik Haula.

KUKLA’S KORNER: The Athletic’s Jesse Granger reports winger Jonathan Marchessault ($5 million AAV) and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury ($7 million) have also come up in Golden Knights’ trade chatter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the first time in weeks we’ve finally got a juicy NHL trade rumor. The last trade was made on Oct. 12, when the Golden Knight shipped defenseman Nate Schmidt to the Vancouver Canucks in a cost-cutting deal.

The Golden Knights are above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $974K according to Cap Friendly. Moving Pacioretty would indeed free up sufficient space for the Golden Knights to perhaps add a more affordable scorer like Hoffman or a cost-effective center by bringing back Haula.

Pacioretty’s cap hit, age and his 10-team no-trade clause, however, could make finding a suitable trade partner difficult. So will the limited number of clubs with sufficient cap room to comfortably absorb his full $7 million AAV.

Fleury was thought to be a goner when the Golden Knights signed goalie Robin Lehner to a contract extension. GM Kelly McCrimmon denied that speculation but Granger said the Golden Knights are looking into the trade values of Fleury, Pacioretty and Marchessault. Fleury also has a 10-team no-trade list while Marchessault has an eight-team list.

Whether it’s Pacioretty, Fleury or Marchessault on the trade block, the Golden Knights won’t want much (if any) salary in return. Only a handful of teams (New Jersey, Los Angeles, Nashville, Detroit and Ottawa) can comfortably afford any of them. Those clubs might not be on the trio’s lists of preferred trade destinations.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports action is starting to pick up in the free-agent market. UFA winger Mikael Granlund hopes to situate his family and could make a decision in the next few days. So could other notables such as Mike Hoffman and Andreas Athanasiou.

He believes some teams could start talking with the Seattle Kraken to see what they can do about future salary-cap space if the cap remains flattened.

Chris Johnston suggests keeping an eye on the restricted free agent market following the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday signing defenseman Philippe Myers to a three-year contract. He cites Ethan Bear in Edmonton, Oliver Kylington in Calgary and Erik Cernak in Tampa Bay among the blueliners who could be affected by the Myers signing.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 15, 2020

What it might cost the Oilers to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Kasperi Kapanen’s role with the Penguins and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz examined how much it might cost the Edmonton Oilers to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The 27-year-old center/winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He’s averaged 29 goals and 69 points per 82 games over the last three seasons. Gretz suggests a $7 million annual average value would be within reason for the Oilers if they spend to the cap in 2021-22.

How much will it cost the Edmonton Oilers to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would be a $1 million raise over Nugent-Hopkins’ current annual cap hit. The short-term economic uncertainty could make him receptive to that pay bump on a long-term deal.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Speaking of the Oilers, Kurt Leavins reports there’s nothing new regarding Ethan Bear’s contract talks. That has less to do with the 23-year-old defenseman and more to do with the status of Oscar Klefbom and his LTIR status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Oilers are over $242K above the $81.5 million cap for 2020-21. Klefbom could require season-ending shoulder surgery, allowing the Oilers to spend over the cap by the equivalent of his $4.167 million AAV if he’s placed on long-term injury reserve. The Oilers will likely sign Bear to an affordable short-term bridge deal.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan confirmed Kasperi Kapanen will skate on the club’s top line alongside Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. The Penguins acquired Kapanen from the Toronto Maple Leafs in August. Sullivan cited Kapanen’s speed that would make him complimentary to Crosby and Guentzel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sullivan also noted Kapanen tallied 20 goals in 2018-19 as a secondary scorer with the Leafs. He’ll have the opportunity to tally much more if he clicks with his new all-star linemates.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro said the departure of Joe Thornton hasn’t fully sunk in yet. After 15 seasons with the Sharks, Thornton recently signed a one-year contract with the Maple Leafs. Ferraro believes his teammates are really going to miss the big center when they return for training camp.

THE SCORE: The Tampa Bay Lightning are the first team to have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup when each member of the club gets their day with the trophy.

THE PROVINCE: Two Vancouver Canucks fans are leading a campaign to have Gino Odjick become a member of the club’s Ring of Honour. Odjick, a popular enforcer with the Canucks from 1990-91 to 1997-98, is battling cardiac amyloidosis.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 4, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – November 4, 2020

The latest on the notable restricted free agents in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox examined the latest regarding the remaining notable NHL restricted free agents.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (NHL Images).

New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello reportedly hopes to sign center Mathew Barzal to around $7.5 million per season. The young center’s camp would prefer a higher figure. Fox feels it’s highly unlikely a rival club will sign Barzal to an offer sheet worth $10.9 million or more per season as the compensation to the Isles would be four first-round picks.

Speaking of the Isles, Fox considers it a no-brainer they’ll sign defenseman Ryan Pulock after trading Devon Toews to the Colorado Avalanche in a cost-cutting move last month. Pulock’s arbitration hearing is on Nov. 6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An offer sheet for Barzal remains possible but increasingly unlikely. With Cap Friendly indicating 23 of the Isles rivals have less than $10 million in cap space (22 of those with less than $7 million), the possibility of an offer sheet remains remote.

Whatever Pulock gets on his contract will put a big bite into the Isles’ $8.9 million cap space. They’re allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason but must be cap compliant when next season begins. Lamoriello must shed some salary to sign Barzal and ensure he’s under the cap.

