NHL Rumor Mill – October 27, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – October 27, 2023

What happens next for the Senators and Shane Pinto following his 41-game suspension? Could the Panthers and Blue Jackets become trade partners? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Pinto won’t sign his contract until January once his suspension is served. This will also give the Senators more time to swing a trade to free up cap space to sign him. LeBrun also stated that the investigation had nothing to do with why Pinto hadn’t been signed yet by the Senators.

Ottawa Senators center Shane Pinto (NHL Images).

Darren Dreger indicated that the NHL Players Association negotiated the 41-game suspension. They recognized that league commissioner Gary Bettman could hit Pinto with a much harsher punishment.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports that it’s believed the Senators were close on a two-year contract for Shane Pinto prior to his 41-game suspension on Thursday for activities that violated the NHL’s wagering rules. The deal would’ve paid the 22-year-old center an average annual value of $2 million.

When informed of the investigation, the Senators were told to rescind any contract offers to Pinto’s agent. Garrioch expects that Pinto will sign his one-year qualifying offer to get the contract out of the way while he’s serving his suspension.

THE ATHLETIC: Ian Mendes believes the trade winds that were circulating around Senators forwards Mathieu Joseph and Dominik Kubalik will ease in the wake of Pinto’s suspension.

The earliest the young center can return to action is Jan. 21, which buys general manager Pierre Dorion time to determine a proper cost-cutting trade candidate.

This situation could also work to Dorion’s advantage in his negotiations with the Pinto camp. Mendes wondered if the latter would still attempt to get a little bit of security in his contract or accept a one-year deal at a lesser rate and try again next summer. He’s not assuming that Pinto and his agent will accept the one-year qualifying offer of $874, 125.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This situation could also prompt speculation of the Senators attempting to trade Pinto once he’s served his suspension given all that’s transpired. Reports out of Ottawa in recent weeks claimed that they don’t want to move him and the club issued a statement following his suspension that they’ll welcome him back with open arms.

Still, we can’t dismiss the possibility of Doirion peddling Pinto starting in January, though I daresay this suspension could hurt his value in the trade market. 


FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy noted that the Columbus Blue Jackets have been attempting to trade a defenseman for weeks now. It’s believed right-shot blueliners Erik Gudbranson, Adam Boqvist and Andrew Peeke are available.

Murphy indicated that the Florida Panthers are interested in upgrading their blueline though they’ll be squeezed for salary-cap space once defenseman Aaron Ekblad comes off long-term injury reserve. A source told Murphy that the Panthers and Dallas Stars have an interest in Boqvist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have only used just over $1 million of their LTIR cap space. They have room to add Boqvist’s $2.6 million cap hit but they’ll have to shed salary to make room for Ekblad when he returns in January.

They could prefer instead waiting until close to the March 8 trade deadline to boost their defense corps. There could be more affordable options available by that time plus they’ll have accrued some cap space by then.

NHL Rumor Mill – October 26, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – October 26, 2023

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill: the latest Canadiens speculation plus a look at why the Jets didn’t opt for a rebuild during the offseason.


MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico recently noted that the Canadiens’ early-season injury woes provide them with an advantage in salary cap space.

The Canadiens have $15 million in relief space with Carey Price and Christian Dvorak on long-term injury reserve. Dvorak is expected to return to action in November but Kirby Dach’s season-ending knee injury would still ensure they have over $13 million in cap relief once Dach is placed on LTIR. Defenseman Chris Wideman is also out indefinitely and can also be placed on LTIR.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes (NHL.com).

D’Amico suggests the Canadiens could use this wiggle room to help teams shed some salary, like the Vancouver Canucks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals and Ottawa Senators. He noted that the Canucks’ Conor Garland, the Blue Jackets’ Adam Boqvist, the Capitals’ Anthony Mantha and the Senators’ Mathieu Joseph are all currently on the trade block.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes was inclined to help those clubs directly or as a third-party broker he’ll want them to include a draft pick or prospect as part of the return.

Hughes could keep his powder dry for now as he accrues cap space over the course of the season. Making an early-season move might bite into that when he could be in a good position to get a better return closer to the March 8 trade deadline.

THE FOURTH PERIOD: Dave Pagnotta recently noted the Canadiens recalled Joel Armia from their AHL affiliate in Laval. He pointed out that they attempted to trade the 30-year-old forward during the offseason and re-engaged in trade talks last week. Armia has a year remaining on his contract with an average annual value of $3.4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armia also lacks no-trade protection so the Canadiens can send him anywhere if they find a trade partner. His cap hit is difficult to move this early in the season with so many teams pressed against the $83.5 million ceiling.

