NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2020

The latest on Matt Dumba, Brock Boeser, Darcy Kuemper, Frederik Andersen, Phillip Danault and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts”, Elliotte Friedman believes Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin will continue trying to build up his depth at center. There’s interest in defenseman Matt Dumba, a good player signed to a good contract.

Friedman suggested the Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks, and Calgary Flames could be among the suitors. The Jets can’t offer up a center but perhaps the Wild might be interested in a skilled winger. Same goes for the Canucks though Friedman isn’t convinced they’d move winger Brock Boeser. He feels the Flames could do it.

He also noted Guerin’s predecessor pursued Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander. However, the Leafs weren’t inclined to move him then and Friedman isn’t convinced that’s changed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s media speculation suggesting Patrik Laine or Nikolaj Ehlers could be available, but I don’t see the Jets parting with either guy for Dumba. Boeser told The Province he doesn’t want to be traded and doesn’t expect to be. Boeser-for-Dumba seems reasonable, but it wouldn’t address the Wild’s need for a first-line center unless they flip Boeser to another team for a center.

If the Flames are willing to move Sean Monahan, a Dumba-for-Monahan swap would work, but that would leave the Flames in need of a first-line center. Nylander can play center but he’s at his best on the wing. Guerin may be willing to take a chance on Marcus Johansson as a center but I don’t think he’s going to take any chances with his first-line center spot.

Friedman believes players who’ve been paid their bonuses and have low actual salaries for 2020-21 will be attractive trade targets. They include Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen, Arizona Coyotes center Derek Stepan, and New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, though he has an additional year remaining on his contract. Friedman also said Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has reached out twice to Andersen to say teams are interested in him, but he’s not actively shopping him and isn’t interested in any offer he doesn’t consider an improvement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Credit Dubas for being upfront with Andersen about the trade chatter. If he doesn’t get offered a better goaltender, Andersen won’t be going anywhere. Stepan or Subban could interest clubs looking to reach the cap floor. Both have seen their stock tumble over the last couple of years so there might not be much interest in either guy.

Friedman speculates Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito is going to be asked about Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad and Jonathan Huberdeau. He doesn’t see Barkov going anywhere but expects Zito will move one of the big tickets on his blueline to create flexibility.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Ekblad gets moved. Keith Yandle ($6.35 million through 2022-23) has a full no-movement clause while Anton Stralman ($5.5 million through 2021-22) carries a 16-team no-trade list. The most likely candidate is Mike Matheson ($4.875 million through 2025-26). He lacks no-trade protection and has popped up in this season’s rumor mill.

The Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks are among the clubs asking about Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper. The Boston Bruins, Flames and Oilers have inquired about Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson while the Colorado Avalanche asked about Niklas Hjalmarsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of speculation about the status of those Coyotes in recent weeks, especially given recent reports of the club’s money troubles. However, they’ve hired an experienced executive in Bill Armstrong as their new GM. Depending on what ownership wants, I feel he’s the right guy to navigate this situation.

Coyotes insider Craig Morgan recently cast doubt on the idea of the Coyotes trading Kuemper for draft picks and prospects. If they shop Ekman-Larsson and he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause, Morgan suggested the Boston Bruins as a destination if they lose Torey Krug to free agency next month. He thinks cost-controlled young players like defenseman Brandon Carlo and winger Jake DeBrusk could be attractive to the Coyotes.

Speaking of the Oilers’ rumored interest in Kuemper, the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples feels they could stick with Mikko Koskinen. Jim Matheson feels the Oilers would be better off acquiring a 1-A like Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk or a promising young goalie like the New York Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev, though he’s probably out of reach.

Friedman claims Montreal Canadiens center Phillip Danault’s name is “out there” and there’s definitely interest, but rival general managers aren’t sure what Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin will do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault’s name may be out there but Friedman doesn’t say if he’s being actively shopped or if clubs are calling to make inquiries. I think the Habs would be foolish to part with Danault and I’m not the only one who shares that view.

