NHL Rumor Mill – May 2, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – May 2, 2024

Are changes in store for the Kings following another first-round playoff exit? Would Leon Draisaitl be interested in joining the Bruins? What’s the latest on the Penguins? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


ESPN.COM: Ryan S. Clark looks at what might be in store for the Los Angeles Kings following another first-round elimination at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers.

Clark pointed out the Kings had this season’s second-best penalty-killing stats but that turned into a weakness against the Oilers’ offense.

There could be a big turnover in goal this summer. Cam Talbot, David Rittich and Pheonix Copley are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Forwards Viktor Arvidsson and Trevor Lewis and defensemen Matt Roy are also UFA-eligible this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was rumored the Kings attempted to acquire Linus Ullmark before the trade deadline but the Boston Bruins goalie used his no-trade clause to nix the deal. General manager Rob Blake could attempt to add a starter such as Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom or Nashville’s Juuse Saros this summer with Rittich retained as their backup.

Arvidsson’s injury history could lead to his departure via free agency. The 37-year-old Lewis probably won’t be back. Roy could be let go if Jordan Spence replaces him on the second-pairing and if Brandt Clarke is ready for full-time NHL duty next season.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens is critical of Blake’s management, pointing to his acquisition and signing of underachieving center Pierre-Luc Dubois. That move was among several questionable deals that left the Kings with insufficient salary-cap space to improve their roster at the March trade deadline.

Los Angeles Kings center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images)

With the Kings facing continued mediocrity, Stephens suggests a shift in course with someone other than Blake as general manager. He pointed to Blake’s inability to address his club’s goaltending after Cal Petersen failed to seize the starter’s job in 2021-22, leaving the Kings scrambling to find a suitable replacement.

Dubois hasn’t come close to unseating Anze Kopitar or Phillip Danault among their top two centers. He has seven more seasons left on his contract with an average annual value of $8.5 million.

Buying out Dubois would count against the Kings’ salary cap for the next 14 years. A trade would mean retaining half of his AAV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stephens cited the positive things Blake had done (drafting and developing young talent like Quinton Byfield and acquiring Kevin Fiala) but the goaltending and the Dubois contract are the major blunders he believes have hamstrung the Kings. It remains to be seen if the Kings ownership shares his belief that a management change is necessary.


BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cited Georges Laraque telling a Montreal sports radio show that Leon Draisaitl is interested in joining the Boston Bruins if he doesn’t re-sign with the Edmonton Oilers.

Draisaitl is slated to become a UFA next July. Laraque cited someone “well-placed within the Oilers organization” claiming the high-scoring forward could leave the club next summer if they don’t go deep in the playoffs, adding “he’d prefer to be a first-line center in Boston.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Draisaitl will become a hot topic in the rumor mill if he doesn’t sign a contract extension before next season. Nevertheless, he could be keen to stick around with Connor McDavid beyond next season. His future in Edmonton could come down to how much of a raise he’s seeking over his current $8.5 million AAV.

Assuming Draisaitl is interested in playing for the Bruins, they’d have to wait until next summer to get him as a free agent. They reportedly lacked sufficient depth in tradeable assets to acquire Elias Lindholm or Noah Hanifin before the trade deadline. They won’t have enough to get one of the NHL’s high-scoring superstars this summer or next season.

The Bruins have nearly $45 million invested in seven players for 2025-26. The salary cap could rise to over $92 million for that season. There would be plenty of room to sign Draisaitl for a long-term deal worth $15 million annually.

Oh, you thought it would be much less than that? Think again. Draisaitl has been underpaid for years. He will seek a new contract befitting one of the NHL’s leading superstars.

Still, that looks like plenty of cap space to accommodate Draisaitl, right? Wrong.

Team captain Brad Marchand will need a contract extension. They must sign goaltender Jeremy Swayman to a new contract (probably between $6 million and $7 million annually given his arbitration status), re-sign or replace Jake DeBrusk, and fill out the rest of the roster. Rumor has it they could pursue a center who can play on their top-two lines plus a top-four defenseman via free agency in July. They won’t come cheap.

Even if the Bruins could do all that with some cap room to spare, they won’t have enough for Draisaitl without shedding sufficient space to ensure they can win a bidding war for his services.

I’m not saying the Bruins can’t sign Draisaitl if he wants to come to Boston. However, it’ll take a hell of a lot of work to free up the cap space to make it happen without significantly weakening their roster depth in the process.


PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Jason Mackey suggested how Penguins GM Kyle Dubas can improve his club for next season and beyond.

One option is exploring the possibility of trading Erik Karlsson to the Ottawa Senators if they’re interested in reacquiring their former captain. Karlsson denied rumors of returning to Ottawa in March but Mackey didn’t believe him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Karlsson would agree to return to the Senators but I don’t believe their new ownership and management want to bring him back. Even if Dubas agreed to retain half of the $10 million of his $11.5 million AAV that the Penguins currently carry, the Senators are likely looking at younger, more affordable right-shot options for their blueline.

Mackey also suggested Dubas attempt to find a trade partner to take goaltender Tristan Jarry and his $5.375 million cap hit for the next four years off his hands. Another option is shopping a winger such as Reilly Smith or Rickard Rakell.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas seems intent on sticking with Jarry and call up promising Joel Blomqvist as his understudy next season. Trading Smith or Rakell seems a more likely option.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski believes Ryan Graves’ contract would be a major sticking point in any attempt to trade the 28-year-old defenseman this summer. He’s signed for five more years with an annual cap hit of $4.5 million.

Graves’ struggles in his first season with the Penguins damaged his trade value. Their best bet is to hope he regains his former next season.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 19, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 19, 2022

The Flames and Hurricanes win the opening games of their respective second-round series, the Lady Byng Trophy finalists are revealed, the Kings extend GM Rob Blake, the Predators re-sign coach John Hynes, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: The Calgary Flames drew first blood in the “Battle of Alberta” by downing the Edmonton Oilers 9-6 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Calgary blew a 6-2 lead as the Oilers rallied to tie the game before the Flames scored three unanswered goals in the third period for the win.

Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images).

Matthew Tkachuk tallied a hat trick, Johnny Gaudreau collected three assists, Andrew Mangiapane and Rasmus Andersson each had a goal and two assists and Blake Coleman scored twice for the Flames. Connor McDavid had four points, Leon Draisaitl three points and Zach Hyman tallied twice for the Oilers, who pulled goalie Mike Smith after he gave up three goals on 10 shots in just over six minutes early in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a wild throwback to high-scoring ’80s-style hockey though the two clubs had far more low-scoring games during their previous playoff games back in their rivalry’s heyday. This was a wildly entertaining match to kick off this series but I daresay we’ll see more closer-checking games as this series progresses.

An overtime goal by Ian Cole gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 1 of their second-round series. Filip Chytil opened the scoring in the first period for the Rangers, who clung to that narrow lead until Sebastian Aho tied it late in the third period. Hurricanes goaltender Antti Raanta made 27 saves while Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin stopped 24 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers controlled the play for most of this game. However, Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour’s line shuffling in the third provide the spark his club needed to find a way to win.


NHL.COM: Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin and Minnesota Wild blueliner Jared Spurgeon are this year’s finalists for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s most gentlemanly player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some will wonder why Spurgeon made the cut given he was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking St. Louis Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. This award honors regular-season performance and the votes were likely cast before the start of the postseason.

TSN: The Los Angeles Kings have signed general manager Rob Blake to a new three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. Blake’s done a good job rebuilding the Kings since taking over as their GM.

THE ATHLETIC: A source claims the Nashville Predators have signed head coach John Hynes to a new multi-year contract. An official announcement is expected at the Predators’ end-of-season press conference on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators weren’t expected to qualify for the playoffs this season. Hynes’ coaching played a key role in the club exceeding expectations.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins GM Don Sweeney said his contract with the club has yet to be extended but he expects a resolution should be reached soon.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Philadelphia Flyers will be meeting with former New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz, who interviewed with the Winnipeg Jets earlier this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trotz is said to be weighing his options as to his next NHL coaching gig. There’s been speculation linking Trotz to the Vegas Golden Knights. So far, however, there’s no indication they’ve scheduled an interview with him.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Golden Knights, captain Mark Stone underwent back surgery on Wednesday. A timeline for when he’ll return to the ice isn’t expected until a month into his rehab.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Tim Stueztle’s participation in the IIHF World Championships has been derailed by a knee strain. The injury isn’t serious but he faces a two-week recovery period.

NHL.COM: Florida Panthers defenseman Ben Chiarot was fined $5,000.00 for head-butting Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ross Colton during Game 1 of their second-round series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Incidents of head-butting among NHL players have been on the rise recently. The league should do more to address this but I don’t hold out much hope given their foot-dragging on other disciplinary issues over the years.

