NHL Rumor Mill – February 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 18, 2021

Check out the latest on the Bruins, Wild and Stars in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE BRUINS PURSUE EKHOLM?

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss’ belief the Bruins should make acquiring a defenseman a trade-deadline priority was among his five takeaways of the club’s performance at the quarter-point of the season.

Should the Boston Bruins pursue Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm? (NHL Images)

Goss expressed some concern about the Bruins’ scoring depth but felt they still need more experience and physicality on the blue line. He also pointed out Charlie McAvoy is the only Bruins’ rearguard with more than three points, suggesting they could use a blueliner who can generate some offense.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy took note of TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reporting Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm could be available. With Matt Grzelcyk in and out of the lineup due to injuries, Murphy wonders if Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will try to fill that second-pairing left slot with Ekholm. Murphy also noted the Bruins’ offseason interest in Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm is a solid all-around defenseman carrying an affordable $3.75 million salary-cap hit through 2021-22. He could be a good addition to the Bruins or any other NHL roster.

The Bruins have over $4 million in projected cap space so there’s room for Ekholm’s cap hit, though it would be a tight squeeze. Depending on the Predators’ asking price, the Bruins could send them a player to free up some cap room. Winger Anders Bjork ($1.6 million annual average value) often comes up in Bruins’ trade chatter. Maybe the Predators would be interested in the 24-year-old winger if they decide to get younger.

SOME RECENT WILD SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo was asked what it would take for the Minnesota Wild to acquire Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett or Ottawa Senators center Derek Stepan.

Russo acknowledged the Wild’s need for depth at center. Stepan’s $6 million cap hit, however, would be a concern, as would Bennett’s arbitration number this summer. The Wild have limited salary-cap space and the Flames or Senators would have to take a contract in return. Bennett’s inconsistency was also a concern for Russo.

Asked about Matt Dumba’s trade status, Russo feels the defenseman’s performance over the remainder of the season will make him more or less likely to be moved. His $6 million cap hit, his play last season and the fact that the acquiring club might have to alter their expansion draft protection list plans could make the 26-year-old blueliner difficult to move. Asked if Dumba might be a fit with the Vancouver Canucks, Russo said he got the impression the Canucks’ interest in him was nil.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As with most capped-out NHL teams, the Wild probably won’t make a major move before the Apr. 12 trade deadline. They could swing a minor deal or two if necessary provided they can make the dollars fit. Otherwise, what you see is what you get with the Wild this season. Any significant moves on their part (Dumba?) could take place in the offseason before the July expansion draft.

DON’T EXPECT BIG MOVES BY THE STARS

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Matthew DeFranks was asked if the Dallas Stars should use Esa Lindell or John Klingberg as trade bait for draft picks and prospects to restock their system as they haven’t seemed to develop any real NHL level talent recently. DeFranks disagreed with that premise and doesn’t believe they should shop Lindell or Klingberg. If they were to move either defenseman, he felt the package would be around NHL talent with the Stars championship window currently open.

DeFranks was also asked if the Stars would be a player in this year’s trade market. If they do become active it won’t be a big move. He also pointed out center Tyler Seguin and goaltender Ben Bishop will be returning to the lineup from offseason surgeries later this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars have struggled to score and kill penalties in recent weeks. I daresay those would be the areas they would address if they decide to test the trade market.

Lindell and Klingberg are their top-pairing defense. They’re not going anywhere.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 31, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – January 31, 2021

The latest Vince Dunn speculation plus reports of the Flames’ Sam Bennett and the Canadiens’ Victor Mete requesting trades in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

SUGGESTED DESTINATIONS FOR DUNN

THE SCORE: Josh Wegman suggested the Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets as potential destinations for Vince Dunn. Reports emerged last week indicating the St. Louis Blues were shopping the 24-year-old defenseman.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports sources claiming Jim Rutherford was closing in on a trade for Dunn before he abruptly stepped down last week as the Pittsburgh Penguins’ general manager. The return for the Blues isn’t known.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty wonders if the Bruins should get into the bidding for Dunn. He notes the blueliner carries an affordable $1.875 million cap hit on a one-year contract, suggesting he could fill their requirement for a left-shot defenseman. If the Bruins were to pursue Dunn, Haggerty proposed offering up winger Anders Bjork as part of a package.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The asking price for Dunn is said to be a first-round pick, though I think the Blues could settle for a second-rounder if that return isn’t available. They can’t afford to take back any salary because of their limited cap space and must leave room for Vladimir Tarasenko’s eventual return from shoulder surgery later this season.

