NHL Rumor Mill – December 20, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – December 20, 2019

The holiday roster freeze is in effect until 12:01 am on Dec. 28, but that hasn’t stopped the speculation. Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Josh Yohe was asked if Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker or Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli were realistic trade options for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He suspects they’d like to add a top-six winger before the trade deadline and feels those names are worth keeping in mind. The Penguins attempted to acquired Zucker last spring. Yohe doesn’t believe they have an interest in free-agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk.

Does Pittsburgh Penguins’ goaltender Matt Murray have value in the trade market? (Photo via NHL Images).

Yohe was also asked about shopping Matt Murray if Tristan Jarry continues out-playing him. He suggests Murray still has value in the trade market, though it’s not what it was a couple of years ago. He also doesn’t rule out forward Nick Bjugstad becoming a trade candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford making any moves following the trade freeze until his roster is healthier. He’s consistently demonstrated his ability at making significant in-season deals so I see him being busy near the trade deadline. I don’t think Zucker’s available now, but Toffoli will be for the right price.

Yohe didn’t say if he thought Rutherford would trade Murray. If the Penguins GM is considering that possibility, I don’t see it happening until the summer. Jarry’s playing well for now but Murray still has championship experience. Murray’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. His future in Pittsburgh could be decided on what type of contract he’s seeking. 


TSN: Bob McKenzie reports there are a lot of teams ready to shed defensemen in exchange for scoring help.

He points out Buffalo Sabres blueliners Colin Miller, Zach Bogosian, and Marco Scandella are among those in the rumor mill for some time. Carolina Hurricanes rearguards Jake Gardiner, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Joel Edmundson are also out there.

McKenzie said the market’s been soft for those defensemen that are available.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Clubs in need of defensemen might be awaiting better options to appear in the trade market. Some of those teams could also be unwilling to part with a scoring forward.

Salary cap issues could also be a factor. Bogosian, for example, is carrying a $5.14-million cap hit this season while Scandella’s cap hit is $4 million. Gardiner’s earning over $4 million annually through 2022-23.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – December 19, 2019

The next potential trade-rental targets and updates on teams that aren’t interested in Ilya Kovalchuk in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts”, Ellliote Friedman looked at potential playoff rental targets now that Taylor Hall’s off the market.

With Taylor Hall off the block, New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider could be a hot target in the trade market. (Photo via NHL Images)

He considers New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider and Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau as obvious targets, based on the past behavior of those clubs with their previous notable unrestricted free agents. Both clubs attempted to negotiate with their former UFAs right up to last season’s trade deadline before moving them. Friedman expects the same for Kreider and Pageau. He also speculates there could be a bit of interest in Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki.

Friedman expects the Los Angeles Kings will shop pending UFAs such as Tyler Toffoli and Trevor Lewis. The Buffalo Sabres have two UFA blueliners in Zach Bogosian and Marco Scandella, who’ve been healthy scratches at times this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kreider and Toffoli seem likely to be dealt by the deadline, but I’m not so certain about Pageau. The rebuilding Senators are showing improvement and Pageau’s been a part of that. The Senators might have to overpay a bit to keep him, but I can see Pageau staying in Ottawa.

Bogosian requested a trade and I expect the Sabres will try to accommodate his wishes. They could retain Scandella if they’re still in the playoff hunt by the deadline.

Several pending UFAs are on clubs that are trying to win this season, which eliminates the possibility they’ll be shopped this season. They include Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby, Boston’s Torey Krug, and St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo. He expects those teams will deal with the fallout after the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. Unless those clubs completely collapse over the next two months, I don’t expect any of those players to be shopped. And in the case of Backstrom, I think the Caps intend to re-sign him no matter what.

The same goes for Toronto’s Jake Muzzin and Tyson Barrie, Philadelphia’s Justin Braun, Carolina’s Joel Edmundson and Erik Haula, the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss, Washington’s Radko Gudas, Pittsburgh’s Justin Schultz, and Arizona’s Carl Soderberg.

Friedman also points out several clubs trying to win that could shuffle the deck. He thinks that could affect Calgary’s T.J. Brodie or Travis Hamonic, Florida’s Mike Hoffman, and Nashville’s Mikael Granlund.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granlund is probably the one in that list most likely to be shopped. He’s struggled to adjust with the Predators since being acquired from Minnesota last season. This could be a case of a player simply not being the right fit with a particular team. Granlund could regain his scoring touch with another club.

