NHL Rumor Mill – August 2, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 2, 2021

Check out the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko and an update on the Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON TARASENKO

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports all’s quiet on the Vladimir Tarasenko trade front. He believes it became “painfully apparent” there was no market for the unhappy 29-year-old winger when the Seattle Kraken passed on him in favor of Vince Dunn in last month’s expansion draft. It was assumed they would select Tarasenko and flip him to another club for assets.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images)

It’s become known around the league that Tarasenko has relaxed his no-trade clause completely. Trade options are shrinking as teams filled their needs when the free-agent market opened last week. His poor performance last season after coming back from his third shoulder surgery in two years has adversely affected his trade value.

Thomas wonders if there’s a Cup contender in need of more offense willing to take a chance on Tarasenko. He pointed out the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes have the cap space to absorb the winger’s $7.5 million annual cap hit through 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers believe Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello could be working on a trade. They think that’s why the club hasn’t officially announced the signings of free agents such as Zach Parise and Kyle Palmieri because Lamoriello doesn’t want other teams to know how much cap space he’s got. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s up to something but I don’t see how he can absorb Tarasenko’s contract with the Blues absorbing part of that $7.5 million cap hit.

There’s talk Lamoriello could offer up Josh Bailey ($5 million AAV through 2023-24) because he was left exposed in the expansion draft. The Blues, however, could ask for a draft pick or prospect as part of that return to make it worthwhile to retain part of Tarasenko’s cap hit.

The Hurricanes have to re-sign Andrei Svechnikov but they would still have sufficient cap room to acquire Tarasenko. Team owner Tom Dundon could be reluctant to add more salary while Tarasenko’s shoulder surgeries could also be a concern for management.

Another possible destination for Tarasenko is the New Jersey Devils. The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford recently pointed out Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald was interested in adding a top-six winger. They have a lot more cap space and depth in promising prospects and young NHL-ready players to dangle as trade bait.

UPDATE ON THE CANADIENS

TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens still have some areas to address this offseason. They could use a puck-moving defenseman and an experienced center.

Vince Dunn could address that need on the blueline but the Seattle Kraken probably won’t part with him. Tyler Bozak could be an interesting free-agent option at center.

The Canadiens should also look into acquiring Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. The Canadiens have salary-cap space, good prospects and promising young players such as Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Alexander Romanov to offer up as trade bait.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn recently filed for salary arbitration with the Kraken but I don’t see them moving him unless contract negotiations completely break down. Bozak would be an affordable depth signing but the Habs seem content with Jake Evans and Cedric Paquette as their bottom-six centers.

As for Eichel, the Canadiens are already over the cap by nearly $2.3 million, though they’re expected to get some cap relief for 2021-22 by placing Shea Weber on long-term injury reserve. Nevertheless, I don’t see them pursuing Eichel unless they’re moving significant salary and the Sabres are picking up a big chunk of his $10 million annual cap hit.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 31, 2021

Jack Eichel’s agents issue a statement critical of Sabres management, David Krejci will finish his playing career in the Czech Republic, and surgeries for Alex Tuch and Paul Byron top today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: The agents for Jack Eichel released a statement yesterday expressing their displeasure over the Buffalo Sabres’ handling of their client’s medical treatment for a herniated disc in his neck. Eichel prefers surgery but his representatives accused the Sabres medical staff of preventing him from undergoing the procedure. “This process is stopping Jack from playing in the NHL and is not working,” they conclude.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This statement was released in response to a recent press conference by Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams where he said he’s not feeling pressure to trade Eichel. It’s apparent they intend to turn up the heat on Adams to speed up the “process”. Time will tell if it has the desired effect but it’s apparent the pending divorce between Eichel and the Sabres is growing acrimonious.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Krejci brought his 15-season NHL career to a close yesterday. The long-time Bruins center issued a statement indicating he was finishing his playing career back home in the Czech Republic.