The Chicago Blackhawks and goalie Corey Crawford initially weren’t seeing eye-to-eye on the dollar value of a contract extension. Crawford knew there would be a pay cut but the amount was the issue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis noted Friedman’s inclusion of the Blackhawks among the clubs making inquiries about Kuemper, who has a two-year deal worth $4.5-million annually. Rather than part with assets to acquire Kuemper, Roumeliotis suggests simply paying Crawford a similar contract.

If the Vegas Golden Knights were willing to buy out Marc-Andre Fleury, Friedman wouldn’t be surprised to see him return to the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, he doubts Vegas would go that route in this economy.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 16, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 16, 2020

Does the Jonas Brodin signing mean Matt Dumba’s on the trade block? Will Marc-Andre Fleury submit his no-trade list? What the latest on the Canadiens? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD DUMBA BE TRADED?

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo reports the Minnesota Wild re-signing defenseman Jonas Brodin yesterday to a seven-year, $42-million contract extension could set the stage for other moves.

According to sources, Wild general manager Bill Guerin has not only received a lot of calls about Matt Dumba, he’s actively shopping the blueliner. Russo speculates Guerin could move Dumba for a scoring forward, preferably a center. He indicates the rearguard is the only one lacking no-trade protection before 2021-22 season.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston believes the Vancouver Canucks will be among the suitors for Dumba. However, he believes it’ll take giving up a forward like Brock Boeser to get him. Johnston feels Boeser’s name could surface in trade rumors if the Canucks re-sign pending free agent winger Tyler Toffoli.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Brodin, Ryan Suter, and Jared Spurgeon have full no-movement clauses. As a result, those three must be protected in next summer’s expansion draft, leaving Dumba exposed if Guerin decides to protect three defensemen.

Dumba lacks no-trade protection for 2020-21. On his own, however, he might not be enough to land a scoring center. A sweetener of a draft pick or promising prospect might have to be included. His annual salary-cap hit ($6 million AAV through 2022-23) could also be a snag.

Guerin doesn’t have to move Dumba right away. He can be patient and see how next season unfolds if he doesn’t find any suitable offers during this offseason. If he opts to wait, I think he’ll try to move Dumba before next season’s trade deadline (whenever that might be) to avoid any complications of finding a suitable trade partner before the expansion draft.

DID FLEURY SUBMIT HIS NO-TRADE LIST?

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Jesse Granger reported Sept. 15 was the deadline Marc-Andre Fleury and his agent to submit their revised no-trade list to Vegas Golden Knights management. That’s in accordance with the NHL CBA and the memorandum of understanding.

It’s uncertain if the Fleury camp did this. Granger speculates they may have as a precautionary measure following reports the Golden Knights intend to re-sign Robin Lehner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granger also points out moving an aging goaltender with two years left on his contract with an annual average value of $7 million would be difficult under normal circumstances. Nevertheless, he did play well in his three postseason appearances and there could be a club with sufficient cap space willing to take a chance on him.

LATEST ON THE CANADIENS

TVA SPORTS: Charlie Lajoie believes Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin could be preparing for a blockbuster trade following his recent acquisition of defenseman Joel Edmundson. He speculated a blueliner like Ben Chiarot could be part of a package deal to land a scoring winger.

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels believes the Canadiens’ recent acquisition of defenseman Joel Edmundson opens up some trade possibility for Bergevin. He also believes Bergevin can afford to move a blueliner to address that issue. He feels Brett Kulak could have more value on the trade market than Victor Mete.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Habs have a surplus of left-side defensemen. Kulak or Mete could be part of a package for a scoring forward but they obviously won’t be the centerpiece. Maybe center Max Domi would also be part of such a deal.

Bergevin can also draw upon his depth in draft picks. He has 11 picks in this year’s draft, including three in the second round and three in the fourth. He also has two third-rounders and three picks in each of the fourth and fifth rounds of next year’s draft.

We know he won’t be moving promising youngsters like Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Alexander Romanov. He included them among his untouchables.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 23, 2020

Updates on Taylor Hall and Anton Khudobin plus the latest Sharks speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

UPDATE ON HALL’S MEETING WITH COYOTES OWNERSHIP

AZ COYOTES INSIDER (subscription required): Craig Morgan provided additional insight into Taylor Hall‘s recent meeting with Arizona Coyotes ownership.

Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall (Photo via NHL Images).

Hall’s agent, Darren Ferris, reiterated the two sides agreed to wait until the end of the season to discuss a new contract. However, Morgan reported it sounds like an offer for Hall was crafted and it appears it was below market value and mid-term in length. It may have been a starting point for the Coyotes, or it could be all they’re willing to pay. Hall’s market value is still believed between $8 million and $11 million.

There are also conflicting accounts over the absence of general manager John Chayka at that meeting. One source said it was a mutual agreement between Chayka and ownership, with the Coyotes GM wanting Hall to meet new club CEO Xavier Gutierrez, but another source said that’s inaccurate. Chayka and Gutierrez declined to comment. Ferris was also absent from the meeting.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe that meeting was for Hall to meet the new CEO and get a sense of the club’s direction. Maybe Chayka was bypassed to enable ownership to speak directly to the winger.

What’s more interesting is the supposed low-ball offer to Hall. It’s not unusual for a team’s initial offer to be below market value as part of the negotiating process as the two sides attempt to hammer out an agreement.

The Coyotes, however, have limited cap space and must shed some salary if they intend to re-sign Hall. If they don’t intend to move up into the market value range, Hall could be on his way out when the UFA market opens on Nov. 1.

LATEST SHARKS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Kevin Kurz was asked what it might take to acquire winger Brock Boeser from the Vancouver Canucks. He doesn’t see that happening, doubting the Canucks would trade Boeser within the division plus they’re not in a position to part with key core players or assets to acquire a player like him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s name was floated as a possible cost-cutting option for the Canucks, but I’ll be surprised if they went that route. If they do, I can’t see the Sharks landing him. Kurz cites good reasons, but I’d add their limited cap space (over $66 million invested in 13 players as per Cap Friendly), and several notable players carrying big contracts and no-trade clauses also make it difficult to pursue that type of deal.

Kurz was also asked what it would take for the San Jose Sharks to acquire a young goalie like Igor Shesterkin or Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers. He doesn’t see the Rangers parting with the promising Shesterkin. He’d be surprised if the Sharks pursue Georgiev, noting their recent signing of prospect Alexei Melnichuk from the KHL. Kurz thinks they’ll instead try to add a veteran goalie to compete with struggling starter Martin Jones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps it could be an experienced backup like Anton Khudobin. Speaking of the Stars’ pending UFA goalie…

KHUDOBIN HOPES TO REMAIN WITH THE STARS

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks recently reported Anton Khudobin hopes to re-sign with the Stars, though he’s leaving the negotiations up to his agent.

The 34-year-old netminder is due to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and is due for a raise over his $2.5 million annual average value. Contract term could also be an issue.

DeFranks indicates the Stars could have between $7.5 – $9 million in cap space after re-signing restricted free agents Radek Faksa, Roope Hintz, and Denis Gurianov. They could also need to add some depth players if they feel promising youngsters like Thomas Harley, Ty Dellandrea, and Jason Robertson aren’t NHL-ready.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin’s experience and solid goaltending stats will attract interest around the league in the UFA market from clubs (like the Sharks) seeking depth between the pipes in the off-season.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 14, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 14, 2020

Check out the latest on Brock Boeser, Alex Pietrangelo, and Torey Krug in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CANUCKS NOT SHOPPING BOESER

TSN: Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning vehemently denied recent rumors he was exploring trading Brock Boeser. Appearing on TSN 1040 on Monday, Benning claimed the team has been happy with the 23-year-old winger since drafting him in 2015.  I don’t know where this stuff comes from,” said Benning. “I have no intention of trading Brock Boeser.”

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Harman Dayal Boeser spoke to Benning and received assurances he wasn’t on the trade block.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser (Photo via NHL Images).

“I’ve felt I’ve always been pretty honest with the media, and I feel like it was really unnecessary — and even the timing of the tweet was questionable with us getting ready to make a deep run. The last time I checked, the trade deadline has passed,” said Boeser.

They also cited a reply from THN 1040 Matt Sekeres, who reported Friday a Boeser trade was among several options being mulled over by the Canucks’ front office to free up salary-cap space.

