NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2022

The Devils are open to trading their 2022 first-round pick plus a look at the Sabres’ roster needs in the NHL rumor mill.

DEVILS COULD PEDDLE THEIR 2022 FIRST ROUNDER

THE SCORE: Kayla Douglas cited New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald indicating his willingness to put his 2022 first-round pick into play in this summer’s trade market. The Devils currently hold the fifth-best odds (8.5%) of winning the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery on Tuesday.

Fitzgerald said he’d be open to using that pick to acquire a player “that we know and feel will help impact the results that we are looking for.” The Devils GM believes it is time for his young team to start contending for the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fitzgerald’s comments have already prompted some observers to muse over what type of player the Devils would want in exchange for that pick. Vancouver Hockey Now’s Rob Simpson recently examined the pros and cons of the Canucks’ offering up J.T. Miller if they’re unable to sign him to a contract extension.

Simpson is merely spitballing here as there’s no indication Miller is on the trade block. Nevertheless, you get the idea of the type of player it could take to pry that first-rounder away from the Devils, especially if they win the draft lottery. Fitzgerald would probably prefer someone with more than a year of term remaining on their contract.

New Jersey Devils forward Pavel Zacha (NHL Images)

Speaking of the Devils, THE ATHLETIC’s Shayna Goldman believes Pavel Zacha is the most likely of their current roster to be traded in the offseason. The 25-year-old spent most of this season on the wing but prefers playing center. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who isn’t worth much more than his current $2.25 million annual average value.

Goldman also believes the Devils face a big decision regarding Mackenzie Blackwood. Injuries have hampered his development as a starting goaltender over the past two seasons. They must determine if there’s still room for improvement or if he’d be better off with a fresh start elsewhere. She suggested it could depend if a UFA goaltender like St. Louis’ Ville Husso or Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper is willing to sign with them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zacha’s name popped up around midseason linking him to the Canucks. Its’ believed they’ll be seeking affordable talent in the early-to-mid twenties. We’ll find out at some point this summer if there’s a potential fit for him in Vancouver.

Goaltending was the Devils’ undoing this season. Blackwood cannot be faulted for his injury history and his struggles attempting to regain his form upon his return to action. Nevertheless, this franchise needs an upgrade between the pipes to have a fighting chance of becoming a playoff contention next season. It’s up to Fitzgerald to address that issue, be it shipping out Blackwood or putting him in a backup role to an established starter.

WHAT ARE THE SABRES’ OFFSEASON NEEDS?

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl recently examined what roster issues the Buffalo Sabres should address during the offseason.

Goaltending is their most pressing need. Craig Anderson, 40, will take a month or two to decide if he wants to return or retire. Sabres GM Kevyn Adams will look at all his options. Vogl speculated they could sign a second-tier unrestricted free agent such as Braden Holtby, Casey DeSmith or Martin Jones.

They could also acquire a goalie with a year left on his contract to serve as a bridge to young netminders such as Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Devon Levi and Erik Portillo. Options could include the New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, the Carolina Hurricanes’ Antti Raanta, Minnesota Wild’s Cam Talbot or Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick.

Adams must also improve his defense corps. Vogl believes they should add a right-handed shot to their heavy left-shot blueline but Adams stressed the importance of finding the right fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams might have better luck signing one of those second-tier UFA goalies. The Sabres could be part of Varlamov’s 16-team no-trade list, Raanta has a long injury history, the Wild could stick with Talbot ($3.666 million) if they’re unable to re-sign Marc-Andre Fleury and the Kings’ could allow the 36-year-old Quick to finish his career in Los Angeles.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 11, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 11, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor mill, a look at what the offseason might hold for stars such as Patrick Kane, J.T. Miller, Filip Forsberg and Vladimir Tarasenko.

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen was asked whether several notable stars would still be with their respective teams when the puck drops next season.