Krejci, 35, spent his entire NHL career with the Bruins, playing in 962 career games and scoring 215 goals, 515 assists and 730 points. He helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reach the Cup Final in 2013 and 2019.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krejci was sometimes overshadowed by teammates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand but was an invaluable part of their success during most of his tenure in Boston. He ranks among their all-time leaders in games played, assists and points.

His departure leaves a big hole in their second-line center position that could prove difficult to fill in the short term. Best wishes to Krejci over the remainder of his playing career and beyond.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch will be sidelined for six months after undergoing shoulder surgery last week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The earliest he could return to the lineup is late January. This could explain their acquisition of Evgeni Dadonov from the Ottawa Senators this week.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron underwent hip surgery this week and is expected to be out for five months. He could be out until January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could explain their signing of Mathieu Perreault this week to a one-year, $950K contract.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues re-signed forward Ivan Barbashev to a two-year, $4.5 million contract.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed forward Tyson Jost to a two-year, $4 million contract.

NHL NETWORK‘s Kevin Weekes reports the New York Rangers signed recently acquired winger Ryan Reaves to a one-year, $1.75 million contract extension.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed winger Ondrej Kase to a one-year, $1.25 million contract.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings acquired forward Mitchell Stephens from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2022.

TSN: The Montreal Canadiens hired Eric Raymond as their new goalie coach.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2021

Check out the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko and Jack Eichel plus updates on the Stars and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ARE THE HURRICANES, DEVILS, ISLANDERS INTERESTED IN TARASENKO?

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford speculates the St. Louis Blues’ signing left winger Brandon Saad yesterday might spark a trade of Vladimir Tarasenko. The New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes are believed to have an interest in the 29-year-old right winger, and there are signs the New York Islanders could get back into the mix.

Could the St. Louis Blues be closer to trading Vladimir Tarasenko? (NHL Images)

Having signed Saad for less than expected, perhaps Blues general manager Doug Armstrong will be more willing to retain part of Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual cap hit. That could be enticing for the Islanders, who have $17.6 million in cap space but must also re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin. Beauvillier, 24, has also been mentioned as a trade candidate. The Islanders remain on Tarasenko’s list of preferred destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been quiet on the Islanders’ front. As usual, GM Lou Lamoriello has yet to tip his hand as to his plans for his RFAs or for UFAs Kyle Palmieri and Casey Cizikas, though there’s plenty of conjecture suggesting he intends to re-sign them or already has them under contract but hasn’t officially announced them yet. There’s also talk he’s signing Zach Parise.

If the Isles are in the mix for Tarasenko the Blues must retain some salary and/or take back a contract as part of the return. Parting with an RFA like Beauvillier would also work but we don’t know if Armstrong has any interest in him.

The Hurricanes have almost $14 million in cap space but they must re-sign RFA winger Andrei Svechnikov. Owner Tom Dundon could prefer keeping the payroll as far below the $81.5 million cap as possible. With over $22 million in cap room and five more roster spots to fill, the Devils are best positioned to swing a deal for Tarasenko. However, they could be on his no-trade list.

THE LATEST ON EICHEL

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl reports Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams feels no pressure to trade Jack Eichel. He explained he’ll make that move if he gets an offer that makes sense for his club but won’t ship out the 24-year-old center simply for the sake of doing so.

However, Vogl points out Eichel wants out and his agents’ only discussions with Adams center on trade requests. He feels Eichel can’t show up in training camp as captain as it would damage the fresh start with a young core. The Sabres GM still believes there’s a market for his captain.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wonders if Mika Zibanejad would accept a six-year contract extension from the Rangers worth between $9 million and $9.5 million annually. “Wouldn’t that be enough to put an end to the Jack Eichel narrative as relates to the Rangers?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of course Adams is going to publicly say he feels no pressure to move Eichel. He’s not going to admit that it could get difficult to move the unhappy center with the NHL Draft and the start of free agency behind them.

While Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit for the next five years and the Sabres’ high asking price are sticking points, his neck injury remains the main issue. If he was healthy, he’d probably be with another team (like the Rangers?) by now. But interested parties are understandably reluctant to part with assets for a player who might not be able to participate in a full schedule next season.

Still, it’s not too late for the Sabres to trade Eichel, or the Blues to move Tarasenko. Three years ago, the Ottawa Senators traded Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks and the Montreal Canadiens shipped Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights just before training camp opened in September. The Eichel and Tarasenko trade situations could be resolved in the same time frame.

COULD THE STARS SHOP A GOALTENDER?

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks reports the Stars signing Braden Holtby on Wednesday to a one-year contract worth $2 million raised questions about their overcrowded crease that already features Ben Bishop, Anton Khudobin and Jake Oettinger.

Stars GM Jim Nill said Bishop’s status for next season remains uncertain as he continues to recover from last fall’s knee surgery. The Stars could send Oettinger back to the AHL as he remains waiver-exempt but that might not be best for potentially the best healthy goalie in the organization. DeFranks speculates they could also shop Khudobin, who’s under contract for two more seasons at $3.33 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill told DeFranks his club would wait to figure out their situation before opting to move one of their surplus goalies. Bishop’s career could be over if his surgically repaired knee isn’t up to the rigors of NHL action.

Oettinger is their goalie of the future coming off a solid NHL debut (11-8-7, 2.36 GAA, .911 SP) last season. Khudobin could be the odd man out here. There will be teams on the lookout for a goalie during training camp.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators could still try to add a center and a winger through a trade. They’re still in the mix for New York Rangers center Ryan Strome. They kicked tires on Jack Eichel but his contract and the asking price make that prohibitive. They could draw upon their blueline depth for trade bait. Victor Mete or Erik Brannstrom could become trade candidates if GM Pierre Dorion decides to go that route.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2021

Alex Ovechkin looks forward to chasing Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, the Blue Jackets sign Zach Werenski to a long-term contract extension, and the Blues sign Brandon Saad. Get the details plus other notable trades and signings in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Alex Ovechkin said the opportunity to pursue Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record factored into his recent signing of a five-year contract with the Capitals. Ovechkin, 35, has 730 career goals and needs 165 more to break Gretzky’s record. To do it, he needs to average 33 goals per season.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The all-time goal-scoring record is the most reachable of Gretzky’s significant offensive achievements. Nevertheless, it’ll a daunting challenge for Ovechkin, who turns 36 in September.

Ovechkin’s still among the league’s elite scorers, tallying 24 goals in 45 games last season and 48 in 68 games in 2019-20. If not for the pandemic (and a half-season lost to a lockout in 2012-13), he’d be much closer to Gretzky’s record by now. However, he’s also at an age when his production will begin to decline.

The Capitals captain is currently sixth on the all-time list. A 37-goal performance this season would vault him over Marcel Dionne (731), Brett Hull (741) and Jaromir Jagr (766) into third overall, 34 behind Gordie Howe (801).

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed defenseman Zach Werenski to a six-year, $57.5 million contract extension. The annual average value is $9.583 million and takes effect in 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets consider Werenski among the NHL’s top defensemen over the past five seasons and are paying him accordingly. He’s tallied 189 points in 335 career games. Starting in 2022-23, he’ll be the third highest-paid defenseman in the league with a higher annual cap hit than Colorado Avalanche blueliner Cale Makar’s $9 million and just ahead of former defense partner Seth Jones’ $9.5 million AAV with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Werenski’s a skilled puck-moving defenseman but I don’t consider him worth more than Makar, a Calder Trophy winner in 2019-20 who was a Norris Trophy finalist last season. But after enduring a steady parade of talent departing Columbus via trades and free agency in recent years, the Jackets had to pay the price to keep Werenski in the fold.