If you were expecting a sitting GM to confirm he might have to trade a good young winger because he has made a mess of the salary cap, well, perhaps you are also waiting for COVID-19 to magically disappear in the heat.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drance and Dayal doubt the Canucks would move Boeser even if they were kicking around the idea. They point out it’s almost impossible to win such a trade in this off-season. Such a move would also damage the club’s chemistry as they’re better with Boeser in the lineup.

Maybe Benning and his staff were considering the idea. Sekeres makes a good point that we can’t expect the Canucks GM to admit it. We should also remember Sekeres said it was among several options they were looking at. It doesn’t mean they were giving it serious consideration.

UPDATES ON PIETRANGELO AND KRUG

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cites Alex Pietrangelo telling NHL.com’s Louie Korac he remains hopeful of re-signing with the St. Louis Blues. The 30-year-old defenseman is in the final season of his seven-year, $45.5 million contract and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent.

Pietrangelo said he and GM Doug Armstrong haven’t held any contract talks because of the uncertainty over the remainder of this season. He believes they’ll resume once the playoffs are over.

Brandon Maron, meanwhile, cites Torey Krug telling The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa he understands he might have to consider playing for another team after this season. The 29-year-old blueliner is also slated for UFA status at the end of this season.

Krug said he’s currently focused on the upcoming playoffs, but admitted he probably has to prepare himself for unrestricted free agency. Then he’ll see what happens with the Bruins and other teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo and Krug are the top defensemen and among the best players in this year’s UFA market. Both will attract considerable interest if they become available.

The constraints of a flat salary-cap for 2020-21 will affect their efforts to remain with their present clubs. Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have over $79 million invested in next season’s payroll with Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn to re-sign. The Bruins have $63.5 million but must also re-sign or replace Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Zdeno Chara, Anders Bjork, and Matt Grzelcyk.

Both clubs could face cost-cutting trades to re-sign those blueliners. Blues goaltender Jake Allen and forwards Jaden Schwartz, David Perron, and Tyler Bozak have surfaced as possible trade candidates. DeBrusk was mentioned as a trade option if Krug’s new contract takes a big bite out of their cap room.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 13, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 13, 2020

Check out the latest on the Canucks and Bruins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

A FLAT SALARY CAP WILL SQUEEZE THE CANUCKS

SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million exacerbates the Vancouver Canucks’ already difficult cap payroll issues. They have over $65 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21, leaving $16.3 million for another seven or eight players. Their unrestricted free agents include Jacob Markstrom, Tyler Toffoli, Chris Tanev, and Josh Leivo, while Troy Stecher, Jake Virtanen, Adam Gaudette, and Tyler Motte are restricted.

The Vancouver Canucks face difficult decisions with free agents such as Jacob Markstrom (Photo via NHL Images).

Unless general manager Jim Benning convinces veteran winger Loui Eriksson to terminate his contract, MacIntyre believes it could be impossible for the Canucks to retain their important players. He suggests at least two-thirds of their cap space could go toward re-signing Markstrom and Toffoli. They could get some cap relief if Micheal Ferland (concussion) starts next season on long-term injury reserve, but he’s in training camp attempting to come back.

The NHL’s financial landscape makes it almost impossible to trade contracts like Eriksson’s or Brandon Sutter’s, but Benning might find a taker for Jordie Benn’s $2 million cap hit. The Canucks could be forced to choose between Markstrom or Toffoli, letting Tanev depart via free agency, make Stecher a UFA by not qualifying his rights, or trading Virtanen. The nuclear option would be trading winger Brock Boeser ($5.875 million annual average value), but MacIntyre is skeptical about that move.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Thomas Drance recently suggested the Canucks attempt to re-sign Markstrom and Toffoli to matching $5.5 million AAVs and letting Tanev depart as a free agent. He acknowledged that would only leave over $6 million for the remainder.

It’s been suggested Benning attach a sweetener like a high draft pick or top prospect in a package deal to Eriksson once his signing bonus is paid out by mid-month to make him enticing in the trade market. That would leave only $5 million in actual salary over the remaining two years of his contract. Finding a club with the cap space to take on that cap hit was going to be difficult under normal circumstances. It will be more challenging now.