Rosen believes Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat will remain with the Chicago Blackhawks. He doesn’t see Kane or Toews being moved unless they ask to be traded. Of the two, Kane could be the easiest to move because he’s still their best player and would fetch the best return. DeBrincat, meanwhile, is a 24-year-old elite scorer worth building around.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews and Kane also carry identical $10.5 million cap hits with full no-movement clauses through next season. While there would be interest in Kane if the Blackhawks were to shop him, they’ll have to retain a healthy chunk of his cap hit to facilitate a trade.

I agree that DeBrincat is a player the Blackhawks should retain but I also felt the same thing about Brandon Hagel. Chicago general manager Kyle Davidson would listen if a club make a big pitch for DeBrincat.

The Nashville Predators opted not to trade Filip Forsberg, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Rosen believes the two sides will work out an agreement on a new contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll likely cost the Predators around $8.5 million annually to keep Forsberg in the fold. With Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene each earning $8 million annually, I’m not sure how comfortable Predators general manager David Poile would be in having another $8 million-plus forward on the roster.

Rosen suspects the Vancouver Canucks could trade forwards J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser because of their contract statuses. Miller is a year away from UFA eligibility while Boeser is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and is two years from UFA status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports out of Vancouver seem to suggest the Canucks will attempt to sign Miller to a contract extension this summer while attempting to shop Boeser. It’s possible, however, that Miller also hits the trade block if he proves too expensive to retain.

It doesn’t appear that Vladimir Tarasenko has rescinded last summer’s trade request from the St. Louis Blues. He’s also a year away from UFA status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko was reportedly unhappy over the treatment he received for his shoulder injuries by the Blues’ medical staff and management’s handling of the situation. To his credit, he hasn’t allowed this to affect his performance or his relationship with his teammates.

Nevertheless, if Tarasenko still wants out, I expect the Blues will have an easier time finding trade partners this summer. He’s been healthy this season, with 65 points in as many games, and has only a year left on his contract. While the cap hit is $7.5 million, his actual salary for next season is $5.5 million.

Rosen also expects Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg and New York Rangers center Ryan Strome to test this summer’s free-agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klingberg is likely a goner from Dallas after he publicly complained about his stalled contract negotiations with Stars management in January. As for Strome, it’ll depend on how much he seeks on his next contract and for how long.

Rosen doesn’t understand why the Arizona Coyotes should move Jakob Chychrun. The 23-year-old defenseman is signed for three more seasons and should be a big part of their rebuild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could be because Chychrun could fetch a significant return but I also wonder if the blueliner is growing unhappy with his role or the direction of the Coyotes. If so, that could explain why GM Bill Armstrong will continue to entertain trade offers this summer.

Mackenzie Blackwood has been injured for most of this season. Rosen doesn’t see the New Jersey Devils trading him because his value isn’t that high. He thinks Blackwood could be a 1A or 1B goalie depending on who they bring in during the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries have hampered Blackwood’s development. Rosen noted he’s signed through next season. I agree with him that Blackwood will be back with the Devils next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 15, 2021

Connor McDavid achieves a points milestone while Ryan Getzlaf is on the verge of reaching one of his own. Check out the details in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid became the sixth-fastest player to reach 600 points during his club’s 5-4 win over the St. Louis Blues. McDavid had a goal and an assist to reach that milestone in 421 games and now has 601 points. Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists and Kailer Yamamoto netted the game-winner with 28 seconds remaining in regulation. Robert Thomas collected three helpers for the Blues.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drasaitl (31 points) opened a four-point lead over McDavid atop the NHL points leader board.

The Anaheim Ducks won their seventh straight game by downing the Vancouver Canucks 5-1. Trevor Zegras scored twice, Troy Terry (one assist) extended his points streak to 14 games, and Ryan Getzlaf collected two assists to reach 999 career points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getzlaf had 17 points in 48 games last season. The 36-year-old center has the same number of points in just 16 games thus far this season.