His new contract lacks no-trade protection in 2022-23 and a full no-movement clause in 2023-24 through 2026-27, dropping to a modified no-trade in the final season.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues signed winger Brandon Saad to a five-year, $22.5 million contract. The annual average value is $4.5 million. The deal also comes with a full no-trade clause in the first four years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Saad took a pay cut from the $6 million AAV he earned over six seasons on his previous contract. He joins a club undergoing a retooling of its roster since winning the Stanley Cup two years ago. He fills the vacant left wing spot on the Blues’ first line following the departure of free agent Jaden Schwartz to Seattle on Wednesday.

NEW YORK POST/LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights trade winger Ryan Reaves to the New York Rangers in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers acquired enforcer Reaves in yet another move to bolster their toughness. The Golden Knights, meanwhile, made this move to free up salary-cap space by shedding his $1.75 million cap hit.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed winger Corey Perry to a two-year, $2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry said he wanted to return to the Montreal Canadiens for another season. The opportunity to play two seasons with the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion, however, was too good to pass up.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Zach Werenski wasn’t the only defenseman the Blue Jackets signed yesterday, inking Jake Bean to a three-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $2.33 million. The Jackets acquire the 23-year-old blueliner from the Carolina Hurricanes last week.

MLIVE.COM: Long-time Detroit Red Wings forward Darren Helm signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Helm and Valtteri Filppula were the last remaining active members of the Wings last Stanley Cup championship in 2008 still with the team last season. Filppula is also an unrestricted free agent and isn’t expected to be brought back.

SPORTSNET: The Montreal Canadiens signed forward Mathiew Perreault to a one-year, $950K contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2021

What does the future hold for trade candidates Jack Eichel and Vladimir Tarasenko in the wake of yesterday’s free-agent frenzy? Read on for the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl provides an update on where things stand with the Buffalo Sabres’ efforts to trade Jack Eichel. The Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers could still be in the mix but the Minnesota Wild have dropped out. The Los Angeles Kings’ free-agent spending spree (Phillip Danault, Alex Edler and Andreas Athanasiou) takes them out of the equation.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Vogl indicates the Sabres feel teams are offering too little for Eichel while the interest parties feel the Sabres are asking too much. Teams with cap space that could benefit from a first-line center like Eichel include the Ducks, Rangers, Seattle Kraken, New York Islanders, Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because most of those teams have the cap space to acquire Eichel’s hefty contract doesn’t mean they will. His neck injury and the Sabres’ high asking price are the big sticking points here.

The Kraken lack suitable assets in draft picks, prospects and young NHL talent to make a suitable bid. The Islanders still have to re-sign Anthony Beauviller, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin.

The Predators are already carrying two expensive centers in Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen and won’t be keen to add a third unless the Sabres agree to take Duchene or Johansen in return. The Devils, meanwhile, are building around young centers Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes.

Vogl’s colleague Michael Russo reports the Wild backed out because they’re fed up with the Sabres’ high asking price for a $10 million star with a neck injury. Meanwhile, Hailey Salvian wonders if the Calgary Flames could be positioning themselves to make a bid for Eichel with $12.9 million in cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild could get back into it if the Sabres reduce their price. However, I think their focus is on re-signing Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala. As for the Flames, GM Brad Treliving probably kicked tires but I don’t think he’s planning a serious bid here. His bold moves were signing Blake Coleman and acquiring Nikita Zadorov.