NHL.COM: Ratings for the opening round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs were the highest since the advent of cable television.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s because of the league’s return to ESPN and the additional coverage TNT and TBS in the United States. Something that should’ve happened a long time ago.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 10, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 10, 2022

The Blues defeat the Stars, the Ducks clip the Red Wings, the Coyotes’ Tempe arena proposal could be in trouble, the Kings extend GM Rob Blake & hire Marc Bergevin, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Two power-play goals by Ryan O’Reilly and Jordan Kyrou within the final minute of the third period lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Dallas Stars 2-1. Kyrou’s goal was the result of a controversial penalty call against Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen for slashing Kyrou after he was hauled down by his stick by Blues forward Brayden Schenn.

Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras (NHL Images).

Trevor Zegras’ shootout goal gave the Anaheim Ducks a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. The Ducks rookie had a goal and an assist in regulation time. Detroit forward Tyler Bertuzzi also had a goal and an assist but left the game in the final seconds of overtime after suffering a wrist laceration but he wasn’t seriously hurt. Wings captain Dylan Larkin was injured in the first period and didn’t return to the game.


GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan reports the Arizona Coyotes’ Tempe arena proposal is on thin ice as two sources said the club currently doesn’t have the votes on the Tempe City Council to approve the project. There are three yes votes, two no votes and two undecided but leaning toward no after the Coyotes’ recent failure to pay taxes and bills owed to the city of Glendale.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morgan reports the Coyotes’ arena proposal wasn’t rejected during a recent city council executive session in December. If it isn’t approved, Morgan cites a source saying the Coyotes could pursue a deal with nearby Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. “It would be right on Tempe’s border so Tempe would get all the problems including the traffic, and get none of the revenue,” the source said.

MAYOR’S MANOR: Multiple sources say it will soon be announced that the Los Angeles Kings have signed general manager Rob Blake to a multi-year contract extension believed to be four-five years in length.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake was hired in April 2017 and the Kings have been rebuilding under his watch for the past three seasons. They are showing improvement this season in part due to players he’s acquired through the draft, via trades and free agency. They’re jockeying with the San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of the Kings, they’ve hired former Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin as a senior advisor to Blake.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not surprised by this news. There was speculation prior to Bergevin’s firing in November that he could join the Kings once his contract with the Habs was completed at the end of this season.

SPORTSNET: Evander Kane cleared unconditional waivers on Sunday. The San Jose Sharks can terminate his contract, making the winger an unrestricted free agent. However, the NHLPA is expected to file a grievance on his behalf.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could be several weeks before this situation is sorted out by an arbiter. Until it is, don’t expect a rival club to approach Kane’s agent about a new contract.

New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant, Edmonton Oilers winger Warren Foegele, and New Jersey Devils defenseman Damon Severson are among the latest to be included on the NHL’S COVID protocol list.

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers canceled practice yesterday while the NHL postponed the Oilers Jan. 15 game against the Ottawa Senators and tonight’s game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 20, 2021

Are big offseason moves in store for the Flames and Kings? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently looked at some key offseason questions facing the Calgary Flames following a disappointing season. He wondered if Brad Treliving will return as general manager. While Treliving isn’t afraid to make big decisions, the Flames under his watch have proven incapable of winning when it matters most.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Francis feels they need an overhaul more than a roster teardown. That could involve winger Johnny Gaudreau, who is a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. They cannot afford to lose him for next to nothing the way they did when they gave away Jarome Iginla.

The Flames won’t have any limitations on trading Gaudreau until July 28, when his modified no-trade clause kicks in. It won’t be easy trading him in a flat-cap era when his stock has declined.

Francis wondered if the Flames will leave defenseman Mark Giordano exposed in the expansion draft. He also downplayed the possibility of acquiring Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres, pointing out the Flames lack sufficient depth in star players and top prospects to make a competitive pitch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Changes are coming for the Flames. They have to. They cannot return with the same roster and expect better results.

They could replace Treliving though I suspect if they were thinking of doing so it would’ve happened by now. He’s got two more years left on his contract. They could give him at least one more year to dig his way out of this mess.

Whoever sits in the GM’s chair this summer will have to make one or two moves to shake things up. Moving Gaudreau seems the most obvious move but only if there’s a decent return to be had this summer. Otherwise, it might be best to keep him for next season and see if his trade value improves.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, Flames fans, feel free to offer up your views in the comments section below.