A shootout goal by Chris Kreider gave the New York Rangers a 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko picked up his first points of the season with a goal and an assist. Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood left the game in the third period and entered concussion protocol. Rangers forward Sammy Blais suffered an injured leg following a collision with Devils defenseman P.K. Subban.

The Washington Capitals scored twice in the second period and two more in the third in a 6-1 drubbing of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Conor Sheary Garnet Hathaway and Daniel Sprong all collected two points. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was held scoreless in his first game since returning from COVID protocol. Earlier in the day, the Capitals announced center Nic Dowd signed a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $1.3 million.

A four-goal third period lifted the Boston Bruins over the Montreal Canadiens 5-2. Charlie McAvoy and Charlie Coyle each scored twice for the Bruins while teammate Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Canadiens announced goaltender Jake Allen was listed as day-to-day with a head injury.

Calgary Flames goaltender Dan Vladar made 27 saves for his first career NHL shutout in a 4-0 win over the Ottawa Senators. Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan each had two points. The Senators were playing with 10 regulars on COVID protocol as Drake Batherson was the latest to make the list yesterday.

The NHL department of player safety fined Minnesota Wild defenseman Alex Goligoski $5,000.00 for high-sticking Seattle Kraken winger Jordan Eberle on Saturday. Buffalo Sabres forward Evan Rodrigues was fined $2,500.00 for a dangerous trip of Ottawa Senators forward Zach Sanford.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2021

The Rangers sign Mika Zibanejad to a lucrative contract extension, Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise officially sign with the Islanders, a large number of players hit the waiver wire, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers yesterday announced Mika Zibanejad signed an eight-year contract extension worth $68 million. The annual average value is $8.5 million. This deal will keep Zibanejad with the Rangers until he’s 36. By keeping his AAV under $9 million, it provided the Blueshirts with some cap flexibility to re-sign key players such as Adam Fox in the near future.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Post’s Larry Brooks indicated Zibanejad’s new deal is a little longer than Rangers’ management preferred. However, it was necessary to reach that $8.5 million cap hit as he likely would’ve received up to $10 million annually on the open market. As per Cap Friendly, they now have over $62 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23 with Fox, Ryan Strome, Kaapo Kakko and Alexandar Georgiev among the notables slated for new contracts next summer.

Zibanejad thrived since being traded to the Rangers in 2016, including a career-best 41 goals and 75 points in 57 games in 2019-20. He had a slow start last season following a bout of COVID-19 but finished strong with 50 points in 56 contests.

This signing should also take the Rangers out of the Jack Eichel sweepstakes. I’ll have more on that in today’s Rumor Mill. Brooks believes the only way it happens is if the Sabres retain 40-50 percent of Eichel’s $10 million AAV which isn’t going to happen.

DAILY FACEOFF: The New York Islanders officially announced the signings of Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise. They’re both on one-year, one-way contracts with an annual average value of $1.5 million. They’ll receive a base salary of $750K plus $750K in bonuses.

Frank Seravalli reported Erik Gustafsson has returned to the Chicago Blackhawks. The 29-year-old defenseman signed a one-year deal believed to be worth $800K.

Forty-three players hit the waiver wire yesterday. Vancouver Canucks defenseman Travis Hamonic and Edmonton Oilers forward Kyle Turris are the two notable names on that list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamonic was absent from the Canucks training camp and preseason for reasons related to the NHL’s vaccination protocols. Unvaccinated players face restrictions that could prevent them from participating in road games, which could also result in them being suspended without pay.

There was talk of the Canucks attempting to trade Hamonic. He’s on a two-year, $6 million contract with an eight-team no-trade clause.

THE PROVINCE: Speaking of the Canucks, they traded defenseman Olli Juolevi to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Noah Juulsen and forward Juho Lammiko.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a trade of young players who failed to pan out with their previous teams. Injuries also hampered the development of Juolevi and Juulsen. The latter is now on his third team in two seasons.