Nevertheless, they could try to sweeten the deal by retaining part of his cap hit. They’re already retaining salary on Joel Edmundson and Jeff Petry for this season but have one retention spot left.

There’s a rumor flying around suggesting that the Canadiens could use Armia as a trade chip to broker a deal that would involve sending Vancouver Canucks winger Conor Garland to another NHL club. The Habs were a third-party broker in the August trade that sent Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks to the Pittsburgh Penguins.


TSN: Darren Dreger reported Winnipeg Jets co-owner Mark Chipman explained why his club opted to re-sign Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele rather than start rebuilding the roster this summer.

Chipman talked about how long it would take to stage a rebuild as well as the cost. Dreger indicated that it was decided that the market couldn’t sustain a historic rebuild and instead is investing in the here and now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That doesn’t bode well for the Jets’ long-term future unless they can draft and develop young players who transition well into their lineup. Enticing veteran talent via free agency or acquiring it via trade could prove difficult.

They’ll eventually need replacements for Hellebuyck and Scheifele when their skills inevitably decline in the coming years. Having both players under expensive long-term contracts will still take a big bite out of their cap space even with the cap rising significantly in the coming years.

The Jets seem to be hoping that their fans will return if the team plays better. If they don’t improve, however, their supporters could have less incentive to show up. In addition, the high cost of attending NHL games in the league’s smallest market is bumping up against the rising cost of living. If that cost remains high while the on-ice product stagnates, the Jets could be in a world of hurt in a few years.

NHL Rumor Mill – October 23, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – October 23, 2023

Could Patrick Kane return to the Rangers? Are the Blues Jackets still shopping a defenseman? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks doesn’t believe the Rangers will bring back Patrick Kane when the 34-year-old free-agent winger is ready to return to action. Kane is currently rehabbing from an offseason hip resurfacing procedure and is expected to start fielding offers from interested clubs in early November.

The Rangers acquired Kane from the Chicago Blackhawks before last season’s trade deadline even though he wasn’t at 100 percent because of his hip ailment. Brooks claims the experience left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth despite the best intentions.

Free agent winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Kane’s health would be the main concern. Brooks pointed out that Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom was a shell of himself when he returned last season from a similar procedure while former NHL center Ryan Kesler was unable to continue his playing career.

The Rangers would have the cap space to sign Kane to a one-year, $3 million contract without having to go through the salary-cap gymnastics to acquire him at last season’s deadline. However, his addition would mean a younger winger such as Alexis Lafreniere or Kaapo Kakko would see less playing time.

Brooks thinks the Buffalo Sabres (Kane’s hometown club) might make sense. If Kane wants to pursue a Stanley Cup, the Detroit Red Wings do not. The Florida Panthers have been linked to the future Hall-of-Famer. Kane is also said to be intrigued by the cap-strapped Toronto Maple Leafs but Brooks doesn’t think he’s what the Leafs need.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks makes a number of good points here, especially about the Rangers.

I disagree about Kane being a fit with the Sabres. They’re a team loaded with scorers that still have some defensive concerns that he can’t address.

Many of these clubs also possess limited salary-cap space which could make it difficult to sign him.

Still, we can never say never. One of those teams mentioned by Brooks could decide that Kane is worth the gamble if they can squeeze him within their salary-cap payroll.


THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen is still working the phones trying to trade a defenseman. They’re currently carrying eight on the roster.

Adam Boqvist and Andrew Peeke have been healthy scratches of late. They’ve been supplanted by David Jiricek but he’s the only one who can be sent to their AHL affiliate in Cleveland without having to clear waivers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interested teams might prefer seeing Boqvist and/or Peeke play a couple of games before committing to making a trade. Moving either guy could also be difficult because so many teams have limited cap space. Boqvist’s average annual value is $2.6 million through 2024-25 while Peeke’s is $2.75 million annually through 2025-26.

NHL Rumor Mill – October 14, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – October 14, 2023

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, we look at the latest on the Canucks’ Conor Garland, the Senators’ Shane Pinto and the Sharks’ Kevin Labanc as well as how the Canadiens could help the Blue Jackets alleviate their blueline logjam.


SPORTSNET (via NHL Watcher): During Friday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman wondered if the Nashville Predators might be a trade destination for Conor Garland. The 27-year-old winger was recently given permission by the Vancouver Canucks to speak with other clubs about a trade.

Vancouver Canucks winger Conor Garland (NHL Images).

Friedman isn’t saying that it’s going to happen. However, he noted that they have the cap space to absorb Garland’s $4.95 million average annual salary. They’re also looking for a player who would fit with general manager Barry Trotz and head coach Andrew Brunette.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators have $7.9 million in projected cap space so they can certainly take on Garland’s cap hit through 2025-26. The question is whether they see Garland as a fit and what sort of return the Canucks would want. He does play an aggressive two-way game that would be favored by Trotz and Brunette.