Eric Stephens observes the Ducks can afford Eichel if general manager Bob Murray can convince Sabres GM Kevyn Adams to take back a salary in return, suggesting Adam Henrique or Rickard Rakell as options. He anticipates the Ducks would also have to part with a promising young center (other than Trevor Zegras) and their 2022 first-round pick as part of the return.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes Chris Drury’s first summer as Rangers GM can be distilled by whatever decision he makes regarding Eichel. He speculates the Vegas Golden Knights could be among the Eichel suitors after shipping out Marc-Andre Fleury’s $7 million cap hit to the Chicago Blackhawks. Brooks believes there’s no need for Drury to rush into a deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Ducks and Rangers are most interested in Eichel. Nevertheless, I don’t see them pulling the trigger until the Sabres reduce their price and they get assurances Eichel’s health has improved.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen reports Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon poured cold water on the notion of his club pursuing Eichel. “We’re not likely to be involved in other discussions,” said McCrimmon. He pointed out they’ve spent the money available to them and addressed their needs going forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights made several moves, but none that addressed their obvious need for a true first-line center. The only nod in that direction was signing third-line center Mattias Janmark. As things stand now, they’ll be heading into 2021-22 with Chandler Stephenson and William Karlsson remaining as their top-two centers.

They might not be in on Eichel but that doesn’t mean they don’t make a move for another center before training camp. Maybe they make a move for Mika Zibanejad if the Rangers decide to make a serious pitch for Eichel? Yes, Zibanejad has a no-movement clause but maybe he’d waive it for Vegas. Something to ponder, folks.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports a source believes the St. Louis Blues are diminishing Vladimir Tarasenko’s trade value the longer they hand onto the unhappy winger. The source feels Blues GM Doug Armstrong miscalculated the situation by seeking too much in return. Where once there were four teams interested in Tarasenko there are now still at least two but the options are dwindling following yesterday’s activity in the free-agent market.

Rutherford believes the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils make the most sense as trade destinations. The Devils have plenty of salary cap space and would like to add a top-six forward. The Hurricanes have $15.4 million in cap space and need scoring but they must also re-sign winger Andrei Svechnikov. He also wondered if the Blues might include Tarasenko in a pitch for Jack Eichel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong has indicated he wouldn’t have any problem with Tarasenko returning this season but I don’t think that’s in anyone’s best interest right now. The Blue GM could be forced to accept less than his asking price to move him now. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

The Devils could be out if Brandon Saad accepts the contract offer they pitched him yesterday. If that falls through, maybe they’d be willing to pursue a Tarasenko deal if he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause.










Notable NHL Free-Agent Signings – July 27, 2021

Notable NHL Free-Agent Signings – July 27, 2021

With the NHL free-agent market opening at noon ET on July 28, there’s a flurry of last-minute contract signings taking place. Some involved unrestricted free agents while others are restricted free agents. Here’s the rundown of today’s notable signings.

Washington Capitals signed left winger Alex Ovechkin to a five-year, $47.5 million contract.

Washington Capitals re-sign left winger Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. Everyone knew Ovechkin was staying in Washington. The cap hit ($9.5 million) wasn’t a shocker as it’s pretty much what it was on his previous contract. What raised my eyebrows was the term. I’d expected three or four years. Five is a bit of a stretch for a player turning 36 in September. Ovechkin has remained among the league’s superstars well into his 30s, but the final year or two of that deal could prove costly to the Capitals cap payroll as his performance inevitably declines. Such is the price of keeping a franchise player and the greatest goal scorer of his generation.

St. Louis Blues sign right winger Pavel Buchnevich to a four-year, $23.2 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues recently acquire Buchnevich from the New York Rangers. This contract is a reasonable deal for a 26-year-old winger who steadily improved as an all-around forward over the past three seasons with the New York Rangers. Now earning $5.8 million per season, Buchnevich will either skate on the Blues’ second-line or take over the first-line role if/when Vladimir Tarasenko gets traded this summer.

Vancouver Canucks sign forward Conor Garland to a five-year. $24.75 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After two solid seasons with the Arizona Coyotes, Garland was acquired by the Canucks last week in the multi-player deal that also landed them Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The 25-year-old winger earned a substantial pay raise, going from $775K per season on his previous deal to $4.95 million annually. His impressive play with Team USA at this year’s World Championships suggests he could thrive alongside talented linemates. He’ll get that opportunity with the Canucks alongside Elias Pettersson or Bo Horvat.