Those clubs suggested by Wegman could be reluctant to part with a first-rounder. The Senators and Kings each have two second-round picks in the 2021 draft while the Red Wings have three second-rounders. The Rangers lack a second-rounder but have two third-rounders.

The Penguins lack picks in the first, third and fourth rounds of this year’s draft. Rutherford has a well-earned reputation as a wheeler-dealer but I don’t think he’d part with his second-rounder and leave his club without picks in the first four rounds of the draft. Maybe he was offering up something else from his 2022 picks or a prospect to the Blues.

BENNETT REQUESTS A TRADE

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the agent for Sam Bennett confirms his client might want a change of scenery. Darren Ferris said the 24-year-old Flames forward would like it to be considered. The Flames aren’t commenting and Friedman said the club isn’t rushing to move him because they like their depth at center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bennett’s been the subject of trade speculation for some time but nothing ever came of it. This is the first time we’re hearing from his camp that he would like the club to consider a trade. He’s been seeing checking-line minutes and could seek a bigger role.

Cap Friendly indicates Bennett’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights at season’s end. Flames management could hang onto him for the remainder of the season and then attempt to trade him during the offseason.

CANADIENS DENY METE TRADE REQUEST RUMOR

TSN: Salim Nadim Valji reports Victor Mete formally requested a trade from the Montreal Canadiens. The 22-year-old defenseman has been a healthy scratch for all seven of the Habs games thus far this season.

Valji said Mete’s agent, Darren Ferris, will work with the Canadiens to find a trade partner. However, Pierre LeBrun subsequently reported Montreal GM Marc Bergevin denied the story. “Not true and not trading him,” Bergevin said via text message.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll likely get more details from one or both sides about this story within the next day or two. There was speculation last week suggesting some teams were monitoring Mete’s status with the Canadiens.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 28, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 28, 2021

The latest speculation over Vince Dunn’s future with the Blues plus some chatter about Bruins winger Anders Bjork in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford weighed in on recent trade conjecture surrounding Vince Dunn after the St. Louis Blues made the 24-year-old defenseman a healthy scratch against the Vegas Golden Knights earlier this week. He wonders if it was a wake-up call or an indication a trade could be coming soon.

Trade speculation continues to swirl around St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn (NHL Images).

Several factors cloud Dunn’s future with the Blues. They include his poor start to this season, his restricted free agent status (with arbitration rights) next summer, the club’s limited salary cap space, the emergence of blueliner Niko Mikkola, and this summer’s expansion draft.

Rutherford examined the pros and cons of trading Dunn. A good return would be a first-round pick or a player of equal caliber to the defenseman. Given the Blues’ limited cap space, landing a first or even a second-round pick could be worthwhile. The Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks or Winnipeg Jets might be kicking tires on Dunn.

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas believes the Blues will have to make a salary cap move, probably in February before sidelined winger Vladimir Tarasenko returns from shoulder surgery. He also feels they’ll try to get a good a draft pick as they can for Dunn because of their limited cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers, Canucks and Jets need some blueline help. They all have their first-and-second round picks for the next three years, but are they willing to part with one of them for Dunn? If the Blues can’t get a first- or second-rounder, Thomas suggested they might have to look into a more complex deal.

The Blues placed Taransenko on long-term injury reserve to start the season but must ensure they have sufficient cap space when he’s ready to return to action. If Dunn isn’t traded it could be somebody else.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty believes trading Anders Bjork would make a lot of sense for the Bruins. Such a move, however, won’t happen until winger David Pastrnak makes his imminent return from offseason hip surgery and sidelined wingers Jake DeBrusk and Ondrej Kase recover from their recent injuries.