The Canucks want to shed salary so they probably won’t want a player in return, especially if they didn’t have to retain any portion of Garland’s cap hit. Still, they won’t just give him away as they’ll want something decent in return.


TSN: cited the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reporting Shane Pinto has left Ottawa and returned home to Franklin Square, NY. The unsigned center cited there’s been too much attention on him in Ottawa right now and he wants to focus on his training.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pinto’s decision also suggests there’s no progress in contract talks between his representatives and Senators management. General manager Pierre Dorion is reportedly attempting to clear some cap room for Pinto by shopping forward Mathieu Joseph and defenseman Erik Brannstrom.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Max Miller noted that the San Jose Sharks scratched Kevin Labanc from their opening-night lineup on Oct. 12. He wondered if this is the beginning of the end of the 27-year-old winger’s tenure with the Sharks.

Since signing his four-year contract in October 2020, Labanc hasn’t produced to the level the Sharks expected of him. He’s been the frequent subject of trade rumors but Miller believes his $4.725 million cap hit is the reason why he hasn’t been moved yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Labanc is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. Barring a trade, this is going to be his last season in San Jose.

The Sharks might be able to trade Labanc (who lacks no-trade protection) during this season if they retain part of his cap hit. Otherwise, they might have to wait until the March 8 trade deadline when most of his actual salary will have been paid out.


MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: That’s what Marco D’Amico suggested earlier this week following a recent report by Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli claiming the Columbus Blue Jackets were looking to trade one of their blueliners. They have a logjam on defense and need to make some room on the right side.

Seravalli suggested Jake Bean, Andrew Peeke and Adam Boqvist as potential trade options. D’Amico suggested the Canadiens target Boqvist, noting that they have the cap space to take on his $2.6 million cap hit. He pointed out that the Habs have “waiver-exempt prospects, draft picks and NHL-ready forwards” to dangle as trade bait.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe the Blue Jackets and Canadiens have discussed this possibility. We’ll find out in due course if that’s the case. The Habs might have other options in mind.

NHL Rumor Mill – October 11, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – October 11, 2023

Conor Garland receives permission from the Canucks to talk trade with other clubs, the Blue Jackets are shopping a defenseman, and the latest on Elias Lindholm and Shane Pinto in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Vancouver Canucks have given winger Conor Garland permission to speak with other clubs about a potential trade.

Vancouver Canucks winger Conor Garland (NHL Images).

Friedman’s colleague Iain MacIntyre reported Garland, 27, recently changed agents. Neither the winger nor Canucks management denied the report. Garland declined to get into specifics when speaking to reporters yesterday, claiming it was the focus of his new agent.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston indicates a source informed him that Garland has been open to a trade for at least a year. He also cited Friedman claiming that Judd Moldaver, the winger’s new agent, is “aggressively calling around” to find teams that would be a good fit for his new client.

Johnston also noted that Garland frequently surfaced in trade rumors last season. He added that Canucks GM Patrik Allvin and president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford have explored moving the winger since 2021-22.

TSN: Chris Johnston pointed out that Garland still has three years left on his contract with an average annual value of just under $5 million ($4.95 million). He said the Canucks know they’ll have to retain some salary to get a deal done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman also noted in his weekly “32 Thoughts” column that a recent injury to defenseman Carson Soucy has the Canucks “peeking at defense options.” Perhaps they can find a suitable blueliner (preferably an experienced right-shot rearguard) using Garland as trade bait.

Given their cap constraints and those of most teams this season, the Canucks would have to retain part of Garland’s annual cap hit to make this work. They could attempt to get a third team involved to broker a deal and spread the cap hit around. Perhaps a “dollar-in, dollar-out” deal is possible.

Garland’s aggressive two-way style of play will draw some interest around the league. Nevertheless, finding a suitable trade partner this early in the season could be difficult, given the salary-cap issues around the league. It might take a few weeks for something to shake out. It could also drag on toward the March 8 trade deadline when some clubs will have accrued enough cap space to make this happen.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the Columbus Blue Jackets have spoken to teams in recent days about trading a defenseman off their roster. He said that they’re telling teams they want more flexibility at that position.

Seravalli indicated the Blue Jackets are “open to different possibilities as they weigh value.” He speculated the candidates could be Adam Boqvist, Jake Bean or (to a lesser extent) Andrew Peeke.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets want to move a defenseman. The Canuck have given permission for Conor Garland’s agent to talk trade with other teams. Could there be a fit?