THE SCORE: Vegas Golden Knights president of hockey operations George McPhee accused player agent Allan Walsh of attempting to sabotage efforts to trade Marc-Andre Fleury by telling other clubs his client was considering retirement.

McPhee praised Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon’s handling of the situation. While acknowledging Fleury learned of his trade to the Chicago Blackhawks on social media, McPhee said they spoke with the goalie’s camp leading up to the deal. They stopped communicating with them when Walsh started telling other clubs Fleury planned to retire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to hear Walsh’s side of the story. The agent generated some controversy during the 2020 playoffs by posting an image on Twitter of Fleury with a photoshopped sword running through his back and head coach Pete DeBoer’s name on the blade. The suggestion was DeBoer stabbed his client in the back by giving Robin Lehner more playing time in the postseason. That image was removed at Fleury’s request.

SPORTSNET: New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood returned to practice yesterday after clearing all COVID-19 protocols. He’d received an inconclusive COVID test on Thursday. He said he “still has some things to do” before deciding one way or the other on getting vaccinated, “but I’m probably going to be getting the shot in the next couple of weeks.” He’s the only unvaccinated member of the Devils.

TSN: Speaking of the Devils, they signed forward Jimmy Vesey to a one-year, $800K contract.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette indicated captain Alex Ovechkin is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. He doesn’t consider it serious, suggesting the 36-year-old winger could be in the lineup for their season opener on Wednesday against the New York Rangers.

THE DENVER POST: The Avalanche signed defenseman Jack Johnson to a one-year, $750K contract.

SPORTSNET: Ottawa Senators forward Austin Watson is expected to be sidelined roughly four weeks with an injured ankle.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Mark Friedman was fined $1,812.50 for spearing Columbus Blue Jackets forward Sean Kuraly during Saturday’s preseason game.

Former NHL forward Frans Nielsen signed with DEL club Eisbaren Berlin. The 37-year-old center tallied 473 points in 925 career NHL games with the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 9, 2021

The Panthers signed Aleksander Barkov to a lucrative extension, more nations name their first players to their respective Olympic teams, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Mackenzie Blackwood & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers yesterday signed Aleksander Barkov to an eight-year, $80 million contract extension. The 26-year-old center will earn an annual average value of $10 million.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the deal is heavy with signing bonuses, starting at $11 million annually in the first three seasons, dropping to $10.6 million, $9 million, $7 million and finally $6.2 million in the final two seasons. Barkov also gets a full no-movement clause in the first eight seasons, becoming a modified no-trade for the final two seasons.

Barkov earned this contract as the Panthers’ captain and franchise player. He’s one of the NHL’s elite two-way forwards, earning the Selke Trophy last season. He’s crucial to their hopes of becoming a Stanley Cup contender.

TSN: More countries yesterday named their first players to their respective 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics mens’ hockey teams.

Russia (also known as the “Russian Olympic Committee” since they’re barred from competing under their country’s name and flag due to a doping scandal that has “banned” their athletes from international competition) named Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov and Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, Seattle Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider joins Germany’s team.

Denmark named Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Oliver Bjorkstrand and Seattle Kraken center Alexander True.

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi, San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier, and New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier were named to Switzerland’s squad.

Slovakia named Dallas Stars defenseman Andrej Sekera, Tampa Bay Lightning blueliner Erik Cernak and Vancouver Canucks goalie Jaroslav Halak to their roster.

Latvia added San Jose Sharks winger Rudolfs Balcers, Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Kristians Rubins.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Speaking of Ovechkin, the Capitals captain will be re-evaluated for a lower-body injury suffered during Friday’s preseason contest with the Philadelphia Flyers.

THE ATHLETIC: Mackenzie Blackwood underwent two inconclusive COVID-19 tests on Thursday and Friday. The New Jersey Devils expected to know by Sunday whether their unvaccinated goaltender has contracted COVID for the second time.