LOS ANGELES TIMES: Helene Elliott believes Kings GM Rob Blake is on the clock to transform his club into a playoff team. He’s under pressure to use his $20 million in salary-cap space and the young talent he’s accumulated and turn the Kings into a Stanley Cup contender.

Team captain Anze Kopitar and defenseman Drew Doughty last week expressed their hope that Blake will add impact players this summer. Elliott feels he has several paths toward doing so, either via free agency, leveraging assets in trades, or targeting cap-strapped clubs looking to shed salary.

Blake acknowledged Doughty’s comments, adding that making the playoffs next season is a must. He also said this season provided a better understanding of where certain holes in the roster may be and the progression of some of their younger players.

THE ATHLETIC: Lisa Dillman believes adding one or two top-six wingers for Kopitar’s line should be among the Kings’ priorities this summer. They should target clubs that risk losing a quality player to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft. Given their prospect depth, Dillman proposed they consider shopping their first-round pick if it remains at eighth overall following the draft lottery.

They could also use some help on the left side of their defense. She suggested checking into the availability of Nashville Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm or the Carolina Hurricanes’ Jake Bean. Perhaps Vegas Golden Knights pending UFA Alec Martinez might be willing to return to the Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blake is sitting in a good position to make a couple of significant additions. The Kings GM has five picks in the first three rounds in this year’s draft plus plenty of promising prospects to draw upon for trade bait. He can also put his cap space to good use in the trade and/or free-agent market.

The trade market could include forwards like Buffalo’s Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, and Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov and defensemen such as Ekholm, Bean or St. Louis’ Vince Dunn. Free agency could feature Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Boston’s Taylor Hall, Colorado’s Brandon Saad and Tampa Bay’s Blake Coleman.

Finding the right players, however, will be the challenge. The nightmare is wasting assets and valuable long-term cap space on players who fail to move the needle.

What Next For the Los Angeles Kings?

What Next For the Los Angeles Kings?


Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 14, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 14, 2020

Check out the latest on the Kings and Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: In his postmortem on the Los Angeles’ Kings 2019-20 season, Matt Larkin observed they’ll have around $20 million in salary-cap space if the cap remains at $81.5 million for next season. With all their impact players under contract, Larkin wondered if general manager Rob Blake will chase a major unrestricted free agent. Noting it’s still too early for the club to become a contender, Larkin believes Blake could remain conservative for another year.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Lisa Dillman was asked if the Kings might re-sign Trevor Lewis to a contract extension in the off-season. She doesn’t think so, pointing out the 33-year-old center was reportedly available at this year’s trade deadline. She suspects there haven’t been any contract discussions lately.

Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter (Photo via NHL Images).

Dillman was also asked if Jeff Carter might be traded. She doubts it, pointing out the 35-year-old center recently underwent core-muscle surgery. She said there wasn’t a trade scenario before Carter’s surgery, but if there was, this would change the equation.

Asked which player she felt might be a good target for the Kings in the 2022 UFA market, Dillman cited Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau. She cautioned, however, that most pending free agents tend to re-sign with their teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree that Blake is likely to wait another year before attempting to make a big splash in the UFA pool. However, I don’t rule out the possibility he’ll attempt to pry away a good young player from a cap-strapped rival.

With over $69 million invested in 16 players (as per Cap Friendly) for next season, the Kings also have sufficient cap space to make that kind of addition. Blake has some tradeable assets if the opportunity arises to land a promising NHL talent. The Kings have seven picks in rounds two through four of this year’s draft and six in the same rounds next season.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Josh Yohe was asked what he thought the Pittsburgh Penguins will do about their goaltending situation. Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry are both restricted free agents with arbitration rights and the Penguins can’t afford to keep both.

Yohe speculates Murray could hit the trade block. He’ll command the most money, which could be a problem for the Penguins if the salary cap declines next season. To keep both goalies would mean trading Kris Letang or a couple of other important players.

Asked which two players won’t be on the roster next season, Yohe thinks Nick Bjugstad and Patrick Marleau are the most likely candidates. Bjugstad’s injury history, however, will make him hard to trade. Marleau, meanwhile, is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins GM Jim Rutherford hasn’t ruled out re-signing Murray and Jarry, but it will require some salary and roster juggling to pull it off. Even if the salary cap remains at $81.5 million, the Penguins have over $68 million committed to 15 players in 2020-21. New contracts for both goalies will eat up a big chunk of that cap room.