Boeser’s name surfaced over the weekend as one of the many options the Canucks were reportedly exploring. Just because Benning and his staff may have kicked that one around doesn’t mean they’re going to go that route. Trading Boeser is probably the last resort. 

They could also buy out the final season of Sutter’s contract. Cap Friendly indicates that would provide them with over $2.33 million in savings for next season.

UPDATE ON THE BRUINS

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins GM Don Sweeney admits facing some difficult decisions with his free agents under a flat salary cap. Pending UFA Torey Krug and RFA Jake DeBrusk could command a combined $10 million to re-sign. The Bruins must also find new contracts for Zdeno Chara, Anders Bjork, Matt Grzelcyk, and others.

Sweeney isn’t ruling out negotiating with his free agents during Phase 3 and Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan. However, he won’t be overly aggressive given the uncertainty over how player contracts will be affected going forward.

Haggerty points out the Bruins will see cap space opening over the next two seasons as David Krejci and Tuukka Rask become unrestricted free agents. For now, however, Sweeney could be forced to choose between Krug or DeBrusk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haggerty also wonders if Krug might be willing to accept less on a short-term deal to stay in Boston and wait out the financial fallout for all pro sports over the next couple of years. It would provide the Bruins ($63.5 million invested in 18 players for ’20-’21) with some invaluable wiggle room. Krug hinted about accepting a hometown discount last fall. He might give it serious consideration if he doesn’t find offers to his liking in the UFA market. 










NHL Rumor Mill – July 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 11, 2020

Could the Canucks trade Brock Boeser? What’s the latest on the Devils? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CANUCKS CONSIDERING A BOESER TRADE?

Could the Vancouver Canucks consider trading Brock Boeser in the off-season? (Photo via NHL Images)

TSN 1040’s Rick Dhaliwal cites colleague Matt Sekeres saying he was told the Vancouver Canucks are exploring the possibility of trading Brock Boeser.

Sekeres added he’s not saying Boeser is being shopped or is on the trade block. Rather, they’re looking at how they’re going to fit everyone within their payroll and Boeser’s $6 million cap hit was one of the things that came up.

THE ATHLETIC’s Thomas Drance believes there are better ways to navigate the cap than jettisoning Boeser’s contract and the Canucks know this. If there’s a Boeser trade after this season, it’ll be motivated by potential return than dumping salary. Drance thinks the Canucks have come to rate Tyler Toffoli more highly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting speculation heading into the Phase 3 training camp. It could dog Boeser and the Canucks during the playoff tournament.

I agree with Drance that there are better options to free up cap space. Management could be just mulling over all their options at this point.

A solid return for Boeser, however, could prove tempting, especially if they’re trying to keep Toffoli off the UFA market while looking to shore up depth elsewhere in the roster. They could set an expensive asking price,  perhaps a first-round pick and a good young defenseman.

LATEST DEVILS SPECULATION

NJ.COM: Randy Miller reports New Jersey Devils co-owner David Blitzer suggested his club could be among those that benefit from a flat salary cap for next season. The Devils have over $26 million in cap space.

Miller wondered if the Devils could use their cap room to their advantage by signing premium free agents and/or shopping their high draft picks (two first-rounders and a second-rounder) to accelerate their rebuild. Blitzer didn’t seem to rule it that possibility but suggested they could wait until their young core players make some big steps forward in their development.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: In his post-mortem of the Devils season, Matt Larkin speculated they could use their cap space to target a big-ticket free agent. He suggested Florida Panthers winger Mike Hoffman could be a good finisher to player alongside promising center Jack Hughes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils are in a great position cap-wise to sign a significant free agent or target cap-strapped clubs looking to off-load salary after this season. Whether they go that route remains to be seen.

Ownership seemed to suggest that could take another year or two. With the cap likely to remain flat for 2021-22, they could wait until next summer when they’ve had a full season to evaluate their younger players under new coach Lindy Ruff.

I’m not saying they won’t take advantage of their situation to add a skilled veteran or two, but it might not be a blockbuster move.