Vancouver could be worth watching. Friedman believes there could be interest in pending UFAs Josh Leivo, Chris Tanev, and Jacob Markstrom. However, the Canucks could stick with those three if they’re still in the playoff chase by February.

There could be a market for defenseman Erik Gustafsson if he doesn’t re-sign with the Chicago Blackhawks before the trade deadline. Depending on where the San Jose Sharks are in the standings, Justin Braun could also be available.

While the New Jersey Devils were in the process of trading Taylor Hall, Friedman said a team contacted them expressing interest in defenseman Sami Vatanen. Someone reported the St. Louis Blues offered up Vince Dunn as part of a pitch for Hall, but Friedman would’ve been surprised if they had. He also thinks Wayne Simmonds might prefer staying with the Devils, as he didn’t enjoy his experience last season as a rental player.






Potential Eastern Conference Trade Targets Leading Up to the NHL 2019 Holiday Roster Freeze

Potential Eastern Conference Trade Targets Leading Up to the NHL 2019 Holiday Roster Freeze


NHL Rumor Mill – December 14, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – December 14, 2019

The Taylor Hall trade talks reportedly heat up, plus the latest on Zach Bogosian and Ilya Kovalchuk in today’s NHL rumor mill.


NORTHJERSEY.COM: Abbey Mastracco reported the New Jersey Devils scratched Taylor Hall from last night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche as a precautionary measure. They had nothing further to report regarding a possible trade, but Mastracco cited a source claiming the Avalanche are interested and had reached out to the Devils. She also said the extent of the negotiations was unknown.

The Taylor Hall trade talks are heating up (Photo via NHL Images).

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun confirmed last night there is “some traction in trade talks the Devils are having with teams and so the risk is not worth playing him play at the moment. Stay tuned.”

NJ.COM: Mike Rosenstein cites WEEI.com’s Matt Kalman reporting the Boston Bruins could be among the teams interested in trading with the Devils. Given what could be a high price to acquire Hall, Kalman speculated they could target Devils winger Kyle Palmieri.

NBC SPORTS: Joe Haggerty believes the Bruins must do something to address their ongoing need for additional scoring, whether it’s kicking tires on Hall or a more realistic target like Los Angeles’ Tyler Toffoli.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like business could be picking up here. I’ve spoken to a couple of sources who think the deal could go down as early as today. The holiday trade freeze goes into effect at midnight on Dec. 19, so there appears to be some urgency in getting a deal done soon.

The Avalanche remain the front-runners, but the Arizona Coyotes have also reportedly expressed interest. The Bruins may have looked into acquiring Hall, but I think they’ll explore more affordable options. As LeBrun suggested, stay tuned…


WGR 500: Brayton Wilson reports Buffalo Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian declined to talk about a report claiming he’d requested a trade. He prefers keeping any discussions between Sabres management and his agent to himself. “I’m going to let everything stay in house,” said Bogosian. Head coach Ralph Krueger said the report didn’t interest him. The blueliner was reportedly unhappy over being a healthy scratch from Thursday’s game against the Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bogosian is a skilled veteran right-shot defenseman due to become an unrestricted free agent in July. He lacks no-trade protection, but his long history of injuries and his $5.142-million salary-cap hit could make him difficult to move.


NHL Rumor Mill – December 13, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – December 13, 2019

Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian requests a trade, plus the latest on the Blackhawks, Canadiens, and Canucks in today’s NHL rumor mill.


THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski cited TSN’s Darren Dreger reporting Buffalo Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian has requested a trade. He was a healthy scratch from Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators. Injuries limited him from playing more than 65 games per season with the Sabres. He missed the first 22 games of this season recovering from hip surgery. Sabres general manager Jason Botterill declined to comment.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian has requested a trade (Photo via NHL Images).

Lysowski also noted Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Botterill recently inquired into the availability of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Alex Galchenyuk. Both players will become unrestricted free agents in July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bogosian lacks no-trade protection, but his injury history and $5.14-million annual average value make him a difficult sell. I don’t think the Penguins are interested in a Bogosian-for-Galchenyuk swap. They’ve got limited salary-cap space and GM Jim Rutherford could be more interested in adding a winger.


NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis wonders if the Montreal Canadiens are eyeing a possible trade with the Blackhawks. He points out they’ve been frequently scouting the Blackhawks AHL affiliate in Rockford. Habs GM Marc Bergevin has been spotted several times at the United Center this season.

It’s believed the Canadiens are in the market for a left-shot defenseman. Erik Gustafsson is a UFA at season’s end. Roumeliotis said there have been no contract talks between the two sides.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gustafsson could be an affordable rental for the Habs, but I don’t think he’s the solution for their blueline woes. He’s a skilled puck-mover, but he doesn’t play a strong defensive game.


SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre reports Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning admits he’s in the market for a scoring winger before the Feb. 24 trade deadline if a deal makes sense. The health of sidelined winger Micheal Ferland could affect their need to add another forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No indication who Benning could target. I daresay it’s hypothetical depending on Ferland’s health at this point. If the Canucks remain in the thick of the playoff chase by February, Benning could pull the trigger on an affordable rental option. And no, I don’t see him getting into the bidding for New Jersey’s Taylor Hall.

The keyword is affordable. His first-round pick in the 2020 Draft is a conditional one that could belong to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and he could be unwilling to part with his second-rounder.

NHL Rumor Mill – November 28, 2019

NHL Rumor Mill – November 28, 2019

Latest on the Canadiens, Bruins, and Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill


MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan believes the Canadiens could soon reach an important crossroad that could affect them now and in the future. Mired in a five-game winless streak, there are troubling signs they might not bounce back as they did from a similar losing skid last November. They blew 4-0 and 5-3 leads to fall 6-5 to the New York Rangers on Saturday and seemed to give up during an 8-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.

Is it time for the Montreal Canadiens to consider shopping Carey Price? (Photo via NHL Images)

With the possibility of the Canadiens missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years, Cowan wonders if general manager Marc Bergevin might use his salary-cap space and prospect depth to make a big season-saving trade. He also mused about whether it’s time to consider shopping veteran stars Carey Price and Shea Weber for younger players and begin rebuilding for the future.

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: cites a report by NBC Sports’ Charlie Roumeliotis claiming Bergevin took in Tuesday’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars. He’s also attended several games involving the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate in Rockford.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Bergevin making any major moves right now. As long as the Habs stay in playoff contention, he’ll give his players time to work their way out of their current funk.

With over $8 million in salary cap room, Bergevin has plenty of wiggle room to swing a major deal. However, he was in a similar position last season but only made a couple of minor moves. Expectations are higher this year, which could put pressure on him to swing a deal.

Bergevin isn’t trading Price or Weber, but if he decides to go that route he’ll do it in the off-season. Price would have to waive his no-movement clause. Weber lacks no-trade protection but carries a hefty contract (over $7.8 million annually through 2025-16). He could be tough to move unless it’s a one-for-one swap for another expensive player or the Habs pick up part of his cap hit.

The Canadiens don’t play the Blackhawks until Jan. 15. Bergevin has a trade history with the Hawks so we can’t dismiss the possibility he’ll do another deal with them. Chicago defenseman Erik Gustafsson has surfaced in trade rumors earlier this season. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

The Habs need help on the left side of their blueline but I don’t think Gustafsson would be the answer. He’s coming off a 60-point performance last season but has only eight points in 23 contests this season.


NBC SPORTS BOSTON: With the Bruins re-signing Charlie Coyle and Chris Wagner yesterday, Joe Haggerty wonders where this leaves Torey Krug. The new contracts for Coyle and Wagner mean there’s a little less in the Bruins’ payroll to re-sign the 28-year-old defenseman. They also have Zdeno Chara, Matt Grzelcyk, Jake DeBrusk, Kevan Miller and Jaroslav Halak to re-sign. Haggerty observers the Bruins have lots of talented defensemen who could fill in for Krug if he departs next summer, but none have his offensive impact.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have over $65 million invested in 15 players for next season. Krug said he’s willing to accept a hometown discount to re-sign with the Bruins, but it will probably be well over his current $5.25-million AAV. With three consecutive 50-plus point campaigns already under his belt, he could get over $8 million annually on the open market.

Don’t expect the Bruins to trade Krug this season. He’s still a crucial part of their push for a Stanley Cup this season. They could get him re-signed before July. Nevertheless, the longer he goes unsigned, the more questions will arise about his future with the Bruins.