Once everyone is healthier, there might not be room for Bjork in the regular lineup. While the 24-year-old winger hasn’t blossomed into a scorer he has value as a speedy, versatile forward.

Haggerty said there are teams keeping an eye on Bjork. A rumored swap last fall with the Edmonton Oilers for winger Alex Chiasson didn’t materialize.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bjork could be shopped for another struggling forward or a draft pick at this point. While he still has potential his lack of production has really hurt his trade value.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2020

Recaps of the second day of exhibition games, an update on John Chayka’s departure from the Coyotes, the Blackhawks announce initiatives to honor Native American culture, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

EXHIBITION GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The line of Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat combined for 10 points as the Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Florida Panthers 5-0. Point led the way with two goals and two assists. Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up the shutout with a 26-save performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky gave up five goals on 34 shots, but he was hung out to dry by his teammates. The Panthers must improve their defensive play before they face off against the New York Islanders in their qualifying round series.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied twice and set up another to lead his club over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Capitals defenseman John Carlson left the game in the final 10 minutes as a precautionary measure after crashing awkwardly into the boards. An update on his condition is expected today. Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek gave up three goals on 16 shots before being replaced by James Reimer.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck kicked out 37 shots in a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Jets captain Blake Wheeler had a goal and an assist. Teammate Nikolaj Ehlers also scored, but left the game in the third period with an apparent lower-body injury. No word yet as to his status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the long layoff had little effect on Hellebuyck’s performance. The Vezina Trophy finalist was on top of his game against the Canucks. Ehlers may have aggravated an ailment that nagged him throughout training camp.

Dominik Kubalik scored twice and added an assist as the Chicago Blackhawks blanked the St. Louis Blues 4-0. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford made 11 saves through two periods.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford looked sharp in this contest after missing most of the Blackhawks’ training camp when he tested positive for COVID-19. His performance against the Blues is a good sign as he and his teammates face the Edmonton Oilers in the qualifying round.

Colorado Avalanche forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Joonas Donskoi were the goal scorers as their club edged the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Wild center Eric Staal had a goal and an assist. The Avs killed off seven of eight penalties.

Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss combined for 26 saves as the New York Islanders held off the New York Rangers 2-1. Anthony Beauvillier and Devon Toews scored for the Isles. Rangers defenseman Marc Staal left the game in the second period for precautionary reasons and isn’t expected to miss their qualifying series against the Hurricanes.

HEADLINES

NEW YORK POST: Howie Kussoy cites multiple reports claiming former Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka’s relationship with the club’s ownership was irrevocably damaged when he lied about having a job interview with the New Jersey Devils, who then were uninterested in hiring him. Chayka resigned from the Coyotes last weekend as the club was preparing to head to Edmonton for Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan.

An NHL team approached Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo about a month ago seeking permission to speak to Chayka, which Meruelo rejected. Chayka then reportedly lied to Meruelo about the Devils’ interest, only to subsequently request his contract be terminated so he could pursue an opportunity within the Devils ownership’s sports portfolio.

Meruelo felt betrayed but wanted to wait until the season ended to discuss this with Chayka, but the latter felt that was unreasonable. The situation quickly deteriorated, culminating in Chayka’s departure from the team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This has degenerated into a messy they-said/he said situation with each side blaming the other. If Chayka lied about the Devils interview, it could damage his reputation and his efforts to find employment elsewhere in the NHL.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks are taking steps designed to honor Native American culture. They’ve banned headdresses at their games and intend to incorporate Native American culture and education into their arena and the games there. The club has resisted calls to change its nickname and logo after the NFL’s Washington Redskins announced they were moving on from their nickname.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins re-signed forward Anders Bjork to a three-year, $4.8-million contract extension. The annual average value is $1.6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins now have over $65.1 million invested in 19 players for 2020-21. Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, and team captain Zdeno Chara are among the notables still to be re-signed.

TSN: Former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock has taken on a volunteer advisory role with the Vermont Catamounts coaching staff.