If he tests positive on Sunday, he’ll be unavailable to the Devils for 14 days and ineligible to play or practice until Oct. 21. The Devils could also suspend him without pay during that period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackwood’s about to learn the consequences of being an unvaccinated player in the NHL. The league has implemented strict protocols to protect its players and staff and to avoid a repeat of the outbreaks last season that wreaked havoc on its schedule.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken forward Calle Jarnkrok has entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. It doesn’t necessarily mean he has the coronavirus but could instead be a close contact of someone who is infected. The Kraken recently announced all their players were fully vaccinated.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Max Domi could be returning to the Blue Jackets roster much sooner than expected. Told he’d require five months to recover from shoulder surgery in June, he could be in the lineup for their season-opener next week against the Arizona Coyotes.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Caleb Jones is expected to miss six weeks with a left wrist strain.

TSN: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian will be in concussion protocol for the next several days after striking his head on the ice during a fight with Vancouver Canucks forward Zack MacEwen on Thursday night.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins forward Curtis Lazar is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Auston Watson suffered an ankle injury during Thursday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. There’s no timetable for his return.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators assistant coach Todd Richards could be back behind the bench for the club’s season-opener against the Seattle Kraken on Oct. 14. Richards suffered a heart attack on Oct. 1 and has been resting at home.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s great news for Richards. Here’s hoping he continues making a full recovery.

NHL.COM: The Devils signed center Frederik Gauthier to a one-year, two-way contract.

TSN: The Colorado Avalanche released forward Artem Anisimov from his professional tryout offer.

SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators have approval from the Ontario government to host full capacity in their respective arenas for their home games this season.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes played only four preseason games instead of the mandatory six as per the CBA. However, they were among several teams granted an exemption this year due to the pandemic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A supposedly juicy aspect of this is the Montreal Canadiens apparently brought the number of Hurricanes’ preseason games to the attention of league officials. It’s something else that some observers believe could stoke the recent rivalry between the two clubs.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2021

Evander Kane facing another league investigation, the Lightning sign GM Julien BriseBois to a new contract, plus the latest on Auston Matthews, MacKenzie Blackwood and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane faces another investigation by the NHL, this time for a possible violation of the league’s COVID-19 protocols. The details being investigated are currently unknown.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

The 30-year-old Kane is also facing a league investigation regarding his behavior toward his estranged wife, Anna. Earlier this month, the NHL cleared Kane of allegations by Anna claiming he gambled on league games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane and the Sharks reached an agreement last week that he would not attend training camp until further notice.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed general manager Julien BriseBois to a contract extension. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. BriseBois helped to build the Lightning into consecutive Stanley Cup champions in 2020 and 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: BriseBois played a key role in building the Lightning into consecutive Cup champions. He was assistant GM from 2010 to 2018, developing current Lightning players such as Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Ondrej Palat and Anthony Cirelli while GM of their AHL affiliate in Syracuse. As Lightning GM, he acquired Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow, who played key roles in the Bolts’ recent championships.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews has returned to practice following offseason wrist surgery. He’s expected to return to the lineup in time for their season-opener on Oct. 13.

ESPN.COM: New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood said he’s currently unvaccinated, leaving open the possibility he could still get the vaccine at some point. “I have a couple of health concerns and health reasons why I’m working through it a little slower. I wanted to check off a couple of boxes, and not rush to do it,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackwood faces missing his club’s road games in Canada if he remains unvaccinated throughout this season.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson revealed he signed with the Seattle Kraken in July for family reasons rather than financial ones. His father, Robert Larsson, passed away three years ago while visiting his son in Edmonton. He said he felt he had to leave for his personal well-being and a fresh start.

NEW YORK POST: Once-promising defenseman Libor Hajek has slid down the Rangers’ blueline depth chart, surpassed by K’Andre Miller, Patrik Nemeth and Zac Jones. His chance of sticking with the Blueshirts out of training camp could be in peril. He could get plucked off waivers by a rival club if assigned to the Rangers’ AHL affiliate.