The Tampa Bay Lightning continue having difficulty freeing up salary-cap space to sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. GM Julien BriseBois has attempted to move veteran winger Tyler Johnson but his difficulties doing so indicate how hard it is to shed salary under the current economic conditions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: BriseBois will have to package Johnson with a good draft pick or a quality prospect as a sweetener. Even then, he might have to pick up part of his $5 million salary-cap hit. He could find it easier trading Alex Killorn but could still be squeezed to add a pick or prospect in the deal.

Contract talks between the Columbus Blue Jackets and center Pierre-Luc Dubois have stalled but GM Jarmo Kekalainen remains unconcerned. He pointed out Zach Werenski didn’t sign last year until just before training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois is coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. The Jackets also have over $12 million in cap space as a sufficient offer-sheet deterrent. No wonder Kekalainen isn’t worried.

Contract talks between the New Jersey Devils and Mackenzie Blackwood are expected to pick up shortly. The Devils bought out Cory Schneider and brought in a suitable mentor for Blackwood in Corey Crawford. Fox speculates he could seek a deal comparable to the two-year, $8 million contract of Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins. He also doesn’t expect the Devils will have much difficulty signing winger Jesper Bratt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils have over $17 million in cap space. Even if they don’t spend to the cap, they’ve got enough for Blackwood and Bratt.

Fox thinks second-line winger Jake DeBrusk’s contract talks have taken a back seat to the Boston Bruins’ attempts to reshape their blueline after losing Torey Krug to free agency. That’s led to DeBrusk popping up in the trade rumor mill. With over $6 million in cap space, the Bruins have room to sign him but they’re also poking around the UFA market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk lacks arbitration rights so the Bruins could ink him to an affordable bridge contract. That would leave enough cap room to add a defenseman via the UFA market.

Ryan Strome’s upcoming arbitration case could be worth watching. Fox cited the New York Post’s Larry Brooks back in April speculating the Rangers would prefer signing the center to a one-year contract without going through arbitration. The Rangers had debated not qualifying Strome’s rights before doing so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks reported Strome filed for a one-year contract worth $5.7 million with an arbitrator while the Rangers countered with $3.6 million. He speculated they could walk away if the arbiter awards Strome over $4.538 million.

Florida Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar surfaced in trade speculation but GM Bill Zito insisted he remains a member of the Panthers. The blueliner is slated for arbitration on Nov. 8. Fox speculates Weegar could use Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk’s four-year, $14.75 million contract ($3.687 million AAV) as a comparable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Weegar’s situation could also bear watching if it takes arbitration to settle his contract. Perhaps Zito attempts to trade the rearguard if an arbiter-awarded salary is more than the Panthers are willing to pay.

Fox suggests St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn could end up with an affordable bridge contract. The 23-year-old is coming off his entry-level deal. The same goes for Edmonton Oilers blueliner Ethan Bear.

Fox also projected the next salary for forward Roope Hintz could come in around $3 million, which will fit within the Dallas Stars’ $4.1 million cap space. It’s expected the Philadelphia Flyers will sign defenseman Philippe Myers to a short-term deal but there could be some benefit to locking him up to a longer-term deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 29, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 29, 2020

A look at possible offer-sheet targets and three teams that should try signing one of them in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Sonny Sachdeva listed New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal and Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli, defenseman Mikhail Sergachev and blueliner Erik Cernak among his eight restricted free agents who could become offer-sheet targets during this NHL offseason.

Could New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal become an offer-sheet target? (NHL Images)

Sachdeva’s list also includes Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois, Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ethan Bear and Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha.

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman believes the Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers should attempt to sign Barzal or one of those Lightning RFAs to an offer sheet. He believes it makes sense for the Predators to pony up a five-year deal worth $10.9 million annually for Barzal despite having to give up two first-round picks, a second and a third to the Islanders as compensation.

Wegman suggested the Blue Jackets attempt to sign Sergachev to a four-year contract worth an annual average value of $6.5 million, costing them a first-round pick and a third-rounder in compensation. He also proposed the Panthers target Cirelli for a five-year deal with an AAV of $8 million even though the compensation to the Lightning is a first-round pick, a second-rounder and a third-rounder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sachdeva and Wegman acknowledged the rarity of offer sheets and the difficulties in successfully signing away another team’s restricted free agent.

There’s no question most on Sachdeva’s list make tempting targets for offer sheets. However, I wouldn’t have included Dubois, Hintz, Bear or Mantha. Not because they’re not deserving but because I don’t believe any club would overpay to land one of those players.

Cap Friendly indicates the Red Wings have over $15 million in cap space, more than enough to match any offer for Mantha. The Blue Jackets have over $12 million available so matching for Dubois isn’t an issue. The Stars have over $4.1 million and could free up space if necessary without too much difficulty. The Oilers have only 732K in cap space but are expected to place Oscar Klefbom ($4.1 million) on LTIR.

Yes, those clubs could be reluctant to match if the offer is very expensive. A rival club could roll the dice and sign one of those players. With so many teams carrying limited cap space, this offseason would be the perfect time to try that tactic. However, I don’t see those with cap space willing to overspend under the current economic climate. That includes the Predators, Blue Jackets and Panthers.