LA PRESSE: Montreal Canadiens winger Dale Weise denied a report out of Switzerland claiming he signed a contract with Swiss club HC Lausanne.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – January 11, 2020

Check out the latest on the Bruins, Oilers, and Sharks, plus an update on Robin Lehner in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST BRUINS TRADE BUZZ

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Jacob Camenker cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggesting the Boston Bruins could pursue Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli. “I’ll tell you this, I do think Boston if they wanted to, could do a deal for Toffoli almost at any time. I think they know they’ve got that in their hip pocket,” Friedman said. He added the question was whether they’d do that deal or wait for New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider to become available. Friedman said he’s been told the Rangers are starting to think more about keeping Kreider.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa believes New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri checks all the boxes for the Bruins. If Palmieri’s available in the trade market, one NHL assistant general manager suggested the Bruins could make a pitch similar to the one that landed Charlie Coyle last year from the Minnesota Wild. Shinzawa proposed offering up winger Anders Bjork and perhaps a prospect like Axel Andersson for Palmieri, who’s signed through 2020-21.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports league sources confirmed the Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks have talked trade. One source mentioned Bruins defenseman John Moore as a possible trade target for the Hawks, who are in the market for a third-pairing rearguard.

Murphy also claims Bruins GM Don Sweeney has an interest in Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad and Rangers winger Chris Kreider. With only $1.7 million in salary-cap space, Sweeney must shed some salary to make room for a top-six winger. Moore has three years left on his contract with an annual average value of $2.7 million.

Are the Boston Bruins close to acquiring LA Kings winger Tyler Toffoli? (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After falling just short of winning the Stanley Cup last spring, the Bruins are all-in this season. Sweeney’s not reluctant to make significant moves before the trade deadline, acquiring Coyle and Marcus Johansson last year and Rick Nash in 2018.

Be it Toffoli, Kreider, Saad, or somebody else, I believe the Bruins GM will pursue a top-six winger before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Anders Bjork could be packaged with a prospect or draft pick to acquire that winger. Given the Bruins’ limited salary-cap space, Sweeney must dump some salary and perhaps get a trade partner to pick up part of the salary of the player he’s pursuing to get a deal done.

WILL THE OILERS BOLSTER THEIR ROSTER BEFORE THE TRADE DEADLINE?

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos believes the Edmonton Oilers must add a top-six winger to avoid wasting another MVP season from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. While the Oilers hold a playoff position in the Western Conference, they’re not that far ahead of the ninth-place Vancouver Canucks. He suggests pursuing Ottawa Senators winger Anthony Duclair, who has 21 goals and 32 points in 43 games this season.

EDMONTON JOURNAL’s Jim Matheson recently tweeted Oilers GM Ken Holland will help his players out at the trade deadline by going after a third-line center. He wondered if Holland might look at Nashville’s Nick Bonino if the Preds fail to gain ground in the standings, but only if they pick up part of his $4.1-million AAV through next season.

Matheson also speculated Holland could look at Detroit’s Andreas Athanasiou. He doesn’t believe Holland will trade his first-round pick in this year’s draft but feels the second-rounder and a defense prospect could be in play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t dismiss the possibility of the Senators parting ways with Duclair, but he’s a restricted free agent this summer and they’re under no pressure to move him before the trade deadline. If he keeps playing well, the Sens could be keen to re-sign him.

Predators GM David Poile made a coaching change in hopes of getting his team back into the playoff chase. If they keep spinning their wheels, however, a roster shakeup could be in order, and that could include shopping Bonino before the trade deadline.

Not sure how interested Holland would be to acquire Athanasiou. The young forward staged an ill-advised contract standoff with Holland in 2017 but subsequently re-signed a two-year deal with no fuss. The 25-year-old is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer.

Holland also has winger Jesse Puljujarvi as a trade chip. He recently told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun he wouldn’t rule out moving Puljujarvi for a playoff rental, depending on who that player was. However, I still think Holland intends to use the winger to seek a more long-term return.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE SHARKS?