Maybe for right-shot blueliners like Boqvist or Peeke. The Jackets only have just over $3 million in cap space but Boqvist has a $2.6 million cap hit and Peeke’s is $2.75 million. Nevertheless, they could want the Canucks to retain a bit of Garland’s salary in the deal.

It probably won’t happen since the Jackets have a fair bit of depth on their wings while Boqvist or Peeke might not adequately suit the Canucks’ blue-line needs. Still, it doesn’t hurt to speculate a little.


SPORTNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman speculated that the Calgary Flames could use Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele’s new contract as a comparable in their negotiations with Elias Lindholm. Scheifele will earn an average annual value of $8.5 million on a seven-year contract starting next season.

However, it’s believed Lindholm is in the $9 million range. The Flames have also reopened talks with pending UFA defensemen Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lindholm is nearly two years younger than Scheifele and plays a two-way game. I doubt the Flames can sign him to a similar deal.

Friedman also pointed out that Shane Pinto’s salary-cap hit will increase this season for each day that he’s not signed by the Ottawa Senators. He cited William Nylander’s situation in 2018 where his AAV for 2018-19 was $10.277 million while the AAV for the remaining seasons was $6.96 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I bring this up because “Pengy” recently asked if that was still a thing (well-remembered, Pengy!). The longer Pinto goes unsigned between now and the Dec. 1 deadline for signing restricted free agents, the more his AAV will be for this season.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 13, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 13, 2023

The latest on Matthew Tkachuk, Spencer Knight, and Nick Foligno, a roundup of notable contract signings, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

DAILY FACEOFF: Florida Panthers star Matthew Tkachuk is still recuperating from injuries received during the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He suffered a fractured sternum and four broken ribs.

The best-case scenery for Tkachuk’s recovery is he could begin some upper-body workouts at the end of July. Nevertheless, he’ll spend his offseason focused on healing and training once he’s medically cleared to do so and hopes to be ready for training camp in September.

Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the severity of Tkachuk’s injuries and his shortened offseason, Panthers fans should expect that his performance at the start of 2023-24 might not be at the same level that made him a Hart Trophy finalist last season.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Panthers, goaltender Spencer Knight spoke publicly on Wednesday for the first time since leaving the club in February for personal reasons. He received special permission from the NHL to participate in the club’s prospect development camp as he works toward returning to action in 2023-24.

Knight felt it was important for him to get back with the team and resume organized hockey activities. He declined to speak about why he left the club and entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program but indicated he would do so when the time is right. It has been stressed that it was not due to drug or alcohol abuse.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It sounds like Knight needed time to deal with mental health issues. Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery and resumes his NHL career.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruins forward Nick Foligno was not happy about being a healthy scratch for Game 7 of their first-round series against the Panthers. The 35-year-old winger signed with the Chicago Blackhawks after they acquired his rights from the Bruins last month.

Foligno said he spoke with Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery about it. He indicated that the decision didn’t sit well with him. “It never will,” he said.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks signed Leo Carlsson to an entry-level contract. The 18-year-old center was the second-overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. He could play for the Ducks, their AHL affiliate in San Diego or return to Sweden next season.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of 2023 first-rounders signing entry-level deals, the Red Wings inked center Nate Danielson. He was chosen ninth overall by the Wings.

STLTODAY.COM: Oskar Sundqvist is returning to the St. Louis Blues, signing a one-year, $775K contract. The 29-year-old forward spent nearly five seasons with the Blues prior to being traded to Detroit in 2021-22.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins signed former New Jersey Devils forward Jesper Boqvist to a one-year, $775K contract.

DAILY FACEOFF: Goaltender Thomas Greiss has announced his retirement after 14 NHL seasons with the San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues. He finishes with a record of 162 wins, 130 losses and 37 overtime losses with a 2.77 goals-against average, a .911 save percentage and 16 shutouts.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights hired Dominique Ducharme and Joel Ward as their new assistant coaches. Ducharme is the former head coach of the Montreal Canadiens. Ward, an 11-year NHL veteran, spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Golden Knights AHL affiliate in Henderson, Nevada.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Arizona Coyotes hired Blaine Forsythe as an assistant coach. He spent the past 17 seasons with the Washington Capitals.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Kenny McCudden has resigned as a Blue Jackets assistant coach. He’d been with the club since 2015.

THE PROVINCE: Former NHL player Brendan Leipsic has reportedly applied for Russian citizenship, according to the head coach and owner of KHL club SKA St. Petersburg. Originally from Winnipeg, Leipsic has played in the KHL since 2020 after being released by the Capitals for making misogynistic comments about women and disparaging current and former teammates on a private group chat that was leaked on Instagram.