THE ATHLETIC: With San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture sidelined for several weeks with a fractured ankle, Kevin Kurz examined how his absence will affect the Sharks lineup. He also suggested it could make GM Doug Wilson’s trade-deadline plans less complicated. The problem is Wilson doesn’t have much to sell as most of his key assets have various forms of no-trade protection. He believes defenseman Brendan Dillon is a goner and forward Melker Karlsson could also be on the way out.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton also weighed in on the struggling Sharks’ woes without Couture. In addition to Dillon and Karlsson likely hitting the trade block, Clinton suggested shopping defenseman Tim Heed and goalie Aaron Dell. He also recommended asking Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau if they want an opportunity to chase a Stanley Cup elsewhere. Clinton acknowledged whatever returns the Sharks get for those players won’t include first- or second-round picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a significant second-half turnaround, the Sharks aren’t going to reach the playoffs. They’re currently eight points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth.

Wilson won’t get much back for those suggested trade bait, but whatever he gets will be better than nothing at all. He gambled everything on this roster, even giving up a first-round pick in this year’s draft for Erik Karlsson. Wilson must restock his prospect pipeline and look toward the summer in hopes of finding some affordable NHL talent via trades or free agency.

NO HOMETOWN DISCOUNT FOR LEHNER

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Jimmy Greenfield reports Robin Lehner made it clear he’s not accepting another discount on his next contract. The 28-year-old goaltender said he enjoys being a Blackhawks and hopes to remain part of their future. However, he’s also accepted contract discounts throughout his NHL career.

“I’m not a guy that wants to be overpaid either. I want to gain some respect that I think I deserve, and we’ll see if that happens or not,” he said. Lehner knows the market is wide-open for goaltenders this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, if the Blackhawks won’t pony up a lucrative long-term deal worth considerably more than the $5 million he’s earning this season, there are plenty of other NHL clubs willing to do so this summer.

They could include the Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, San Jose Sharks, or Ottawa Senators. The Vancouver Canucks could also come calling if they can’t get Jacob Markstrom re-signed, as well as the Edmonton Oilers if they’re not sold on Mikko Koskinen as their starter.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2019

Game recaps, Ryan Johansen suspended, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Thomas Greiss made 19 saves as the New York Islanders blanked the Washington Capitals 2-0. During a break in the first period, the Capitals honored Islanders bench boss Barry Trotz, who coached the Capitals to the Stanley Cup last season. With the win, the Islanders take over first place in the Metropolitan Division and extend their win streak to four games. 

Vancouver Canucks rookie goalie Thatcher Demko made 36 saves in his season debut to backstop his club to a 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Canucks forwards Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat each had two points for the Canucks (50 points), who vaulted over the Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks into the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. 

Two power-play goals by Sam Bennett helped the Calgary Flames defeat the Detroit Red Wings 6-4 (Photo via NHL Images).

Three power-play goals and a shorthanded tally carried the Calgary Flames to a 6-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Sam Bennett netted two of their power-play goals. Red Wings center Dylan Larkin also scored twice. The Flames sit first overall in the Western Conference with a three-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets.  Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic returned to action after missing two games tending to his daughter, who became seriously ill last weekend and was rushed to the Alberta Children’s Hospital. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to the Hamonic family as their daughter recovers from her illness. 

The Florida Panthers snapped a seven-game losing streak by downing the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck made his return after missing 27 games to an ankle injury and assisted on Mike Matheson’s game-winning goal. 

Montreal Canadiens forwards Tomas Tatar and Joel Armia each scored twice in a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 34 saves as his club won its fourth straight contest while ending the Jackets four-game win streak. 

The Ottawa Senators collected their fourth win in their last five games by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Anders Nilsson kicked out 33 shots for the win. 

Phil Kessel scored in overtime as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. 

The NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen for two games for high-sticking Jets center Mark Scheifele on Thursday. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins forward Anders Bjork underwent season-ending surgery on his left shoulder on Friday. His recovery will last five-to-six months. 

NBC SPORTS: Former Buffalo Sabres forward Patrik Berglund told a Swedish publication he’s at peace with his decision to quit the club just a little over two months into this season. He claimed he lost some of his passion for hockey after being traded by the St. Louis Blues last summer. He added his emotions had nothing to do with playing in Buffalo and he apologized to Sabres fans for betraying them.